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phones, feelings and radically analogue bodies

In February 2020 the German artist Simon Weckert put 99 smartphones into a small red trolley, walked around Berlin and created what he called a virtual traffic jam” in Google Maps.1

In January 2019, the social psychologist Shoshana Zuboff published a book called Surveillance Capitalism. In it she uses the word rendition to describe a two-sided process. On one side are the technologies of surveillance capitalism that are designed to render our experience into data, as in rendering oil from fat”.2 On the other side is the fact that every time we encounter a digital interface we make our experience available to datafication’”.3 We render unto surveillance capitalism” a continuous supply of raw materials.

According to Zuboff, the rendition of our bodies begins quite simply with our phones.4

Let’s begin by turning off our mobile phones. Turning them off completely. Humour me. There’s no need to be jaded or cynical. There’s time for that in the next session. We can quietly create the opposite of Weckert’s virtual traffic jam: we can create a gap in the geolocation map. A small absence. A silence. It’s just us. Untracked for 15 minutes. Going dark. Bliss. We can create a wild space. Like the body. A wild space: unpredictable and un-extractable. A place for our analogue selves and our radically analogue bodies. A place where something is not simply yes or no, this or that, 1 or 0, anything but boolean, untouched, untouchable. A body that, even just briefly, resists the facts and fictions of sampling, the logic and ideology of data, and the datafication of the world. It is a wild space of feelings. Yes feelings. Those things that drive all conversations, all experiences. Nuanced, primitive, primal. All that we are saying, all that we are hearing, all that we are communicating and proposing, is driven by feelings:

conversations do not just involve feelings, they are at their very core about feelings.5

Feelings. To feel smart, to feel less clumsy, to feel busy, to avoid the fear of failure, to feel wanted or needed, to feel successful, to be repelled by ambition, to feel less lonely, to be respected, valued, loved even. To feel superior, less inferior, to feel astonished, eager, energetic, confused, excited, significant or insignificant.

The wild spaces of our analogue bodies understand these things. I am never just this or that, never just busy or needy, never just superior or inferior. And with all these feelings, all these states and traits, memories and traumas, the ghosts of our pasts, we are all dancing some kind of dance. They are dances of love and laughter, dances of shame and embarrassment, dances of patience and care, dances of pride and pleasure, of honesty and lies. I mean, who are you if there’s nothing wrong with you?

screenshot of Simon Weckert’s Google Maps Hacks


  1. Weckert, S., 2020. Google Maps Hacks [WWW Document]. simonwerkert.com. URL http://simonweckert.com/googlemapshacks.html (accessed 2.10.20).

  2. Zuboff, S., 2019. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: the Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power. Profile Books, London. (Quote from Chapter 8.1 n.p.)

  3. Zuboff, S., 2019. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: the Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power. Profile Books, London. (Quote from Chapter 8.1 n.p.)

  4. Zuboff, S., 2019. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: the Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power. Profile Books, London. (Quote from Chapter 8.2 n.p.)

  5. Stone, D., Patton, B., Heen, S., 2003. Difficult Conversations, How to Discuss what Matters Most. Penguin Books, New York, p.13

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