retro phonery


Whenever I show Blade Runner to people who neither know the movie nor were ever touched by cyberpunk æsthetics, they are somewhat puzzled by the technology to be seen. The eerie feeling seems to stem from the futuristic but at the same time decayed and ‘backward’ looks of all apparatus—Jim Burns, Syd Mead and the other ‘visual futurists’ under the guidance of Ridley Scott have done the perfect job.

Over at there is a category called cyberpunked living, dealing with ‘real-life’ things and happenings reminiscent of ‘the movement’s’ visions. It is my conviction, too, that meanwhile we are living in a completely cyberpunked world—not only in respect to the high-tech achievements, but down to everyday life.

Back in the 1980s I could not cease to take pictures of artistic wire-knots to be seen on top of telephone and power poles in India [as soon as I have scanned in those slides, I will show off some of them]. To the hardcore followers of occident-centrism this seemingly chaotic and dangerous dealing with live wires is a symbol for the non-understanding of, and not being able to cope with ‘modern technology’. Still the idea of “The White Man’s Burden” is around, this time it is the burden to teach the ‘others’ to correctly design and deal with technology.

Astoundingly enough, when you come to Fabulous Las Vegas, indeed a very power-consuming city, glitzy and shiny with neon by definition, you will see the same artistical wire-knots. It is only a ten metres walk, perpendicular to the strip, down some side alley. There are wooden power poles—how backward, on top of which those makeshift knots throne.

Some days ago I bought a new telephone for my landline—upon starting to install it I had to realize that you neither have to voyage to India, nor to Vegas, in order to take in the vista of these knots. They are here, in your very home. Somehow I had suppressed the memory of the mess when I first installed the end devices to my landline. Suppressed in mind and suppressed in the material realm, as I had hidden the whole thing well out of sight. Now I had to bring it to the surface again. Having recovered from the first shock, I decided to introduce some method and order … I had to use letters A through K to mark all plugs and sockets accordingly. In the 1970s we had a telephone with a dial plate and a single cord screwed into its wall socket. Now, 30 years later, look at the degenerated backward mess my landline installation is. Once I had it sorted out as far as it was possible I again hid it out of sight.


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