robertogreco + objects   206

The library of things: could borrowing everything from drills to disco balls cut waste and save money? | Society | The Guardian
"Never mind books: in a slightly tatty block in Oxford you can borrow all the things that usually cost a fortune to hire – and its advocates say it’s a scheme that is about to conquer the world"
objects  libraries  tools  sharing  2019 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK - ENGLISH : BYRD BAYLOR : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
[See also: https://books.google.com/books?id=EWH-IfBQ-B0C ]

"RULE NUMBER 2

When you are looking
at rocks
don’t let

mothers or fathers
or sisters or brothers
or even best friends
talk
to you.

You should choose
a rock

when everything
is quiet.

Don’t let dogs bark
at you

or bees buzz
at you.

But if they do,

DON'T WORRY.

(The worst thing you can do is go
rock hunting when you are worried.)"

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmRN3JFBySIAAG5R52aZZNqwRDHkkCHd_PXdLk0/ ]
morethanhuman  rocks  poems  poetry  objects  multispecies  byrdbaylor 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Critic and poet Fred Moten is profiled by Jesse McCarthy | Harvard Magazine
"IN 2013, a manifesto entitled The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study began making the rounds among the growing pool of nervous graduate students, harried adjuncts, un-tenured professors, and postdocs whirling through the nation’s faculty lounges. The Undercommons was published by the small anarchist press Autonomedia and made freely available for download; in practice, however, it circulated by word of mouth, copies of the PDF forwarded like samizdat literature for those in the know. On the surface, the text is an analysis of alienated academic labor at the contemporary American university. But it’s also more radical than that: it is a manual for free thinking, a defiant call to dissent within educational institutions that betray their liberal credos, filling their coffers even as they prepare students, armed with liberal arts degrees and “critical thinking” skills, to helm a social and economic order in which, “to work…is to be asked, more and more, to do without thinking, to feel without emotion, to move without friction, to adapt without question, to translate without pause, to desire without purpose, to connect without interruption.”

For those with little or no knowledge of black studies, the text’s deployment of terms like “fugitivity” and “undercommons” may seem baffling. To those in the circle, however, this lexicon of continental philosophy, remixed with a poetic and prophetic fire resembling Amiri Baraka’s, bears the signature of one of the most brilliant practitioners of black studies working today: the scholar and poet Fred Moten ’84."



"This past fall, Moten took up a new position in the department of performance studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, arriving from Los Angeles and a teaching appointment at the University of California at Riverside. In early September, his office was still a bare room with a single high window looking out over Broadway. He hadn’t had a chance to unpack his library, but already a small stack of books on jazz theory, performance, and quantum mechanics rested in a pile near his desk. It soon became clear, however, that he is the kind of thinker who keeps all his favorite books in his head, anyway. His Paul Laurence Dunbar is always at his fingertips, and he weaves passages from Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, or Hortense Spillers into his conversation with equal facility.

In someone else this learnedness could come off as intimidating, but in Moten it’s just the opposite. Something about his composure, his relaxed attentiveness, the way he shakes his head with knowing laughter as he pauses over the direction he’s about to take with a question, instantly erases any stuffiness: one can imagine the exact same conversation taking place on the sidelines of a cookout. And then there’s his voice: warm, low, and propelled by a mellow cadence that breaks complex clauses into neat segments, their hushed, conspiratorial air approaching aphorism. At one point, Moten asked about my dissertation, which I confessed, sheepishly, was kind of a mess. His eyes lit up. He leaned back with a wide grin, his hands spreading out in front of him. “You know what a mess is?” He said. “In Arkansas, a mess is a unit of measure. Like of vegetables. Where my people come from folks might say: ‘You want a bushel?’ And you’ll say, ‘Nah, I want a mess.’ You know, like that great James Brown line: ‘Nobody can tell me how to use my mess.’ It’s a good thing to have. A mess is enough for a meal.”"



"One difficulty for outside readers encountering Moten’s work is that he tends to engage more with the avant-garde than with pop. It’s easy to see why the art world has embraced him: his taste gravitates toward the free-jazz end of the spectrum so strongly it’s as if he were on a mission, striving to experience all of creation at once—to play (as the title of a favorite Cecil Taylor album puts it) All the Notes. This spring, Moten is teaching a graduate course based on the works of choreographer Ralph Lemon and artist Glenn Ligon. In recent years he has collaborated with the artist Wu Tsang on installation and video art pieces, where they do things like practice the (slightly nostalgic) art of leaving voicemail messages for each other every day for two weeks without ever connecting, just riffing off snippets from each other’s notes. In another video short directed by Tsang, Moten—wearing a caftan and looking Sun Ra-ish—is filmed in “drag-frame” slow motion dancing to an a cappella rendition of the jazz standard “Girl Talk.”

By way of explanation, Moten recalls his old neighborhood. “I grew up around people who were weird. No one’s blackness was compromised by their weirdness, and by the same token,” he adds, “nobody’s weirdness was compromised by their blackness.” The current buzz (and sometimes backlash) over the cultural ascendancy of so-called black nerds, or “blerds,” allegedly incarnated by celebrities like Donald Glover, Neil deGrasse Tyson, or Issa Rae, leaves him somewhat annoyed. “In my mind I have this image of Sonny Boy Williamson wearing one of those harlequin suits he liked to wear. These dudes were strange, and I always felt that’s just essential to black culture. George Clinton is weird. Anybody that we care about, that we still pay attention to, they were weird.”

Weirdness for Moten can refer to cultural practices, but it also describes the willful idiosyncracy of his own work, which draws freely from tributaries of all kinds. In Black and Blur, the first book of his new three-volume collection, consent not to be a single being (published by Duke University Press), one finds essays on the Congolese painter Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu and C.L.R. James, François Girard’s Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, a comparison between Trinidadian calypso and Charles Mingus records composed in response to the Little Rock Nine, David Hammon’s art installation Concerto in Black and Blue, Wittgenstein and the science fiction of Samuel Delany, a deconstruction of Theodor Adorno’s writings on music and a reconstruction of Saidiya Hartman’s arguments on violence. Sometimes the collision can happen within a single sentence: “Emily Dickinson and Harriet Jacobs, in their upper rooms, are beautiful,” he writes. “They renovate sequestration.”

Taken together, Moten’s writings feel like a Charlie Parker solo, or a Basquiat painting, in their gleeful yet deadly serious attempt to capture the profusion of ideas in flight. For him this fugitive quality is the point. We are not supposed to be satisfied with clear understanding, but instead motivated to continue improvising and imagining a utopian destination where a black cosmopolitanism—one created from below, rather than imposed from above—brings folks together.

For Moten, this flight of ideas begins in the flight of bodies: in the experience of slavery and the Middle Passage, which plays a crucial role in his thinking. “Who is more cosmopolitan than Equiano?” he asks rhetorically, citing the Igbo sailor and merchant who purchased his own freedom, joined the abolitionist movement in England, and published his famous autobiography in 1789. “People think cosmopolitanism is about having a business-class seat. The hold of the ship, among other things, produces a kind of cosmopolitanism, and it’s not just about contact with Europeans and transatlantic travel. When you put Fulani and Igbo together and they have to learn how to speak to each other, that’s also a language lab. The historical production of blackness is cosmopolitanism.”

What can one learn from the expression of people who refuse to be commodities, but also once were commodities? What does history look like, or the present, or the future, from the point of view of those who refuse the norms produced by systems of violence: who consent not to be a single being? These key concerns course through the entirety of Moten’s dazzling new trilogy, which assembles all his theoretical writings since In the Break. At a time of surging reactionary politics, ill feeling, and bad community, few thinkers seem so unburdened and unbeholden, so confident in their reading of the historical moment. Indeed, when faced with the inevitable question of the state of U.S. politics, Moten remains unfazed. “The thing I can’t stand is the Trump exceptionalism. Remember when Goldwater was embarrassing. And Reagan. And Bush. Trump is nothing new. This is what empire on the decline looks like. When each emperor is worse than the last.”

* * *

A THESIS that has often been attractive to black intellectuals (held dear, for example, by both W.E.B. Du Bois and Ralph Ellison) was that the United States without black people is too terrifying to contemplate; that all the evidence, on balance, suggests that blackness has actually been the single most humanizing—one could even say, slyly, the only “civilizing”—force in America. Moten takes strong exception. “The work of black culture was never to civilize America—it’s about the ongoing production of the alternative. At this point it’s about the preservation of the earth. To the extent that black culture has a historic mission, and I believe that it does—its mission is to uncivilize, to de-civilize, this country. Yes, this brutal structure was built on our backs; but if that was the case, it was so that when we stood up it would crumble.”

Despite these freighted words, Moten isn’t the brooding type. He’s pleased to be back in New York City, where he’ll be able to walk, instead of drive, his kids to school. He’s hopeful about new opportunities for travel, and excited to engage with local artists and poets. His wife, cultural studies scholar Laura Harris, is working on a study of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, who is currently being “re-discovered” by American artists and critics. “I circulate babylon and translate for the new times,” opens another poem in The Feel Trio, … [more]
fredmoten  2017  2013  highereducation  highered  work  labor  anarchism  race  slavery  blackstudies  dissent  radicalism  via:javierarbona  resistance  blackness  bodies  aesthetics  amiribaraka  dukeellington  adrianpiper  billieholiday  nathanielmackey  poetry  scholarship  academia  rebellion  subversion  karlmarx  marxism  hortensespillers  kant  paullaurencedunbar  attentiveness  messes  messiness  johnashbery  ralphellison  webdubois  everyday  writing  undercommons  margins  liminality  betweenness  alternative  preservation  uncivilization  decivilization  consent  empire  imperialism  body  objects  cosmopolitanism  charlieparker  basquiat  weirdness  donaldglover  neildegrassetyson  issarae  georgeclinton  tshibumbakanda-matulu  charlesmingus  samueldelany  saidiyahartman  clrjames  françoisgirard  davidhammon  héliooiticica  lauraharris  charlesolson  susanhowe  criticism  art  stefanoharney  jacquesderrida  jean-michelbasquiat  theodoradorno 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Bat, Bean, Beam: Inside the Personal Computer
"The inside of a computer looks a bit like a city, its memory banks and I/O devices rising like buildings over the avenues of soldered circuits. But then so do modern cities resembles motherboards, especially at night, when the cars sparkle like point-to-point signal carriers travelling along the grid. It is a well-worn visual metaphor in films and advertising, suggesting that the nerve centres of business and finance have come to resemble the information infrastructure that sustains them. Besides, isn’t the city at the sharp edge of the late capitalist era above all a generator of symbols?

And yet this technology with which we are so intimate, and that more than any other since the invention of writing has extended us, remains mostly opaque to us. Why would anyone bother to learn what digital machines look like on the inside? What difference would it make, when the uses we make of them are so incommensurate with this trivial knowledge?

I like pop-up books, and early pop-up books about the inner workings of computers have become obsolete in an interesting way. They are the last thing we would think to use to demonstrate such knowledge nowadays. They are so prone to jamming or coming apart. They have none of the grace and smoothness that our devices aspire to.

The centre piece of Sharon Gallagher’s Inside the Personal Computer – An illustrated Introduction in 3 Dimensions (1984) is the machine itself, complete with keyboard and floppy disk drive.

If you push the disk inside its unit and lower the flap, a Roman blind-like mechanism changes the message on the screen from INSERT DISK AND CLOSE DOWN to HELLO: THIS BOOK EXPLAINS WHAT I AM AND HOW I WORK. BY THE END YOU’LL KNOW ME INSIDE OUT.

It’s a neat trick. But the book is at its best when it gets into the basics of how transistors work, or uses wheels to explain how to translate a number into binary code, or a typed character first into ASCII, then into its binary equivalent.

Or simply what happens when you type “M”.

There is the mechanical action that alienates us from the digital word. Writing technologized language but still allowed us to write in our own hand, whereas there is simply no way of typing gracefully. Any M is like any other M, and even if we choose a fancy font the translation from the essential M (ASCII code 77) to the fancy M happens inside the computer and in code. This is not a ‘bad thing’. It’s just the state of the tools of our culture, which require a different kind of practice.

The other thing that this book makes clear is that the personal computer hasn’t changed very much at all since 1984. Its component parts are largely unchanged: a motherboard, a central processing unit, RAM and ROM, I/O ports. Floppy disks have become USB sticks, while hard drives – which boasted at the time ‘between 5 and 50 megabytes of information – the equivalent of between 3,000 and 30,000 typewritten pages' – have fewer moving parts. But their function is the same as in the early models. Ditto the monitors, which have become flatter, and in colour. Even the mouse already existed, although back then its name still commanded inverted commas. Today’s computers, then, are a great deal more powerful, but otherwise fairly similar to what they were like three and a half decades ago. What makes them unrecognisable is that they’re all connected. And for that – for the internet – it makes even less sense to ‘take a look inside’. Inside what? Does the internet reside in the telephone exchange, or at the headquarters of ICANN, or where else?

The inside of a computer looks a bit like a city, but it’s an alien city. None of its buildings have doors or windows. The roads are made not of stone or asphalt but of plastic and metal.

The pictures above, by the way, show the guts of mine, which I recently upgraded. It’s what I used to write this blog and everything else from 2010 to June of this year, but I feel no attachment to it – it would be silly to.

There are guides on the web to help you mine your old computer for gold using household chemicals. They come with bold type warnings about how toxic the process is. But in fact computers are both hazardous to manufacture and to dismantle. Waste materials from all the PCs and assorted electronic devices discarded since 1984 have created massively polluted districts and cities in the global south. Places like the Agbogbloshie district of Accra, Ghana, and countless others. Vast dumping sites that are mined for scraps of precious metals as much as for the personal information left onto the hard drives, while leeching chemicals into the local water supply.

This would be a more meaningful inside in which to peer if we want to understand how computers work, and their effect on the world’s societies. One effect of globalisation has been to displace human labour. Not eliminate it, far from it, but rather create the illusion in the most advanced nations that manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and meaningful work consists in either farming the land or providing services. Automation has claimed many of those jobs, of course, but other have simply shifted away from the centres where most of the consumption takes place. This is another way in which the computer has become a mysterious machine: because no-one you know makes them.

Inside the Personal Computer was written 33 years ago in an effort to demystify an object that would soon become a feature in every household, and change everyone’s life. On the last page, it is no longer the book that ‘speaks’ to the reader, like in the first pop up, but the computer itself. Its message is perfectly friendly but in hindsight more than a little eerie."
giovnnitiso  computers  computing  2017  globalization  labor  hardware  geopolitics  economics  pop-upbooks  1984  sharongallagher  writing  technology  digital  physical  icann  ascii  accra  ghana  objects  environment  sustainability  ecology 
november 2017 by robertogreco
The Great Africanstein Novel | by Namwali Serpell | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"The title of Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s magisterial first novel, Kintu—first published in Kenya in 2014, then in the US this year by the Oakland-based press Transit Books—is a Luganda word. Luganda is a Bantu language spoken in Uganda; Bantu is a proto-language that just means people; there are languages derived from it all across the African continent. In Zambia, where I’m from, we spell this word chinthu. In both countries, it is pronounced chin-two and it means “thing.” In ancient Buganda mythology, however, Kintu is also the name of the first man, the equivalent to the Judeo-Christian Adam. The implications of this titular oxymoron—a word that means both “thing” and “man”—begin to unfold in the opening pages of Makumbi’s book.

