• Providence photographer captures overlooked truths about Silicon Valley - The Boston Globe

    From Brockton to Providence, from small-town Georgia to Silicon Valley, photographer Mary Beth Meehan is challenging communities to see themselves in new ways, spurring discussions about race and inequality, the economy and the environment.

    “We want people to see beyond the myths of Silicon Valley’s wealth and innovation to the ways in which real people struggle in that environment,” Meehan said. “They struggle in terms of financial security but also to find connection and community.”

    In “Seeing Silicon Valley,” Meehan introduces us to Cristobal, a US Army veteran who makes $21 an hour working as a full-time security officer at Facebook but lives in a shed because he can’t afford a house in the area’s high-priced housing market.

    Meehan said a former colleague connected her to Turner, a Stanford communications professor who was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, lived in Boston for 10 years, and graduated from Brown University. The book was designed by a Providence resident, Lucinda Hitchcock.

    Turner, who now lives two miles from Google headquarters, said Silicon Valley excels at marketing itself. “But the actual community that is here on the ground is much more diverse and much more unequal than the mythology tells us,” he said. “Very few people look or make money like Mark Zuckerberg.”

    Turner said Meehan’s large-scale portraits demonstrated her ability to capture images that tell you something about both the person and their community, and as a Brockton native, she brought to bear a working-class background.

    “I hope people can see that the seemingly magical world of technology depends on the really hard work of a whole lot of different people,” he said. “In the same way that the Industrial Revolution in Boston didn’t just depend on the people who went to Harvard, Silicon Valley is not just the Zuckerbergs and Jobs.”

    Turner said the nation’s industries need to sustain the people that build them – not just a few people at the top. “The lesson is that if you just pursue profit and innovation, you can injure your workers, pollute your landscape, and build a society you wouldn’t want to be a member of,” he said. “We can do a lot better than that.”

    As an artist-in-residence at Stanford, Meehan spent six weeks introducing herself to strangers, sitting in kitchens and living rooms, listening to their stories.

    She said she found tremendous unease among the people there, not only among the cashiers and waiters, but among the tech professionals and other high-income earners. And she found the anxieties of Silicon Valley reflect a nationwide gulf between the rich and the poor – the hollowing out of the middle class.

    “Even though the stock market is doing well, people are struggling,” Meehan said. “If people are not doing well in Silicon Valley, then what does that say about where the country is headed?”

    #Fred_Turner #Mary_Beth_Meehan #Visages_Silicon_Valley

  • Seeing the Real Faces of Silicon Valley - The New York Times

    The workers of Silicon Valley rarely look like the men idealized in its lore. They are sometimes heavier, sometimes older, often female, often darker skinned. Many migrated from elsewhere. And most earn far less than Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook.

    This is a place of divides.

    As the valley’s tech companies have driven the American economy since the Great Recession, the region has remained one of the most unequal in the United States.

    During the depths of the pandemic, four in 10 families in the area with children could not be sure that they would have enough to eat on any given day, according to an analysis by the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies. Just months later, Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, who recently added “Technoking” to his title, briefly became the world’s richest man. The median home price in Santa Clara County — home to Apple and Alphabet — is now $1.4 million, according to the California Association of Realtors.

    For those who have not been fortunate enough to make billionaire lists, for midlevel engineers and food truck workers and longtime residents, the valley has become increasingly inhospitable, testing their resilience and resolve.

    Here are 12 of them, who originally appeared in our book, “Seeing Silicon Valley,” from which this photo essay is excerpted.

    #Fred_Turner #Mary_Beth_Meehan #Visages_Silicon_Valley

  • Stanford scholar’s new collaboration reveals the complexities of life in Silicon Valley

    To capture what it’s like to live and work in Silicon Valley – for the affluent, those who are barely getting by and the many people in between – Stanford communication professor and Silicon Valley scholar Fred Turner teamed up with renowned photographer Mary Beth Meehan.

    Turner hopes his new project, a collaboration with renowned photographer Mary Beth Meehan, can shine a spotlight on some of the complexities of the region known as the center of tech innovation.

    “I knew that there were things that photographers could see that I couldn’t quite put into words,” said Turner, the Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication in the School of Humanities and Sciences, “I thought that if I worked with a photographer like Mary Beth Meehan I would find a new way to express some of the kinds of things that I wanted to express in academic work but hadn’t really found an idiom for.”

    The result of their academic-artistic collaboration is a new book, Seeing Silicon Valley: Life Inside a Fraying America, (University of Chicago Press, 2021), an intimate look into the everyday experiences of people who live and work in Silicon Valley, from some of its more wealthy residents to its poorest – and the many people in between. In a collection of over 30 portraits photographed in 2017 and 2019, readers see Silicon Valley workers inside their homes and at their workplaces – images that convey the realities of what life is like in one of America’s wealthiest regions.

    Meehan, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, had never spent much time in Silicon Valley. What she knew of the region came mostly from stories she read in newspapers and magazines that had for a long time portrayed the region as a place of the future, where tech geniuses were transforming society.

    “Silicon Valley was a mythic idea for me,” Meehan said. “I had this idea of it as a place where everything sparkled, where everything was possible, where people were young and healthy – that it was a place in which all of the best of human ingenuity was put into play.”

    What Meehan encountered was far different from what she imagined.

    “Nothing could have prepared me for the uneasiness and human stress and suffering that went along with being a part of that economy,” Meehan said.

    Over several extended trips, Meehan immersed herself in Silicon Valley culture. She approached strangers she encountered on neighborhood streets and had long conversations with the cashiers she met at the taquerias she frequented. She attended a United Auto Workers meeting and went to a party with tech entrepreneurs – and through these interactions, Meehan began to see themes emerge from the valley’s hustle and bustle.

