Mirror Culture, Response #1

The first response to our ‘Mirror Culture’ statement from Services Unknown comes from Mexican Creative Director Roberto Salazar.

Communication dwells in two different realms: its manifest (palpable) expression and its latent expression.

Nowadays, when we subscribe to social media platforms we agree to terms and conditions for their services; which manifest the legal conditions that are required in order for us to enjoy the use of any given platform.

In the web 2.0, where users are responsible for content creation and service providers are responsible for generating the virtual spaces in which those contents inhabit; the terms of service agreement has acquired an unspoken condition of disciplinary nature. Service providers argue that such terms are necessary to make their services available.

Those conditions include: speculation and exploitation of any and all of information provided by users (data mining), contents used for marketing purposes or the platform’s own improvement processes based on its users’ behavioural patterns, etc.

“THE ‘LIKE’ IS TAKEN AS A DESIRABILITY INDEX, BECOMING A MAGNETIC NORTH POLE FOR TRENDINESS.”

In the case of websites and apps such as Pinterest, Behance, Tumblr, etc., where a lot of contemporary design is hosted, another type of implicit service term comes to be: that in which we subscribe to certain aesthetics.

Aesthetics that are phantasmagorically consolidated through “like” mechanisms or their equivalents. Each time we press the like button, we make visible an aesthetic structure (image), and thus reinforce its gravitational power of attraction/seduction (peer pressure). This structure — SHARED, LIKED, APPRECIATED, PINNED, TUMBLR’D— strengthens its own preponderance and influence, not only as an image, but as a (role) model that’s replicated by others as an implicit group occurrence.

The “like” is taken as a desirability index, becoming a magnetic north pole for trendiness. With each iteration, with each repeating cycle of replication, our compass ends up pointing towards a more and more empty reference point.

So, what happens to design when it is submitted to this dynamic, to the possibility of becoming viral, cyber-desired (liked) and becoming a universal reference (something always ends up as such)?

Is design enriched or impoverished by this mechanisms?

What happens when virtual design galleries (in material design, design in its image dimension) become the group existent and popular images (those liked and appreciated) are their emergent?

“…LIKE BUBBLES IN WATER, THAT CAN’T HELP BUT FLOAT TO THE SURFACE AND INEVITABLY BURST.”

When we promote an image through social media’s exchange devices, what is exacerbated and what is extinguished? (promotion-demotion) when we praise something through cyber-social mechanisms, what becomes displaced? What stops being legitimate? Who are we leaving out of the conversation? Does this represent a self-imposed aesthetic colonialism? A monoculture that nullifies other aesthetic-political possibilities? Through these immaterial terms, what do we obtain and at what cost?

In this context, the “like” behaves not only as a speculation and gentrification mechanism (by excluding from cyber- territories other aesthetic and ideological viewpoints), but also as an erosion system. It disappears designs’ value (materiality, context, territorialization, etc.) diminishing it into only its visual form (image/photo). Each image, more than aesthetic becomes ecstatic (ecstasy and static).

“DESIGNS’ REPRESENTATION IN ITS IMAGE FORM IN THE WEB, IS LIKE AN EMPTY POSTCARD, WITH NO CONTENT, NO ADDRESS OR ADDRESSEE”

We would also like to point out that while the “like” legitimizes and constructs an aura, it also destroys it through its own excedent. Images fall thanks to their own weightlessness. They fall by virtue of reaching such great popularity.

Like bubbles in water, that can’t help but float to the surface and inevitably burst.

Thanks to our subscription to these dynamics (guilty as charged), we’re destined to maneuver in a precarious transit from bubble to bubble, just below the surface where they burst, forced to slow down their ascension and try to make it last forever.

Designs’ representation in its image form in the web, is like an empty postcard, with no content, no address or addressee; postamp from nowhere. A letter sent by no one, whose sole purpose is to circulate at the fastest speed possible around every circuit available. Its postage stamp says “stamp”, engraved on a thick, textured, acid-free cotton paper grown in certified fields.


Perhaps its contents read: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amen.

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Everyone’s in the same place, moving at the same pace. Read as we sit down to discuss our #SERVICESUNKOWN article ‘Mirror Culture

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