There’s a knock at the door. A woman opens it to four local officials, who rouse her man, Kamu, from sleep and lead him outside for questioning. He assumes they’re there on behalf of a creditor but when they reach a marketplace, they bind his hands. Kamu protests: “Why are you tying me like a thief?” A mob swirls into being like a weather formation, the word thief flying “from here to there, first as a question then as a fact.” Kicks and blows begin to rain down on him, from both the elderly and the young. Arrivals to the scene ask, “‘Is it a thief?’ because Kamu had ceased to be human.” He tries to hold on to his humanity: “Kamu decided he was dreaming. He was Kamu Kintu, human. It was them, bantu. Humans. He would wake up any minute.” He does not.

The account of Kamu’s abrupt, arbitrary death on Monday, January 5, 2004, and the subsequent fate of his corpse in the bureaucratic torpor of Kampala’s morgue, recurs in short fragments at the start of each of the novel’s five sections, which tell the stories of other members of the scattered Kintu clan. First, we jump back three centuries to its first generation, headed by Kintu Kidda, a ppookino, or governor, of the Buddu province in the eighteenth-century Buganda Kingdom. In a moment of irritation, Kintu slaps his adopted son, a Rwandan, and the boy falls down dead. His men bury the body improperly: “the grave was narrow and shallow. They used a stick to measure Kalema’s length, but while the stick fit into the grave, Kalema did not. They crammed him in.” In their haste, the men do not even realize that they have buried the boy beside a burial shrub for dogs. The tragic repercussions of this desecration—“the curse was specific: mental illness, sudden death, and suicide”—ripple across the centuries through the lives of Kintu’s descendants.

Like Charles Dickens or Gabriel García Márquez, Makumbi ranges widely across time and social strata; her knowledge of Ugandan culture seems as precise as a historian’s. We meet Suubi Kintu, a young woman who grows up in a compound, perpetually on the brink of starvation, but is eventually integrated into a middle-class family. Kanani Kintu and his wife, Faisi, members of an evangelical group, the Awakened, bear a twin son and daughter with an uncomfortably close relationship. Isaac Newton Kintu, the product of rape and named for the last lesson his mother learned in school before she dropped out, gets trapped into marriage; when his wife dies, seemingly of AIDS, he anguishes over whether to learn his own HIV status. Miisi Kintu, a writer raised by colonial priests (the “white fathers”) and educated abroad, returns to a postcolonial Kampala still feeling the aftershocks of dictatorship and the bush war of the early Eighties, which killed some of his children. With its progression through generations and its cyclical returns to genetic inheritance—hay fever, twins, madness—Kintu’s structure feels epic.

Kintu continually diverts us from this straightforward path of a curse and its aftermath, however, as well as from our preconceptions about Africa. The polygamous eighteenth-century governor wants nothing more than to be with the woman he loves; the Awakened couple experience their enviably passionate sex life as a torment; the spiritual leader of a ritual cleansing is so “anglicized” that the assembled family members doubt his efficacy. Social class is defined neither by strict stratification nor by upward mobility, but by extreme volatility—economic fates rise and fall almost at random. Servant girls become educated women, sons of professors come to live in slums.

Makumbi’s depiction of local culture also bears little resemblance to standard notions of African “authenticity.” Her Uganda is an unabashed amalgam of Europe and Africa, in everything from cooking to spiritual possession to mental health to sexual mores. As Makumbi said in an interview:
We are both Europeanized and Ugandan. We speak both traditional languages and English. Someone goes to church, but then will go to the traditional healer. Someone is a scientist but will have an intense spiritual life. We have this saying in Uganda: “God help me, but I’m going to run as well.” We think two ways at once.

In the novel, Miisi conjures an image of African postcolonialism that captures this sensibility. He pictures the black torso of the continent but stripped of its limbs, which have been replaced with European ones. “We cannot go back to the operating table and ask for the African limbs,” he writes. “Africa must learn to walk on European legs and work with European arms. As time goes by, children will be born with evolved bodies.” Makumbi’s portmanteau for this Gothic image enacts the very grafting it describes: Africanstein.

Kintu cannot but be in some sense the story of a people, the Ganda, and a nation, Uganda. But its politics are personal. Idi Amin and the bush wars emerge in conversation, in acts of mourning. The ins and outs of the ancient Buganda Kingdom’s secessions and coups seem incidental to the personal tragedy of Kintu Kidda, his wives, and their children. Makumbi has said that she intentionally skipped the nation’s colonial history: “The almost complete lack of colonization was deliberate…. To me colonization was my grandfather’s quarrel.” So, without the usual lenses of class, culture, and colonialism—without “Queen and Country,” so to speak—how are we to read this “African” novel?"



"Oddly enough, despite all this generalizing and pigeonholing, African writers are rarely thought to speak to the universal—in the philosophical sense rather than the platitudinous one. But if, as Makumbi noted at an event in Brooklyn last June, the origin of the human species is probably East Africa, then why can’t Kampala be the center of a profoundly universal inquiry? As its two-faced title—man/thing—suggests, Kintu does in fact have a grand philosophical question in mind. The novel forces us to reckon over and again with what it means to be kintu, to be man, or human. This question plays out across certain boundaries: between men and women, between twins, between life and death, between “mankind” and “animalkind,” between good and evil, between human and supernatural worlds, between foreigners and family, and, of course, between humans and objects."



"Miisi completely loses his grip on reality and starts wearing a Western-style waistcoat and coat over his kanzu. In his dishevelment, he comes to resemble his ancestor with that strange thing/person name, Kintu. Miisi becomes a man “floating in two worlds.” Which two worlds? Boyhood and manhood, past and present, muntu and muzungu, Europe and Africa? “I know who I am,” Miisi tells his daughter, “We are not even Hamites. We are Bantu.” But she thinks, “He is now a different person.” In the end, he is riven by his divisions, “in the middle world between sanity and insanity.”

To survive being human, Kintu suggests, is to hold all these divisions together, gently, to “just be.” This argument about personhood is radical because it rejects a long philosophical tradition of considering “humanity” as a matter of self-containment and integrity, of what the human excludes. It is also radical because Makumbi centers this argument in Uganda. But what better place, with its arbitrarily sketched borders, its pliable myths and cultures, its originary status—cradle of the first human/thing—to stage an interrogation of personhood? As Makumbi has remarked in passing about living as an immigrant in the UK: “Out here you are Ugandan. At home you are just human.”"
jennifernansubugamakumbi  namwaliserpell  books  literature  kintu  kampala  ugnda  africaisnotacountry  2017  toread  universal  universalism  humans  humanism  objects  betweenness  seams  gender  supernatural  middleground  gray  grey  humanity  personhood  integrity  self-containment  borders  identity  myth  culture  sexuality  history  colonialism  postcolonialism  human  colonization  europe  decolonization  frankenstein  africanstein  africa  africans  twins  multispecies  morethanhuman  life  living  philosophy  divisions  interstitial  liminality  liminalspaces  liminalstates  between 
october 2017 by robertogreco
OBJECT AMERICA
"The Observational Practices Lab, Parsons, (co-directed by Pascal Glissmann and Selena Kimball) launches a multi-phase project and investigation, OBJECT AMERICA, to explore the idea of “America” through everyday objects. The aim is to use comparative research and observational methods—which may range from the scientific to the absurd—to expose unseen histories and speculate about the future of the country as a concept. The contemporary global media landscape is fast-moving and undercut by “fake news” and “alternative facts” which demands that students and researchers build a repertoire of strategies to assess and respond to sources of information. For the first phase of OBJECT AMERICA launching in the fall of 2017, we invited Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, to choose an object for this investigation which she believed would represent “America” into the future (she chose the Model 500 Telephone by Henry Dreyfuss designed in 1953). Researchers will investigate this object through different disciplinary lenses — including art, climate science, cultural geography, data visualization, economics, history of mathematics, medicine, media theory, material science, music, poetry, and politics — in order to posit alternative ways of seeing."

[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/915366114753990660 ]
objects  pascalglissmann  selenakimball  ellenlupton  art  climate  science  culturalgeography  datavisualization  economics  mathematics  math  medicine  mediatheory  materialscience  music  poetry  politics  seeing  waysofseeing  geography  culture  history  climatescience  dataviz  infoviz 
october 2017 by robertogreco
My Grandmother’s Shroud - The New York Times
"When my grandmother, my mother’s mother, died in late June in Nigeria, I was in Italy, at a conference. I wasn’t with her when she slipped into a coma or, three days later, when she died. When my brother told me the news, I called my mother and other members of my family to commiserate with them. She was buried the day of her death, in keeping with Muslim custom, and I couldn’t attend her funeral. My mother, visiting friends in Houston, would also miss the funeral.

I opened my computer and began to search my folders for pictures of my grandmother. On each yearly trip to Nigeria for the past several years, I went to see her in Sagamu, a town an hour northeast of Lagos, where she was born and where she lived for most of her life. On these visits, she would say: ‘‘Sit next to me. I want to feel your hands in mine. Be close to me. I want your skin touching mine.’’ I was always happy to sit with her and to hold hands with her. Afterward, I took photos. I have photos now of her alone, in selfies with me, in the company of my mother and my aunts. In these photos, she has surprisingly smooth skin, hardly any gray hair and, in most of them, a trace of amusement. In one, especially touching photo, my wife, Karen, applies polish to her nails.

To remain close to our dead, we cherish images of them. We’ve done so for millenniums. Think of the Fayum portraits, which show us the faces of Egyptians during the Imperial Roman era with stunning immediacy. Images — paintings, sculptures, photographs — remind us how our loved ones looked in life. But in most places and at most times, portraiture was available only to society’s elites. Photography changed that. Almost everyone is now captured in photographs — and outlived by them. Photographs are there when people pass away. They serve as reservoirs of memory and as talismans for mourning.

My grandmother was born in 1928. Her given name was Abusatu, but we called her Mama. Mama’s father, Yusuf, was a stern imam in Sagamu, and Yusuf’s father, Salako, was said to have been even more severe. But Mama herself was serene and good-natured, kind and tolerant. She was deeply consoled by her religion but not doctrinaire. Of her five daughters, two (including her firstborn, my mother) married Christians and converted to Christianity. It made no difference to Mama. The family had Muslims, Christians and some, like myself, who drifted away from religion entirely. Mama loved us all. An example of her unobtrusive kindness: While I was a college student in the United States, she sent me a white hand-woven cotton blanket. I never knew why and didn’t ask. But it is to this day the most precious piece of cloth I own.

I was leaving Rome when I received the sad news of Mama’s death. She was approaching 89. The end came swiftly, and she was surrounded by family. You could say it was a good death. But why couldn’t she have lived to 99, or to 109, or forever? Death makes us protest the fact of death. It makes us wish for the impossible. I could objectively understand that it was unusual to have had a grandmother in my 40s, and that my 67-year-old mother was equally fortunate in having had a mother so long. My father was 5 when his mother died, and he has been mourning her for longer than my mother has been alive. But the grieving heart does not care for logic, and it refuses comparisons. I mourned Mama as I left Italy for New York.

I mourned her but did not, or was not able to, weep. I arrived in New York in the late afternoon, perhaps at the very moment Mama was being interred. My mother had forwarded a couple of photos taken by my cousin Adedoyin to my wife’s WhatsApp. Karen reached for her phone and showed me the pictures. They were a shock. One was of Mama, dead on her hospital bed, wearing a flowery nightdress and draped in a second flowery cloth, the oxygen tube still taped to her nostrils. Her right arm was limp at her side, and she was not quite like someone asleep but rather like someone passed out, open and vulnerable. The other photograph, which seemed to have been cropped, showed a figure wrapped in a shroud, tied up with white twine, set out on a bed in front of a framed portrait: a white bundle in vaguely human shape where my grandmother used to be. I burst into sudden hot tears.

What did these photographs open? Imagination can be delicate, imposing a protective decorum. A photograph insists on raw fact and confronts us with what we were perhaps avoiding. There she is, my dear Mama, helpless on the hospital bed, and I cannot help her. Days later, I would find out from my mother that in this first photograph, Mama was still in a coma and not dead yet. But looking at the second photograph, the one in which she is incontrovertibly dead, my thoughts raced through a grim logic. I thought: Why have they wrapped her face up? Then I thought: It must be stifling under that thing, she won’t be able to breathe! Then I thought: She’s dead and will never breathe again. Then my tears flowed.

Mama’s life was hard. An itinerant trader of kola nut and later the owner of a small provisions shop, she was one of my late grandfather’s five wives and by no means the best treated. She never went to school, and the only word she could write was her name, sometimes with the ‘‘s’’ reversed. But when Baba died more than 20 years ago, Mama moved out of his house and lived in the two-story house that my mother built her. She was a women’s leader, a kind of deaconess, at the local mosque. She went to parties, to market and to evening prayers. She lived in the security of her own house, in the company of her widowed second daughter, my aunt. In those later years, life became easier.

‘‘She has a single obsession,’’ my mother used to say, ‘‘and that’s her burial rites.’’ Mama insisted that she be buried the same day she died. ‘‘She’ll say, ‘And I must not be buried at the house,’ ’’ my mother said, ‘‘ ‘Because what’s rotten must be thrown out. And for seven days, food must be cooked and taken to the mosque and served to the poor.’ ’’ And most important, my mother said, Mama would reiterate that in a cupboard in the room next to the meeting room in her house was her robe, the one she must be buried in. It was of utmost importance to her to meet her maker wearing the robe with which she approached the Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam.

The hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which she undertook in 1996, when she was 68, transfigured my grandmother. Through that journey, through her accomplishment of one of the central tenets of Islam, she sloughed off her old life and took on a new one, one that put her into a precise relationship with eternity. The year of her journey, thousands of Nigerian pilgrims were turned back, because of meningitis and cholera outbreaks. My grandmother was one of a few hundred who got through. When she returned from Mecca, many of her townspeople took to calling her ‘‘Alhaja Lucky.’’ And as though to fit the name, she wore the serene mien of someone who was under special protection.

My mother, an Anglican Christian, financed the journey, knowing what it would mean to her mother to fulfill this final pillar of the faith. But possibly, she had no idea how much it would mean. She anticipated the social satisfaction Mama would get from it but had not counted on the serious existential confirmation it provided.

In the last few years, I often thought of Mama’s pilgrimage robe. I thought about how fortunate she was to have something in her possession so sacred to her, something of such surpassing worth, that she wished to have it on when she met God. And she had her wish: Beneath the plain white shroud in which she was sheathed after she died was that simple pilgrimage robe.

I look at the various photographs from Alhaja Lucky’s last years on my computer. None of them really satisfy me. Many are blurry, most are banal. I really like only the ones of her hands: They remind me of her wish to have her hands touched by mine. But the photograph I cannot stop thinking about is the one Adedoyin took, of Mama in her funeral shroud. The image reminds me of newspaper photos of funerals in troubled zones in the Middle East: an angry crowd, a shrouded body held aloft. But Mama was not a victim of violence. She died peacefully, well past the age of 88, surrounded by family.

Nevertheless, the custom is connected. It is a reminder that the word ‘‘Muslim’’ — so much a part of current American political argument, and so often meant as a slur — is not and has never been an abstraction, not for me, and certainly not for millions of Americans for whom it is a lived reality or a fact of family. A lead headline in The New York Times just a few days after Mama’s burial read: ‘‘Travel Ban Says Grandparents Don’t Count as ‘Close Family.’ ’’ The headline was about travel restrictions on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Nigeria was not on the list, but the cruelty and absurdity of the policy was vivid. It felt personal.

