Drinks Scanning in Airport Security

Passing through Narita this afternoon on my way back from the Art Center Nabi Workshop on Urban Play and Locative Media, (scan the blog for a few notes from the 3 day workshop) I found a large sign in the transfer zone between international flights indicating that one was to remove any drinks (plastic bottles of water, iced tea, etc.) from luggage and insert it into a special drinks scanning machine. I looked for the machine but kind of didn’t feel like loitering. From the diagram it looked like one slotted the bottle into some sort of carrier and waited for a light to turn green or red.

Excuse the lack of image documentation on this one.

Why do I blog this? I’m interested in the ways that different sorts of technical instruments create new kinds of social formations, including new kinds of social behaviors. It’s not so much interesting that this machine makes people take bottles of water out of their bags, but more so the way that the objects we carry with us in a mobile context become differently semantic, or obtain different valences of meaning, power and potential. I guess the bottle could contain something dangerous or destructive. (That’s not even a question post-9/11; it’s a statement of fact. That little semantic wallywog is another shift in the power of mobile objects in which I am also interested.)

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