The launch of the iPhone 6 didn't take place in Silicon Valley, or even in Silicon Alley. The announcement took place in an art studio off a cobblestone alley in Greenpoint, next to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
Little about the iPhone 6's content had gotten out before its release. No rumors of a bigger screen or a smaller dock connector. All we had heard was that "The release of the iPhone 6 is artist Leon Reid IV's creative take on Apple Inc's popular line of smartphone. The release and keynote speech will take place on Wednesday, September 19 at 7pm."
We were familiar with Reid's work. This is a man who wants to put a spider on the Brooklyn Bridge and turned Union Square's George Washington into a tourist. The question was, what would he bring to the iPhone that Apple didn't?
Wearing a red bow tie and a suit — ("I didn't have the turtleneck. I didn't have the jeans," Reid told us later) — Reid revealed his product using a projector that he admitted wasn't quite "up to date." (Reid himself uses a 2007 Samsung flip phone.) When the iPhone 6 finally appeared on the flickering screen, there weren't oohs and aahs. There were giggles. That's because this little guy appeared on the screen: an iPhone with arms, legs, and his own handheld device — a small human wearing a red shirt and blue pants.
"It hints at a world where the iPhone itself is smarter than those who create it," Reid told his small audience. "It's a work that assumes we will one day live in a world where our smartphones are smarter than us and that we will become the new handheld device of the future and it uses us as their application as a device to execute their will."
Heavy stuff, but the product (or sculpture, rather) still seems kind of, well, cute. Reid noted: "This particular iPhone 6 is trained to avoid the ticklish zones and the erogenous zones."
Reid explained some of its features. While iPhone 6 features a real iPhone — which Reid told us later is an iPhone 4 purchased from Apple — its arms and legs are cast in resin and will therefore last a lifetime. That, Reid pointed out, "is antithetical to the idea of technology. Technology companies don't want you holding onto their products more than a year." The iPhone 6 is 300 percent heavier than the iPhone 5 because of its steel base, and will only be produced in a limited quantity of 15. Plus, it's made in Brooklyn. "No outsourcing of labor," Reid said. "No atrocities with underage labor and Mike Daisey cannot go on This American Life and write a pack of lies about the production of this product. It was made right here."
After the iPhone 6 was unveiled "in the flesh," Reid opened the floor for questions. A bearded man called out: "Does it have a Siri?"
"No it doesn't," Reid responded. "It has no practical function other than it looks good."