    Some of Meehan’s observations surprised Turner, particularly the feelings of economic insecurity workers reported experiencing on a daily basis.

    “One of the things that really surprised me was how Mary Beth heard a persistent humming of anxiety in the workers that she was talking with – at every level: from folks at the taqueria up to the executive, C-suite,” he said. “Across the board, you find folks worried about whether they can make it, whether they can survive, whether they can get ahead.”

    The project was supported by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Stanford Arts Initiative and the Departments of Communication and Art & Art History. An earlier version of the book was published in 2018 by C&F Editions in Paris, France.

    #Fred_Turner #Mary_Beth_Meehan #Visages_Silicon_Valley

  • Silicon Valley photograph book by Mary Beth Meehan and Fred Turner focuses on the unseen in the uber-rich area - The Washington Post

    Four years ago, New England portrait photographer Mary Beth Meehan received a query out of the blue. A professor in California named Fred Turner wanted to collaborate on a project about the people who live and work in Silicon Valley.

    “It was just so bizarre,” Meehan recalls thinking. “It never occurred to me to think of Silicon Valley as an actual place where people lived.”

    This was precisely Turner’s point. A Stanford University historian and professor of communication who has studied Silicon Valley culture for 20 years, Turner has long been troubled by what he calls the “persistent mythology” of the region, a digital ecosystem in Northern California known mainly as the home of Apple, Google and Facebook, and as the hub of billionaire innovators.

    “We tell ourselves that Silicon Valley is a place where heroic geniuses invent products that somehow harness the invisible powers of electricity and information and magically change the world,” Turner said in an interview. “And the heroes in our stories are almost always White men.”

    Everybody else might as well be invisible. “You can literally be here and see the young tech bros not seeing the people cleaning the stores or their houses or the streets,” he said. “It’s a kind of low-key oblivious arrogance that comes from being genuinely brilliant, spending a lot of time with machines, working with code, which is highly abstract and rational, and being rewarded with lots of money.”
    Image without a caption
    Photographer Mary Beth Meehan. (Molly Heller)

    Turner, a photography aficionado, was familiar with Meehan’s work and knew that invisibility is one of her key themes. Her process is to immerse herself in communities and create large-scale portraits of ordinary, uncelebrated people and install them as huge banners on the sides of buildings in downtown areas. Invariably, her installations prompt townwide dialogue about race, inclusiveness and the meaning of community. Meehan’s work also is evocative of JR, the French photographer and street artist, though she has been influenced by many artists who activate public spaces.

    “A common thread is moving past preconceptions to understand one another,” said Meehan, who has created installations in Brockton, Mass., where she grew up, Providence, R.I., where she lives now, and, most recently, in Newnan, Ga., a small town striving to embrace and celebrate change in the wake of a white nationalist rally there in 2018.

    Meehan was eager to take on a Silicon Valley project, though she and Turner were fuzzy about the end product. Banners were — and continue to be — a consideration, but, Meehan said, “I haven’t been able to get my head around what banners would look like. There’s no central Silicon Valley space. There’s no there there. It’s a conglomeration of towns.”

    They ultimately landed on a book, featuring text and Meehan’s images. “Seeing Silicon Valley: Life Inside a Fraying America” will be released May 3 by the University of Chicago Press.

    “Silicon Valley has long been a shining example of those who dream of a society built around individual initiative and enabling technologies,” Turner writes in the introduction. “But what does it feel like to live in such a world? What kind of society does the relentless pursuit of technological innovation and wealth produce?”

    Meehan went to Stanford in the fall of 2018 as an artist in residence and set to work finding the answer. She introduced herself to strangers, sat in their kitchens and living rooms, met them in businesses and shops.

    “I chased them on the street,” she said. “I met people through workers’ rights groups and at a gathering of young tech engineers. I met a couple in a Hindu temple. And then there was the magic of connecting with someone in that moment, photographically.”
    Justyna, one of Meehan’s subjects: “If we want to achieve excellence in technology, why can’t we achieve excellence in being good to each other?”
    Justyna, one of Meehan’s subjects: “If we want to achieve excellence in technology, why can’t we achieve excellence in being good to each other?” (© Mary Beth Meehan)
    Mary came to the United States from Uganda more than a year ago: “I’ve discovered one thing. There are people here who are poorer than we are in Africa . . . because our community cares for each other. . . . This place is lonely.”
    Mary came to the United States from Uganda more than a year ago: “I’ve discovered one thing. There are people here who are poorer than we are in Africa . . . because our community cares for each other. . . . This place is lonely.” (© Mary Beth Meehan)

    She got to know affluent professionals, people behind cash registers and in homeless encampments, rising tech stars, a recent immigrant from Uganda, a food truck worker from Mexico who serves burritos to Tesla employees, a man in his 80s who can’t afford an apartment so he lives in a small trailer a couple of miles from the Google campus; he has no electricity or running water. She met the parents of a 19-year-old girl who had killed herself. They allowed her to photograph the suicide note, in which she apologized and wrote: “i am not super smart or talented.”

    As Meehan pieced together a narrative about the unseen heart of the tech world, what emerged was a startling view of Silicon Valley.

    “What surprised me, and what stays with me still, was the unease that was palpable in Silicon Valley,” Meehan writes in the book’s afterword. “From those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum to those with higher incomes whose unease was more existential, people conveyed how hard it was to find balance, connection, and community. The sense of distress was so pervasive that I wondered if I was seeing things correctly.”

    Among the people she photographed was the blond-haired Justyna with a piercing gaze, originally from Poland. (No last names are used in the book.) She has a PhD, works on self-driving cars and shares a mansion with other scientists in Cupertino. She told Meehan she used to be idealistic but thinks people have lost track of the core values of integrity, respect for others and being good to each other. “We seem to be losing ourselves,” she said.

