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February 2010
 
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Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 11:35 am
MediaMarkt and Flohmarkt change places

The earnest student of mankind via his tools has a choice between the sane, logical layout of a culture's newest human devices -- and, by implication, its conception of knowledge and its vision of the world -- in a modern store like MediaMarkt or the insane, cluttered and absurd layout of yesterday's tools, technologies and trash in a flea market. In the Berlin district of Neukolln the temporal distance between the sanity and the insanity of objects is a brief five minutes -- the time it takes to climb the hill from the big MediaMarkt in the Neukolln Arcaden to the Flohmarkt in the car park beyond the old Kindl brewery.



But can this neat distinction between the sanity of new objects and the insanity of old be maintained, when you visit them both in quick succession? A kind of irrational excitement grabs me in MediaMarkt when I -- for instance -- look at the pocket data projectors, an excitement which has nothing to do with any objective "need" for such a thing. And might there not be a kind of wise poetry in the irrational layout of the flea market, a serene sense of affectionate detachment from human culture, an older, wiser take on the follies and foibles of past production?



After a visit to the flea market, it's MediaMarkt which begins to look frail and irrational, its styles balanced precariously (precisely because this "media" comes so directly from the present and nothing but the present) on the edge of obsolecence, its textures charmlessly pristine, puritan, frigid, unloved and unlovable, its appeal based on all the worst aspects of human nature (for laziness is what draws us to convenience, restlessness and boredom to innovation, conformity to the latest must-have, and so on).

In some weird way, MediaMarkt (several football-fields'-worth of fluorescent-lit, air-conditioned Koolhaasian junkspace) and the Flohmarkt change places, and it's the flea market which represents what is cutting-edge, clever and new. It's at the flea market that panhandling pioneers sieve gold from the obscurities of the anxious interval. And it's at the flea market that I can become a dung beetle, rolling my own special ball packed with the future, rife with fertile possibilities.



For where else but the future can these communist opthalmologist's glasses with their strange nasal rubber bridge come from? Yes, yes, the past, of course they come from the past, but it's a past so forgotten, so sublimated, so de-contextualised that it looms before us like a spectre of the future, with the future's strangeness, the future's deviancy, the future's capacity to shock us out of our complacency and see human production -- the huge machinery of the concretization of our conception of the world and our place in it -- as gorgeously, ridiculously, ingeniously, patently insane.

12CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 10:00 am (UTC)

Your hair looks good like that. You should keep it like that.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 10:29 am (UTC)

Thank you. Being the kind of person who wants the Flohmarkt when he's at Mediamarkt, Japan when he's in Europe, the past or future when he's in the present, and so on, I can't wait to be long-haired again. So I expect it will remain in permanent flux.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)

These are cool frames indeed. I wonder - when you find new frames, do you go to the optician and let him put the correct glasses into the new nasenfahrrad or do you go with whatever was in there when you bought it? In other words - do the frames you buy become objects of daily use or are they strictly and only a fashion requisite for posed photographs?

I'm afraid this question ended up sounding like a loaded one, especially in the anonymous context, but it's really not!


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)

The pair I bought in Athens are a really good, sturdy frame, just the right shape, so I did indeed get my prescription lens put in by an optician here in Berlin, and they've become my daily-wear glasses (weaning me off contact lenses, in fact).

The pair I bought yesterday at the Flohmarkt are a bit more gimmicky and weird, but actually the lenses in them are almost my prescription anyway, so I can wear them from time to time.

Love that word "nosebicycle", by the way!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
Rural middle-class values – or something new?

I agree with you that overly hipster areas are bland (so cool there is nothing to discover, nothing to wrestle with aesthetically, no surprises, no challenge) but I'm not sure if car boot sales and flea markets are a radical enough answer. Shabby Chic, make do and mend, recycling – we can hardly say these approaches are challenging. If Click Opera's readers were a bunch of millionaires it would be a statement – otherwise isn't it the day-to-day approach of every "property rich but job poor" shire.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Rural middle-class values – or something new?

I don't know if day-to-day accoutrements need to be a "challenging statement" -- let's leave that to art, shall we? But I do actually get something of art's sweet tang of weirdness from the stuff I find in German fleamarkets. And I should probably have talked more about the "double strangeness" -- for me and Hisae, anyway -- of the stuff on display in German flea markets. It's not only from the past (a "foreign country"), but from a foreign country. And often not only from the past of a foreign country, but from a disappeared state operated via a vanished social system.

That gets pretty damned weird, man! Art struggles to keep up.


ReplyThread Parent

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Rural middle-class values – or something new?

Okay - it's financially challenging.

But there is a dullness to poverty / subsistence. Even Quakers are instructed to "live life adventurously". Imagine being too much of a subsistence drone to join the Quakers!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
spectres of (groucho) marx

there's a more rousseau-like romanticism to this entry than usual (scoffing at "modernity," arcane, conspicuous diction--"And might there not be..."), and yet also a weird admittance to a commodity fetishism, um, fetish ("irrational excitement...nothing to do with objective need..." etc etc). madison avenue is pleased that you've internalized their m.o.--see edward bernays--and marx is tsk-tsking. the ending is nicely ominous, though.

nice to see hisae is embracing the homeless look, too, by the way.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)

(Anonymous)
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
Re: spectres of (groucho) marx

um, yeah. that's what i said momus was doing. rousseau-like, and all. i know you can read.


ReplyThread Parent
mildsevens
mildsevens
trouble everyday
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC)

yes, the glasses do look nice! :D

these junk areas are so full of inspiration...i get so much joy out of creating something out of these nothing (easily passed over) objects, or "outdated" objects...and not only that...but the journey of digging through these random piles!


ReplyThread
sundialtone.com
sundialtone.com
Mon, Jul. 27th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
the past

The past doesn't exist. Only the present exists and we constantly reconstruct the past from artifacts in the present (including our memories).

We do the same with the future. That is, the same way our minds have facilities to reconstruct the past, they also have facilities to envision the future.

So the way I see it there's a nice symmetry between possible pasts and possible futures.


ReplyThread
eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
Tue, Jul. 28th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)

As we know, capitalism needs to create false 'needs' by making and portraying certain things as outdated, obsolete, undesirable. People are conditioned to consume out of fear - one of the worst things is to be considered behind the times, unfashionable.



the short life 'cycle' of consmuer goods seems to be getting worse - perhaps illustrated by mobile phones. People don't even think about dumping perfectly working phones for a newer model. jump this to about 1:05


Ads like these don't help, exhorting people to ditch TVs which have a longer lifespan, use less electricity, have better picture quality and are far easier and cheaper to fix than new flat screens:


So where does all that end up? Sadly those who pay the price for this moronic 1st world consumption are the same as always - those who can least afford it, in the dumps of india and other 3rd world countries, where all the invisble residues of our media markt sprees end up after a year or two:


so, the fleamarket is more than just a groovy place to pick up some curios. In many ways, it's become a life-saving alternative to destructive mass consumerism. Along with the TV/Hifi/PC repair shop, it needs to be promoted and supported. With the bankruptcy of the capitalist model, it's far more in tune with today's economic suituation.


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