On the night of Mama’s burial, I lay down to sleep in my apartment in Brooklyn. I couldn’t shake the image of my cousin’s photograph. I went into the closet and took out the white cotton blanket Mama sent me all those years ago. It was a hot night, high summer. I draped the blanket over my body. In the darkness, I pulled the blanket slowly past my shoulders, past my chin, over my face, until I was entirely covered by it, until I was covered by Mama."
2017  tejucole  photography  death  memory  nigeria  aging  relationships  hajj  islam  purpose  grief  mourning  grieving  customs  objects  textiles  immigration  us  policy  connection  families  tolerance  religion  acceptance  mecca  eternity  belief  spirituality  burial  life  living  change  transformation  talismans 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Museum of London junk exhibition reveals human joy in repairs | Culture | The Guardian
"Roman bowls mended with pine tree resin, a plate fixed with staples and snapped spoons reveal we haven’t always been so squeamish about recycling"
repair  mending  2017  objects 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Arte Povera - Wikipedia
"A return to simple objects and messages
The body and behavior are art
The everyday becomes meaningful
Traces of nature and industry appear
Dynamism and energy are embodied in the work
Nature can be documented in its physical and chemical transformation
Explore the notion of space and language
Complex and symbolic signs lose meaning
Ground Zero, no culture, no art system, Art = Life"
atepovera  art  1960s  1970s  italy  italia  everyday  behavior  simplicity  objects  meaning  artleisure  leisurearts 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Remembering Seymour Papert « LRB blog
"We learn by making, doing, constructing. It’s great to think with objects we find in the world. But when we get to build, the great becomes awesome. And these two children, with a computer, were building something of their own in a whole new way. Seymour saw that the computer would make it easier for thinking itself to become an object of thought. When I began to interview children learning to program, I could hear how right he was. It was dramatic. One 13-year-old told me: ‘When you program a computer, you put a little piece of your mind into the computer’s mind and you come to see yourself differently.’ That is heady stuff.

Seymour called the identification of mind and object, mind and machine, the ‘ego-syntonic’ quality of programming. He used the language of syntonicity deliberately, to create a resonance between the language of computation and the language of psychoanalysis. And then he heightened the resonance by talking about body syntonicity as well. Which brings me to the boy draped around the Turtle. Seymour loved to get children to figure out how to program by ‘playing Turtle’. He loved that children could experience their ideas through the Turtle’s physical actions. That they could connect body-to-body with something that came from their mind.

We love the objects we think with; we think with the objects we love. So teach people with the objects they are in love with. And if you are a teacher, measure your success by whether your students are falling in love with their objects. Because if they are, the way they think about themselves will also be changing."



"In his explorations of the ways objects carry identity as well as ideas, you can see Seymour’s desire to take the cool studies of learning that were his Piagetian heritage and infuse them not only with ideas about making things, about action and construction, but also with ideas about feeling things, about love and connection.

At the time of the juggling lesson, Seymour was deep in his experiments into what he called ‘loud thinking’. It was what he was asking my grandfather to do. What are you trying? What are you feeling? What does it remind you of? If you want to think about thinking and the real process of learning, try to catch yourself in the act of learning. Say what comes to mind. And don’t censor yourself. If this sounds like free association in psychoanalysis, it is. (When I met Seymour, he was in analysis with Greta Bibring.) And if it sounds like it could you get you into personal, uncharted, maybe scary terrain, it could. But anxiety and ambivalence are part of learning as well. If not voiced, they block learning.

I studied psychology in the 1970s at Harvard, in William James Hall. The psychologists who studied thinking were on one floor. The psychologists who studied feeling were on another. Metaphorically, for the world of learning, Seymour asked the elevator to stop between the floors so that there could be a new conversation.

He knew that one way to start that conversation was by considering something concrete. An evocative object. He bridged the thinking/feeling divide by writing about the way his love for the gears on a toy car ignited his love of mathematics as a child. From the beginning of my time at MIT, I have asked students to write about an object they loved that became central to their thinking.

A love for science can start with love for a microscope, a modem, a mud pie, a pair of dice, a fishing rod. Plastic eggs in a twirled Easter basket reveal the power of centripetal force; experiments with baking illuminate the geology of planets. Everybody has their own version of the gears. These stories about objects bring to light something central to Seymour’s legacy. For his legacy was not only in how children learn in classrooms and out of them. It’s in using objects to help people think about how they know what they know. A focus on objects brings philosophy into everyday life.

Seymour’s ideas about the power of objects have moved from the worlds of media and education (where he nurtured them) out into larger disciplinary spaces in social science, anthropology, social theory and history. People are studying objects of clothing, objects of kitchenware, objects of science, objects of medical practice and objects of revolutionary culture, in ways that bear the trace of Seymour’s wisdom.

One of the great virtues of putting object studies at the center of learning is that nothing of great value is simple. Take Seymour’s story of the gears that brought him to mathematics. Simple? Not really. Behind those gears was Seymour’s father who gave him the toy car that held the gears. The father he loved, whom he wanted to please, but who didn’t want him to be a mathematician. He wanted him to take over the family pest-control company, so Seymour was all set to study chemical engineering. But then, he was persuaded, though not by his dad, to try a liberal arts course for a year.

Seymour interpreted this as a chance to take a year off to study mathematics and psychology – and well, from there, he became Seymour. But his father didn’t like it. Those gears were emotionally charged with conflict, ambivalence and competition. Seymour had a complex learning story. I think it contributed to his ability to nurture contradiction, innovation, originality, idiosyncracy, creativity. It contributed to the intimate, non-judgmental attention that made him a great teacher and that deep learning in digital culture requires – more and more, of all of us, in order to make more of what he began."
seymourpapert  sherrytutkle  2017  psychology  thinking  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  education  piaget  objects  constructionism  attention  syntonicity  creativity  contradiction  ambivalence  idiosyncrasy  originality  innovation  judgement  jeanpiaget 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Objects of Nature Encrusted with Polygons Made From Twine by Norihiko Terayama | Spoon & Tamago
"Driftwood, stems and branches. They’re all around us but so easily overlooked. But designer Norihiko Terayama’s latest series of sculptures offers different way of seeing these ordinary objects of nature.

Titled “crust of the polygon,” the artist, designer and architect has merged all his specialties into crafting a series of delicate sculptures. One by one he plants pins into his objects – a piece of driftwood or a flowering branch – and then connects the tip with twine to create, what he calls, additional “exterior crust” of polygons.

Sometimes the pins balance the objects on a surface while others are suspended by a separate piece of twine. But either way the minimal and delicate sculptures work to levitate the natural object creating a poetic reframing of the ordinary.

Tarayama is the creator of other poetic and mesmerizing objects like the flower ruler (currently out of stock) and the awaglass."
via:tealtan  classideas  polygons  art  norihikoterayama  sculpture  2017  objects 
january 2017 by robertogreco
first book! | Abler.
"Friends, I’m so happy to say that my first book is under contract with Riverhead/Penguin! I’m just thrilled—I can’t even tell you.

The book is about the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, from everyday household objects to architecture, street and city planning, pointing to larger systems design questions at the end. It grows in scale from wearables and products to environments and ecologies, building momentum to ask some compelling and hard questions: Where else might the experience of disability be a site of creativity and invention? And what design opportunities are missed because those experiences are overlooked? I’ll be citing the work of so many scholars I admire, looping together histories—little-known origin stories of everyday things—with more contemporary advances in design for human difference. I’m thinking of it as a kind of travel writing—deeply reported throughout, taking the reader with me to understand the stories of people and cultures behind all our designed objects and environments. I’m deep into it already, and it’s the most excited I’ve ever been about a project.

I’m lucky that Olin College is a place where I could say to my dean: I want to write a book, but I want it to be a trade book for the general reader, and he said immediately—fantastic, do it. I wanted to write a trade book for the same reasons that I’ve written in the mode of journalist before: it matters to me that the radical, complex, and exciting ideas in disability studies reach people outside academia, and that the non-fiction reader see the designed world anew, re-enchanted with the universality of disability in its very fibers and structures. I want the reader to locate all bodies in that built world, regardless of capacity—to see all of us on a human continuum of abilities and needs, holding shared stakes in the designed future. Olin is a college without departments or traditional tenure, so I’m free to pursue this project as my research with the full support of my institution.

This whole web site will look different so soon; I’m working on finishing the three-part site that started with aplusa’s birth. More soon!"
sarahendren  2017  disability  disabilitystudies  continuums  academia  olincollege  diversity  books  writing  audience  everyday  objects  design  creativity  invention  disabilities 
january 2017 by robertogreco
A letter to Rosa Luxemburg
"The socialist pioneer Rosa Luxemburg was killed in Berlin in 1919. In 2015, John Berger sits down to write a letter to her."



"Of the eighteen birds on the labels, I perhaps recognise five.

The boxes are full of matches with green striking heads. Sixty in each box. The same as seconds in a minute and minutes in an hour. Each one a potential flame.

“The modern proletarian class,” you wrote, “doesn’t carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern worker’s struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight.”

On the lid of the cardboard box there is a short explanatory note addressed to matchbox-label collectors (phillumenists, as they are called) in the USSR of the 1970s.

The note gives the following information: in evolutionary terms birds preceded animals, in the world today there are an estimated 5,000 species of birds, in the Soviet Union there are 400 species of songbirds, in general it is the male birds who sing, songbirds have specially developed vocal chords at the bottom of their throats, they usually nest in bushes or trees or on the ground, they are an aid to cereal agriculture because they eat and thus eliminate hordes of insects, recently in the remotest areas of the Soviet Union three new species of singing sparrows have been identified.

Janine kept the box on her kitchen windowsill. It gave her pleasure and in the winter it reminded her of birds singing.

When you were imprisoned for vehemently opposing the First World War, you listened to a blue titmouse “who always stayed close to my window, came with the others to be fed, and diligently sang its funny little song, tsee-tsee-bay, but it sounded like the mischievous teasing of a child. It always made me laugh and I would answer with the same call. Then the bird vanished with the others at the beginning of this month, no doubt nesting elsewhere. I had seen and heard nothing of it for weeks. Yesterday its well-known notes came suddenly from the other side of the wall which separates our courtyard from another part of the prison; but it was considerably altered, for the bird called three times in brief succession, tsee-tsee-bay, tsee-tsee-bay, tsee-tsee-bay, and then all was still. It went to my heart, for there was so much conveyed by this hasty call from the distance – a whole history of bird life.”"
johnberger  rosaluxemburg  2015  birds  objects  matches  matchboxes  phillumenists  imprisonment  freedom  proletariat  struggle  living 
january 2017 by robertogreco
A Smuggling Operation: John Berger’s Theory of Art - Los Angeles Review of Books
"EARLY IN HIS CAREER, John Berger’s weekly art criticism for the New Statesman provoked outraged letters and public condemnation. Once, the British Council issued a formal apology to Henry Moore because Berger had suggested his latest work showed a decline. Nor was the hostility limited to such comic passive-aggression. Berger’s politics were deemed so objectionable that his publisher was compelled to withdraw his first novel, A Painter of Our Time (1958), from circulation.

At 90, Berger is harvesting a sudden flowering of praise. It is well deserved. For more than half a century, he has been our greatest art critic — as well as a superior novelist, a poet, and the star and screenwriter of one of the best art documentaries ever made, Ways of Seeing. Most of the writers currently rushing to canonize him, however, avoid dwelling on the heart of Berger’s point of view — his Marxism. No doubt avoiding this disfavored topic makes eulogy easier, but it reminds me of something Berger wrote about Frederick Antal: “the importance of his Marxism tends to be underestimated. In a curious way this is probably done out of respect for him: as though to say ‘He was brilliant despite that — so let’s charitably forget it.’ Yet, in fact, to do this is to deny all that Antal was.” To make such a denial about Berger should no longer be possible after the publication of Landscapes: John Berger on Art.

Landscapes and its companion volume, Portraits: John Berger on Artists (Verso, 2015), are the best summation to date of Berger’s career as a critic. Both volumes were edited by Tom Overton. In Portraits, Overton made selections from decades of essays on the whole historical gamut of art, from the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux to the work of 33-year-old Randa Mdah, and organized them chronologically into a history and appraisal of the art of painting. To read it was to be reminded of Berger’s unique virtues: the clarity of his writing, the historical and technical erudition of his insight, and above all his unique focus on each artist’s way of looking. What Landscapes in turn makes clear, through its assemblage of more programmatic pieces — book reviews, manifestos, autobiography — is that Berger is a rigorous thinker with a theory of art. That theory evolved considerably between the 1950s and the 2010s. Yet two threads hold it together with the tenacity of spider silk: a critique of the political economy of art and a sophisticated account of its human value, each rooted in a committed but elastic Marxism.

A Marxist art criticism of any real subtlety has to be elastic, because it must deal with a problem Marx himself diagnosed but failed to solve. Berger puts it like this:
A question which Marx posed but could not answer: If art in the last analysis is a superstructure of an economic base, why does its power to move us endure long after the base has been transformed? Why, asked Marx, do we still look towards Greek art as an ideal? He began to answer the question […] and then broke off the manuscript and was far too occupied ever to return to the question.

Berger takes up the thread where Marx broke off. He is not, of course, the first Marxist to address the question of art, and he is familiar with most of those who tried before him, sorting through and furthering their legacy.

The most famous of Berger’s influences, Walter Benjamin, wrote the essay “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” from which came most of the ideas in Berger’s documentary, Ways of Seeing. But Landscapes reveals that his most important influence as a practicing art critic was Max Raphael.

Raphael, an undeservedly obscure theorist, located the value of art in the activity of the artist. According to him, an artist performs two operations. On the one hand, the artist turns raw material into artistic material by shaping it to represent an idea or an object; this is true both of Michelangelo shaping a block of marble into David and of Jackson Pollock embodying the rhythms of jazz in drip paintings. On the other, the artist turns his perception into something external and objective, a representation. The work of art is the result of these two transformations, of raw stuff and of subjective perception into an art object. For Raphael, the point of art is these two transformations: they are the artist’s way of “undoing the world of things” and constructing “the world of values.”

So Raphael’s answer to Marx’s problem — why is art enduringly moving even though it merely reflects its social context? — is to say that art doesn’t merely reflect its social context. It does reflect it, because the artist’s material, style, the things they want to represent, even the way they see, are historically conditioned; but it doesn’t merely reflect it, because the transformed material speaks of something deeper and more voluntary. It speaks of humanity’s ability to make its own world, to become the subject and not merely the victim of history. “The function of the work of art,” Berger sums up Raphael, “is to lead us from the work to the process of creation which it contains.”

Anyone familiar with Berger’s own writing will sit up with a shock of recognition. Here is a theory of art directly correlated to his practice of criticism. Berger takes art out of the sanitizing temples where we store it and drops it firmly back onto the easel, in a messy studio, where a sweaty artist bites her lip and stores her way of looking in an object. Over and over again, he asks us to imagine the artist at work. Many have attributed this to his own training as a painter, which might have inspired his fascination with technique, as I, an amateur pianist, am fascinated by the technique of my favorite recording artists. But I think his admiring discussion of Raphael suggests a much deeper reason. If Berger believes that the most important meaning of art is what it shows us of our ability to create the world we want, it turns out that his criticism is connected to his Marxism much more fundamentally than through the borrowing of a few insights from Walter Benjamin.

