The “subject” of Herman Asselberghs’ Dear Steve is the most dependable of foot soldiers manning the machinery of our presentday culture industry — the laptop. Most of us have one, and their relative invisibility within the field of cultural production — how often do we actually get to see laptops in exhibitions or films, or as artworks even? — contrasts starkly with the indispensability of the mobile personal computer in our present-day globalized cultural economy.
Dear Steve, however, is obviously much more than a lyrical portrait of this pedestrian icon of what Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello have called “the New Spirit of Capitalism”. What we are witnessing in this work is the ruthless, smooth dismantling of a brand-new MacBook Pro, and the act of literally turning inside-out the digital work station cannot help but reveal the irreducible materiality of the one “tool” that plays such a pivotal role in the triumphalist rhetoric of so-called immaterial labor.
See also P.S.: the postscript accompanying this video letter. An installation by Herman Asselberghs & Fairuz.