Paper $28.00 ISBN: 9780745336749 Published August 2017 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada
Cloth $99.00 ISBN: 9780745336787 Published November 2017 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada

Unreal Objects

Digital Materialities, Technoscientific Projects and Political Realities

Kate O'Riordan

Unreal Objects

Kate O'Riordan

Distributed for Pluto Press

216 pages | 5 1/3 x 8 1/2
Paper $28.00 ISBN: 9780745336749 Published August 2017 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada
Cloth $99.00 ISBN: 9780745336787 Published November 2017 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada
More than ever before, scientific and technological innovations are playing increasingly important roles in our lives. New products developing today will fundamentally shape the world around us and manipulate our lived experience in the future. In twenty years, we could be zooming on hoverboards to visit real-life Jurassic Parks or navigating with our optic-implanted GPS systems. In this age of blossoming innovation, however, many wonder: how and why are these important projects chosen? And what are the ultimate consequences of this process?
 
In Unreal Objects, Kate O’Riordan unpacks these crucial questions and fills a gap in the theorization of digital materialities. Through her investigation, she discovers that many objects—such as genomic projects, artificial meat, and re-creation of extinct species—cannot be granted scientific legitimacy and developed without extraordinary amounts of media, celebrity endorsements, and private investment. As a result of these filters, only certain projects take center stage when it comes to funding and political attention. O’Riordan calls these unreal objects; scientific projects and technologies whose utopian visions for the future are combined with investment and materialization in the here and now. By separating the media hype from the reality, O’Riordan shows how the huge amount of attention paid to these unreal objects hides more pressing social injustices and inequalities, while at the same time conjuring utopian visions for how life might be lived.
 
Review Quotes
Sarah Kember, Goldsmiths University
"The premise of this book is that objects orient us through our thinking and being in the world and not least through our practices of mediation. The objects in question are the promising but illusory objects of big technoscience, the smart grids, genomes and sensors that make big claims about saving lives, worlds and futures while serving somewhat narrower interests. In Unreal Objects, O’Riordan is not willing to take these objects at face value. She sets out to disorientate us, showing us how the reality of things is contingent and contestable, never losing sight of what is at stake."
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