There are two great Douglas Coupland quotes on mass media, time and tech:
«The future loves you. But it doesn’t need you»
«TV is all about hair. And then skin. And then clothing. And then it’s about your voice. And finally the report, what you’re actually saying. And 99 times out of 100, it never gets past the hair.»
The Vancouver-based novelist and artist knows a thing or two about capturing Zeitgeist in a punchy quote. After all, Coupland gave us the era-defining book ‘Generation X’ and the term ‘McJob’. He is the co-author of the millennial age glossary «The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present». A mash-up of quick-firing slogans and collages – picture your Twitter feed in book format – the paperback aims to be a contemporary update to Marshall McLuhan’s 1967 seminal «The Medium Is The Massage».
So what exactly is the ‘Extreme Present’?
Coupland shared a few snippets at a silent talk in the Vienna Lounge, moderated by Monocle’s Kimberly Bradley. The hustle & bustle at Art Basel’s Collector’s Lounge on Preview Day provided the perfect background for a discussion on losing one’s pre-internet brain and the curses and blessings of everyone using the same tech, liking the same things and outsourcing everything essential to human interaction to apps.
Sounds complicated? Coupland being Coupland, he delivered a snazzy takeway: «The future is no longer in front of you. We’re all in it together and you can’t escape. It sounds depressing.»
But then, the Extreme Present can be rather fun and even highlight your day.
Interviewing a relaxed Coupland later on on the sun & people packed terrasse, I shared the Hyperlapse-clip I had snapped during the talk. The Instagram app crunched one minute of deep-talk time into 5 silent seconds in an oddly beautiful and definitely extremely present kind of way (see above).
«What’s this? I love it»
Our conversation ended up with an intro to the app and Coupland posing for his first ever Hyperlapse. It reminds me of Andy Warhol’s screen tests, when his models didn’t quite know anymore what to do until the end of the two-and-a-half minute film reel so they started pulling faces.
Nothing has changed, except technology, which changes everything.
The hair looks nice.