The Weekest Links : beauty, drones, dragons

You know that thing you get when someone describes you and your heart just skips a beat because they've pointed out some quality you always wished you had, maybe secretly knew you did, but never actually had the courage to admit? Beauty does that to people, it keeps us alert and worried, envious and proud, vulnerable and courageous. Drones do that to, not so sure about dragons.

Welcome back to The Weekest Links, I'm Alice Politics and you are now tuned in to, the only radio you'll ever need. I'm late again, I know, things continue to be mad live here in Lisbon, but you know what, as long as one keeps showing up to work the good people will always take notice. Right?

You know it, here comes

The week of the 7th to the 14th of May, 2013

The Dove Sketches Beauty Scam ( via The Last Psychiatrist )

I don't even pretend to be in the same league, or even the same sport, as pop-culture-analysis mad genius The Last Psychiatrist. This guy, or girl - who knows? - is one of those writers that I come to late at night, hoping they'll be asleep so I can steal some tricks. Check out his latest piece on the Dove ad, yes the one with the sketches. If you haven't seen it, let me just say that I hadn't felt that exposed by an advertisement in a long long time, until I read what the Psychiatrist had to say. To try to summarize it would be a waste of your time, so I'm just going to embed the video here and let you all indulge in TLP's superb deconstruction of the crazy dynamics that take over us girls when it comes to our perceived, and real if there is such thing, physical beauty.

On the other hand, those dynamics apply to pretty much any gender you can think of.

James Bridle - Under the Shadow of the Drone ( via Lighthouse )

James Bridle invented the New Aesthetic, wrote some brilliant essays about the present, and has been talking a lot about drones in the past few months. What's more, he started drawing them on the streets of various cities and has now gotten a gig at the Brighton Festival 2013, where he did a one-to-one rendering of a military drone aircraft, like the ones President Obama sends over to the Tribal Areas.

Bridle is interested ( and interesting ) in making visible this networked technology that we called the unmanned aerial vehicle, this thing of the century which has now become a kind of symbol, or charm, to remind us that the future is already tense. The "Reaper drone’s silhouette brings the reality of these technologies into our daily lives. The work critiques the way that contemporary networked technologies, while enabling the digitally saturated culture of the 21st century, can also obscure and distance us from political and moral responsibility."
This kind of thing goes well with the sound and look of Fatima Al Qadiri's work, or those crazy Pakistani love songs where the lyrics now include steamy comparisons between a woman's charms and the Reaper strikes. In those worlds, like Bridle says, people actually live under the shadow of networked warfare, the kind of which we seldom see in our shores. At least, not yet.

It's on until the 26th of May, 2013 . Go have a look.

Design for the New Normal ( via NEXT13 )

This next topic had been in the making for a few weeks, you might remember how I drooled over Anab Jain's Superflux blog post about the New Normal - a kind of amped up and genetically modified version of the New Aesthetic. Well, besides being on Tumblr, Ms. Jain recently gave a talk at NEXT13 in Berlin about how science, technology, politics, and nature are all colliding at CERN speeds and producing this state of "superdensity". You gotta love that word and anyone who comes up with it.

The conference's people finally released the video of Anab Jain's talk, so here it is, you should really listen to what she has to say. I love her dress, too. If you look closely, you'll see Bruce Sterling in the audience taking serious notes and that's always a good sign for any speaker. Superflux's Founder and Director is more than your average hip-to-the-state-of-the-art design maverick, she has this kind of timid assurance about her ways, and watch how she reacts to the last question, gently but sarcastically brushing off any notion that things might ever get back to "normal".

In Berlin, the talk at this year's conference was about dragons, as a symbol of disruptive elements that have come to live in our midst. Between the wonders of science and the mutations of human nature, we should by now be getting used to live comfortably with the sword, the dark forest, the burning fire.


Spring is here, I'm out the door. Keep coming back, is always here for you.

Alice Politics