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theory

In recent political debates, the concept of expert has undergone a shift in values from exaltation to disdain. In contexts as diverse as Brexit, climate change or vaccination, one encounters a palpable distrust of experts and an increasing tendency to throw their advice to the wind. Are we really witnessing the "death of the expert", or are the complaints about the "assault on science" just a hysterical reaction by elites who see their status threatened?⁠ Buy...

Do you remember Polly Pocket? As a child, you could carry your secret dream house around with you. A little plastic world in a case that looks like a powder compact. Personally, I was denied ownership of one of these kitschy dream houses, my parents didn't think much of plastic toys that make you dream of mainstream consumer objects. And yes maybe the aesthetic is questionable and yet it still has an appeal to me. It was the first time I dreamt of a house that wasn't my parents'. A symbol of independence. ⁠⁠ ⁠⁠ This is one of the points of investigation in the first issue of Reference, a magazine devoted to living design, from the said Polly Pocket to Stonehenge and Superstudio and many more unusual examples.⁠⁠ Buy...

Pier Paolo Pasolini, sadly long dead, remains inspiring and provocative not only because of his many talents as a linguist, man of letters, journalist and filmmaker, but also because of his themes. Pasolini never merely transfigured the archaism of remote regions or merely condemned progress, but in his appropriation of both poles he outlined a comprehensive poetics of experimental thought. In today's Europe of levelling and regulation, his voice is sorely missed. Buy...

In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives. Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. And we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important … but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress. Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book will change how you see your place in our world.⁠ Buy...

Anders Frederik Steen, one of the central figures of natural winemaking, started out as a sommelier in Copenhagen - first at Noma, then opening Relæ and Manfreds - before heading to the South of France in 2013 to become a winemaker himself. These are his notes on winemaking and wine drinking, but they are also the doubts and insights during the learning process.⁠⁠ Poetry is Growing in our Garden shows what it means to understand (and misunderstand) wine, to taste and pair it, the balance between craftsmanship and abstract philosophy, and the technical details, in short, the thoughts of someone deep in their craft.⁠⁠   Buy...

Replacement, one could say, is at odds with individualism. If something is irreplaceable, then theoretically it has more value than something that can be easily replaced. So who wants to be replaceable? Amber Husain does! Disillusioned by her first real job, the kind that brings you a pay check that sustains a life, she realises that a permanent job is not automatically a guarantee for permanent relevancy. On the contrary, it "felt causally connected to my growing doubt about the beauty and meaningfulness of life."⁠ ⁠ Fun enough humans continue to build machines that replaces human labour. Starting with the washing machine. But instead of leaning back and enjoying all that free time, we compete with robots and create useless jobs are suppose to make us feel important and needed. ⁠ ⁠ Replace Me is a celebration of the possibilities for political transformation inherent in the act of embracing one's own replaceability.⁠   Buy...

⁠In 1930, duck farmer Martin Maurer from Flanders, Long Island, decided to build a huge shop in the shape of a duck to advertise and sell the Peking ducks he bred. But in this fantastic little book you will also find a fruit shop in the shape of an orange, a dog grooming salon in the shape of a dog, a supermarket in the shape of a shopping basket and a hot dog shop in the shape of a hot dog. Unlike other buildings, they are the literal embodiment of a thing itself, widely displaying their function rather than hiding it behind four austere walls.⁠ ⁠ It is a tribute to Learning from Las Vegas - a book that first highlighted these structures and changed the world of architecture, and a tribute to these buildings themselves that enchant our grey days and make us question these anonymous concrete and glass bricks. What might our built environment look like if we gave free rein to creativity and expression?⁠   Buy...

No society in human history has demanded so many people to be such active participants in producing the contemporary. No contemporary has ever been so aggressively monetised. Everything is for sale. There is more merchandise than love, more sponsored content than truth. As a coping mechanism, many amongst us have decided to check out from reality altogether; preferring to inhabit tailor-made fantasies and simulations. But only children believe that closing their eyes renders them invisible to monsters. When the monsters are real, closing our eyes rather increases the danger.⁠ ⁠ The latest issue of Real Review asks "What To Believe" and delves into the realms of all sorts of belief systems like conspiracy theories, the stock market, and technology, as well as the ways we create a representative image of ourselves through styling, the perfect lawn, and wearing work clothes when we don't have to.⁠   Buy...

Once the cutting-edge technology of their time - video, floppy disk, CD and Super8 film are now virtually useless. Often, we even still have collections of these media somewhere in the basement, but we have no way to play them anymore - they have become obsolete.⁠ But there are some enthusiasts and artists who still appreciate these audio and visual carriers - mainly because of their specific aesthetics, which take you back to their era like a time capsule. And yes, there is often nostalgia involved, or a certain cultural pessimistic reflex that claims that "everything was better in the old days," but the love of obsolete media is also rebellious in nature. When recorders and cable outlets are scarce, it takes a certain amount of stubbornness to keep the technology alive.⁠ ⁠ ⁠H.o.Me. - Home for Obsolete Media introduces different analog media in a technological and culture historical context and demonstrates the potential inherent in working analog in the digital age.⁠ ⁠   Buy...

Since the rise of social media, the heart symbol is everywhere. We click it to communicate that we "like" something, we use it at the end of a comment in place of a thank you, and to spread love across language barriers, especially in these times of conflict and increased attention to social and racial injustice. Afterall the harmless little heart is the universal symbol of love! But there's the problem: who claims love? The seemingly innocent heart symbol hides a much more complex story than its surface suggests.⁠ ⁠ With "hate groups" renaming themselves "organizations of love," heart symbols on AfD posters and other Alt-Right groups in Europe, it is becoming clear that the "love" in the heart symbol can just as easily be seen as "hate" by the opposing political view. And at the same time, we automatically project our own values onto the heart symbol. "Can't be meant badly, after all, it's in the name of love."⁠ With corporations putting heart symbols on their websites and plastic bags, and paying billions for targeted advertising based on our clicks on little heart-shaped buttons, it seems that love is being marketed, mass-produced and sold. The heart has become a button to click, an emoji to send, and a digital currency.⁠ It claims trust and good intentions without defining them.⁠ ⁠ This clever little book takes a hard look at the symbol of love from its origins to its uses to its meaning, and uncovers all the things that are done in the name of ❤️.⁠   Buy...