Hyundai imagines a grim future the place metaverse ‘artists’ dwell of their automobiles
New automobile occasions are normally fairly cringe, stuffed with pointless pyrotechnics, impassive futurescapes, shameless pandering to “the youth,” or hapless CEO antics. (Bear in mind Elon Musk’s Cybertruck window smash fail? Easier instances.) So it’s with a point of hesitation that I have to level you to this video from Hyundai as the newest exhibit on this ongoing collection of “automobile firms current miserable visions of the long run.”
The video, which was launched yesterday, was supposed to disclose the sleek-looking Ioniq 6, Hyundai’s newest electrical car with a 77.4kWh battery and 379 miles of vary. As an alternative we obtained a smorgasbord of buzzwords — “trashion,” metaverse, NFTs — ideally aimed toward interesting to a youthful demographic, however going about it within the worst attainable method.
Within the video, we’re launched to an artist named Mia who’s placing on a “trashion present.” So relatable! For these not within the know (like me), trashion is the artwork of repurposing waste and recyclable supplies — principally trash — as vogue. I’m not against this, however I do query whether or not a trashion artist like Mia can afford a model new electrical car, given the horrific vendor markups we’ve been seeing and the unsustainable a great deal of pupil debt individuals in her demographic are laboring underneath. However I digress.
Mia makes use of her Hyundai Ioniq 6 to traverse the eerily traffic-less panorama in search of bottle tops and tarps she will be able to remodel into attire and rompers and shit. None of that is notably objectionable on the floor: Gen Z stand-in with an unclassifiable profession who loves zero-tailpipe emissions! You may see how that in all probability provides up within the eyes of the faceless Hyundai execs who greenlit this manufacturing.
However issues rapidly take a darkish flip for Mia. It’s revealed that her hectic schedule — Is she self-employed? It appears seemingly, however goes unmentioned — doesn’t permit her sufficient time to take breaks, forcing her to sleep in her automobile.
Hyundai claims the Ioniq 6 is the best place for a nap, calling it a “aware cocoon” for single, younger city professionals. The inside is full of sustainable supplies and dramatic lighting, with 64 colours from which to decide on. The automaker says it was designed to be a “therapeutic house” with its “leisure seats” and “velocity sync lighting.”
Setting apart whether or not Mia might get away with sleeping in her automobile with out getting slapped with a ticket for vagrancy, the imaginative and prescient of the long run that’s on show on this video isn’t the idealization of freedom that Hyundai thinks it’s. To me, it conjures up photos of Uber drivers and different aggrieved gig economic system staff compelled to sleep of their automobiles to make a good dwelling. Photos of millennials and Gen Zers being compelled to work lengthy hours in service of “the grind” and different bullshit capitalist ideas.
So with that in thoughts, it ought to come as no shock Mia’s trashion present gained’t be an IRL occasion, however somewhat within the metaverse. That’s proper: her vogue ambitions don’t appear to incorporate the design and creation of precise, IRL garments, simply outfits for digital minifigs. Why else would she be doing all that driving?
One other character within the Hyundai video, a “social content material creator” named Joan, straightens her hair utilizing her EV’s many USB plugs as she will get able to livestream in regards to the VR trashion present. Once more, we’re introduced with one other “hustling” Gen Zer who doesn’t have time to make use of her personal lavatory to arrange — assuming she even has a rest room to make use of.
Like different automobile firms earlier than it, Hyundai sees its newest EV as much less a blunt instrument to get from level A to level B, however an idealized “house” for an entire panoply of actions. This touches on the notion of what we select to do with our time whereas being pushed to our locations in electrical and autonomous automobiles. And it has sparked a bizarre, little-noticed motion within the know-how and auto industries to redefine cars as social environments on par with our properties and work locations, an area also called the “third place.”
The idea of the “third place” has been round for many years, however was in all probability greatest articulated by city sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his 1989 e-book The Nice Good Place. In it, he wrote that third locations all around the world share widespread and important options.
“The everlasting sameness of the third place overshadows the variations in its outward look and appears unaffected by the large variations in cultural attitudes towards the everyday gathering place of casual public life,” Oldenburg wrote. “The beer joint through which the center class American takes no pleasure could be as a lot a 3rd place because the proud Viennese coffeehouse.”
Typical third locations embody barber outlets, cafes, parks, golf equipment, and even Starbucks. However can automobiles, with their enclosed environments, no fastened location, and calls for on our consideration, be thought-about a 3rd place? It’s a fairly bleak concept, when you think about all of the unfavourable externalities, like visitors congestion, air pollution, and loss of life. However that gained’t cease Hyundai from pitching their new EV as a viable third place, full with temper lighting befitting a brand new technology of social media influencers.