For Berger, art criticism is a revolutionary practice. It prepares the ground for a new society. In Landscapes, Overton includes a translation by Berger and Anya Rostock of a poem by Bertolt Brecht. It includes this passage:
Yet how to begin? How to show
The living together of men
That it may be understood
And become a world that can be mastered?
How to reveal not only yourselves and others
Floundering in the net
But also make clear how the net of fate
Is knotted and cast,
Cast and knotted by men?
[…] only he who knows that the fate of man is man
Can see his fellow men keenly with accuracy.

How to begin? Berger answers: In art. There we find proof and prophecy of a different world. In another essay, he writes:
We can no longer “use” most paintings today as they were intended to be used: for religious worship, for celebrating the wealth of the wealthy, for immediate political enlightenment, for proving the romantic sublime, and so on. Nevertheless, painting is especially well suited to developing the very faculty of understanding which has rendered its earlier uses obsolete: that is to say, to developing our historical and evolutionary self-consciousness.

This is the promise, the positive function of art. By looking at it, we are, in effect, looking through an artist’s eyes, entering into a concretized instance of their gaze. We are looking at a looking. And from within an artist’s looking, we learn about the capacities of our kind and the possibilities of our future: “A classical Greek sculpture increases our awareness of our own potential physical dignity; a Rembrandt of our potential moral courage; a Matisse of our potential sensual awareness.”

At the same time, Berger is of the opinion that the modern history of art is a history of failure. He won’t compromise on this point, and it is undoubtedly the reason for the stiff resistance that he has often met.

In modern times, Berger believes, the art world has hosted a titanic battle between two conceptions of art. One conception declares that art is valuable because it bodies forth the vision of an artist; it is a good in itself just to the degree that it succeeds at this task. This is Berger’s conception, and it is large enough to embrace all the varying and contradictory proclamations and provocations of the successive factions of modern art. The other conception declares that art is valuable because it is expensive — that, fundamentally, art is property:
Since 1848 every artist unready to be a mere paid entertainer has tried to resist the bourgeoisation of his finished work, the transformation of the spiritual value of his work into property value. This regardless of his political opinions as such. […] What Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and so on, all shared was their opposition to art-as-property and art-as-a-cultural-alibi-for-existing-society. We know the extremes to which they went […] and we see that their resistance was […] ineffective.

In other words, artists, like all other workers, are victims of a capitalism that alienates them from the fruit of their labor. Berger has nothing but scorn for the commercialization of art: “If you could fuck works of art as well as buy them,” he writes, dealers “would be pimps: but, if that were the case, one might assume a kind of love; as it is they dream of money and honour.” Everything about the modern art world is constructed on the assumption that art is precious in proportion to its price. Even among those who profess a genuine love of art, that passion is often tainted by its ideological function:
A love of art has been a useful concept to the European ruling classes for over a century and a half. The love was said to be their own. With it they could claim kinship with the civilisations of … [more]
johnberger  2017  robertminto  marxism  art  artists  artcriticism  criticism  henrymoore  politics  waysofseeing  frederickantal  tomoverton  economics  walterbenjamin  raphael  jacksonpollock  michelangelo  elitism  anyarostock  bertoltbrecht  process  craftsmanship  arthistory  resistance  constuctivism  dadaism  surrealism  property  society  culture  ownership  beauty  aesthetics  museums  artappreciation  creativity  creation  praxis  canon  objects  mystique  products  action  achievement  making  wealth  ideology  consumerism  consumption 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Reading Things — Magazine — Walker Art Center
"I’m sunbathing on the beach on a cloudless August day in the Rockaways. It’s blindingly bright and I have a T-shirt draped over my eyes to block the sun. I am overhearing a conversation between some of the friends around me and someone new who has walked across the sand to us. Whose is this voice I don’t know? I think it is man, someone I’ve never met. I uncover my eyes and see that it is one of my friends—a woman, a transwoman whose female-ness I have never questioned, whose voice I had always heard as a female voice. Had I never heard her before? How can my ears hear two different voices, depending on whether or not I know who is speaking? As I puzzle over this, I start thinking of other instances in which two or more versions of reality butt up against each other, two contradictory sensory experiences that are somehow both real to me, depending on how I encounter them. What is going on here?"



"This winter I delivered an artist talk at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I’ve been teaching, about my investment in objects with open-ended or ambiguous function—things that cause one to ask, “What is this for?” I discuss the studio as a place where I aim to make objects that frustrate even my own attempts to know them, once and for all, as one thing and not others. I make things that ask for nuanced, open-ended forms of reading that can accommodate these objects of ambiguous functionality. Over coffee the following morning, one of the other faculty members in the department, Corin Hewitt, excitedly wanted to know if I had heard of a beloved object known as the “slant step.” I had not, but since then an image of it has been following me around—in the studio, on the train, in and out of bathrooms, while reading the news. The slant step is a small piece of furniture that was purchased in a second-hand store in Mill Valley, California, in 1965 by the artist William Wiley and his then-graduate student Bruce Nauman. Costing less than a dollar, this wood and green linoleum, one-of-a-kind handmade object struck these two artists as puzzling and fascinating, primarily because its function was a mystery. Though reminiscent of a step stool, the step part of the stool sits at a 45-degree angle to the floor, making it impossible to step up onto it, hence the name, the slant step. This unassuming ambiguous object resonated not just with Wiley and Nauman, but also with a whole range of Bay Area artists in the 1960s, inspiring more than one group exhibition themed around it, a catalogue, and numerous articles as well as extensive use as a teaching tool by the painter Frank Owen. It is now in the permanent collection of the University of California Davis.3"



"In the midst of all this urgency, the figure of the slant step comes to my mind. I feel embarrassed about it because what could this remote object have to offer when we are in need of such concrete changes? A useful object with no apparent use. A handmade thing of unknown origin, producing more questions than answers. An object that modestly requests a more effortful type of reading than what we normally engage in. We identify things in terms of their function and move on, reading passively. We learn only as much as we need to know. This object, compelling to so many in the past 50 years, is compelling to me as well, insofar as it encourages me to read more slowly. It makes me want to see it as more than one thing at once, or as many different things in quick succession. Looking to the slant step as a teacher, I want to learn what it seems to already know—I can’t always know what I am looking at. Clearly already well used in the mid-1960s but for an inscrutable purpose, the slant step speaks of bodies without being able to name them. It has always seemed wrong to me to say that we see what is before us and then interpret it, because the idea of “interpreting what we see” implies an inaccurate linearity to this process and suggests that the things themselves are fixed while our understandings of them remain malleable. Rather, we understand what we are seeing at the same moment we see it; perception is identification. Understood in this way, changing our interpretations is literally synonymous with changing the functioning of our senses, initiating a pulling apart of the instantaneous act of assigning meaning to what we see. This slowness to assign identification in the moment of encounter lies at the heart of the slant step’s curious appeal."



"On an overcast August day in 1995, Tyra Hunter, a hairstylist and black transgender woman, got in a car accident while driving in Washington, DC. Adrian Williams, the emergency medical technician at the scene who began to cut away her clothing to administer urgently needed aid, is reported to have said, “This bitch ain’t no girl… it’s a nigger; he’s got a dick!” Hunter lay on the ground bleeding as Williams and the other EMTs joked around her, and died later that day of her injuries at a nearby hospital. A subsequent investigation into the events leading to her death concluded that it would very likely have been prevented had treatment been continued at the scene of the accident.15

In the fall of 2014, a grand jury in St. Louis County Missouri decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In the spring of 2015, the US Department of Justice also cleared Wilson of all civil rights violations, deeming the shooting to be an act of self-defense. In Wilson’s testimony in his grand jury hearing, he recounted looking at Brown in the moments before shooting him six times, and described him as having “the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”16

It’s hard to stomach these statements, but I write them here because I am noticing the ways that both of the speakers managed to transform the person they were about to kill from a human being to a thing in the moments before their deaths. By a probably less-than-conscious twist of verbal gymnastics, both killers shift from using a pronoun generally used to refer to people (he/she) to using a pronoun generally used to refer to inanimate things: it. If murder is the act of permanently dehumanizing another, then it is as if in order to give themselves permission to kill these two individuals Williams and Wilson had to preemptively transform them from people into things. “It’s a nigger…” “It looks like a demon…” Did these statements make it possible to turn a human being into a corpse? Maybe so, as a person turned nonconsensually into a thing is already a person dangerously close to death."



"In the 1966 slant step show, William Wiley, the artist who originally bought the step from the thrift store, made a metal casting from it that bore the following inscription: “This piece is dedicated to all the despised unknown, unloved, people, objects and ideas that just don’t make it and never will, who have so thoughtlessly given their time and talent to become objects of scorn but maintain an innocent ignorance and never realize that you hate them.”18 For Wiley, the slant step was both an intriguing object of ambiguous functionality, while also serving another purpose as the object of certain recuperations. To treat a discarded object with care, to focus on it, show it to others, make copies and homages to it—to, in a sense, treat it with love—had a value for him on its own account. A small act of treating an uncared-for thing with care as an articulation of an ethos for encountering one another. Frank Owen, one of Wiley’s friends and an original participant in the slant step show, used the step as a model in his life-drawing classes for decades—producing innumerable depictions of its likeness and encouraging his students to think deeply about it through the slow and close looking necessitated by drawing. “This was its job—to pose on a model stand patiently (which it is very good at) and be drawn while also posing its eternal question: What is this thing, what is it for and why do we attend to it?”19"



"In thinking about Mark and her succulents, I am wrapping myself around the sustaining potential of relations of care with non-human things. I wonder about the role that the cultivation, protection, and recuperation of things might play in the day-to-day processes of healing necessitated by living as a body that is objectified, misread, or unrecognized. Can attending to objects with care be a labor of self-sustenance for us as well? Can the things of our lives be our companions, our children, our comrades?24 What can we know or feel about our own bodies through the ways that we relate to objects? I want to propose the possibility that our relations with objects themselves might function as a means of remodeling our own often-fraught bonds with the materiality that is our own lived bodies. I sometimes joke that all I am doing in the studio is making friends. This joke is feeling more real by the day. I am thinking now about all the gorgeous non-traditionally gendered people I know coming back to their apartments exhausted from the daily labor of moving through the world and carefully watering their plants."
objects  kinship  objectkinship  care  caring  reality  perception  senses  gordonhall  gender  seeing  sculpture  art  artists  2016  functionality  corinhewitt  brucenauman  williamwiley  1960s  slow  slowreading  howweread  reading  knowing  howwelearn  noticing  observation  identification  bodies  naming  notknowing  meaning  meaningmaking  frankowen  ambiguity  mickybradford  race  markaguhar  michaelbrown  williamwitherup  mrionwintersteen  chancesdances  tyrahunter  northcarolina  housebill2  body 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Why I love my possessions as a mirror and a gallery of me | Aeon Essays
"The trouble is that I am my things and my things are me. I don’t want to relinquish them. This reluctance is not acquisitiveness: it is that I don’t want to abandon myself. Single, childless, I’m all I’ve got: me – and the accumulated external markers of who I am, which are also narrative prompts for the ongoing story of my life. These stories connect me to the past, present, future, and live in nearly everything I own. Those oak tables in my living room come from a Maryland junk shop; embedded in their grain is the story of my bribing friends with a promise of crab cakes in exchange for help transporting the furniture back to New Jersey. A kitschy dish shaped like a duck taking flight reminds me of researching a book in Nashville. The bisque Rosenthal vase shouts: ‘Get back to Berlin’ every time I dust it.

In Being and Nothingness (1943), Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that man wishes to possess things in order to enlarge his sense of self, and that we can know who we are only by observing what we have. Studies of ownership and identity – by marketing experts, anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists – come to the same conclusion: we project our sense of self onto everything we own. According to Russell Belk, a professor of marketing at York University whose 1988 paper about possessions and the extended self remains a touchstone for all subsequent research, this kind of projection serves a valuable function for a healthy personality, ‘acting as an objective manifestation of self’. Humans have a fundamental need to store memories, values and experiences in objects, perhaps to keep them safe from memory loss; proof that, yes, that really happened.

It is not even necessary to own these totemic items for their charge to hold. People speak about ‘my’ television programme, ‘my’ movie star, or ‘my’ seat in a classroom – a form of possessive self-definition that extends to matters of taste as well as to stuff. Questions such as: ‘Are you Beatles or are you Stones? Blur or Oasis?’ are examples of how taste funnels us into tribes that proclaim our aspirations and ideals along with our interests.

Who are my people? Open my front door and the first thing you notice are books. They line the walls, hover overhead, and stack up on tables. Each is a chunk of autobiography, a clue to who I was while reading it, what I found to love inside its pages and where it sent me next. Umberto Eco understood this phenomenon well, saying: ‘The contents of someone’s bookcase are part of his history, like an ancestral portrait.’"



"As I contemplate a possible future of enforced minimalism, I am unsettled by the words of the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote in ‘Why We Need Things’ (1993) that: ‘Artefacts help objectify the self … by demonstrating the owner’s power.’ They ‘reveal the continuity of the self through time, by providing foci of involvement in the present, mementos and souvenirs of the past, and signposts to future goals… objects give concrete evidence of one’s place in a social network as symbols… of valued relationships.’ As such, they stabilise our identities, giving permanent shape to ourselves ‘that otherwise would quickly dissolve in the flux of consciousness’.

I fear that disposing of my possessions would dissolve me. I’m precariously balanced on an emotional seesaw. On one side, writ large, are phrases such as ‘check your privilege’ and ‘first-world problems’, which remind me that many endure far worse. On the other side is the gut-wrenching sensation that I’m being erased. I try projecting myself into an unfettered future of ease and liberation. But all my imagination conjures is the kind of grim bedsit existence depicted by Muriel Spark."



"Sophie Woodward, a lecturer in sociology at Manchester University, works on a research project called Dormant Things. She studies the items that people store in cupboards and attics, and which they often never use, but which have ‘implications for understanding memories, life and relationship changes, and also for developing more sustainable consumption’. Time and again, Woodward notes that people think they ought to get rid of stuff; but, she tells me: ‘The more I talk to them, the more I realise that they get immense pleasure out of having those things, even things they don’t look at, because when they do it reminds them of something.’"



"Anecdotal evidence reinforces my instinct that jettisoning everything would undermine my me-ness. Daniel Miller, an anthropologist at University College London, spent 17 months conducting interviews with 30 London residents for his book The Comfort of Things (2008), in order to explore ‘the role of objects in our relationships, both to each other and to ourselves’. He was testing the popular assumption that ‘our relationships to things [come] at the expense of our relationships to people’.

He discovered that this assumption wasn’t true: ‘usually the closer our relationships are with objects, the closer our relationships are with people’. One of his most unsettling encounters was with a man who owned nothing, living ­– perching, really – amid a minimum of donated furniture and clothes. ‘There is a loss of shape, discernment and integrity. There is no sense of the person as the other, who defines one’s own boundary and extent.’ This seems to support Csikszentmihalyi’s belief that our psyches need the stability that possessions bring."



