There is a moment when your device is starting up, “waking up”, in the Apple terminology. The screen is black. And for that moment, in the reflection of glass, we can see ourselves as the computer sees us: tired, watchful, mild, meek.
Computer screens, our phones, our iPads, these are portals. And we conceptualise them as facing outward. One-way windows facing out into a world over which we exert complete control. I wonder: is the appeal of computers, of computing, especially as their graphical and representational power has increased, in some respect the user’s feeling of godliness?
But in that moment while the CPU is whirring into being and the memory registers are gathered up - then we see ourselves not as the godly user, whose being is none and everywhere, the omnipotent and omniscient operator - but more like the wizened old man who is revealed at the end of the Wizard Of Oz. The frail thing behind the smoke and lights of the machine.
Then it boots up.
The laptop gives it’s oh-so-satisfying bell of life, and the world opens to us. Our reflection disappears, it is subsumed by the light of the screen. The wizened old man disappears back behind his curtain and we're back in Oz.