    Meehan met Mark, 39, born with severe brain damage. When his mother was pregnant, she worked in the electronics industry making the lasers that scan groceries. She later learned that the greenish substance she was inhaling was toxic — and the cause of her son’s birth defects.
    Image without a caption
    Mark is 39 and needs constant care. His mother worked in a Mountain View electronics plant making laser scanners with a mixture that contained high levels of lead known to cause birth defects. (© Mary Beth Meehan)

    Brenda and Abraham lost their home after the 2008 crash. They lived for a while in improvised shacks that are common in the region, though illegal. They now live in a trailer in a long row of other trailers in Palo Alto, parked in front of the Stanford campus.

    Mary, from Uganda, told Meehan: “There are people here who are poorer than we are in Africa.”

    She spent a lot of time with Cristobal, an Army veteran who works full time as a contract security officer at Facebook, earning $21 an hour. Meehan agreed to meet him at his home, which turned out to be a shed.

    “I was shocked,” she said. “[Cristobal and I] shared so much anger in the making of that picture. I mean, for God’s sakes. You have a full-time job, you served in the U.S. military. Should a home be so far outside your reach?”

    It was at times like this that the story she and Turner were telling became personal.

    “I was raised by working-class people, and there was a level of security that could be attained by hard work,” she said. “And when I think of the equivalent of that worker toiling away in Silicon Valley, I don’t see the same level of comfort or security or the ability to build a life or build wealth. It’s not a livable economy.

    “I don’t think the difference is in the character and ambitions of these people. I think the difference is in the system they entered. And that’s the part we’re not talking about.”

    #Mary_Beth_Meehan #Fred_Turner #Visages_Silicon_Valley

  • Visual Arts Review: “Seeing Silicon Valley” - Our Future Dystopia? - The Arts Fuse

    Meanwhile, Turner, now Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communications at Stanford, had embarked on similarly disillusioning project. Turner, who lives in Mountain View, in the heart of Silicon Valley, had studied the region’s culture for some two decades. In 2017, he invited Mary Beth Meehan, known for her “large-scale, community-based portraiture,” to spend six weeks in the Valley, photographing its inhabitants and listening to their stories.

    “He told me that he was troubled by the power of the region’s mythology,” Meehan recalls, “and wanted people to see the place as it is. He asked if I’d be willing to come and try to see it through my own eyes.” After her work got underway, Turner asked Meehan to his house once a week for a home-cooked dinner and would “pepper me with questions: ‘What are you seeing? What are you finding out there?’”

    But brevity, succinctness, and personal focus are among the key strengths of this powerful and important book, an account that fans out into other developing narratives about the decline of California as America’s paradise, social media’s mendacity and lack of civic responsibility, and the super-charged rise of economic injustice and insecurity. It is likely to attract a lot of attention, discussion, and controversy.

    Nowadays, the economy of Silicon Valley is based mostly on software, biotech, product development, and gigantic, Internet-based companies like Facebook and Google. Silicon and its industrial byproducts are no longer the raw materials of the region’s wealth, which is mostly generated via brand names and intellectual property. Meehan’s photographs and stories portray a different kind of environmental damage: economic and social disruption, especially the upheavals caused by a catastrophic rise in housing costs.

    Meehan’s photographs are unsentimental. Nobody smiles. The images are saturated in California sunlight and color and classically composed, suggesting the long heritage of Western portraiture. The various poverties they encompass do not immediately strike the eye, as Evans’ images do. The pain lurks below, like Turner’s underground toxic plumes.

    #Visages_Silicon_Valley #Fred_Turner #Mary_Beth_Meehan

  • Short Fuse Podcast #39 : « Seeing Silicon Valley » : The Fraying of Life in America - The Arts Fuse

    N’oubliez pas que la version orginale de ce livre est celle en français de C&F éditions, il y a deux ans. Le livre est toujours d’actualité, c’est pourquoi les Presses de l’Université de Chicago le publient aujourd’hui.

    Perception vs. Reality. For many, the words “Silicon Valley” signify the egalitarian opportunities offered by America’s cutting-edge tech industry. Stark reality reveals a much more complicated picture. Growing inequality and an ever rising cost of living are putting pressure on all of the area’s workers: at least seven percent of families live in poverty without access to quality education, health care or housing. Fred Turner and Mary Beth Meehan spotlight these realities in their new book, Seeing Silicon Valley: Life Inside a Fraying America. In a recent conversation with Elizabeth Howard, they talk about the situation they found there, and what it reveals about our country as a whole.

    #Visages_Silicon_Valley #Fred_Turner #Mary_Beth_Meehan

  • Silicon Valley’s Hidden Voices

    Très belle critique de la version anglaise « Seeing Silicon Valley » qui va paraître en avril aux Presses de l’université de Chicago.
    Rappel : la première édition de ce livre est parue en France :
    Visages de la Silicon Valley
    25 € - ISBN 978-2-915825-86-2 - nov. 2018

    Two new books — Seeing Silicon Valley and Voices from the Valley — reveal, if not the future I thought I would find, a critical part of Silicon Valley that most people never look for or think about, let alone see. These two books’ goal is the same: to reveal the Valley’s forgotten but essential communities — obscured more often than not by hyperbolic press releases, lawyers waving non-disclosure agreements, and journalists’ myopic view of what “working in tech” means. In some cases, these are the “people behind the platforms” — the unheralded engineers and programmers who, despite being paid far above the median salary still find themselves living precariously in houses they can’t afford to furnish. In other cases, they are the nannies, cooks, and gardeners whose hidden labor keeps the Valley’s financial, familial, and social circuits humming. That newly minted billionaire you read about might drive a McLaren but someone has to wash and wax it.