"Which brings me to a last, shaming truth. While I don’t buy high-cost, high-status items, my pride in what I possess is linked to a desire for admiration and love. I hope that people visiting my home will get me in a way that’s not possible when meeting me elsewhere. What’s more, this happened: my ex-husband swore that he fell for me when he saw my library and the dictionary that lives by my bed. Yet I’d need a nonstop stream of visitors to justify my numerous possessions. Why do I persist in playing to an imaginary audience, like a fairy tale princess in suspended animation, waiting to be discovered? Perhaps the dream of an improved future self keeps us whole and functioning in the here and now. Perhaps this is the necessity."
possessions  leerandall  2016  minimalism  jean-paulsarte  sartre  umbertoeco  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  michaellandy  sophiewoodward  meaning  memory  psychology  danielmiller  objects  relationships  marcallum 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Luigi Ghirri’s Brilliant Photographic Puzzles - The New York Times
"I look at Luigi Ghirri’s work daily: There’s a postcard reproduction of one of his photographs on my fridge. It depicts four women, turned away from us and toward a mountainous landscape. They could be taking in an actual vista — the perspective is correct — but the mountains and their intervening lakes have text superimposed on them, and so we realize the women are standing before an image of a landscape, either a poster or a mural. Ghirri took the photograph in Salz­burg, Austria, in 1977. I find it reassuring, amusing (that slight stutter in parsing it), simultaneously simple and complex in ways that are difficult to explain."



"The world, as Ghirri sees it, is full of images, and a picture of the world must also contain many images of images. The pictures he made, haunted by this notion of an all-encompassing view, often seem like fragments of something too complex to assemble into one coherent whole. He writes: “A key element in this work was perhaps the fondness I’ve always had for places and objects that seem to contain everything: encyclopedias, museums, maps.” There is the defamiliarization of scale that comes with such views. Ghirri compares his vision to that in “Gulliver’s Travels” or “Alice in Wonderland,” an imaginative space in which it’s hard to tell what’s very large, or what’s very small. Curiously, within the dreamlike logic of his pictures, the difference hardly matters. “The world might appear at first through a telescope, and then under a microscope, or perhaps through a set of binoculars that can be used to both to magnify and minimize. In some photo­graphs we can make out the building blocks of fables, the supporting framework and the scaffolding which props up this ‘land’; and yet, rather than exposing the tricks or taking away the magic, they contribute to the illusion.”

When we see, in a picture by Ghirri, a railing that spells out the word MARE (“sea”) overlooking the sea, the feeling of being in a fable is intensified, not lessened. The photo contains two islands, one closer to us and seen only in part, the other misty in the far distance. There’s a tiny ship, toylike, just under the R in MARE. The horizon line is indistinct, evanescent. And in the foreground, the railing, where it curves at the M, has been dinged. These little touches, these grace notes, testify to the intensity of Ghirri’s seeing and his love for the muted but multi­dimensional drama the world contains."



"Intriguing work naturally summons analogy. In describing the artists who have guided him, Ghirri mentions Evans, but also Louis Daguerre, Diane Arbus, Jorge Luis Borges, Fernando Pessoa, Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan, among many others. I find no mention of the American poet Elizabeth Bishop in Ghirri’s essays, but his work speaks to me in a way similar to hers. And if they have a shared language, it is a language Italo Calvino speaks, too. All three create a folkloric atmosphere; all have the gift of working in miniature without being trivial; all engage, very gently, the surreal comedy of the world looked at peculiarly.

Bishop was joyously obsessed with maps, and the four collections of poetry published in her lifetime, not counting “The Complete Poems” (1969), all made territorial allusions: “North and South” (1946), “A Cold Spring” (1955), “Questions of Travel” (1965) and “Geography III” (1976). These titles remind me of the abundance of globes, atlases, maps, monuments, tourist sites, road signs and postcards in Ghirri’s work. When I read Bishop’s “12 O’Clock News,” for instance, in which the objects arrayed on the writer’s desk — the gooseneck lamp, the typed sheet, the envelopes, the ink bottle — become stand-ins for a mythical landscape, I can’t help thinking of the still lifes of vases, jars and books that Ghirri photographed in the painter Giorgio Morandi’s studio. A section of Bishop’s poem, marked “typewriter,” reads in part as follows:

“The escarpment that rises abruptly from the central plain is in heavy shadow. ... What endless labor those small, peculiarly shaped terraces represent! And yet, on them the welfare of this tiny principality depends.”

What Bishop evokes here, and what Ghirri’s work confirms, is a sympathy with the lives of objects, the way the little things that surround us vibrate with accreted knowledge, as if they had been taking note of human behavior all along. In one essay, Ghirri writes about Daguerre’s ability to “awaken the inanimate world through light.” When an artist praises another artist, I pay attention: It often reveals what the one who praises would wish to be, or already is. Without question, Luigi Ghirri’s pictures awaken the inanimate world through light. This is why their magic never palls, and it is why I have kept “Salisburgo, 1977” on my fridge for going on two years now. To “get” Ghirri’s photographs, in the sense of untangling the initial confusion about what they depict, does not exhaust their poetry. His photographs play with scale, symmetry, tourism and travel; they betray a love of the land and a wish to care for it; they return us to the schoolroom, restoring the enchantment of knowledge without naïveté; and they somehow cut through the noise of our image-saturated environment to become, as he wrote, “passwords for the ineffable.”"
tejucole  photography  maps  mapping  luigighirri  2016  elizabethbishop  louisdaguerre  dianearbus  borges  fernandopessoa  rycooder  bobdylan  italocalvino  objects 
july 2016 by robertogreco
City Objects
"City Objects is a catalog of things, similar to pttrns.com or littlebigdetails.com but for the physical world, browsable by object or country. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list, but a place for objects that show an interesting detail or point of view.

I'm Nikki Sylianteng and as an interaction designer I’m always noticing things like hooks, baskets, and benches whenever I travel to a new country. I like learning about interesting ways to solve everyday problems and thought there should be a place for it the same way we do for screen designs!

Here are some of my favorites:

• this amazing little basket from Istanbul
• these universally friendly stairs in Japan I’ve decided to call ‘rampstairs’
• these swiveling traffic lights in Spain

More than the objects themselves, it’s the thinking behind them that really matters. Over time and with your help, I hope to create not just a catalog of objects but of different ways of thinking.

If there’s an object you think belongs here, follow this submit link.

And if you’d like to chat, you can find me on Twitter @nsylianteng or email at nicole.sylianteng@gmail.com."

[via: https://twitter.com/xuhulk/status/743871004917833728 ]
nikkisylianteng  cities  urban  urbanism  design  objects  everyday  tumblrs 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Stephanie Syjuco: Particulate Matter: Things, Thingys, Thingies
"Particulate Matter: Things, Thingys, Thingies
2010

Mixed media (cardboard, foamcore, colored paper, fabric), wooden pallets, digital video projection, exhibition checklist. At Gallery 400, University of Illinois Chicago, September 2010

Artforum.com review [http://www.stephaniesyjuco.com/reviews/review_artforumdotcom_10_2010.html ]

My handmade versions of over seventy objects designed by users of the free 3-D modeling program Google SketchUp exist somewhere between the bootleg, the copy, and the translation. Modeled from online designs that seem to lack value or utility, these strange objects explore the handmade in the digital-era of design, uniqueness found even within the copy, and collaboration’s relationship to outsourcing, as well as labor, authorship, and value.

Designed as a simple and easy-to-use version of CAD software, SketchUp has garnered a growing following of amateur designers who use it to model virtually everything from common household items to fantasy architectural designs. These digital designs can be uploaded to a freely-accessible database to “share” with other SketchUp users in their own projects.

I chose the objects based on their status as being nebulous and fuzzy. Mostly defined as "things" or "thingies," these virtual objects defied definition and lacked a utilitarian or recognizable reason for existence. But as objects uploaded to a shared database, they were somehow considered by their creators as valuable enough to want to make accessible to the general public. Unwanted and unloved, these "Thingies" float in a virtual version of outer space, and remind me of the notion of space junk—these random objects that increasingly clutter our world as offshoots and debris.

Over seventy objects were hand-constructed out of basic materials and laid out on wooden moving pallets, creating a layout that encouraged visitors to wander through pathways. The low platforms, usually associated with transporting bulk goods, served as a reminder of the physicallity of labor processes. The works were physically challenging and taxing to make, and I did my best as an outsourced worker to fabricate works that were never meant to see the light of day.

A map and exhibition checklist accompanied the show, allowing the visitors to wander through and find out more on the original designer's remarks ("random," "i dunno wat this is," etc)."
3dprinting  3d  googlesketchup  stephaniesyjuco  art  2010  design  objects  cad  sketchup 
may 2016 by robertogreco
CABINET // Inventory / The Bible: 2,728 Objects in Order of Appearance
"This list catalogues every individual object in the Bible in the order in which it appears. I defined an object as anything inanimate that can be moved. Animal carcasses or parts of the human body were included but I also included eggs and seeds, considering the status of these as objects to be more relevant for my purposes than the fact that they are in some sense animate. No given object is mentioned more than once, even if it is subsequently referred to in the text because it is still the same object. The list does, however, include multiple instances of the same type of object. For example, “Asherah pole” appears seven times in the list, since it is 
clear that these are all individual Asherah poles rather than repeated references to the same object. Hypothetical objects, such as those described in the visions of the prophets, are not included. The object is listed with its material properties, color, and dimensions where they are given."
via:doingitwrong  objects  bible  inventories  inventory  emmakay  2004  lists 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The Parliament of Things: Into Latour and His Philosophy
"Researching the conversations between Things, Animals, Plants and People and design the House of The Parliament of Things."



"The Parliament of Things is a speculative research into the emancipation of animals and things. It acknowledges that mankind has reached the end of an anthropocentric world. We can no longer maintain the distorted dichotomy between culture and nature. We share this world with many. Law should not be centred around Men, but around Life. We are just one party, among all animals, plants and objects. What if we welcome all things into our Parliament? What would be the plight of the planet? The reasoning of a fish? What claims would trees make, and what future would oil see for itself?

Do you you want to join? Send us an e-mail: info@theparliamentofthings.org

We at Partizan Publik have invented the Parliament and are playing the role of clerk by bringing it to you. The writer’s contest was a collaborative project that was organized by several partners. In the winter and spring of 2016 we invite several organizations to build the Parliament with us."



"We Have Never Been Modern and the Parliament of Things

Introduction

In We Have Never Been Modern (1991) Bruno Latour criticizes the distinction between nature and society. He states that our sciences emphasize the subject-object and nature-culture dichotomies, whereas in actuality, phenomenons often cross these lines. As an example, he mentions the hole in the ozone layer, and the different ways the sciences should look at it: ‘Can anyone imagine a study that would treat the ozone hole as simultaneously naturalized, sociologized and deconstucted?’ (6). With this mentioning of the hole in the ozone layer (as well as, among other things, computer chips, Monsanto, and aids) he gives an example of things or phenomena that are not merely objects, but that are hybrids between nature and culture.

With regards to the title of this work, Latour argues that this dualism between subject and object is a ‘modern’ mode of classification, and that this modern mode does not actually correspond with the practical ways in which we live. Thus, this modern dualism actually has never existed: we have never been modern.

The Constitution

‘Modernity is often defined in terms of humanism, either as a way of saluting the birth of ‘man’ or as a way of announcing his death. But this habit itself is modern, because (…) [i]t overlooks the simultaneous birth of ‘nonhumanity’ – things, or objects, or beasts (…)’ (13)

In this chapter, the question at hand is about the constitution. ‘Who is to write the full constitution?’, Latour asks (14). For political constitutions, this is normally done by jurists and Founding Fathers; for the nature of things, this is the task of scientists. But, if we want to include hybrids as well, who is going to write the complete constitution?

Latour calls this complete constitution the ‘Constitution’ with a capital C, to distinguish it from the political one. It defines ‘humans and nonhumans, their properties and their relations, their abilities and their groupings’ (14).

Hobbes & Boyle

When discussing the separation between science and politics, Latour uses the dispute between Robert Boyle and Thomas Hobbes as an example. Boyle can be seen as the founder of modern science – he developed the methodology in which scientists observe a phenomenon produced artificially in a laboratory (in Boyle’s case, the workings of a vacuum pump, in our case, for example, CERN).

Hobbes, on the other hand, rejected this manner of analysis, and focused on theorizing social and political order in terms of human conflicts and agreements. ‘Boyle and Hobbes, then, jointly constructed the program for purifying the discourses of nature and society – expunging from each the traces of the other’ (Pickering). This distinction between science and politics is not just typical for ‘modernity’, but actually defines it, as Latour argues: ‘they are inventing our modern world, a world in which the representation of things through the intermediary of the laboratory is forever dissociated from the representation of citizens through the intermediary of the social contract’ (Latour 27).

Hybrids

Latour established that the modern constitution ‘invents a separation between scientific power charged with representing things and the political power charged with representing subjects’ (29). However, he states we should not think that subjects are far removed from things. Even though Hobbes and Boyle create this distinction, they still speak about the same things: God, the politics of the King of England, nature, mathematics, and spirits and angels, to name a few. It becomes clear that in practice, this separation between science and politics, and nature and culture, does not hold. As Latour states:

Here lies the entire modern paradox. If we consider hybrids, we are dealing only with mixtures of nature and culture; if we consider the work of purification, we confront a total separation between nature and culture.’ (30)

The paradox of modernity, thus, is that we divided the world into two groups –

nature (science) and culture (politics) – but at the same time, in our daily lives, we constantly deal with hybrids between these two groups. But this division renders ‘the work of mediation that assembles hybrids invisible, unthinkable, unrepresentable’ (35). As Latour succinctly puts it: ‘the modern constitution allows the expanded proliferation of the hybrids whose existence, whose very possibility, it denies’ (35).

We Have Never Been Modern

‘Modernity has never begun’, Latour argues. Instead, he calls himself a ‘nonmodern’: ‘A nonmodern is anyone who takes simultaneously into account the moderns’ Constitution and the population of hybrids that that Constitution rejects and allows to proliferate’ (47). He states that hybrids – also called monsters, cyborgs, tricksters – are ‘just about everything; they compose not only our own collectives but also the others, illegitimately called premodern’ (47). So only minor changes separate our era from the periods that were before, Latour states.

Revolution

In this part, Latour discusses the action that has to be undertaken to acknowledge the existence and the importance of hybrids:

When the only thing at stake was the emergence of a few vacuum pumps, they could still be subsumed under two classes, that of natural laws and that of political representations; but when we find ourselves invaded by frozen embryos, expert systems, digital machines, sensor-equipped robots, hybrid corn, data banks, psychotropic drugs, whales outfitted with radar sounding devices, gene synthesizers, audience analyzers, and so on, when our daily newspapers display all these monsters on page after page, and when none of these chimera can be properly on the object side or on the subject side, or even in between, something has to be done. (50)

Latour calls for the need to outline a space that encompasses both the practice of purification as well as that of mediation. ‘By deploying both dimensions at once, we may be able to accomodate the hybrids and give them a place, a name, a home, a philosophy, an ontology and, I hope, a new constitution’ (51).

Quasi-Objects

Latour tries to locate the position of hybrids, quasi-objects and quasi-subjects by first problematizing the status of the social scientist. He argues that the social scientist, on the one hand, shows that ‘the power of gods, the objectivity of money, the attraction of fashion (…)’ have no intrinsic value, but ‘offer only a surface for the projection of our social needs and interests’ (52). To become a social scientist, Latour states, ‘is to realize that the inner properties of objects do not count, that they are mere receptacles for human categories’ (52).

