Columns

In 2011/2012, I wrote the bi-weekly column ‘Close-up on Culture’ for TEDxAmsterdam in which I connected social developments with cultural theory and TED-talks.

  • Close-up on Culture: Back to the futureWhile Marty McFly in the famous comical sci-fi movie Back to the Future needed an, admittedly very stylish, time machine to go back and forth from the future to the present and back to the past, modern humans seem to switch effortlessly between different time continua. Through developments in modern day society, we have become experienced time travellers.
  • Close-up on Culture: House of the future: Four brick walls, a few windows, a firm front door, and not to forget a smoking chimney. It’s always striking and cute how much children’s drawings of houses resemble each other. It clearly shows that there is a common cultural idea about what a house is supposed to look like in Western culture. But is that truly what a house looks like now? Or, more specific, what the notion of our living environment means nowadays?
  • Close-up on Culture: Alienated bodies: As technology in various areas makes the body evermore redundant, it is quite useful to question what role our body plays in human nature nowadays. In a time where well-known artists like Stelarc and Orlan state that the human body is obsolete, what happened to the notion of embodiment? In a time where you can live life in a completely virtual world, how humane does the touch of our own bodies still feel? In short: how alienated are our bodies, how much have we become E.T?
  • Close-up one Culture: To perform or not to performFor centuries, we find all kind of thoughts and blueprints on the possible nature of us humans in storytelling. Especially in the stories, or plays, of maybe the most famous storyteller of all, William Shakespeare, who wrote such profound characters that some critics even argue he has invented humanity. If there is one thing which is of importance in exploring human nature, it is researching which stories, plays and performances we tell each other and how we approach them, and who to better guide us in this quest than the master himself?
  • Close-up on Culture: Monstrous Beauty: They are back, and they are here. Right in front of our house, knocking on our door, under our bed. The Others, the monsters. They are everywhere, and all escape routes are closed. No, this is not the opening scene of a – I admit – very badly written zombie or horror movie. This is the daily reality of our visual culture.
  • Close-up on Culture: Memory Museum: Some time ago, during a boring rainy day, I was surfing on the internet and stumbled upon a promotion add from Intel called Museum of Me. Clearly only intended to promote their new product, Intel’s Museum of Me opts for a creative way to advertise with their promise to produce a ‘visual archive of your social life’. Just connect with Facebook and the app puts the photo’s you’ve uploaded in nice frames, makes an artwork out of profile pictures of your friends and creates a mural of the words you use on your facebookwall.
  • Close-up on Culture: Copy Paste Culture: In today’s culture, scissors and glue not only represent our childhood memories, but are a symbol for our postmodern culture: the Cope Paste Culture. The democratization of technologic means has made it possible for anyone to resume or remix somebody else’s work. All you have to do is watch a video on Youtube to be presented with the best and worst examples. Also professionally, with the arrival of open design or art, copying has deep-rooted itself into culture.
  • Close-up on Culture: I, Cyborg: Cybernetic organism, or in short: cyborg. Although a merging of technology and the human body, it always strikes me how cold, industrial and complex the term sounds. Born during the Cold War in an article about how to suite the human body for research into space, the discourse around the cyborg emphasized for a long time the technological side, while the ‘fleshy-ness’ or human part disappeared in the background.   In becoming-machine, in becoming-cyborg, we are becoming more human than ever.
  • Close-up on Culture: From rascal to rhizome. The wisdom of the crowd: Crowd, mass, or mob: those were the keywords to the 20th century. Words that have emerged during the industrial revolution and have only become larger and more comprehensive since then. From mass production to mass culture to mass media: the crowd ruled. But not without controversy, in fact, Crowd in it’s relatively brief reign has often been criticized for its tendency to herd behaviour resulting in superficiality without nuances. By the end of the 20th century, Crowd had lost it’s shiny crown.