    After a brief essay from Fred Turner, a communications scholar at Stanford, Seeing Silicon Valley deploys an array of pictures captured in 2017 by Mary Beth Meehan, a photographer known for her “community-based portraiture.” For six weeks, Meehan rented an Airbnb in Menlo Park, introduced herself to strangers, and took photographs. She kept the statement “Invisible Community, Invisible Relationships, Invisible Human Beings” written on a sticky note above her desk.

    Meehan’s color photographs are accompanied by short but powerful life histories of her subjects. Along the way we meet, for example, Justnya, a Polish-born engineer who shares a mansion in Cupertino with other technologists, and Victor, an elderly man originally from El Salvador who lives in a small trailer a few miles from Google’s campus. Each photograph tells a story, and it’s rarely the one you might imagine. There’s a photo, for example, of “Mark,” a young white man. On closer inspection, you sense something wrong with his body position and facial expression. You learn that Mark’s mother worked for years in an electronics plant making lasers for supermarket checkout scanners. Every night she came home with “green gunk” on her face and hands. Only years later, after Mark was born with extreme developmental issues, mental and physical, did she learn this gunk was a mixture of chemicals, primarily lead. What was once billed as “the Valley of Heart’s Delight” became the eventual home of nearly two dozen Superfund sites created by now-defunct electronics companies. The non-defunct ones have taken their manufacturing, their jobs, and their gunk overseas.

    Meehan’s photos and captions sometimes reveal human warmth transcending the tragedy and unfairness. In another photograph, Abraham and Brenda are captured hugging each other in that special golden glow one sees near sunset in coastal California. But that glow can only do so much. They are in front of their dilapidated RV, which they have lived in since they lost their house in 2008. Normally, they parked on the edge of Stanford University’s land holdings along El Camino Real. But not on game days when the university forces them to move. On those days, like Steinbeck’s Okies, they drive their aged vehicle over the Santa Cruz Mountains to Half Moon Bay and look at the ocean together.

    The aforementioned essay by Stanford professor Fred Turner, which heads the Meehan collection of photographs, is titled “The Valley on the Hill.” It compares Silicon Valley’s present to the worldview of 17th-century Pilgrims recently arrived in the New World and seeking to build a “City Upon a Hill.” Technologists, many from outside the United States, flock to the Bay Area with “their sense of mission and their search for profits,” and — like their Puritan ancestors — they are motivated by deep, almost compulsive work ethics, argues Turner. He doesn’t say quite enough to give the analogy the depth it deserves — in part because his essay is a mere six pages, a disappointment given his oft-cited expertise on the topic. Still, in his erudite yet truncated telling, the idea of a “New Jerusalem,” a.k.a. Silicon Valley, goes back some 50 years to when Santa Clara County became a hotbed of innovation, albeit one eventually strewn with oozing Superfund sites.

    Turner’s comparison to the Puritans perfunctorily cuts in a couple of other ways. As a religious sect, the Puritans were notoriously dogmatic, and eager to sacrifice heretics. Some programmers share their belief in eschatology and denial of the body, he suggests. It thus makes a kind of sense that Soylent — a start-up company based on marketing a meal-replacement product named after a creepy post-apocalyptic movie — was developed there. But Turner sees present-day “denials of the body” primarily in people’s eager atomization into digital data to be “aggregated and repurposed.” He could go further. Believers in a coming technological Singularity imagine dispensing with the body altogether by uploading their minds. A hundred years ago, the mirage factory of Los Angeles produced the evangelist-huckster Aimee Semple McPherson. Today we have engineer and self-confessed felon Anthony Levandowski and his scheme for a religion based around worship of artificial intelligence. Long live the new flesh. Or, if another variant of Silicon Valley’s fixations is to be believed, long live the old flesh, rejuvenated by steroids and blood transfusions from the young.

    Eventually fruit and vegetable production in the Valley became the dominant crop. The number of workers needed — then and now — exceeded the local population. And so the labor-intensive work of picking and preserving the fruit fell largely to invisible Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Filipino, and Mexican workers. Much of it was performed by women employed as seasonal contractors and segregated by race and ethnicity, and they were the first to be let go when hard times came. The xenophobia, discrimination, and misogyny that runs throughout both books thus goes back a lot farther than when William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor and committed racist, arrived in the Valley in 1956 and started an electronics company.

    Shockley Semiconductor begat Fairchild Semiconductor begat Intel and scores of other companies, large and small. Engineers accordingly multiplied. They flocked to the region and in general came to represent the second largest segment of American professionals — behind school teachers. Engineering was the most common occupation pursued by white-collar men.

    Along with their readers, the people who cover “tech” — whatever that term even means these days — too often portray Silicon Valley as a place apart from America. But, as Seeing Silicon Valley and Voices from the Valley reveal, with its racism, casual misogyny, economic inequality, and environmental devastation concentrated among poor communities, Silicon Valley is America. Given its innumerable sins, venal and moral alike, punching at Silicon Valley is as easy as ordering an Uber. Critiques of it take many forms, and the best of these are informed by an understanding of the region’s long and fraught history. These two books don’t fully take that history into account but they do point to the heart of what makes the region run: people, many of them hidden or invisible. Making them visible is a start to creating a more praiseworthy place. Silicon Valley may never be the Puritan’s “City Upon a Hill.” But in its pursuit of the future, it can and must do better.

    #Fred_Turner #Mary-Beth_meehan #Visages_silicon_valley

  • Visages de la Silicon Valley, Fred Turner et Mary Beth Meehan -

    A l’automne dernier les éditions C&F, basées à Caen, ont publié un ouvrage d’une grande originalité, intitulé Visages de la Silicon Valley, un essai signé Fred Turner avec des photographies et récits de Mary Beth Meehan.