On the other hand, social scientists also debunk the belief in the freedom of the human subject: they show how the ‘nature of things (…) determines, informs and moulds’ humans (53). So, Latour states that the social scientist ‘see[s] double’:

In the first denunciation, objects count for nothing; they are just there to be used as the white screens on to which society projects its cinema. But in the second, they are so powerful that they shape the human society, while the social construction of the sciences that have produced them remains invisible. (53)

The solution to these contradictory beliefs is dualism, much to Latour’s disapproval. The nature pole is divided into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ parts, the same partition is made for the subject/society pole. ‘Dualism may be a poor solution, but it provided 99 per cent of the social sciences’ critical repertoire’ (54).

Latour, instead, states objects are society’s co-producters. ‘Is not society built literally – not metaphorically – of gods, machines, sciences, arts and styles?’ (54). He argues we should not focus too much on dialectics, as dialectics foreground the existing dichotomies; instead, he focuses on quasi-objects.

Quasi-objects are in between and below the two poles (…) [and] are much more social, much more fabricated, much more collective than the ‘hard’ parts of nature (…), [yet] they are much more real, nonhuman and objective than those shapeless screens on which society (…) needed to be ‘projected’. (55)

By focusing on the two poles rather than on that what is in between, ‘science studies have forced everyone to rethink anew the role of objects in the construction of collectives, thus challenging philosophy’ (55).

Relativism

In this chapter, Latour treats the function of anthropology and the role it might be able to play, as well as the concepts of symmetry and asymmetry. If anthropology is to become symmetrical, ‘the anthropologist has to position himself at the median point where he can follow the attribution of both nonhuman and human properties’ (96).

To analyse this new field of study, anthropology … [more]
multispecies  objects  plants  animals  brunolatour  robertboyle  thomashobbes  hybrids  modernity  nonmodern  modern  quasi-objects  law  biology  anthropology  entertainment  science  architecture  campainging  literature  things  theparliamentofthings 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Another look at museum nostalgia – Suzanne Fischer
"The new issue of Curator includes a fascinating article about nostalgia in museum contexts. The authors, David Anderson, Hiroyuki Shimizu, and Chris Campbell, interviewed 35 visitors to a museum of Showa-era Japan about what objects and exhibits prompted them to feel nostalgia. (“…nostalgia is a pan-cultural emotion shared by all humans regardless of nation or culture,” they assert, drawing on psychology research.) Visitor answers tracked with what we often see anecdotally in museums: objects relating to visitors’ youths promote memories of rosy good old days. This particular museum is designed specifically as a place to revisit household items, product packaging, etc, from this era of prosperity, so it is unsurprising that visitors had the reactions they did, telling stories about their childhoods and what they described as vanished cultural values.

The authors propose a typology of nostalgia that arose from the research results:

1. Objects tied to collective identity and values perceived to be lost.

2. Objects used or consumed as part of visitors’ life scripts.

3. Objects associated with individuals dear to the visitor.

4. Objects associated with childhood.

5. Objects that invoked vicarious nostalgia.

The fifth theme is a useful one, “vicarious nostalgia,” a longing for a time one has not experienced. It is also, in my opinion, the most corrosive. It settles like dust over the things of the past and hardens into an unscrubbable patina. Svetlana Boym, the late author of The Future of Nostalgia, might describe it as “reflective nostalgia,” a nostalgia that focuses on the longing for another place, rather than what she calls “restorative nostalgia,” a nostalgia that hopes to recreate the past, and in which category all the rest of the themes reside.

It is useful, certainly, to have visitor studies backing up our hunches that, as the authors of the Curator paper put it, “Like old friends, museum exhibits hold the capacity to usher in a suite of nostalgic and heartfelt memories of loved ones and time of lives long gone.” But to what end? Ushering in a suite of nostalgic memories cannot be our goal in making history exhibits–and if it is, it is a cowardly goal. I believe that as public historians we have a responsibility to show the past with blinders off, to engage visitors with the parts of the past they didn’t see, or may not want to remember. Simply reminding visitors that they lived through the past, simply evoking nostalgia, is an abdication. Evoking nostalgia is easy. Engaging visitors in the real past is hard, and it’s our job."
suzannefischer  2016  museums  objects  nostalgia  davidanderson  hiroyukishimizu  chriscampbell  japan  childhood  identity  vicariousnostalgia  svetlanaboym  patina  reflectivenostalgia  restorativenostalgia  past  history 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Edmund de Waal and the Strange Alchemy of Porcelain - The New York Times
"The sculptor and writer wants us to rediscover our sense of touch by working with our hands."



"Within a few minutes of my meeting Edmund de Waal, he was putting things in my hands. He handed me, for instance, a 1,000-year-old Chinese porcelain plate — the kind of object you would expect to see in a climate-controlled glass case in a museum, protected, at great expense, from clumsy, meaty, oily, inexpert hands like mine. De Waal just passed it to me as if it were nothing. To understand an object, he believes, you have to touch it.

In my fingers, the plate felt both fragile and indestructible. It was older than printed books, older than every traceable generation of my family. I could have snapped it in half or thrown it on the floor. Instead, I just stood there, probing its edges with my finger pads, weighing it in my palms, tracing the precise volume of space that it was displacing in the world. If all went well, this delicate thing would outlive us all by many more generations. My fingers felt this as they felt the plate. I was touching not only space but time.

De Waal kept handing me objects: perfect things, ruined things, priceless things, worthless things. We were standing in the room where he writes, in his studio in London, and he was pulling these specimens off a shelf near his desk. He is 51 and very tall, with short slate-gray hair and round glasses that rest on large, protrusive ears: ears that are somehow childish, ears to be grown into. He has unusually big hands, too; all the objects looked relaxed and at home in them, like young birds in the grasp of an animal handler. He passed me an imperial stem cup, many hundreds of years old, the rim of which seemed to be wilting. ‘‘It’s collapsed in on itself,’’ he said, ‘‘but look at the fineness of it.’’

He handed me a rough lump of Cherokee clay: a clod of petrified dirt, a meatball from outer space. He handed me shard after shard after shard of ancient porcelain dishes. He seemed delighted by all the ruination. ‘‘Part of the DNA of porcelain is getting messed up,’’ he said. One of the shards was a big, chunky encrustation that looked like a particularly ugly seashell. It was, de Waal said, an odd overlapping of worlds: porcelain that had been cooked too hot, so that its delicate white layers had fused, permanently, with their rough outer molds; perfection and failure welded together into something more interesting than either on its own.

De Waal is himself multiple things fused together, an odd overlapping of worlds. He is, first of all, one of the most celebrated living potters. His stark white porcelain vessels, painstakingly arranged in groups on shelves, can be found in private collections throughout Europe and North America, as well as in the permanent collections of such august institutions as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He is also one of the most adventurous nonfiction writers at work today. His 2010 book, ‘‘The Hare With Amber Eyes,’’ was a surprise best seller and is now being turned into a film. It is a memoir told through objects: a collection of 264 small Japanese carvings called netsuke, whimsical and intricate depictions, in ivory or wood, of hungry wolves or ripe fruit or sleeping servants or couples making love. Netsuke are roughly the size of a walnut shell. They are designed to be handled: carried in pockets, compulsively tumbled around in your fingers.

In the book, de Waal traces the history of these intricate little sculptures, which he inherited from his great-uncle Iggie, from 18th-century Japan to 19th-century Paris to Holocaust-era Vienna, where they were hidden in a mattress by the family’s maid to protect them from the Nazis. Through meticulous research, he tried to resurrect all of the many hands that have tumbled them over the centuries. The tiny netsuke become great repositories of human experience; they contain generations of Jewish aspiration, delusion, exile and loss."



"In 2009, the museum invited de Waal to contribute a major piece to its collection. He grew up visiting the museum, so he knew its porcelain collection well. He knew its loneliness, its isolation. He came up with an ingenious solution. De Waal designed a huge red aluminum ring, 120 feet in diameter, to nest inside the museum’s dome. The red ring is actually an elegant circular shelf: inside of it, all the way around, are pieces of porcelain by de Waal, large and extremely white, inspired by the museum’s collection. There are 425 of them, flashing against the red like teeth in a violent mouth. When visitors enter the museum, on their way to the better-known galleries closer to the street, their eyes are almost inevitably drawn up to this colorful ring hanging, very distantly, over the grand lobby. It’s like the hint of a scandal up in the attic, a sudden reason to make that long trip.

‘‘The White Road,’’ de Waal’s new book, performs an analogous trick. It rescues porcelain from the cultural attic — makes the subject feel vital, modern, interactive. In the book, de Waal refers to ‘‘Moby-Dick’’ several times (the whiteness of the whale, etc.), and he writes about porcelain as Melville writes about cetaceans: as one of the central elements of the universe. Porcelain is not just porcelain, it’s the essence of displacement. Touch a piece of it, and you travel through time, place, states of being, from ancient Chinese peasants harvesting clay to German alchemists suffocating in castle basements to emperors bankrupting their kingdoms in order to feed their collections. ‘‘Porzellankrankheit,’’ Germans called it — ‘‘porcelain sickness.’’ It is a delicate subject with a feverish history.

De Waal has his own special case of porcelain sickness, of course, and in ‘‘The White Road,’’ he follows it around the world. He visits primordial white hills in China, France, Germany and England. For 500 years, de Waal writes, the West had no idea how porcelain was made: People speculated that it was the crushed-up umbilical cords of fish that had been buried underground for decades. In fact, it is only clay. But it is clay of a very special kind: an extremely smooth combination of two minerals, petunse and kaolin, mined separately and mixed together in exactly the right proportions. When fired at extremely high temperatures, porcelain clay fuses into a kind of glass, hard and white but still slightly translucent. It is this paradoxical combination of qualities — hardness, softness, solidity, translucence — that has made people throughout history go so bananas.

‘‘The White Road’’ is a book of excess. It goes too far. It gets lost. It repeats itself. De Waal takes us all over the world, all over history: Jesuit priests, Spinoza, Constantinople, manhunts, self-immolation, Hitler, Cherokees, Quakers, modern Chinese street vendors selling ‘‘sixteenth-century porcelains from last week.’’ His prose style is like his pot style: He gets drunk on simplicity, on repetition. ‘‘The car turns off the new highway on to the old road and off the old road on to the old track rising between two farmers’ houses.’’ It could have been an easier book, more linear and contained. But then ‘‘Moby-Dick’’ could have been easier, too. One of de Waal’s core beliefs is that messes are interesting. There’s so much to feel inside of them."



"De Waal is an evangelist of touch. As he wrote in ‘‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’’: ‘‘Touch tells you what you need to know: it tells you about yourself.’’ As he writes in ‘‘The White Road’’: ‘‘Thinking is through the hands as well as the head.’’ Hands are the great universal human fact. Our opposable thumbs are the tools that helped launch us out of the forests and into the world we know now. Some of the earliest art is simply handprints on cave walls — a high-five across 30,000 years. Even in our postmodern, postindustrial, increasingly virtual digital world, we depend on our fingertips to decode for us, instantly, the crucial outlines of our environment: whether an object is hot or cold, whether it’s something to drink or peel or squeeze, something your teeth will be able to penetrate, a volume button or a power switch. We are still affectionate animals who greet each other with hands: handshakes, fist bumps, high-fives, hugs.

De Waal’s hands are rapturously attentive to the weight, grain, proportions and personalities of objects. For years, he says, he could remember every single pot he ever touched. In the same way that Bobby Fischer could run into someone at a tournament and say, about a game they had played 15 years earlier, ‘‘You should have moved your bishop to e7,’’ de Waal can recall exactly the way a particular vase swelled or tapered toward its rim, or if the heft of a teakettle was particularly well-balanced. Recently, he says, his memory has filled up, and old pots have started to drop out of it.

De Waal worries that modern humans are beginning to lose our fluency in touch. He thinks that we live in a world impoverished by a lack of attention to tactility. Our culture has a deeply embedded shame of the body, shame of skin, shame of ‘‘mere’’ sensation — a desire to transcend the animal coarseness of nerves, hair, blood flow. To live in clean, noble abstractions: things that we think will last. All of our digital technology, all of these portable virtual worlds, only make it easier to live in touchlessness. If you put on virtual-reality goggles, there will be plenty to look at and pretend to touch, but nothing to actually feel. But touch, de Waal insists, is fundamental to the human experience. If we can’t fully inhabit and value the world of touchable objects, de Waal told me, then we can’t fully value other human beings.

Despite our culture’s squeamishness, there is no escape from touch, and there is no escape from time, and these two facts are intimately related. All of the hands that exist … [more]
edmunddewaal  samanderson  senses  porcelain  touch  touchlessness  messes  messiness  netsuke  objects  worrybeads  fidgettools  anti-anxietydevices 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Letters with John Sharp: Discipline and Pastime | Mattie Brice
"I’ve been thinking a lot about re-centering our field from a games medium to a play medium, which I’m sure it’s not really a novel idea, but heavily resisted. I’m concerned about object-centrality and using games as experience dispensers instead of thinking about our relationship to fluid, more slippery notions of experience that are more wholly affective. That’s how the art-world seems to be approaching games, like games are in the wings of museums where they put furniture. Which is shitty for the furniture too! I don’t get the design/art divide, I never have. Why are these things kept so separated? Why MUST games be designed objects? Just feels creepy.

‘Indie’ definitely felt like a commercial/industrial reaction rather than an aesthetic one. Notgames is a more arts-engaged label even though it also contains a reaction to industry, it had a strong, purposeful sensibility, while if indie has one, it seems incidental and easily mobilized by consumerism. That’s probably unfair to indies, though I also have an issue with ‘altgames.’ It seems to me much like how indie formed together, just in a different time and place. It feels more like a reaction to industry than having its own aesthetic argument, though I don’t really mind basically a weird twitter indie I guess. I find it not different enough, a lot of people who were indie are now altgames, because altgames doesn’t really have a strong enough stance of values outside of a reaction to indies’ reaction to industry.

A lot of my writing in the past year has been about mess. It might be because my life is an utter mess, that life just doesn’t really make sense and my trajectory is incredibly unclear. I want to feel comforted that I’m not just a fuck up but everything really is just a goddamned mess. But I want to bring that to our perspective on play as well, maybe that’s why formalism gives me the creeps. It’s like a worldview that wants to kill everything and cut it all up and reassemble the mess into something legible to them but they can’t understand why it’s dead. The Cult of Flow really does sound like a legit creepy cult. And yeah, this paring down to lifelessness just trying to find that space… but for what? What does it feel like? Does it really feel good? It feels numbing to me, I guess. There are different sorts of flows, like adrenaline and such, but most games like that make me feel dead. But no, fuck Desert Golfing, I golfed so much waiting for something but all I got was more goddamned golfing. Who the fuck just wants to sit there finger golfing all day??? What is wrong with the world? So mad. What is so important to the genealogical understanding and propagation that games must be “for their own sake,” serious about nothing serious. There’s shit outside of the useless vs useful binary. How does that feel? DEATH TO FLOW. DEATH TO PLAYERS. DEATH TO MECHANICS. DEATH TO WORK AND LEISURE. ONLY MESS AND TENSION AND FEELINGS. Do you think a lot of these gamey games and defense of games for just fucking around’s sake is part of this reaction to encroaching forces to make them do something useful? Is everyone just aiming for the most elegant, beautiful time waster of them all?? Why is everyone so resistant to life? To being messy?

