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Human or Humanoid?
by Michael Colton| Chicago, USA
Thursday, 17 February 2011
tags: americas, art & design, clients & brands, emergence, making sense, technology
Technology as we know it is, and will always be, lifeless. Whether it’s a household appliance or a particle accelerator there is no soul, no beating heart. It’s unlikely that technology will act as if it had a mind of its own, expanding and contracting like dendrites in the brain. Our bodies are truly remarkable. Our skin has the elasticity and resilience to conform to our changing bodies. It can heal itself when its get injured. It can acclimate to changing external temperatures by activating sweat glands or increasing heart rate.
The idea behind the Vibram Five Fingers shoe is that it enables the foot to perform better than any shoe that came before it, no matter what gel or air cushion technology any previous shoe delivered. The five toe shoe does so simply as a second skin molding to the feet and enabling the foot to flex and respond with sensory and kinesthetic awareness. It does what shoes where originally intended to do – protect. But in this case to protect without inhibiting or undermining the action of the human feet. We place our feet down on the ground differently when we go barefoot versus when we stride in shoes – because, when we wear shoes, our foot is adjusting to the shoe, not to the ground. In a way, we truly are the technology.
On the other hand, maybe we’re not the technology.
The challenge with the Vibram Five Fingers ads and the website is that the human characters appear to be inhuman. The impression is contrary to the overture of the campaign. You’d expect that standing naked, bodies scarred for the world to ogle, would leave one feeling humiliated for life. Yet their expression and gesture indicates that they have no shame. Embarrassed humans immediately respond with downcast head and eyes. In a prolonged state of shame and embarrassment, a blank stare would result–a neurotic attempt to emotionally escape.
The decision to purchase any shoe is motivated by shame. This negative emotion is the primary motivation for willing our bodies forward and taking care. Shame allows us to evaluate our mortality and ourselves. It’s the emotion responsible for compelling us to look in the mirror and decide what steps have to be taken next. Shame is the emotion of self-improvement and dignity. It’s the emotion that tells us we need better shoes.
What separates the humanoid from the human is a light that shines brightly behind the eyes. In these characters there is no such indicator. As the ad suggests, ‘we are the technology’ – a lifeless, shameless instrument for advertising and web interactivity.
© Michael Colton 2011
Make sure to checkout the website! youarethetechnology.com