Litany of Precariat

Litany of Precariat, 2019, AVU Publishing House, Prague, photo: author’s archive  

[...] I wasn’t fascinated only by the visual aspect of the phenomenon but also by the meanings it carries and refers to by its very existence. Step by step, I became convinced that a critical analysis of unboxing could shed a light on the inner workings of the contemporary society. In the following months, I spent a few hours a day watching videos of boxes with computers and other gadgets being unpacked. I felt like an explorer discovering a new continent full of compelling videos capturing the unpackings of new, beautiful and desirable products.

After shy beginnings, the unboxing evolved into a peculiar genre with its own celebrities and simple rules. The camera captures the hands and the packed product from the height of about one or one and a half metre. The whole process of “undressing” of the product of its wrapping is accompanied by voiceover. Using a sharp tool, the hands open the package and slowly show its contents. The angle from which the scene is captured is of great importance. The camera is slightly tilted to create an impression in the viewer that it is her own hands unpacking the object. The hands traverse the surface of the wrapping neurotically – obsessively even – and tear everything that stands in their way while the voice of the youtuber tries to objectively inform the viewers what does the object look like and what are its features. The contrast between the solemn voice and the impulsive action of hands is so stark that it looks like there are actually two people performing in the scene.

The oldest video on YouTube labelled as unboxing was uploaded on June 12, 2006 (Nokia E61 phone). The first unboxing videos were created as an answer of the big American online shopping websites to the recurrent complaints of the customers that the purchased product doesn’t match the photographs on their website. [...]

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