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Laptop Culture Revealed

P.S.: Herman Asselberghs / Fairuz, photo: Hilda de Schutter

Laptop Culture Revealed

From the beginning of Herman Asselberghs’s project 'Dear Steve', a video letter to Steve Jobs in which a MacBook Pro is taken apart, the artist wanted to make an installation out of the laptop’s components. He called it 'P.S.': A Postscript to Steve Jobs. In P.S., the viewer sees the MacBook Pro’s parts displayed in hundreds of small clear plastic bags hanging from the ceiling.

Simon de Bakker, a V2_Lab developer who worked on the installation’s production, says, “When you walk through and see all those tiny parts, you actually feel yourself becoming very small. As a hardware developer myself, I work with these kinds of materials, and you can see how incredibly huge the scale and the number of parts in one laptop is.” 

Stan Wannet, who dismantles the laptop in the video Dear Steve, says, “It's impossible to say how many parts there are in the laptop. It depends how far you take it. But you could get down to thousands of elements. Every coil was made at some point out of a wire and two plastic spools.” 

De Bakker says, “The technology is impressive, first of all, but the human side of the production process is at least as impressive. An incredible amount of labor goes into assembling all those parts. For instance, there's a factory somewhere that specializes in making the wires for the coils.” 

This raises the question of how production costs can be kept so low. P.S. is designed to throw open the world behind the laptop –what Herman Asselberghs calls “laptop culture.” De Bakker says, “To expose the workings of certain elements, like the screen, in P.S., I’ve stripped down a few screens enough that you can see all the components but they still work. In the installation, the screens show images of factories in China where thousands of employees work assembling laptops, and mines where the raw materials are excavated. The result is simultaneously a poetic and spatial representation of the laptop and a critical message to consumers, who at the very end of the production chain still bear a certain responsibility for the whole process.” 

 

P.S. at STUK, Leuven

P.S.: Herman Asselberghs / Fairuz, STUK, Leuven. photo: Hilda de Schutter 2011


P.S. at STUK, Leuven

P.S.: Herman Asselberghs / Fairuz, STUK, Leuven. photo: Hilda de Schutter 2011

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