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The Rambler :: blog

Friday, August 22, 2003

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k-punk picks up the baton on data fetishism.

I see what Mark's saying here, and the Baudrillard quotation is spot on: the fetishist wants to see everything, from every angle. But I think the idea that pure data such as an MP3 is non-fetishisable is an illusion. To stay with the porno analogy, no-one thinks of the individuals on film as people - they have become just bodies. Just data. (This is what is most offensive about it, and what distances the consumer from his guilt.) Baudrillard's porn consumer is really seeking an infinite database of images which may be infinitely queried in order to create that ideal porn experience. The durability of porn is due to the fact that, like Big Macs and smack (all hugely profitable), and probably hi-fi, you are promised a perfect experience which is designed to always fall slightly short.

Now, instead of porn images, you have MP3s. And the great thing about yer iPod is that now our record collections are queriable. We can instantly compile and edit any playlist we want: in essence get closer to the infinite variety (and dissatisfaction) of porn. Of course, the tracks can be savoured for themselves, but, like the actors in the porn film, we need not actually know or care anything about their 'content', their nature, in order to seek pleasure in them.

The analogy is far from complete, of course, and not particularly robust. But I think the point can be made that there are two modes of fetishization: for the medium and for the data. Cassette lovers fetishize the medium, porn lovers fetishize the data (unless they really like glossy magazine paper - and in which case, why not Auto Trader as well as Playboy?). Do MP3 collectors tend towards the latter?


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