    Quand on lit ou entend ces deux mots , Silicon Valley, formant un lieu géographique célèbre en Californie, aussitôt l’on pense, technologies de pointe, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, et autres Apple, Tesla. Les gros bataillons de la super start-up nation nord-américaine que Macron voudrait bien installer en France. Certes sont bien là, le soleil, les innovations qui nous changent, parfois, la vie et les symboles de la réussite économique, concentrés sur quelques kilomètres carrés.

    Pourtant comme le savent les cinéphiles, depuis Quai des brumes (Carné, Prévert) il est utile de voir les choses cachées derrière les choses. Voilà pourquoi ce livre, Visages de la Silicon Valley, à la fois un superbe livre de photographies et un ensemble de textes, nous a particulièrement surpris. Que se cache-t-il derrière les mythes de la Silicon Valley où semblerait se construire le futur de notre monde, ou du moins de leur monde ? Quels sont les visages cachées derrière ceux des grands dirigeants des multinationales, diffusés en boucle dans tous les médias du monde ?

    S’il nous semble difficile de qualifier d’essai, l’introduction en une demi-douzaine de pages de Fred Turner, le livre nous offre, dans un beau format, un superbe reportage photos de Mary Beth Meehan. Chaque cliché est accompagné d’un petit récit le contextualisant. Photographe indépendante, son travail a été publié et exposé dans le monde entier. Nominée deux fois pour le prestigieux prix Pulitzer, elle anime aussi des conférences et ateliers à l’Université de Brown ou à l’école de Design de Rhode Island. Cela débute par Cristobal,vétéran de l’armée américaine durant sept ans, dont trois dans l’Irak en guerre, aujourd’hui agent de sécurité chez Facebook, il gagne une vingtaine de dollars de l’heure, et vu le prix de l’immobilier dans la Silicon Valley, il vit dans un abri au fond d’une cour à Mountain View ! Il constate que les immenses richesses des grandes entreprises ne ruissellent pas vraiment.

    Victor, 80 ans, qui survit dans une petite caravane, au milieu d’autres, non loin du magnifique campus de Google. Ni électricité, ni eau. Et aussi Mary, venue d’un village en Ouganda où elle enseignait l’anglais dans toute l’Afrique, venue rejoindre sa fille, et qui voudrait bien repartir : « C’est la solitude ici, tellement de solitude. »

    Ainsi se succèdent les portraits, magnifiques photographies et textes édifiants, matérialisme partout, spiritualité nulle part, argent coulant à flots mais pas pour tous. Précarité, pauvreté, invisibilité, et parfois peur, l’envers terrible de ce que l’on appelait jadis, le rêve américain !


    Visages de la Silicon Valley
    Mary Beth Meehan, Fred Turner
    Éditions C&F
    2018 / 112 p / 25 euros

    #Mary_Beth_Meehan #Fred_Turner #Visages_Silicon_Valley #Silicon_Valley

  • Visages de la Silicon Valley, Fred Turner et Mary Beth Meehan -

    A l’automne dernier les éditions C&F, basées à Caen, ont publié un ouvrage d’une grande originalité, intitulé Visages de la Silicon Valley, un essai signé Fred Turner avec des photographies et récits de Mary Beth Meehan.

    Cela débute par Cristobal,vétéran de l’armée américaine durant sept ans, dont trois dans l’Irak en guerre, aujourd’hui agent de sécurité chez Facebook, il gagne une vingtaine de dollars de l’heure, et vu le prix de l’immobilier dans la Silicon Valley, il vit dans un abri au fond d’une cour à Mountain View ! Il constate que les immenses richesses des grandes entreprises ne ruissellent pas vraiment.

    Victor, 80 ans, qui survit dans une petite caravane, au milieu d’autres, non loin du magnifique campus de Google. Ni électricité, ni eau. Et aussi Mary, venue d’un village en Ouganda où elle enseignait l’anglais dans toute l’Afrique, venue rejoindre sa fille, et qui voudrait bien repartir : « C’est la solitude ici, tellement de solitude. »

    Ainsi se succèdent les portraits, magnifiques photographies et textes édifiants, matérialisme partout, spiritualité nulle part, argent coulant à flots mais pas pour tous. Précarité, pauvreté, invisibilité, et parfois peur, l’envers terrible de ce que l’on appelait jadis, le rêve américain !

    #Visages_Silicon_Valley #Mary_Beth_Meehan #C&F_éditions #Silicon_Valley

  • BALLAST | Visages de la Silicon Valley

    En quelques décennies, la Silicon Valley est devenue la terre promise du capitalisme technologique. Sur les trois dernières années, 19 000 brevets y ont été déposés, 47 000 nouveaux emplois créés et cinq millions et demi de mètres carrés de locaux commerciaux construits. Dans un essai introductif, Fred Turner la compare au Plymouth du XVIIe siècle, où les Pères pèlerins s’installèrent pour former une « communauté de saints », résolument tournés vers un « paradis à venir ». Mais sous le vernis de ce temple de l’innovation, créé pour des « entrepreneurs mâles et blancs », nul besoin de gratter longtemps pour découvrir une réalité peu reluisante. À travers une série de portraits d’habitants de la vallée, Mary Beth Meehan fait ressortir l’anxiété, l’insécurité et la solitude, omniprésentes, que ce soit pour ce vétéran agent de sécurité chez Facebook, obligé d’habiter un abri au fond d’un jardin, ce couple vivant dans un air pollué au TCE, solvant cancérogène utilisé en masse avant que la production de composants électroniques ne soit délocalisée en Asie, cet ouvrier qui a eu la mauvaise idée de parler de syndicalisme dans une usine Tesla, ou encore ces innombrables migrants qui viennent chercher un travail dans la restauration, le ménage, etc. Le modèle de société développé sur ce minuscule territoire a tout d’une dystopie obéissant aux préceptes du darwinisme social : les places de winner se font de plus en plus rares ; même la classe moyenne, incapable de suivre la flambée des prix de l’immobilier, est progressivement éjectée ; de nombreuses familles vivent sur des terres toxiques, provoquant fausses couches et maladies congénitales ; et un enfant sur dix vit dans la pauvreté, alors que le revenu moyen par habitant est deux fois supérieur à la moyenne nationale. Comme le dit si bien Branton, passé par une usine Tesla : « Avec les conneries d’Elon [Musk], nous allons tous y perdre. » [M.H.]