I rarely feel satisfied with video games, that it’s hard to think about what I’ve enjoyed in the recent past. I guess the closest would be Etrian Odyssey, it’s a gamey game, dungeon crawler, RPG battles. I guess what’s hit me in a good place is that you have to draw your own maps in order to navigate the levels, and I found the map-drawing process incredibly soothing, very surprised. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless you were already into those types of things. I’m not super into dungeon crawlers so it was hard to get used to, and I take a lot of breaks from it. There was also Sunset, which I also really enjoyed. There’s few games that prompt me to talk about the effects of power in my intimate or even friendly relationships and that meant something to me. I guess I feel more excited about games I want to make, I’m trying to accumulate resources and inspirations and work practices so once I move, I can start really producing things I want to see out in the world."
mattiebrice  johnsharp  2015  via:tealtan  messiness  life  games  gaming  videogames  structure  narrative  storytelling  flow  leisyre  work  gamemechanics  feelings  unschooling  deschooling  relationships  play  notgames  altgames  indygames  design  objects  objectorientednarrative 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Ivan Illich, "Philosophy... Artifacts... Friendship"
"Architects drafted on paper or modeled in clay, not on a screen. True, in the time of Ford's Model A, when Thérèse of Lisieux was canonized, and I was born, the instrumental artifact moved toward its apogee; it was becoming increasingly dominant in the sensual environment. But technology was still conceived as a tool for the achievement of a telos, a final cause set by its user, not as milieu. Technology had not yet redefined homo from tool-user to co-evolved product of engineering. The nature of the object was not a quandary; it was something more or less what it had been for generations. This is no longer so. The old rules for the discernment of good from evil spirits must be complemented by new rules for the distinction of things from zombies, and objects from pictures. Temperance, what the Cappadocians call nepsis, must now guard the heart, not only from real things like sweet skin and weighty bullion, but also guide one to the sound recognition of the allurements of mere images and so-called needs....

In my own pilgrimage, I engage philosophy as ancilla: on the one hand, to resist - how should I call it? - algorithmic reductionism and, on the other, to dispel the illusion that power or organization can ever enhance the practice of charity. This double conceptual shield against loving misplaced concreta, and belief in benevolent management inevitably implies the rejection of those genetic axioms from which the topology of technological thinking arises. This topology is well protected, if not hidden, by a self-image meant to give comfort to life beyond virtue and the good. The aim to make life always better has crippled the search for the appropriate, proportionate, harmonious or simply good life - hopes easily written off as simplistic or irresponsible. Only sober, unsentimental, vernacular rhetoric can possibly demonstrate the incompatibility of mathematical modeling or systems management with the quest for faith and love. The typical artifacts of our decade are at once more intimately and deviously connected to the understanding of revealed truth than hearth or arms or mill, the res agricola, res bellica, and scientia mechanica of earlier times....

In my seminars, I have seen many a student look up from the exegesis of a passage by Aelred of Rivaulx, Héloïse, or Hugh of St. Victor, and search for a correspondence in his or her own twenty-two year-old heart, and recognize what the notions related to process, field, feedback, loop, and context sensitivity have done to their grasp. At such moments of disciplined alienation, it is then possible to foster the insight that it is almost impossible for an inhabitant of "the system" to desire an I-Thou relationship like that cultivated in Talmudic or monastic communities. Following such an awakening and finding themselves at a loss to recapture this past experience, a thirst is incited....

In the study of theology, ecclesiology was my preferred subject; and, within this discipline, liturgy. Liturgy, like ecclesiology, is concerned with sociogenesis. It inquires into the continued embodiment of the Word through rituals. Necessarily, these rituals often center on objects like tables, tombs and chalices. So, my interest in these so-called sacra led me to the theory of instrumentally used objects. I pursued the nature of the artifact in the belief that understanding would deepen my insight into virtue in our epoch, especially the virtue of charity. Therefore, the love of friendship, philia, as practicable under the social and symbolic conditions engendered by modern artifacts, has been the constant subject of my teaching. For me, finally, philosophy is the ancilla amicitiae."
sensorium  ivanillich  1996  via:ayjay  technology  objects  artificat  charity  friendship  organization  power  goodness  enough  well-being  theology  ecclesiology  liturgy  sociogenesis  systemsmanagement  management  faith  love  temperance 
july 2015 by robertogreco
the TYPOLOGIST : collector of collections
"The Typologist is Diana Zlatanovski
Collections Steward at Harvard University's Peabody Museum + Photographer at TheTypology.com
This blog is a curation of object and photo typologies I've found out in the world.
Say hi! hello@thetypology.com "
typologies  tumblrs  dianazlatanovski  objects 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Fred Moten Talk: "Blackness and Poetry" - YouTube
[30:47] “We've had a really hard time learning how to be on the earth. We're not doing such a good job. Or maybe a more precise way to put it would be we've had a hard time living in the earth or with the earth or living *as* the earth."
fredmoten  via:javierarbona  2015  poetry  blackness  race  sovereignty  democratization  democracy  demos  colonialism  colonization  settlers  phenomenology  subjectivity  objects  ownership  possession  possessiveness  poems  edouardglissant  extralegality  illegality  place  being  waysofbeing 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The American Scholar: Empathy for Inanimate Objects - Josie Glausiusz
"“Watch this poor, abused, washing machine go completely insane and explode,” urges the technology website Gizmodo. Over the next three or so minutes, a videographer, “Aussie50,” inserts a heavy piece of metal into the drum of a front-loading washer and activates its spin cycle. The machine hammers itself to death: its door flies open, the back falls off, wires twist loose, and finally the washer lies deconstructed on the ground. “Best washer-kill ever,” says Aussie50, tittering.

I showed the video to a friend, who said he felt sorry for the machine and asked why it deserved to be destroyed? That empathic reaction makes me wonder why humans feel pity for inanimate objects.

Some insight into this question comes from Astrid M. Rosenthal-von der Pütten, a social psychologist at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany. She and her research team have published two studies analyzing how humans respond when a robot is tortured.

In the first study, she divided 41 participants into two groups. Group One watched a two-minute video of a person in a black sweater choking and beating a robot dinosaur, Pleo, as it emitted sounds of suffering, including crying. Group Two watched a two-minute video of Pleo being stroked and fed as it sang, purred, and babbled. The Group One subjects felt significant pity for the robot and anger at the torturer when the robot was tormented; they also experienced higher “physiological arousal,” a measure of human “fight or flight” response.

In the second experiment, published in 2014, Rosenthal-von der Pütten and her team employed brain-scanning to examine how 14 participants would respond to videos of a human, a robot (Pleo), and an inanimate object (a green box) being tortured or treated nicely. Activation of neurons in the brain’s limbic system—areas that process emotions such as anger, happiness, or fear—was similar when robots and humans were treated affectionately. Subjects showed significantly more empathy and emotional distress, however, when the human was abused, as compared to the robot.

Do humans feel empathy for robots because they seem humanlike or, as in the case of the robot-dino, because it appears to suffer when mistreated, as do live animals? “I think, to some extent robots activate the same mechanisms of empathetic processes” that humans do, Rosenthal-von der Pütten responded to my question via email, “but there are not enough studies to draw concrete conclusions. But one can say that the human likeness of robots (in terms of their appearance and of their behavior) plays a role.”

If that is the case, why would anyone feel empathy for a washing machine, which doesn’t seem human at all? Rosenthal-von der Pütten said she is “not aware of any study investigating empathy in the context of non-robotic machines” and cannot explain what the underlying brain mechanisms might be. But one clue, I believe, comes from the studies of Swiss child psychologist Jean Piaget. He noted that children go through a stage of “animistic thinking,” in which they imbue inanimate objects with human emotions; or, as my four-year-old son recently said, “the tiny tractor is tired so he is not scooping up.”

Perhaps adults’ feelings for wasted washers and other non-living matter are a residue of childhood. Or maybe we express empathy because we see what a waste of resources it is to shatter a decent device. Possibly, as we watch the wanton destruction, we intuit the human care with which it was created."
objects  empathy  josieglausiusz  2015  pleo  technology  astridrosenthal-vonerpütten  robots  machines  destruction  waste  care  caring 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Instagram’s Endangered Ephemera - The New Yorker
"The best accounts, like @graphilately, present a basic, steady stream of beautiful things, often against a neutral background. “I want it to be solely about the stamps—raising the profile of stamps and beauty in simple, modernist values,” Blair Thomson, the account’s creator, told me. “They’re about simple, graphic ideas conveyed through a highly visible yet tiny medium.” The husband-and-wife pair behind @purveyors_of_packaging present vintage boxes, bottles, and cans in the same vitrine-like format, making the reds, yellows, and blues really glow.

For some, Instagram has been an easy way to deal with personal collections. If you are the proud owner of thousands of vintage Valentines, embroidered tourist patches, or personalized book plates, digitizing them can feel overwhelming. The dailyness of Instagram—one photo, one day at a time—breaks the task down, and the endorphin boost of likes and followers keeps you rolling. A number of the collectors I spoke to originally included their ephemera in their personal feed, but spun the material off into a dedicated channel after a positive response. This also gave them a chance to polish their presentation. Bill Rose (@junktype) says, “Most of the objects in my feed are no bigger than a couple of inches wide. They are often so small that my phone has trouble focussing given the close range of my subject.” Charles Clarke (@matchbookdiaries) shoots his matchbooks against a white background. “I use the white background because it looks clean, and because you can scroll my profile page and it doesn’t look like there are any dividers between the photos. It looks like a big poster.”

These accounts also provide inspiration for working professionals and act as an early warning system for design revivals. Several of the ephemera accounts that I’ve spotted have turned out to be run by designers. Ara Devejian (@LetterGetter), a creative director, started his when he moved to Los Angeles’s superlatively-signed Theatre District. “Every day, I try to take a new route to work or wherever, especially going way out my way to discover new places on my bike or in the car, and in turn LetterGetter is the happy byproduct of that curiosity.” At first Devejian wanted to document typographic nightmares—the illegible, the mishandled—but, as with most Instagram accounts, things swung over to the positive. The platform’s users have such a strong preference for things that are pretty (however you define it) that it’s difficult to swim against the tide of posting “bests” rather than “worsts.” “@LetterGetter helps inform some of the typographic projects I work on,” Devejian said, “like the title card I designed for Gymkhana 7. The style of the photos is intentionally flat or sparse in order to see the letterforms as they were conceived.”"



"Business cards are probably next on the endangered list. In ten years, that drawer full of business cards could be Instagram gold. The Art Nouveau designer Hector Guimard’s business card, for example, part of the Cooper Hewitt collection, is beautifully out of date. But putting something on Instagram isn’t always the end result. These pieces can have different meaning in real life. “People have yelled at me—thinking I’m about to steal or break something—and then afterwards, realizing that I’m only taking pictures and admiring their car or whatever, tell me their life story,” Devejian says. “I’ve become painfully accustomed to just how fleeting signage is. It’s made me wonder whether I should become some sort of advocate for preservation, in attempt to postpone their inevitable disappearance.”"
instagram  culture  alexandralange  2015  design  businesscards  graphicdesign  graphics  photography  collections  inspiration  stamps  postagestamps  matchbooks  labels  clothinglabels  ephemera  everyday  objects  internet  socialmedia  packaging  typography  lettering  logos 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Drink from the cup as if it's already broken - Everything2.com
"Advice from a zen koan. If you own a teacup that is very precious to you, you have two choices: you can be obsessively careful with it, and live in fear that you'll drop it, or someone will chip it, or an earthquake will come and it will fall out of the cabinet. This object, intended to bring you pleasure, can become a burden.

Or, you can imagine that it is already broken -- because in an important sense, it is. It's sure to break someday, just as you're sure to die and the universe is sure to come to an end. Then, every time you drink from the cup will be a pleasure, a gift from the gods, a special reunion between you and something you had lost. You will be sure to appreciate every chance you have to use it, but having already said goodbye you will not need to use it with fear.

This can be applied to personal relationships, to your job, to money... if you give up feeling that you need things, you can appreciate them more fully.

Some people worry that if they give up attachment to this extent, they will not have the will to get what they want; they'll end up living in a discarded refrigerator box and starving to death because they're so laid-back. In fact, there is substantial evidence that having a goal and enjoying a process is not the same thing as kicking your ass all the time, or being motivated by fear of failure or of becoming a bad person. You learn to act with what various groups call the original mind, flow, or True Will and do what you do because it's you, not because you're being bribed or threatened by an internal parent.

*****

In a now-deleted writeup, zgirll pointed out that you can effectively free yourself by giving the teacup away. This is an asymmetry between the possession issue and the relationship issue: giving away an object is an acceptable way to keep it. Giving away a person is stupid, unless your relationship (or the person) is dying on its own. The difference is that a possession is something you can fully know, and so your internal model of it can provide the same satisfaction as it can itself. Friends, on the other hand, are far deeper and we never really "figure them out." Ending a relationship that might otherwise have grown is a serious sacrifice which, I think, does not do any good in and of itself.
zen  koans  brokenness  fear  care  burden  pleasure  will  truewill  flow  orginalmind  process  peace  things  possessions  materialism  objects  time  satisfaction  presence  now  hereandnow  relationships  edg  srg  glvo  attention  friendship  listening  lightness  money  wealth  accumulation  needs  desire 
march 2015 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] did I mention it vibrates? ["history is time breaking up with itself"]
"Lately I've been playing with the idea that history itself is the space left over as any two moments in time tear away from each other. Or as they fade the way a mural in the sun gradually disappears; people both aware of its disappearance and shocked when it finally vanishes.

There are still stand-out events (the clues) and we recognize those in the objects and artifacts we celebrate. More specifically that we celebrate those objects in common. The scarcities of the past meant that the pool of common celebrations from which to choose was pretty limited and so now while it might seem like we're swimming in tailor-made niche rituals I don't actually think the fundamental dynamic has changed.

There is still what Scott McCloud dubbed the magic in the gutter. The "gutter" being the space between any two panels (or frames) in a comic strip. The gutter is the place where the author and the artist let the reader act as the narrative bridge between two events. This is an integral part of comics as a form and I think fundamental to their popularity.

I like to think of the gutter as the space where fan-fiction operates. As a way of creating alternative reasons to explain why any two events are related to one another."



"Monkey Jesus. Let me start by saying: I love Monkey Jesus.

Monkey Jesus is sometimes known as Ecce Homo, a church fresco painted by Elias Garcia Martinez in the 1930s in Northern Spain. Like many churches in Europe it was abandoned and stood waiting to be reclaimed by the elements. In August of 2012 Cecilia Giminez, a nearby resident, decided that she would attempt to restore the painting before it was completely lost.

That last fact is really important: This fresco was the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it. Had another year or another decade passed the painting would have been washed away by the rain or the sun and no one would have known the difference.

What happened instead is that someone posted a picture of Giminez's efforts to the internet and the whole world when completely nuts. This, we were told, was an offense against all culture. Proof that the laity shouldn't be trusted with the arts. That this 90-year woman had single-handedly destroyed everything sacred about the Rennaissance.

Then a funny thing happened: By the end of 2013 forty thousand people had visited the church to see the fresco and Giminez herself was pushing for financial compensation claiming artist's rights for her work.

