Inspired by the fact that nowadays people know more brands and logos than names of animals, Dutch artist Gurt Swanenberg created a series of paintings, called Cryptozoology.
These corporate “species” refer to the influence of global branding, highlighting the loss of biodiversity across the planet.
Regular readers of this blog know we closely monitor razor technology as a symbol of our co-evolutionary relationship with technology. This basically means that, like the bees and the flowers, people and technology are intertwined in mutual dependence: we serve our technology as much as it serves us. And just like humans, technology wants to prosper, propagate and grow. The blindness ‘innovation’ of shaving razors, with more and more blades, strips and grips, exemplifies this development.
The latest subspecies in the Razorius line is the Razorius Gilletus Flexball. While the Gillete Corporation proclaims they have reinvented shaving, others argue Gillette’s new razor is everything that’s wrong with America.
The lists make it tempting to conclude that nation states are a dying species soon to be superseded by corporations, yet until the day corporations start sending out aircraft carrier ships, we know the nation state is still alive – and kicking.
In more next natural news from Hurricane Sandy, Anheuser-Busch, parent company of the American beer brand Budweiser, has been canning water for victims of the disaster. The company temporarily converted one of its manufacturing facilities from churning out bland beer to life-giving water.
The result is uncanny: A beer can with the familiar eagle logo of Budweiser, now filled with essential, non-alcoholic water. In a world where corporations often have more power than governments, it is not surprising that in times of crisis they respond faster than “official” organizations, and are better equipped to do so. See also ColaLife.
Just image if style would be a primary need. You would be so lucky to find a Prada store in the middle of the dessert.
The classical Prada Marfa installation is located 60 km northwest of the city of Marfa in Texas. It was created by artists Elmgreen and Dragset and can be read as a playful critique on Image Consumption. Peculiar image of the week.
Thanks Avro Close Up.
During the coming weeks, we will present a selection of our favourite pages from the Next Nature book. This week, after nation branding, the brand nation.
Entering the store or restaurant of a multinational corporation is like entering a country. The locals all wear a national uniform, greet you in the same language, and serve you an ethnic meal. Any nods to local culture – the McArabia, the Croque McDo, the McRice – are insignificant compared to the consistency of the brand experience. Any McDonald’s, be it in Manila or Moscow, is a sovereign embassy from the same corporate homeland. They exist in the ‘brand space,’ a place as much a state of mind as a physical location. Travelers often visit a corporate outpost to feel ‘at home,’ though they are homesick for the brand, not for their own country. One day, a Starbucks employee may come up to you and ask for your visa while you plug in your laptop and wait to buy a latte.
Featured here are pages 426-427 from the book Next Nature: Nature Changes Along with Us. More information about the book can be found here.
On the shortlist for the year’s strangest book title, Jonathan Olivares’ A Taxonomy of Office Chairs charts the “evolution” of chairs from the 1840s to the present day. The author explicitly uses the language of biological classification, opening with a quote from Baudrillard that describes consumer objects as reproducing species. Olivares notes that “I find it ironic and unnerving that our society cherishes, studies and documents the natural world, but keeps little track of the products that make up our predominant reality.”
In his analysis, Olivares discovered that the individual components of chairs – bases, backs, and armrests – evolved independently. The gradual changes in the design of a chair don’t mirror, for instance, the logical sequence of horse evolution, but more like something along the lines of bacterial conjugation, when whole genetic sequences can be swapped in and out. It’s arguable whether the conceit is more than a useful metaphor, but it may be that chairs can join razors, phones and corporate logos as objects that appear to evolve like organisms.
You’re spending too much of your time in the sewers of the internet, planning to pigeon-rank your toilet visits or you’re simply feeling lucky? This peculiar shanzhai’d toilet paper might be for you. Made out of 100% virgin pulp, so no trees have died to whipe your behind.