    #Visages_Silicon_Valley #Mary_Beth_Meehan #C&F_éditions #Fred_Turner

  • #Passengers

    On 1st August 2016, 118 people were rescued from a rubber boat drifting in the Mediterranean Sea, 20 nautical miles far from the Libyan coast. One more of the hundreds of boats that have been rescued from this migratory route in the past years. Only in 2016, when historical records were beaten, 181.436 migrants were rescued safe, while 4.576 lost their lives at sea.

    But who is behind these numbers? What is the identity of the victims and survivors of this trip?

    In an attempt to put name and face to this reality, to humanize this tragedy, I carry out this work of documentation composed of 118 portraits of all the people who traveled on board the same boat, taken minutes after their rescue, once on board of the rescue vessel Iuventa. Their faces, their looks, the marks on their body, their clothes or the absence of it ... reflect the mood and physical state in which they are in a moment that has already marked their lives forever. Documenting it can serve to bring this migration reality closer to those who only observe it from a distance.

    Here are the protagonist and passengers of that rescue, that one more rescue, that took place in the Mediterranean Sea on 1st August 2016.

    #photographie #portraits #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Méditerranée #sauvetage #César_Dezfuli #visages

    ping @reka @albertocampiphoto @philippe_de_jonckheere

  • Visages de la Silicon Valley
    Mary Beth Meehan (photographies et récits)
    et Fred Turner (essai)
    C&F éditions, octobre 2018.

    Cet ouvrage pourrait être qualifié de "sociologie par l’image" : en présentant des portraits et des récits de vie, en les insérant dans des photos de l’environnement (dégradé) de la Valley, il s’agit de comprendre le type d’inquiétude qui traverse tous les habitants de cette région.

    Alors que pour le monde entier, la Silicon Valley est associée à la richesse, à la liberté et à l’innovation, pour celles et ceux qui y vivent, c’est plutôt un monde stressant. En s’intéressant aux personnes qui font vivre la région, mais n’en tirent pas les bénéfices des milliardaires des licornes, on mesure les inégalités, mais aussi la dégradation de l’environnement, parmi les plus pollués des États-Unis.

    Mais c’est en photographiant les personnes qui s’en sortent bien que Mary Beth Meehan sait encore mieux montrer le caractère anxiogène et l’insécurité qui façonnent ce coin de terre.

    En reprenant la parabole des premiers "pilgrims" voulant construire en Amérique une "cité idéale", Fred Turner donne des clés prises dans l’histoire et la culture des États-Unis pour appréhender le "mythe" de la Silicon Valley.

    Mais au delà de la sociologie, c’est aussi à des rencontres très fortes que les photographies nous conduisent. Tous ces gens qui témoignent les yeux dans l’appareil photo d’un rêve devenu dystopie.

    A mettre dans toutes les mains.

    Bonne lecture,

    Quelques articles sur ce livre :

    Les ombres de la Silicon Valley | Portfolios | Mediapart

    Les invisibles de la Silicon Valley

    « La Silicon Valley nous montre à quoi ressemble le capitalisme déchaîné »

    Des histoires ou des expériences cachées et l’histoire publique d’un lieu | Entre les lignes entre les mots

    Silicon Valley : une artiste photographie ses communautés oubliées

    Visages de la Silicon Valley | Cultures de l’Information

    #Fred_Turner #Mary_Beth_Meehan #Visages_Silicon_Valey #Silicon_Valley #Photographie #C&F_éditions

  • Les ombres de la Silicon Valley | Portfolios | Mediapart

    Photographe indépendante, Mary Beth Meehan saisit les habitants des États-Unis dans des portraits qui s’affichent en grande dimension. Professeur de communication à Stanford (Californie), ancien journaliste, Fred Turner se passionne pour les racines et ramifications idéologiques et culturelles de la Silicon Valley et pour ses inventeurs – souvent « des entrepreneurs mâles et blancs », écrit-il ici – qu’il a fait connaître dans une « histoire inédite de la culture numérique », publiée en français (en 2013) sous le titre Aux sources de l’utopie numérique. Les deux se sont associés pour composer une autre représentation de la région, quelques dizaines de kilomètres qui s’étirent au sud de San Francisco. Car il n’y aurait pas de Tesla « sans le travail des corps transpirants de milliers de riveteurs, emballeurs et chauffeurs », écrit Turner, pas de Google « sans des légions de codeurs, de cuisiniers, de concierges et d’employés de maison ». Avec 47 milliardaires recensés en 2018, la Silicon Valley « est l’une des régions les plus riches des États-Unis ». Mais malgré un salaire moyen deux fois plus élevé qu’ailleurs dans le pays, c’est aussi « l’une de celles où les inégalités sont les plus marquées ». Voyage aux portes du mythe.

    #Visages_silicon_valley #Mary_Beth_Meehan #C&F_éditions

  • Des histoires ou des expériences cachées et l’histoire publique d’un lieu | Entre les lignes entre les mots

    par Didier Epsztajn

    Un livre à plusieurs voix. Fred Turner introduit par un court essai « Le mythe de la Silicon Valley », Mary Beth Meehan propose des photographies accompagnées ou non de récits. Loin des clichés et des images mythiques, un espace géographique et social incarné par des visages et des mots.

