Chess has never been so popular. In fact, as Richard Godwin explained in ES Magazine, urban civilisation is in revolt. The speed demons that have chased us through a decade of loading screens are no longer hot on our tail. We are choosing to jump out of their line of vision and linger – pointlessly – on the banks of relaxation.
Ultimately, relaxing – coming away from the web’s demands and switching off – is a righteous declaration of independence. As Yukai Du’s animation here suggests, the more we give to our gadgets, the less we give to ourselves. We’ve formed a habit out of uploading our life into a virtual jail – they don’t call these things cell phones for nothing – and trapping our personalities in the shackles of megabytes.
Only our gadgets aren’t where we’re being stored. Our gadgets are only the gateway to our fate. As Andy Yen explains in his TED talk everything we say on e-mail is freely read by servers and governments. So that cell phone becomes even more like my analogy for jail insomuch as those inside it are observed and monitored 24/7.
Way Out struck a chord with me when I first saw it because the rather unanimated humans in this animation become trapped in the screen of their mobile phone. On a carriage to San Diego, once, I met a surfer and we discussed the way people are walking around in cells, barely touching one another except by accident. Rather than a network of humans, coexisting in one shared reality, we have a number of solo crusaders surviving on their own industrial islands. With a Big Brother-like ape pouncing on their every move for survival.
This is why I think chess, nature trails and connectivity workshops are becoming so goddamn trendy. For, us forsaken human beings are scrambling at the tethered rope of mental, physical and environmental intimacy.