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A psychopathology of unconscious gesture in search of a purpose
March 20, 2012 5:50 AM   Subscribe

"The Secret Gestural Prehistory of Mobile Devices is cultural anthropology. It seeks to recover those moments of intuitive prehensile dexterity, when the famous and the ordinary alike felt the unconscious desire to occupy their hands for an as yet unknown purpose. Like Roy Neary's obsession with the image of Devil's Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), this gesture was vague, uncanny and compelling. It is the intimation in images of a gestural second nature to come."

Some are more convincing than others. Some will be found in the background. Some require even more hunting. They're all sort of fun.
posted by taz (16 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sadly, the site owners only posted for a few months. Unfortunate, because there are surely a lot of great examples left undiscovered. Here's my contribution.
posted by taz at 5:50 AM on March 20, 2012


Sadly, the site owners only posted for a few months

They went on to start the massively successful peoplescratchingtheirears.com.
posted by chomarui at 6:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain what gesture these guys are making?
They're not scratching their ears, thats for sure. It looks more like "Oh no, these are the wrong sheets! Get on the phone with the publisher ASAP!"
posted by vacapinta at 6:16 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


*clutches sideburns in consternation*
posted by DU at 6:19 AM on March 20, 2012


They missed Charlie Chaplin's time traveller, somehow.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:19 AM on March 20, 2012


vacapinta, I think they're singing, and doing that hand-cupped-over-the-ear thing that old-time broadcasters did so they could hear their own voice. That's what I make of it, anyway.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain what gesture these guys are making?

I don't know either, but the expressions on their faces are straight out of Scooby Doo.
posted by chavenet at 6:42 AM on March 20, 2012


From the site:

an improbable banality that, today, is all too familiar.


QFT.

Moving on.

 
posted by Herodios at 7:14 AM on March 20, 2012


I... no.
posted by The Michael The at 7:36 AM on March 20, 2012


Can someone explain what gesture these guys are making?
They're not scratching their ears, thats for sure. It looks more like "Oh no, these are the wrong sheets! Get on the phone with the publisher ASAP!"

vacapinta, they're not making anything. That's a medieval songbook. They're monks, singing.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:05 AM on March 20, 2012


(And I suspect they're cupping their ears to hear themselves above the others.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:06 AM on March 20, 2012


What about smoking? You can't tell me that the rise of mindless and habitual cell phone fiddling use isn't directly related to the decline of habitual smoking of nicotine sticks.
posted by philip-random at 9:00 AM on March 20, 2012


I don't get it. I have a cell phone but I still make that gesture. I think I missed the point.
posted by costanza at 10:14 AM on March 20, 2012


Am I alone in having no idea, at all, what is supposed to be going on here?
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:47 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before I ever had a phone that could text, I would spend hours idealizing the thumb motion and noting what letters were on what keys, getting ready for my foray into text based telephony... When I finally was able to send texts, it was a lot less exciting than the platonic telephone keypad I held in my mind to practice on.
posted by zachhouston at 11:56 AM on March 20, 2012


philip-random: "What about smoking? You can't tell me that the rise of mindless and habitual cell phone fiddling use isn't directly related to the decline of habitual smoking of nicotine sticks."

The plural of anecdote is not data and all that, but I have starting calling my mother on my cellphone (pretty much the only time I use it for conversation's other than "I'll be there in 5 minutes [and don't want to text]") much more since I quit smoking, and I'm pretty sure this is related.

Of course, the really more interesting point is that I've trained myself such that I can't just walk down the fucking street without doing something, but that's a whole other can of worms.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:21 PM on March 21, 2012


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