The Technology of Isolation

A white plastic helmet entirely obscures the head of a male. This is actually from 1967 but similar enough to the one mentioned in the article.

From Internationale Situationniste #9 (August 1964).

Submitted by Fozzie on February 9, 2023

In today's society, all aspects of technological development — and above all the means of so-called communication — serve to produce the greatest possible passive isolation of these individuals by a "direct and permanent contact" that operates in one direction only, that is, by incitements (to which one cannot respond) that are broadcast by all sorts of leaders. Some applications of this technology go so far as to offer paltry consolations for that which is fundamentally lacking or even at times testify to the pure condition of this lack.

If you are a TV fanatic, you will definitely be interested in the newest, most extraordinary television set in the world: a TV that can go with you everywhere. Thanks to a totally new shape designed by the Hughes Aircraft Corporation in the USA, this television set is meant to be worn on the head. Weighing in at a mere 950 grams, it is actually installed on the type of headgear worn by pilots and telephone operators. Thanks to a mount, its tiny round screen made of plastic and reminiscent of a monocle is kept at a distance of four centimeters from the eye . . . You use only one eye to watch the image. With the other eye, according to the manufacturer, you can continue to look elsewhere, read, or engage in manual labor.

Journal du Dimanche, 29-7-62.

The coal miner conflict has finally been resolved and work will probably resume again tomorrow. It is perhaps the feeling of having participated in the debate that explains the almost complete calm that has reigned continuously throughout the last thirty-four days in the miners' quarters and in the pitheads. In any case, television and transistor radios helped maintain this direct and permanent contact between the miners and their representatives. However, the same media also compelled everyone to go home at the decisive hours during which, on the contrary, only yesterday everyone would go out to meet at the union headquarters.

Le Monde, January 5-4-63.

A new cure for lonely travelers at the Chicago train station. For a "quarter" (1.25 francs) a wax automaton shakes your hand and says "Hello pal, how are you? It's been great to see you. Have a good trip."

Marie-Claire, January 1963.

"I have no more friends; no one will ever talk to me again." These are the opening lines of the confession left on his own tape recorder by a Polish worker who had just turned on the gas in his kitchen. "I am almost unconscious, no one will save me anymore, the end is near" — these were Joseph Czternastek's last words.
A.F.P. [Agence France Presse], London, 7-4-62.

Translated by Thomas Y. Levin. From