at the Park Slope Neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY on October 12, 2014:
Mankind dreamt a dream of superiority. Enlightenment had taken the monopoly of knowledge from the churches and went hand in hand with a scientific revolution. The developments transformed views of society and nature. They sparked an industrial revolution that brought about ever new technological advances. Steam powered everything.
We build huge, unsinkable ships en mass – ok, they suffered a minor image problem due to icebergs. But we rushed quick like the wind through the world in trains too and cars. We built towers that scraped the clouds, defying the story of Babel. We telegraphed each other through the air without wires like magic, but it was born out of our imagination and skill. Believe it or not, we even flew in power driven planes like birds and dived through the oceans in submarines like fish. God’s creation? Well, better bet on our creations now since we will up it and better it.
In the relative peacefulness of 19th/ early 20th century Europe the citizens developed a vision of a peaceful future fed by the ever increasing prosperity through technological advancements. It just took one more war to divide the planet rightfully and to end all other wars once and for good. And how did the young, their heads filled with romantic raisins, long to prove themselves or die a hero’s death!
The romantic vision of a just and gentlemanly war – maybe that was why the military was still stuck in the 19th century while technology evolved in lightning speed. The cavalry was still their premier branch, hiding in trenches was for sissies and a good offense was always preferable to defensive tactics. Especially the last had been proven wrong in the American Civil War and yet, instead of learning a lesson from Ulysses S. Grant’s costly fight lasting months they rather chose to believe in a more civilized Europe.
That was until they met barbed wire, machine guns, artillery, tanks, airplanes and their floating carriers, and poisonous gas – neatly produced by the application of the methods of mass production. All these fancy new technologies, they did not just bring supplies and death faster, they brought the world into the war. And then it was stuck in the trenches for years.
One vision of the technology believers this war brought to life was that of the human android, because bigger guns meant bigger wounds and advances in the field of medicine meant that though bigger, more men survived their wounds. The limbs they missed had to be replaced.
And today? What did we learn besides that gentlemen are an extinct species? Technology is still our present and our future. But is all we learnt to believe in guns and mobility? Really?
These steam punk inspired bags of the From Berlin With Love project were scattered in New York City’s Park Slope Neighborhood by the fabulous Gilly Youner, whom I want to thank for miraculously finding the time for it in her exceptionally busy schedule.