    Un lieu représentatif de « la mythologie américaine ». En fait de la mythologie étasunienne, les habitant·es des Usa semblent ne compter les autres américain·es que comme quantité négligeable. Fred Turner relie le mythe à d’autres mythes dans l’histoire de ce pays, « La Silicon Valley est « la cité sur la colline » de notre génération et les yeux du monde sont posés sur elle ». Les choses que l’on peut voir et ce qui est caché sous terre, les produits chimiques hautement toxiques enfouis par des entreprises locales entre les années 60 et 80 – la production est aujourd’hui externalisée et les déchets toxiques délocalisés… La terre empoisonnée, les effets sur la santé des habitant·es, les coûts du développement technologique comme effacé par l’enfouissement d’abord et la délocalisation ensuite. Derrière le soleil radieux et le vert des prairies des sources de mort, l’autre face de la technologie.

    Fred Turner revient sur l’histoire des Pères pèlerins, l’éthique protestante, « C’est au prix d’un rejet de leur propre humanité et de celle des peuples autochtones qui les avaient accueillis, que ces Puritains espéraient devenir une communauté de saints », la mainmise sur les richesses et la gloire « méritée », les puritains et la croyance en la prédestination. Aujourd’hui, des entrepreneurs de légende, les jeunes hommes blancs idéalisés de la valley, « Les connotations religieuses des histoires entrepreneuriales masquent la surreprésentation masculine et blanche parmi les élus de la vallée », dans l’oubli pour ne pas dire la négation des ouvrier·es qui ont construit ou entretenu les infrastructures et les bâtiments. L’auteur indique que plus de cinq cents mille migrant·es ont emménagé dans la zone de la baie de San Francisco durant les cinq dernières années et qu’en 2018, « 38% de la population vivant dans la vallée est née hors des Etats-Unis et plus de la moitié s’exprime à la maison dans une autre langue que l’anglais ». Il parle de l’extrême concentration de richesse, « La Silicon Valley n’est pas seulement l’une des régions les plus riches des Etats-Unis, c’est aussi l’une de celles où les inégalités sont les plus marquées », des prix exorbitants des logements, et, de la pauvreté qui touche un·e enfant sur dix, de déficits alimentaires, de celles et ceux dont les revenus ne leur permettent pas d’être « autosuffisants ». Pour reprendre le langage religieux des pères fondateurs, « Dieu a favorisé ceux qui pensaient ne pas avoir de race, ceux qui pouvaient tourner leur esprit vers l’étude de la Bible et leurs yeux vers le paradis à venir, dans lequel tous les corps se fondraient et seul l’esprit pur subsisterait »…

    N’essaye-t-on pas de nous faire croire à la « dématérialisation, » aux avenirs forcément radieux, aux possibilités soi-disant presque infinies des nouvelles technologies, dans le déni des conditions sociales de production, des matériaux dangereux utilisés, du gaspillage énergétique, des conditions de travail et d’exploitations des un·es et des dividendes d’autres…

    Les miroirs aux alouettes des Mark Zuckerberg ou des Steve Jobs et les exigences de nos concitoyen·nes, « Si nous voulons répondre à ces attentes, nous devons détourner notre regard du paradis et le poser sur terre ».

    Je conseille de lire le texte de Fred Turner, de regarder les photographies de Mary Beth Meehan en lisant les courts récits, « Si nous aspirons à l’excellence technologique, pourquoi n’avons-nous pas la même exigence en étant bons les uns envers les autres ? », puis de revenir à l’essai.

    Les images forment avec les mots un ensemble plus que signifiant… Et que dire du papier et des couleurs, de l’épaisseur du livre dans ces dimensions multiples, loin des réductions numériques ou de l’envahissement des technologies plus ou moins intrusives.

    Contre l’instant et les fantasmes technologiques, le temps du regard et de la réflexion.

    Mary Beth Meehan & Fred Turneur : Visages de la Silicon Valley

    Traduit de l’anglais (Etats-Unis) par Valérie Peugeot

    Editions C&F, Caen 2018, 112 pages, 33 euros

    Didier Epsztajn

    #Visages_Silicon_Valley #C&F_éditions #Fred_Turner

  • Silicon Valley : une artiste photographie ses communautés oubliées

    Malaise, pauvreté, inégalités, pollution… Derrière le mythe de la Silicon Valley se cache une réalité toxique que la photographe Mary Beth Meehan expose au grand jour. Dans un livre dédié, elle part à la rencontre des communautés vivant en marge de la révolution high-tech.

    Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla… ces noms font rêver et ont bâti la renommée de la Silicon Valley. Ils évoquent, depuis des décennies, « des perspectives de richesses incommensurables, d’opportunités pour tous, et d’accès universel aux produits des industries les plus innovantes des États-Unis », écrit Fred Turner, professeur à l’Université de Stanford dans Visages de la Silicon Valley.

    Édité en novembre 2018, l’ouvrage raconte, en mots et en images, comment les populations vivent au cœur d’une région envahie par les géants de la tech. On y découvre une réalité « dystopique » où l’humain est négligé, fatigué par une course technologique effrénée à laquelle il ne peut participer.

    Pas de surprise, l’histoire racontée est la même que partout ailleurs : celle d’inégalités creusées par le capitalisme et d’un monde où l’on veut bien faire « dans l’humain » à condition que ça rapporte gros.

    Habituée à travailler en collaboration avec les communautés qu’elle rencontre, Mary Beth Meehan a réalisé sa première installation publique en 2011 à Brockton dans le Massachusetts. Elle dévoilait, à même les murs et en pleine rue, les portraits réalisés durant ses pérégrinations aux allures d’enquête sociologique. Elle a depuis exploré certaines communautés de la Nouvelle-Angleterre et du sud des États-Unis, puis en Californie.

