How can we imagine a technologized life that deviates from globalized norms and standardization and from our collective obsession with endless growth? In Deserted Devices and Wasted Fences, artist and cultural critic Dani Ploeger examines everyday technologies found in places and circumstances that are usually unforeseen by their designers, manufacturers and marketers. He travels through second-hand markets in sub-Saharan Africa, the frontline in the Russo-Ukrainian War, desert landscapes in the Middle East, anti-immigration fences on the EU border and many other sites of turmoil, disruption and surprising convergences. Examining the ways in which technologies that were intended for use in everyday consumer culture start to (mal)function, gain new meanings and are appropriated in these liminal spaces can give us hints at what alternative techno-cultures could look like.
This collection of essays provokes unusual perspectives on how technologies might be developed, used and reappropriated in support of people’s personal, local and regional lifeworlds and lifestyles.
Researchers, students and teachers in the fields of cultural theory, technology and materialism, as well as anyone looking for ways to understand everyday digital culture in relation to globalization, cultural diversity and liminal practices.
“Highly recommended for all scholars, thinkers, artists… well for anyone with an interest in stuff, things, technology, waste, bodies, consumerism, and so much else that’s going in our crazy, divided and imperilled world. Delivered in wonderfully erudite and insightful, not to mention often plainly hilarious, bite-sized chunks of smart observation and edgy practice across a myriad quotidian but often less visible lives and situations - and all entangled with enough theoretical sophistication to inspire critical reflection in any reader, without drowning them. In this book Ploeger and his diverse collaborators offer an exciting, and sometimes disturbing reflection upon some of the key issues of our time. Not to be missed.” Joost Fontein, Professor of Anthropology, University of Johannesburg
"I very much recommend this very captivating read of Ploeger’s endeavour to highlight not only the wastages of our ‘throwaway’ society, but also globally explore and posit innovative ways that already exist or could exist to rethink and reappropriate technology, at the same time producing new significatory ways of technological being." Susan Broadhurst, Professor Emerita of Performance and Technology, Brunel University London / Chair, Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts (DRHA)
“This book is gritty and provocative, asking us to review technologies through a radical vision. The festival, the event and the everyday come together in an enticing assemblage. Exceptional in terms of intellectual contributions and vantage point.” Yasmin Ibrahim, Professor of Digital Economy and Culture, Queen Mary, University of London
Introduction 1. Tactical Transgressions: Bashar al-Assad’s phone 2. E-Waste in Cling Film: The symbolic order of technological progress 3. Hi-Tech Everything: A report from the heart of techno-consumerism 4. Eerie Prostheses and Kinky Strap-Ons: Mori’s uncanny valley and ableist ideology 5. The Dirt Inside: Computers and the performance of dust 6. Orodha: The ultimate fetish commodity and its reversal 7. Frugal Phone / Material Medium 8. Positioning the Middle of Nowhere: GPS technology and the desert 9. Sounds of Violence: The affective tonality of high-tech warfare 10. Smart Bombs, Bulldozers and the Technology of Hidden Destruction 11. Smart Technologies and Soviet Guns: The dialectics of postdigital warfare 12. Techno-Mythology on the Border: The Pandemic Risk Society 13. Camera Surveillance and Barbed Wire 14. The Smart Fence is the Message: EU border barriers as violent media 15. The Deluxe Anti-Terrorist Barrier 16. Struggle and Expand: The Delta Works as colonial technology Postscript: Artificial techno-myths