“Our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs” – Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation
A year ago I had posted this video in my Polaroid SX-70 article. But watching Apple´s 2013 Ad “Designed by Apple in California” it comes back in my mind again. Thanks to the brilliant Francois Ferracci, who has written, directed and post-produced LOST MEMORIES.
Some personal words to a special aspect of the Ad “Design by Apple in California” – and I hope my bad school English is good enough to fix a very complex line of thought: In the German version at 0:13 Apple is asking the question: “was lässt es einen fühlen” (“what it makes someone feel”). And you can watch a child touching the iPad. I know that Apple is speaking about emotional feelings. But to feel as a real haptic aspect is reduced to the touch of high tech glass being used in Apple screens. Eyes, ears and brain are triggered, concurrently you can`t taste, smell or feel anything. What does it mean for the development of humans to neglect the close senses? What about the sense of equivalence and values? Are we losing something important without realizing it? Digital natives are using touch screens quite naturally for their social/emotional interactions – but are they dreaming of being touched in a way they will no longer remember and can no longer describe?
From the viewing point of a marketing and visual specialist, Apple made everything right with its new Ad: brilliant pictures, great wording, excellent sound design. But at the same time, I get a cold shiver for its absolutely perfect equality of a commercial product with themes like human feelings and emotional touch. All in an Ad for a product which seduces you to cut voluntarily and happily sensory receptors and real sensory experiences. As long as there was a mouse for input, there was a very clear separation between the sensual world of the computer and the analogue world of feeling. This limit was exceeded with the proliferation of touchscreens. Maybe in 10 years, we need to introduce feeling, tasting and smelling lessons in kindergartens and primary schools to fill gaps in sensory, emotional and social developments.
Also when this sounds like Apple bashing – this is not my intention and it is not a critic in the shape of questions. But rather there are really serious aspects which occupy me for quite some time from a scientific viewpoint. Evolution has not furnished humans with “the one extraordinary physical skill”. Specifically, in direct comparison with its former competitors, the human body even can do more very bad. But there are not many other creatures which are so well fitted in terms of the numbers of different sensory receptors like humans. One reason why we are the current winner of “Evolution´s next Topmodel”. And the ones which wear the dogs shit in little plastic bags behind the polluter – and not vice versa (little joke:-) But now, in the new digital millennium, we are beginning to voluntarily separate us from sensory skills. Interestingly at first from our close senses, the feel, smell and taste. This is the senses for which we have own direct perception receptors. In contrast to the long-range senses seeing and hearing – because only in the brain the audiovisual content is processed to the perceived impression of us. Perhaps this strong brain involvement at optical and acoustic stimuli is the reason that humans often reacts so hypnotized at games and apps. Children completely hide the world around them when they are playing with a smartphone or a tablet. What is poorly researched in terms of the senses are their indirect tasks. Are feeling, smelling and tasting only important for feeling, smelling and tasting? Or for example is the sense of touch involved as well in the training of understanding of values, since surfaces and weight previously testified about the quality? Are Investment bankers losing touch with reality because they can´t touch their trading product? Are they losing their feeling for social values cause they have no more feedback from sensory perception? And are they buying big watches to fill this gap and to feel something real again?
Has Siri answers?
If you have watched the Ad “iPhone 5 – Photos Every Day” then have a look at “I Forgot My Phone”, written by / starring Charlene deGuzman / directed by Miles Crawford. It is like Jacques Tati has made „Play Time 2.0“. DeGuzman and Crawford have the same sense of (silent) humour and same observation skills like the godfather of French comedy.