Third Family of Objects And Confrontational Reading
a photograph, a blog, a confrontational readings and a video documentation

My computer screen is wallpapered with a photograph of the lathe that my mother worked on for 22 years. This image accompanies me while I’m working, or when I’m watching a film or surfing the net. These attributes distinguish my parents’ lathe from the computer. It is a machine that is used not only to secure a livelihood, but also for entertainment. Computers are thus not only a means of production, but also objects of desire and social status.

So I started to write about new internet phenomena that would help me to provide evidence of the way work has been transformed during the last ten, fifteen years. Initially I focused on the phenomenon of UNBOXING – videos documenting the unpacking of computers, desktop or laptop, as well as other electronic gadgets. In the main, the people who make them try to convince themselves, and others, about why buying a particular device was worthwhile, as their fingers tear away obsessively at everything that stands in the way of the object itself. Progressively, my interest turned to the unwrapping of other objects, such as Holly Bible or Birkin handbags. Going forward, I focused on other internet phenomena such as the DTA 1541A data converter, or the ostensibly endless cover-versions of the song Best Thing I Never Had by Beyoncé. I ended up examining trainspotting, the first historically documented form of geek entertainment. I then assembled thematic montages of selected videos, found texts and photographs, subsequently publishing them on the blog Third Family of Objects.

While working on the blog, I took the step of doing public presentations of the thematic montages published there. Step by step, I took the decision to adopt the method of Confrontational Reading. I then presented a comprehensive set of these readings at the Hunt Kastner gallery in September and October 2012 – this is also where I was able to develop a more precise method of Confrontational Reading. It allows me to mediate an acquired physical experience using both language and the immaterial space of the internet. Through this method, I attempted to place the relationship between the individual and cyberspace on an equal footing – by using collective reading aloud and montages assembled from youtube videos and texts and photographs found on the internet.

photo: author’s archive, Aleš Čermák and Štěpán Pech