Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The death of objects?

Read any trend publication these days and somewhere along the way, you'll find a reference to how the  digitalisation of the world we live in, combined with a human desire for simplicity and clarity, will lead to a reduction in the number of things and objects in the home and office. In the past, we had an alarm clock, a telephone, a radio, a TV, a music player, a barometer, a grandfather clock, the household gods...OK, maybe not...but now everything is contained within one device.

There's no denying that digitalisation is one of the main forces governing the way we live, but even pre-digitalisation, predictions of the future focussed on a reduction in stuff and clutter, with visions of blinding simplicity and clear, clean lines.

But life's not like that. Have you ever seen the paperless office we'd all be working in by the turn of the century? Have you had your living room invaded by an army of yellow and red plastic, which takes up twenty times the space of its two-year-old general?

Let's think about the generations alive today. There's the generation of the post-war years, who hoarded everything from yoghurt pots to chianti bottles in case these things came in useful, or you could make a lamp out of them. A generation that kept everything because there were no copies or back-ups.

Then the generation who accumulated stuff because they could, and they could afford to: gadgets, status symbols, collections. And who now have parallel technologies - the latest iPhone and the retro-style record player for that collection of 200 LPs.

And now the generation who have the sustainability gene - with behaviour driven by reuse, recycle, reduce. A generation who decorate their electronic devices with a multitude of dangly crocheted bits 'n bobs - not dissimilar to household gods, in fact.

Overlaid throughout this is the human tendency to cosiness, to clutter, to comfort , to trash and frivolity. From paintings of teary orphans to singing gorillas to combat outfits for dogs. Yes, a lot of this has now moved online but that's also a parallel rather than replacement development.

Death of objects? I don't think so.


Christian said...

I totally agree! Just think about these huge stereos which cant really play any music unless you put your iphone in the appropriate slot. And I still remember all these audio studios during the nineties keeping their old but oversized mixing consoles just to impress their customers. Due to digitalization they weren't really neccessary since everything was mixed in the computer - but they never disappeared from the studios.

Sue said...

I think the status and sensory aspect of things you can see, touch, feel will never go away!