From rhetorics of sin and punishment to the value of the invisible

Jan Manski’s Onania is a hellish world, a body of artwork and objects that forms an installation subtitled ‘Your Ultimate Masturbation Experience. Manski skilfully blends contemporary and historical visions of body horror and the consequence of spiritual abnegation. Imagine if Bosch and Bruegel’s highly detailed tableau of damnation were spliced with the contemporary visions of Atelier von Lieshout, David Cronenburg, Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle (fan site), Paul McCarthy and the Chapman Brothers. ‘Manski draws parallels between these environments determined by Catholicism’s insistence on a rhetoric of sin and punishment, pivotal to his understanding of growing up in post-Soviet Poland.’


Other things. We’re proud to be entered into the listings at the Tokyo Booklet Library / the first satellite map of California, an informed representation of what the state would have looked like from space c.1851 before natural water courses and lakes were diverted to cater for its burgeoning population / on the death of 35mm cinema projection / building models by Chisel and Mouse / Game and Watch artwork, at Game and Graphics, a tumblr about video game art / classic electronic instruments recreated in miniature as USB keys / soon, distracted joggers could very well be trying to escape from invisible maurading zombies (via MeFi Projects). Wait until the inevitable Project Glass version; then runners really will be looking twitchy.


Facebook and Instagram as Company Towns, a collation of recent writing about the acquisition of everyone’s favourite sepia-toned delivery system by the big F, from Matt Webb to Paul Ford. Interestingly, the Kottkean analysis of how consumers and producers create value in both Instagram and Facebook references the long-established idea of the company town, a closed economic system established by employers to benefit employees so they in turn benefit their employers through improved production. The idea that social media is a network of often unrelated digital company towns also raises the specter (sorry) of the company ghost town, remnants of which already litter the web. Phil Gyford’s take on the same subject, The Value of our Historical Instagram Products, digs a bit deeper, asking exactly how much value frequent users contribute to a company. Or do they take away value by using the service too much? The Marxian notion of use value seems pertinent here, if only for the ways in which it is being evolved by our activities in the digital realm. ‘To become a commodity a product must be transferred to another, whom it will serve as a use value, by means of an exchange’. What we do in Instagram, et al, is derive use value, rather than exchange value, from our activity. We might exchange huge amounts of information, but in the process we’re not creating huge amounts of commodities, just one big commodity (the site itself) with very high exchange value ($1bn) but no practical use value (the human needs satisfied by the site aren’t dependent on physically owning it). In the face of such big numbers, conventional definitions of worth and value have to be reappraised.

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