The Age of Earthquakes

The Age of Earthquakes

A Guide to the Extreme Present

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
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A highly provocative, mindbending, beautifully designed, and visionary look at the landscape of our rapidly evolving digital era.

50 years after Marshall McLuhan's ground breaking book on the influence of technology on culture in  The Medium is the Massage , Basar, Coupland and Obrist extend the analysis to today, touring the world that's redefined by the Internet, decoding and explaining what they call the 'extreme present'.
 
THE AGE OF EARTHQUAKES is a quick-fire paperback, harnessing the images, language and perceptions of our unfurling digital lives. The authors offer five characteristics of the Extreme Present (see below); invent a glossary of new words to describe how we are truly feeling today; and 'mindsource' images and illustrations from over 30 contemporary artists. Wayne Daly's striking graphic design  imports  the  surreal,  juxtaposed,  mashed  mannerisms  of screen to page. It's like a culturally prescient, all-knowing email to the reader: possibly the best email they will ever read.
 
Welcome to THE AGE OF EARTHQUAKES, a paper portrait of Now, where the Internet hasn't just changed the structure of our brains these past few years, it's also changing the structure of the planet. This is a new history of the world that fits perfectly in your back pocket. 

30+  artists  contributions: With  contributions  from  Farah Al Qasimi, Ed Atkins, Alessandro Bavo, Gabriele Basilico, Josh Bitelli, James Bridle, Cao Fei, Alex Mackin Dolan, Thomas Dozol, Constant Dullaart, Cecile B Evans, Rami Farook, Hans-Peter Feldmann, GCC, K-Hole, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Eloise Hawser, Camille Henrot, Hu Fang, K-Hole, Koo Jeong-A, Katja Novitskova, Lara Ogel, Trevor Paglen, Yuri Patterson, Jon Rafman, Bunny Rogers, Bogosi Sekhukhuni, Taryn Simon, Hito Steyerl, Michael Stipe, Rosemarie Trockel, Amalia Ulman, David Weir, Trevor Yeung.

Publisher: New York : Blue Rider Press, c2015.
ISBN: 9780399173868
0399173862
Characteristics: 253 p. :,ill.

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JCLChrisK Nov 12, 2015

This book is meant to be provocative, and in that succeeds marvelously. It's intriguing and captivating and gets you thinking. And it's one I think I want to reread at least a couple more times to let its ideas continue to tickle my brain.

The book wants to be more than that, though, and that's where I'm not sure it succeeds. This is a book where form matters immensely, and its medium is meant to convey as much as its contents. It's like reading a string of related infographics. This is not a book of prose, but a collection of memes like you might find on a social media feed. Images, pithy statements, poignant observations, definitions for invented words, and more. Lots of white space and eye-catching font placement. The seemingly random thoughts add up to a meditation on living in an information economy and the Internet age. What it is doing to our brains, our relationships, our economy, our planet. Are we more or less connected than ever before? Is the middle class becoming extinct? What does it mean to have too much information and still feel bored? All of it conveyed in a very pop culture format.

While I enjoyed the format, I felt it was missing a companion volume of source material. The book makes a ton of claims, and I would like to see them backed up with science and research. It takes for granted that readers will take its claims for granted, which is a flaw in my opinion. It also assumes to speak from the perspective of a universal "we," which will only be accurate for a category of readers and leave out the experience of all others. Another problem. Most importantly, though it claims to be a "guide to the extreme present," the book ends with the futurist idea that we're a generation away from Artificial Intelligence supremity that will make everything prior to its ascendance irrelevant. As the back cover proclaims in conclusion, "You are the last generation that will die :-/ " If that's the case, what's the point in caring about all the issues of the present the rest of the book dwells in?

Because it's our nature, I suppose, which is what makes the book work and what makes me want to read it again. My mind wasn't blown by this book, but I certainly found it thought-provoking and hope to revisit it over time.

An interesting read to muse over with your morning coffee!

~Alexa

d
dusyaka
Jun 23, 2015

Funny book, modern art, I should say.

g
Gary Geiserman
Jun 06, 2015

Youth with it’s short archive; can youth have an archive? The big talk of wisdom-envy science has become a merit-badge of ‘belonging’ (3rd chakra) to adolescence t-o-d-a-y. (where everything is new and cool and whatever ‘they’ say it is… sheesh!) >>>> too young to get spiritual, too smart to get stupid <<<< Even though the world (actually all of phenomenology) is an illusion unto a vr gameboard, it doesn’t mean YOU know that yet. In fact, you don’t. <<<< I’m talking to the SO generations. Must be at least 3 gens by now. So they start talking with so- <<<< Is ‘so’ merely a place-holder or do these people think they have been previously interrupted?

BookReviewer2015 May 28, 2015

A fascinating read!

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