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  • Writer's pictureEllie Rankin


Unboxing Photoshop by German photo artist Adrian Sauer deals with the popular online phenomenon of unboxing. This involves the unpacking of electronic, cosmetic and fashion products in front of the camera – sometimes in the form of a prosaic demonstration and sometimes staged as a sensual display with voyeuristic overtones. In the twelve-part photographic series, Sauer’s hands can be seen as they introduce us step by step to the object of desire – in this case, the image-editing software Photoshop: from opening the package and removing the shrink wrapping all the way to taking out the actual product. Unboxing Photoshop demonstrates a contemporary visual phenomenon that seeks, through the gaze, to (vicariously) satisfy a fundamental need of our consumer society, namely to own a product. At the same time, the reference to Photoshop illustrates the increasing shift of the photographic production process from analogue into digital form.

"I bought the knife I am using to open the box in 1995 at Eisen Werner at Zionskirchplatz in Berlin. It was a store with meter-high shelves that contained everything from nails to compressors. Not far away, in Fehrbelliner Strasse, there was a store for art supplies. On the way to the photo lab collective you could buy photo paper at foto-impex, and we still had ORWO chemicals by the kilo. I bought my rolls of film and developer at Foto Klinke in Winsstrasse. All of these businesses are gone now. Eisen Werner was the first to close. It was replaced by an architectural office, and later a café. I do not know what ever became of the art supply store. After moving to Alte Schönhauser Strasse, foto-impex also closed after the owner shared his store for a while with a business that sold shoes, handbags, and fashion accessories. Foto Klinke closed its store in Winsstrasse first, followed by all of the other stores in the chain. The photo lab collective became a small photography school.
There are a surprisingly high number of images and videos in the Internet that show objects being unpacked, for the most part technical equipment such as laptops, MP3 players, and the like, but software as well. In principle, the latter is immaterial merchandise and is currently distributed primarily by means of a physical data carrier, such as a CD or a DVD. However, more and more software can now also be downloaded. It seems to be only a question of time before physical data carriers become obsolete." -AS

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