Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do Androids Dream of Oscar de la Renta?

The juxtaposition of a beautiful human and the looming structures of technology is not an un-stimulating one. Accordingly, Vogue's profile of Google's most photogenic employee, Marissa Mayer, gives a useful shorthand of these eye-pleasing oppositions: classic vs. modern, man vs. machine, geek vs. chic. The article itself has a predictable element of incredulousness towards a world so coolly focused on the future and yet so full of earthly luxury goods -- that's one way of quantifying technology's POWER. There's a particularly choice anecdote in which Marissa admits to buying 24 Oscar de la Renta cardigans last year, followed by a quote from Mr. de la Renta himself: "She is one of our biggest customers."

But graphically speaking, the humanity-technology binary is surprisingly difficult to represent. The task is vast. As sexy as it sounds to throw a model in front of a massive tangle of server-wires, computer science is an almost monastic pursuit and certainly an abstract one. 'Innovation' generally happens within the tiny confines of a screen or in cyberspace, which everyone knows is invisible!

The tension is probably best represented through a campy nod to science fiction. In Duncan Jones's Moon, an icy spaceship is home to a literally bleeding Sam Rockwell and his tough-but-sensitive clone. The sharp contrast of these struggling humans and their sci-fi setting does wonders to produce something as artful as it is perilous. Truly the sexiest of all antagonistic pairs!

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