Saturday, February 16, 2008

The cultures of things

Dream Machine: The Snooze Button by Daniel Steinbock

"Modern citizens of industrialized nations live by the linear, mechanical clock, not the Sun. Office buildings have controlled climates and artificial lighting, making sunlight unnecessary for productive work. Thus work schedules are divorced from circadian rhythms, imposed by business constraints, rather than the environment. In order to live according to arbitrary time schedules, citizens use technologies that impose arbitrary sleep cycles on the body. Consider the alarm clock: a direct technological intervention in the natural sleep process. It forces the linear mechanical time-sense of a globally-synchronized waking world upon the cyclic, mytho-logical dreamtime of the sleeper. The alarm clock enables its user to arrest sleep at any time of morning or night. College students, with class schedules that vary throughout the week, often choose alarm schedules that are similarly uneven; waking at 8am for an early class, then sleeping in until 11am the next day. The alarm clock is the thing that does the work of shoehorning the necessity of human sleep into the artificial constraints of the workaday waking world."

"In dreaming, identity explodes. Dissociated from artifice and perception, the dreamer is monad: window-less yet luminous, god-like yet amnesial. Dream logic plays at synaesthesis. Things in dreams become disarranged and confounded with their personal meanings and web of associations -- memory and fantasy, desire and fear, Self and Other, love and death, sex and flight. Whether paradise or nightmare, the dreamer is locked in a room with no doors to open, no walls to break down, and no eject button. In waking, identity collapses. The body concretizes at a locus in spacetime: lying in bed, a familiar room, morning light slanting in, plans for the busy day solidify and arrange themselves. If motivated, the sleeper's body rises from bed -- now heavy with the weight of materiality. The snooze button acknowledges the body's resistance to artificial awakening. What an absurd subversion of will power to provide a mechanism for procrastinating past a self-imposed waking time..."

Part of Ten Things 2007 - a class with Michael Shanks about design

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