We’re surrounded. Products, signs, messages, buildings: Everywhere around us there are things vying for our attention. A system so massive and so built up on itself that its actions can mystify. The manifestations of this system form, both explicitly and implicitly, the ways in which we interact with the world around us—a world that may be centuries old, or only minutes. Wholly contrived or completely authentic. The product of politics, economics, religion, emotion, or some dizzying mix of influences. Whatever its source, whatever its justifications, the stories latent in our world manifest themselves materially, in our objects and our built environment. This project is a call to action, to peer behind the material and into the invisible mesh of choices that support this material world.

This Material World is authored by Sean Fraga, who was an American Studies major at Yale University. His other projects include The Whiskill Island Journal, an ongoing fictional journalism project. His work has also appeared on The City Desk and on Bearings. Write to him at: sean [dot] fraga [at] gmail [dot] com.


This Material World splits its production between the field and the office. In the field, quick entries or pictures are posted using the WordPress client for iPhone, running on an original (2.5G) 8GB iPhone. Longer entries—those that include more photos, formatting, or analysis—are outlined in the field and uploaded to WordPress’s servers as draft entries. These entries are finalized via the WordPress dashboard, loaded in Safari on an old-skool iBook G4 running Mac OS X 10.4.11.

The road you’re on, John Anderton, is straight to the heart of this material world.

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