A Day in the Life of a Consumer (2020)

Microsoft Sam, a video essayist/compilator with a YouTube channel of 2190 subscribers, provides an apt update/Corona version of Harun Farocki’s A Day in the Life of a Consumer (1993). The result of an intense search through corporate advertisements (car industry, telecommunications, delivery services, etc.) of the first half of April, the excerpts used in the 3:41 minutes video (uploaded on April 15) are organized around visual terms and conceptual tropes such as “people,” “family,” “home,” “today, more than ever,” “in these times of uncertainty,” “unprecedented times,” “together”, etc. Edited to become a dizzying rhythmanalysis of “the moment,” the main impression entailed here is one of a perplexing sameness in the corporations and their ad agencies’ response to the crisis. As Microsoft Sam rightly comments: “Corporate Covid-19 response videos are eerily similar. […] In reality, many companies have found themselves short on cash, almost overnight. They needed to get a message out – and quick. They asked their teams to throw something together. Since they can’t film a new ad because of social distancing, they compiled old stock b-roll footage and found the most inoffensive royalty-free piano track they could find. This, combined with a decade of marketing trends dictated by focus groups and design-by-committee, released a tsunami of derivative, cliche ads all within a week of one another. It’s not a conspiracy – but perhaps a sign that it’s time for something new.” TH/VP

 

 

April 27th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes
Interface

Jodi Dean on work in neofeudal times, via Los Angeles Review of Books: “When work is imagined — and some on the left think that we should adopt a ‘postwork imaginary’ — it looks like either romantic risk-free farming or tech-work, ‘immaterial labor.’ By now, the exposés on the drudgery of call center work, not to mention the trauma-inducing labor of monitoring sites like Facebook for disturbing, illicit content, have made the inadequacy of the idea of ‘immaterial labor’ undeniable. It should be similarly apparent that the postwork imaginary likewise erases the production and maintenance of infrastructure, the wide array of labor necessary for social reproduction, and the underlying state structure.”

May 23rd, 2020, Tom

Naomi Klein on the “Screen New Deal” (via The Intercept): “Calling [Bill] Gates a ‘visionary,’ [New York governor Andrew] Cuomo said the pandemic has created ‘a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?’ he asked, apparently rhetorically. It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the ‘Screen New Deal.’ Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.”

May 11th, 2020, Tom

Andrea Bagnato on Red Zones, isolation, metaphors, blame, risk and coexistence (at e-flux architecture): “[…] the current manifestation of confinement is better thought of not so much as epidemic control, but as a form of risk displacement: a minority of workers is made to keep the economy going so that a majority of the population can stay at home. And the reverse is true as well: millions of people have to put up with extended confinement so that the risk posed by industrial workers doesn’t grow out of control. In the necropolitical calculations of the State, the physical health of workers and the mental health of everyone else are both a price worth paying.”

May 5th, 2020, Tom
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