Alexander Provan

  • What Technology Wants

    How is it that the Internet was inevitable but the iPhone was not? Both are part of what tech guru Kevin Kelly calls the “technium: the ecosystem of our technologies, an extension of biological evolution, a force that crystallized ten thousand years ago when “our ability to modify the biosphere exceeded the planet’s ability to modify us.” The Internet is a product of the same cosmic intelligence that birthed single-celled organisms and later the human mind (which put all the wires together). The iPhone is where agency comes into play: We optimize technology, design its containers, invent tools

  • Collage Bound

    When the filmmaker, painter, ethnographer, occultist, and occasional vagrant Harry Smith died in New York’s Chelsea Hotel in 1991, he left behind 166 boxes of belongings. They contained such treasures as Chinese papier-mâché masks, an illustrated manuscript on string figures (which he noted were “produced by all primitive societies” and “the only universal thing other than singing”), and countless sets of collectible cards, among them Iran-Contra Scandal Trading Cards, the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck, and Stardust Casino Playing Cards. The work of the collector is never done, and Smith