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Our Heads Are Round, Our Hands Irregular

I saw the white light through the monitor of my mobile phone—a burst of white light that spread from the upper-left corner of the frame the moment the surveillance camera at Istanbul’s Atatürk airport captured the detonation of the suicide bomb—and this fleeting white light meant that some people’s lives had been cruelly taken from them without any warning.

This was neither the first nor the last time a suicide bomber would strike against innocent people in a modern public space, and it is precisely due to the innocence of their victims that these violent incidents create such great terror: no one will be spared until the objective of the violence can be achieved.

This was neither the first nor the last time that I would be struck by such news through the tiny screen of my Apple iPhone. Gripped in my hand, the iPhone almost becomes an extension of my senses, and it is exactly through such technological sensibility that we inevitably become a part of the contemporary order. This order was built up by technological acceleration, the innumerable plans to “improve” the social system and raise the quality of life that were brought about by the Industrial Revolution. In the course of the construction of this new order, human life was increasingly subjected to the active intervention of knowledge/power—the ongoing phenomenon described by Michel Foucault as “biopolitics.” If technology (which of course includes politics) is an extension of human sensoria, and design a means for the integration of technology into daily life, then today, all thresholds that technology and design attempt to reach and encompass are already extending into the body itself; to the control and management of life’s resources.

The suicide attack throws the corporeal body—the core of biopolitics—back into sacrifice. Suicide bombers typically employ simple techniques to make homemade bombs that are assembled from cheap, everyday materials. Escaping the control of the global military-industrial complex (which also means that of the lucrative military-industrial economy), such devices are expedient for allowing non-specialists to join the ranks at any time. What the combination of the “homemade bomb” and the suicidal body has brought about is perhaps the most severe challenge to the history of humanity: after large-scale modern warfare, the battlefield has shifted to everyday space. In fact, while the world’s consumers are caught up in buying their iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 Plus’s, these homemade bombs are being made out of fertilizer.

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