Lost in Tech.Pop

By Rhidian Davis, 10 April 2000

I’m staring at the Flokke, and the convergence of two of the hate pets that rile me most in mediaworld: cute-biquitous Pokémonia and fontographic incontinence. “With this Flokke, you will find a joy of turning a box upside down and searching for a goodie in it” or “happiness of buying a second hand record, not knowing what kind of music it really is,” instructs the bumf on Digitalogue’s ‘floppy market’. Here’s little Saru, the Jungle Park monkey, now available as a screensaver. Here’s John Maeda’s ‘Reactive Books’, giving letters wings, numbers kinetic form and word processor keys the sounds of a clacking typewriter. “What is referred to as interactive design now no longer has any meaning,” shouts a pull-quote. Quite. And here’s the Yellows picture library of oriental ladies in intimate settings, and schoolgirls wearing loose socks. Even a digital gallery’s got to pay the rent.

The goodies are assembled like sweeties around the kiosk of Rotterdam’s Corso, a fifties cinema temporarily exploding into the TECH.POP.JAPAN Lounge as the New Media centrepiece of the respected Dutch film festival. I’ve already taken exception to festival programmer Femke Wolting’s blurbed incitement to stop thinking about new media and get on with consuming it like the Japanese. So why am I, a sworn adversary of the tamagotchification of social relations, moved – and moving for my wallet to purchase a small box inscribed FONT KILLED RADIO STAR-KAT? Maybe it’s because I’ve just left a talk at which manga historians have rescued animé for the cause of Marxist critique. Maybe it’s because the literature guides my sympathies like a benshi: “Now it is not an exaggeration to say there is one font for each new designer. Will a unique design ever become a standard design!? Or will it vanish...?” Maybe it’s because the artists have all named their own price, which strikes the right chord of arts-and-craftsy humility. Perhaps the 3.5” really is the new 12”. Or maybe I’m just a sad old WASP who’s caught yellow fever and is enjoying his symptom – and a kitsch souvenir.

Rhidian Davis <rhidian AT>