Ageing beautifully: the photographic theme for MEX

Ageing beautifully: the photographic theme for MEX


The photographic theme for the May 2011 MEX picks up on the objectives of Pathway #7, our initiative to raise awareness of sustainable values in user experience.

Anchor, MEX May 2011

Clinker-built, MEX May 2011

Upturned hull, MEX May 2011

Pathway #7 has two angles: on the one hand, it explores how mobile devices and wireless networks could be employed to help us lead more sustainable lives.

The photographs, however, address the other angle: a deliberate challenge to the mobile industry to think about the life cycle of its products and how the value of an object can be directly proportional to how well it ages.

Each photo, captured on a Nokia E7, seeks to capture the beauty of boats as they age. It could be argued they have only become beautiful as they’ve grown old. Boats were chosen as the subject because they were the original form of long distance communication, taking ideas across the water. The images were shot on weekend walks near my home in Suffolk.

The average lifetime of a mobile device in a developed market like the US is approximately 17 months. The value of each device falls from the minute it is purchased and there is a perception it is merely serving a finite term of utility before it is made obsolete by a newer model.

Every device which reaches the end of its useful life equates with two impacts: an expenditure of energy to manufacture its replacement and a responsibility to dispose of the materials in the original.

The profitability of the mobile business has thrived on this never ending replacement cycle. It is the foundation of the industry’s business model. Pathway #7, however, questions whether a new model, where devices have a life expectancy of 5 or more years, could succeed in balancing user desire for sustainability with appetite for technological advance?

It will be explored in a series of presentations and working sessions at MEX in London on 4th/5th May 2011.

Every MEX – and the May 2011 event is the 9th in the international series – has had a distinct photographic theme, which features across the digital, print and venue media. The photos serve an important purpose for the team bringing together the event: in a business of intangibles, where our ‘product’ is a concept rather than a physical object, the images help us bring to life the objectives of each MEX.


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