If the digital and post-digital tech revolutions of recent decades have had one desire at their core, it’s the desire to make everything faster. Instantaneity and speed have become the markers of modern progress - bringing the future to us ever quicker than before.
It’s summer holiday season and we’ve been decoding what it means to escape in contemporary culture.
Our understanding of the world tends to be, at its core, habitual. That is, common sense and tradition give us our definitions of cultural phenomena. For example, ask for a definition of ‘escape’, and most people will give something close to a dictionary definition, to do with being removed from a state of confinement. The list of products with marketing underpinned by this broad definition is endless: novels, package holidays, gym memberships, bubble bath, VR headsets, to name a few at random.
London has long been associated with conspicuous luxury and exclusivity. From the Monopoly board’s hierarchy of affluence (somewhat out of date nowadays) to high-end furniture collections named after the poshest of London neighbourhoods, the UK capital’s history at the centre of empire, trade and finance has inevitably made it synonymous with prestigious spaces and prohibitive prices. But this age-old association is being reframed of late, making the coding of exclusivity in the city both more complex and easier to miss. Where exclusive spaces in London have typically been marked – as we’d expect – by actual signs, increasingly they are defined precisely by a lack of signalling and a shortage of information.
With Christmas been and gone, toy retailers are taking stock of the big sellers and reckoning the state of play for the coming year. But 2016 may well prove to have been a tipping point in the evolution of toys for reasons not obvious at first glance. From the unveiling of Lego’s first ever wheel-chair using figure last January, to the social media buzz around pictures of Harper Beckham clutching her ‘disability doll’ this summer, conventional wisdom about the aesthetic, political and psychological meanings of child’s play seem more up for debate than ever, first stoked by campaigns such as #ToyLikeMe and Let Toys Be Toys but now making waves among manufacturers themselves.