    #Visages_Silicon_Valley #C&F_éditions

  • Visages de la Silicon Valley | Cultures de l’Information

    par Anne Cordier

    La terre promise technologique qu’est la Silicon Valley est pourtant, lorsqu’on prend la peine de gratter les mythes, une terre bien réelle, caractérisée par des paysages variés… mais aussi par un sous-sol abritant des produits chimiques hautement toxiques, utilisés pour la fabrication du matériel informatique. Cette terre est habitée. Habitée. C’est-à-dire foulée, retournée, touchée, façonnée, bref : vécue.

    Et ce sont justement ces Vies de la Silicon Valley que la photographe Mary Beth Meehan nous raconte, en photos et en mots, dans cet ouvrage inédit Visages de la Silicon Valley. Des vies qui, loin de la luxuriance et du capital risque du mythe d’innovation technologique, sont marquées par la pauvreté et la peine, mais aussi le combat pour un monde meilleur, altruiste et non basé sur des profits qui n’inondent qu’une part restreinte.

    Ces deux exemples, parmi tant d’autres, de portraits d’habitants de la Silicon Valley captés par Mary Beth Meehan, pourraient laisser penser à un étalage voire à une complaisance misérabiliste. Il n’en est rien ! Chacun, chacune, est un-e combattant-e, ne rechignant guère au labeur, illuminant son existence et celle des autres de petites étincelles de joie, développant une conception politique de la Cité dans laquelle il-elle vit, et loin d’adopter une attitude passive face aux injustices vécues prend les armes, les plus belles : celles de la parole, de l’action concertée et résolument humaniste, tournée vers le bien commun.

    Visages de la Silicon Valley est un projet qui nous semble relever à la fois de l’entreprise photographique mais aussi du projet sociologique et anthropologique.

    Le choix d’une entrée par la capture photographique d’un portrait et/ou d’un instant de vie pour révéler des parcours biographiques et les ancrer dans une problématique élargie de ce qui fait un rapport au monde et aux autres mais aussi de ce qu’un mythe dissimule, est d’une force incroyable. Les portraits qui nous sont offerts ici sont empreints d’humanité, celle que la photographe porte sur ses modèles, tout autant que celle que ces habitant-es dégagent… et nous amènent à penser et à chérir.

    Vous l’aurez compris, Visages de la Silicon Valley n’est pas (uniquement) un « beau livre ». C’est un récit photo-socio-anthropologique (que l’on me pardonne ce néologisme !) puissant, qui invite à la réflexion tout autant qu’à l’évasion.

    #Visages_Silicon_Valley #Anne_Cordier #C&F_éditions

  • Des dizaines de milliers de spectateurs « scannés » par la police durant un festival

    Grâce à des #caméras espionnes, les #visages de 90’000 fans ont été comparés aux photos contenues dans les fichiers d’#Europol. Une première qui fait grand bruit.
    Big Brother s’invite même dans les concerts de hard rock. La police du Leicestershire (centre de l’Angleterre) a provoqué une polémique, le week-end dernier en marge du festival Download. Elle a admis avoir installé des caméras reliées à un dispositif de #reconnaissance_faciale à certains « endroits stratégiques » du site.

  • Est-ce que le fait de publier ce genre de #photographies aidera d’une manière ou d’une autre à faire évoluer la situation ? Je n’en suis pas sure du tout...
    The horrors of the sea

    Juan Medina has been following migrants trying to reach Europe for two decades - the Reuters photographer won a World Press award for this image taken in 2004. As the number of deaths at sea rises, he talks about his images.

    #photographie #éthique #migration #cadavre #migration #réfugiés #Méditerranée #plage
    cc @albertocampiphoto

  • Stranger Visions: DNA Collected from Found Objects Used to Create 3D Portraits


    Stranger Visions is the result of her fascinating if slightly disconcerting line of questioning and experimentation that lead to the creation of 3D printed portraits based on DNA samples taken from objects found on the streets of Brooklyn.

    The resulting portraits are bizarre approximations of anonymous people who unknowingly left their genetic material on a random city street. So how accurate are the faces created from this genetic experiment? The artist likes to say they have a “family resemblance” and no, unlike the scenario depicted above, a person has never recognized themselves in any of her exhibitions. Yet. There are some things such as age which are virtually impossible to determine from DNA alone, so Dewey-Hagborg casts each portrait as if the person were around 25 years of age.

    via @iA

    #adn #objets-trouvés #visages

  • #Tunisie : l’ #ONU sollicitée sur l’ #enquête « #ChokriBélaïd »
    #Ennahdha et les #auteurs du #crime restés sans #noms, ni #visages !

    Le premier #échec des #islamistes, en #Tunisia et en #Egypt après le « Printemps Arabe », est de ne pas axer leurs premiers efforts sur la #sécurité . Voire de ne pas pousser à la #tendance de #stabilité des pays sortis de #troubles #historiques. La préoccupation majeure des nouveaux dirigeants est de sauver leur prise du #pouvoir, acquise par la manipulation de la foi religieuse, recherchant la consolidation de la vérité des urnes électorales...

  • #Syrie #Syria : les #activistes de l’ #information


    Les #jeunes #syriens impliqués sur le #front , #caméra au poing.

    Dans la #situation de #guerre civile syrienne, les rares #journalistes qui ont parlé aux #islamistes, pour connaître les #chefs et les #réseaux qui les orientent, ont eu #affaire à des #hommes dont les #visages sont cachés. Et leur sont donnés des #pseudonymes à consonance islamiste, servant tel des #avatars abstraits pour nommer leurs interlocuteurs. La motivation des jeunes syriens pour en finir avec le #régime a trouvé main forte (avec l’aide étrangère). Et eux inspirés tentent, avec un #journalisme indépendant, de révéler ce qui se passe sur le front…