Revenge Against Objects

one wilshire model


This is a defensive measure for capital, so that massive run-ups in markets and unprecedented collapses can occur without any real consequence. The increasing role of telecommunications and computers in everyday life does not do away with objects. Far from it, in immaterial culture physical objects proliferate endlessly. As the logic of our daily lives becomes more and more removed from the direct consequences of our actions, objects are marketed and sold for their symbolic values alone. A teapot by Phillipe Starck costs more than a regular teapot because of its styling, even though it doesn’t really work. But the styling doesn’t really matter either, only the name of Starck as a marker of value. Physical objects carry economic value only at moments of exchange: the moment they become so desirable that you want to purchase them and the moment that you can no longer tolerate their presence and want to get rid of them.

We still feel the need to own objects, even if the gratitude of ownership is fleeting. The on-again and off-again emotions we have about our objects confuse us, leaving us bewildered and lost. Physical objects will always ultimately repel us because they cannot satisfy our desire for self-negation, our desire to lose ourselves in their world. So it is that our love for objects is routinely replaced by a deep hate. The dream of immaterial culture is revenge on the world of objects, but it remains only a dream. We sell our possessions relentlessly on eBay but still they accumulate, contributing nothing to our lives. Every day more debt, more things, less joy.

We will never find a release from the need to own. Even if we can’t sustain the gratitude of ownership, we purchase goods to validate our identity and diversity as individuals existing outside of this media web. But more than that, in submitting ourselves as willing slaves to our world of useless objects, we hope to become as disposable to them as they are to us today. If, unlike Berliner-Mauer, we cannot join their world, we dream of a new equality: being as ethereal and meaningless to them as they are to us. We pray for dispensation, to leave this material world and dissipate in Ether. And yet, as conflicted beings, we also hope that one day our objects will invest in us the same animistic beliefs with which we invest them. This is not our nightmare, it is the achievement of an Utopian dream, presence without purpose or responsibility: a slacker response of ambivalence and helplessness.

But in the transition from material to immaterial culture not only have none of the physical elements of society changed, it is now clear they will never need to be changed again. Just as fiction disappears into reality, so too, the new has been absorbed into present. Over a decade ago, Ridley Scott stated that if he had to shoot Blade Runner again, he would simply point the camera down a street in Los Angeles, perhaps in front of One Wilshire. One of the most advanced science fiction stories of our day—the Matrix trilogy—projects a future superficially identical to the present day. If the present is indistinguishable from the future, Wallpaper* Magazine, the Eames La Chaise, the newest models of the Mazda Miata, Cooper Mini, Camaro, Ford GTS, and Ford Thunderbird demonstrate that the past only comes to perfection in the present. Retrofitted, One Wilshire is far greater than anything it ever was.