27 May 2009

Objects of Desire™

In an endless stream of fungible electronic devices, the life cycle of the mobile phone is among the most fleeting. They live fast, grow worn and scratched in our pockets and bags, then shoot off towards obsolence like a cannonball. As commodity items, cell phones rarely achieve any durable notoriety for their design, which is sad really, considering how ubiquitous they are. We talk, text and surf on them for a while then off they go to leak a lengthy list of nasty chemicals into some unseen landfill that never seems to be in our back yard.

The Sony Ericsson T610, released in 2003, was an exception. Designed by Erik Ahlgren in near-Bauhaus gloss black plastic and brushed aluminum, it was the first mobile I fell in love with as a design object.

The T610 came equipped with a mediocre near-VGA quality camera that produced grainy, oddly-colored photographs that were, in a number of unflattering respects, the digital equivalent to the liquidy and often equally indistinct Polaroid images I had fallen in love with some 20 years earlier. While the T610 didn't spit the photo out into your hand, it could transmit it by MMS, Bluetooth or email easily enough, which gave it some of the immediacy of a Polaroid camera.

Inspite of --or maybe because of-- its pixilated, closed-circut security camera quality images, this little phone wound up becoming my favorite camera until it finally grew so dented and frayed and wonky that I was forced to replace it.

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