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P1040974Publishers: Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland + Scalo.

TRADE Commodities, Communication, and Consciousness is a catalog for an exhibition held in 2001 at the Fotomuseum in Switzerland, and also exhibited in 2002 at the Nederlands Foto Instituut in Rotterdam, Netherlands (287pp, numerous photographs).

I am not sure why I missed this book, and have nothing but praise for it, so much so that to name individual photographers at this point does not serve a real purpose.

The innate quality lies in the combination of the essays and the photographs, and it would receive my vote as the book of the decade that started the 21st Century. Can we learn lessons? Can we change “our hard learned views” of what reality is? How do we exercise power? How do we continue to function in an age of increasing technology? Who watches the backdoor to important components of daily life like privacy, representation, and so on?

Do we really have to become the ultimate consumer to survive? Of course not! The wonderful essays in this book illustrate this point very well. Let’s have a look at some of the things I picked out, shown below.

P1040980The red underling is mine entirely of course.

The marketing pundits in this cleverly designed game of consumption are “promising” and fine tuning the consumer campaigns. Apparently Party leadership has not understood we are now living in an “Imperial Presidency” age. Imperial powers never lasted long in history.

The only vote, made by any well informed consumer now, is for any so called Rogue President who will take them out of the evil hands of the Vicious Banks and their blood sucking cronies. The large majority of members of the United States Congress have now failed in their absolute mission which should be the saving of the proverbial Nation from all excess leading to utter moral and financial decay.

The specter of the balkanized voter did arrive in the USA in 2008 and in 2015 the large numbers of candidates for the throne and scepter prove the fact.

P1040978Yes, if you read the statement above you will realize that there is still hope for a saved Nation if you make the right choice, and, in my opinion, will not include any Democrat Party candidate.

Their candidate who in the last 8 years, promising “hope and change” in every direction and obeying the marketing canon, targeted his message to every group in every nook and cranny, but delivered very little in real substance. In the mean time, failing bridges, polluted waterways and out of touch politicians are a fact of life. Hard reality can be summoned up in the excerpt shown below.

P1040977If someone told me that this Kafkaesque statement came straight from Marx or Lenin I would buy into it as well. The author Michel Surya, has put his finger on a bleeding wound, only all of society can prevent the wound from bleeding until the proverbial patient, contemporary society, dies. (Apparently I just discovered a mistake in the caption on the above page where Surya is misspelled Suruya, how is that for nit picking?)

This statement allows me to mention the nearly forgotten history of the Frenchman Guy Debord who in his most important work The Society of the Spectacle explains the mystery background of the society we live in today.

Since the post is about the Fotomuseum catalog book, I feel compelled though to include two images from the book, shown below, that I believe convey the complex messages in the essays well.


Photographer Florian Schwinge 1999 Titled Ruhr Characters 1a+b


Photographer Dan Holdsworth dated 1999 and titled “A machine for living”.

A marvelous book, superb photographs, wonderful photographers, the philosophic side of this post is entirely my interpretation of some not so benign aspects of our civil society close to the heart. I am sure that you, the reader whose scrutiny I have now passed, will forgive my indulgence.