Monkey Jesus has crossed the event horizon of signifiers and now, I'm willing to bet, we're going to actively preserve the so-called failed restoration over the original fresco precisely because of this history. Because now the work has narrative pedigree. If you think that sounds like crazy-talk consider the exact same painting but done in the hand of Alex Katz or re-created by Cindy Sherman. Look carefully at Monkey Jesus and tell me you can't see the shadow of either artist's work in that painting.

The issue is not whether a different artist would have done Monkey Jesus better but in how we reconstruct the narrative around an event; the reasons we choose to understand why an object is worthy of a narrative at all."



"We did this so that the idea of visitors using a NFC-enabled pen in the galleries stopped being an idea and became something tangible. The problem with conceptual designs is that at a certain point they stop being devices for imagining possibilities and instead become a bucket for everyone's hopes and fears and anxieties. That tipping point is unique to every project but we had reached ours and the most important thing became to root the problem in a practical reality that we could use to make decision about rather than around."



"It turns out the Pen is a pretty good problem-solving interview question. You start with two immutable facts of nature and a warning. Fact number one is that all capacitive styluses have a metal core or metal woven in to the sheathing. (Go back and look at the slide with the vWand cases — that's metallic paint on the tip.) That metal is required in order for the stylus to work. Fact number two is that metal is the enemy of radio frequencies (NFC). The stern warning is that if any point the person answering the question says I saw a thing... on 60 minutes... about a guy in Shenzhen... then the interview is over.

Otherwise you just sit back and listen.

If they get far enough to figure out a design then you ask them how they'd power the thing. You can't really see it in any of the slides I've shown you but there's a button on the back of the Pen. That's the button which activates the NFC antenna because if it were always powered on the Pen would spend all day shouting HELLO? IS ANYONE OUT THERE?? in to the void and quickly exhaust its battery supply."



"It turns out that the Pen is in fact the minimum amount of infrastructure that you need if the goal is to enable some kind of meaningful recall for a museum visit. The point is not to provide users with a Pen experience but to offer them a tool that is quiet and polite and allows them to, literally, touch the objects as a way to remember them. To provide them with something less-shit than taking photos of wall labels. To provide them with a way to come to the museum and have a heads up visit confident that there is a way back after they've left the building."



"We changed the loan agreements to state that the museum reserves the right to display the fact that an object spent time with us and to display the images of those objects on our website and in our galleries. Forever. If you're not a museum person you may be staring at your screen right now wondering what the fuck I am talking about. Like specifically why this is a big deal. That is the correct response.

Pretty much every other loan agreement ever drafted between two museums or a museum and a private individual states that lender retains all image rights to the object being lent. Which is fine, in principle. In practice though it's created an environment where even if a museum enjoys a limited period of use the uncertainty around the licensing of that imagery after the fact means that it's easier to throw up our hands and despair the situation than to look for a viable alternative.

The problem is this: We tell visitors that it is important enough for them to travel to our musuem to see something in person rather than simply looking for it on Google. We tell them it is worth their time and expense and then we pretend as though it never happened.

Which is insane. It's flat out insane. Not to mention wrong. Also stupid.

So we've stopped doing it. We're not going to start making mugs and ties with other people's collections but we are going to assert that their thing was in our building for a while."



'Let's be honest: You are straight up fucked if you then try to search for that thing on a museum website and doubly-fucked if you're trying to do it on your phone. We should all strive to make that experience not suck but for the time being it does. If instead a person can remember that Oh yeah, I was there in October... and there's a way to find the object quickly and easily then two things happen:

1. They can actually find the thing they're talking about and not have it be a proxy object for another of life's annoyances.
2. They can put their phone away.

Imagine if you could take a museum for granted that way. Not in a creepy or selfish way but in a way that allowed you to think about it as a resource, with the patience to always be present. Imagine what it would mean for a museum to have the infinite space of everything to the right of a permalink's URL at its disposal.

It's not a permalink of the object (they already have their own permalinks) but a permalink of your having collected that object during that visit and these are the places where visitors and the museum together might actually explore what it means to better share an understanding of an object beyond a 75-word wall label. There is a fantastic amount of learning and writing that has produced about the objects in our collections over the years but almost no one, outside the hula-hoop of professional disciplines, ever sees it.

These, we hope, are the places where we might start to change that. These are the places where someone might finally read the 10,000 word essay about an exhibition in the comfort of their living room or even just on the subway ride home after their visit. These are the places where we might start to find a way to make the curatorial files I mentioned earlier an active participant in the collection."



"In the end I think the hardest part of this project for the museum will be being patient and in measuring success over the long-term. Some people will see and immediate and personal value in what we're trying to do but it would be unfair, and unrealistic, to demand the same of everyone else. People have busy, complicated lives and it sometimes takes people a while to warm up to an idea. Our disposition, our super-power, as cultural heritage institutions is that we have time on our side. We should learn to share it with those who don't."
2015  aaronstraupcope  cooper-hewitt  museums  history  memory  objects  interaction  monkeyjesus  fanfiction  scottmccloud  sebchan  billmoggridge  aaronkeefer  alisoufan  selfawareroomba  roomba  design  waronterror  narrative  storytelling  culture  smithsonian  internet  web  online  collections  socialmedia  rfid  nfc 
march 2015 by robertogreco
K. Verlag | Press / Books / THE SUBJECTIVE OBJECT
"THE SUBJECTIVE OBJECT

The Subjective Object engages with the controversial site of the ethnographic museum and the role of the archive. In particular, the 1920’s photographic archive of the indigenous people of India by the German physical anthropologist and racist theorist Egon von Eickstedt (1892–1965) serves as a case study for an investigation into the role of historical artifacts in light of contemporary political situations. The nine interviews with curators, artists, anthropologists, and social workers provide the core of the book actively discussing the complicated issues around the archive’s function in producing know- ledge. An annotated thread of images serves as a critical apparatus addressing the visual history of ethnographic display and classification practices—both in the scientific field as well as the cultural field at large. Questioning the assumption that the archive presents the “fact” of the “Other,” three literary texts counterpoint the inherent fantasies within scientific research. Just as the book begins with an archive—the Eickstedt photos—the book ends with a new archive—photos of the exhibition The Subjective Object – (Re)Appropriating Anthropological Images at the GRASSI Ethnographic Museum of Leipzig—illustrating the project’s desire to not only engage with the history of display but also to propose a future of display strategies and social engagement.

Interviews with: Carola Krebs, Meghnath, Theo Rathgeber, Nora Sternfeld, Alexandra Karentzos, Christopher Pinney, Philip Scheffner, Britta Lange, Jesko Fezer + Raqs Media Collective

Literary Texts by: Franz Kafka, Brion Gysin + Suzan-Lori Parks

 

Published on the occasion of the exhibition:
The Subjective Object – Von der (Wieder-)Aneignung anthropologischer Bilder, GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig.

Curated by: Nicola Beißner, Anna Dobrucki, Anna Jehle, Julia Kurz, Anja Lückenkemper, Barbara Mahlknecht, Katja Thekla Meyer, Ksenija Orelj, Katharina Schniebs, Nefeli Skarmea, Anna-Sophie Springer, Edda Wilde und Olga Wostrezowa.

A project of "Kulturen des Kuratorischen" an der Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig 

 

Edited by Anna-Sophie Springer

142 Pages (Bilingual Deutsch/English)
Color + black/white images
ISBN: 978-0-9877949-1-8

Retail Price 10 € (out of print)"
books  anna-sophiespringer  ethnography  anthropology  egonvoneickstedt  museusm  objects  carolakrebs  meghnath  theorathgeber  norasternfeld  alexandrakarentzos  christopherpinney  philipscheffner  brittalange  jeskofezer  raqsmediacollective  kafka  vriongysin  suzan-loriparks  thesubjectiveobject 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Too Much Magic, Too Little Social Friction: Why Objects Shouldn’t Be Enchanted | The Los Angeles Review of Books
"The more we’re inclined to see technology as wizardry, the less disposed we are to demystifying the illusions that obscure why some people get to enjoy hocus pocus at other people’s expense.

Magical Consumerism

Advertisers also use magic to deceive consumers into believing that products pave the path to the good life. Rose is so excited about what motivational fitness products like Nike + can do that he characterizes them as belonging to a magical lineage that includes the mythical “Hermes’s sandals” and cinematic “Dorothy’s slippers.” I felt like I was reading a script for a commercial when I got to the part where he praises them for “promising to transport us to a place of our dreams.”

Let’s be honest. That’s a promise that can’t ever be delivered. In fact, it’s a lie that moves along the perpetually running hedonic treadmill. Rose’s seamless discursive shift from technology theory to marketplace vocabulary thus serves as a good reminder that when it comes to commercialized goods, it’s dangerous to refer to them using language that breaks down too many of the barriers separating constraint-filled reality from practically unobtainable, constraint-removing fiction."



"The problem with both examples is that they are guided by the assumption that good relationships can be fashioned using technology to minimize misunderstandings and to maximize predictive awareness. While this is true up to a point, the devices Rose discusses eliminate so much important human interaction that they hardly seem like desirable means for achieving worthy ends."
magic  technology  attention  devices  emotions  2015  objects  enchantment  davidrose  evanselinger  advertising  capitalism  consumerism  materialism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
“The world is full of objects, more or less... - robertogreco {tumblr}
“The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.

I prefer, simply, to state the existence of things in terms of time and/or place.

More specifically, the work concerns itself with things whose inter-relationship is beyond direct perceptual experience.

Because the work is beyond direct perceptual experience, awareness of the work depends on a system of documentation.

The documentation takes the form of photographs, maps, drawings and descriptive language.”

—Douglas Huebler
time  place  documentation  cv  douglashuebler  art  experience  perception  awareness  belatedness  things  objects  cataloging  description  observation  photography  maps  mapping  drawing  drawings  systems  archives  noticing  collections  collecting  capturing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Matt Jones: Jumping to the End -- Practical Design Fiction on Vimeo
[Matt says (http://magicalnihilism.com/2015/03/06/my-ixd15-conference-talk-jumping-to-the-end/ ):

"This talk summarizes a lot of the approaches that we used in the studio at BERG, and some of those that have carried on in my work with the gang at Google Creative Lab in NYC.

Unfortunately, I can’t show a lot of that work in public, so many of the examples are from BERG days…

Many thanks to Catherine Nygaard and Ben Fullerton for inviting me (and especially to Catherine for putting up with me clowning around behind here while she was introducing me…)"]

[At ~35:00:
“[(Copy)Writers] are the fastest designers in the world. They are amazing… They are just amazing at that kind of boiling down of incredibly abstract concepts into tiny packages of cognition, language. Working with writers has been my favorite thing of the last two years.”
mattjones  berg  berglondon  google  googlecreativelab  interactiondesign  scifi  sciencefiction  designfiction  futurism  speculativefiction  julianbleecker  howwework  1970s  comics  marvel  marvelcomics  2001aspaceodyssey  fiction  speculation  technology  history  umbertoeco  design  wernerherzog  dansaffer  storytelling  stories  microinteractions  signaturemoments  worldbuilding  stanleykubrick  details  grain  grammars  computervision  ai  artificialintelligence  ui  personofinterest  culture  popculture  surveillance  networks  productdesign  canon  communication  johnthackara  macroscopes  howethink  thinking  context  patternsensing  systemsthinking  systems  mattrolandson  objects  buckminsterfuller  normanfoster  brianarthur  advertising  experiencedesign  ux  copywriting  writing  film  filmmaking  prototyping  posters  video  howwewrite  cognition  language  ara  openstudioproject  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  sketching  time  change  seams  seamlessness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Intimate Spaces: The Archaeology of Pockets | Archaeology and Material Culture
"Few spaces could be more familiar yet more unremarked upon than pockets. Clothing pockets are a presence of sorts, but like edges of an excavation unit their material definition may be made by their tangible boundaries and the things in them rather than the vacuum that is perhaps the actual pocket. Pockets are distinctively intimate since they are stitched into our public garments yet conceal our bodies, and they hold a narrow range of small things like coins, keys, wallets, phones, makeup, lighters, and similar objects that for various reasons are held close to our bodies and accessible to our hands. There are some idiosyncratic but illuminating insights into privacy, place, and self that can be made based on an “excavation” of pockets and the cargo that finds refuge in them.

Maybe our use of some pockets is largely functional, like a right-hander who habitually slides their key chain into their readily accessible right front pants pocket. Yet many pocket use patterns are the complicated result of longstanding practices and the vagaries of fashion. For instance, men’s back pants pockets often betray “billfold bulge,” which is even worse in the face of contour-hugging skinny jeans and similar cuts. In 1977, the Palm Beach Post assessed increasingly lean European pants cuts and pocket-less pants and recognized pocket use was a force of habit, concluding that “most men just don’t feel comfortable unless everything is in the same place its been for years.” Thirty years later Details advised that there “is absolutely no need for you to shove an engorged wallet in the pocket of your $400 jeans.” They concluded that “the contemporary pocket-stuffer is one of three things: an oblivious creature of habit, a man too insecure to carry a shoulder bag, or someone lacking the organizational skills to pare down the clutter that sits like a benign tumor on his right cheek to a couple of $100 bills and an AmEx.”

Much of pocket use is rooted in ideological notions of gender, class, and sexuality, historical fashion styles, and unexamined pocket use habits. Since the late 19th century masculinity ideologies and fashion have cast pockets as somehow distinctively “masculine” reserves. In the 18th century women’s garments included concealed pockets, with expansive tie pockets under dresses and petticoats in use for roughly two centuries. Garments began to include far fewer pockets in the late 19th century as dresses and coats became more streamlined and the handbag became the carry-all of choice for women. In 1899 a New York Times commentator noted the gradual disappearance of women’s garment pockets and remembered that “our grandmothers . . . used to have big, deep pockets in their skirts which they could get at somehow and in which they usually carried the household keys, a ball of yarn with knitting needles stuck in it, a little smooth-worn gourd for darning operations, and very often a few doughnuts or cookies and apples and a pair of spectacles.”

[via: http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2015/02/pockets.html ]
pockets  archaeology  everyday  carrying  inventories  2015  handbags  backpacks  contents  objects  history  anthropology  abrahamlincoln  clothing  wearables  wearable  gender  georgelegrady  jasontravis  erintaylor  lindaalstead  rafaellozano-hemmer  francoisrobert  hannahsmithallen  meredithbrickell 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin, Keynote 5/8/14 on Vimeo
[Starting at 7:00]

“My little talk is called “Deep in Admiration.” This conference is going to be thinking about how to think outside the mindset that sees the techno fix as the answer to all problems. Just this week, I heard a poet say that the essence of modern high technology is to consider the world as disposable: use it and throw it away. Well, we know that we don't need more infantile new technologies that demand throwing away all the old ones every Tuesday. We need adult rational technologies, old and new: pottery making, bricklaying, sewing, carpentry, solar power, sustainable farming. But after our long orgy of being lords of creation and texting as we drive, it's hard to stop looking for the next technofix. We have got to change our minds. To use the world well, we need to relearn our being in it, renew our awareness of belonging to the world. How do we go about it? That awareness seems always to have involved knowing our kinship as animals with animals. Darwin gave that knowledge a scientific basis and now both poets and scientists are extending our awareness of our relationship to creatures without nervous systems and to non-living beings, our fellowship as things with other things. Relationship among all things seems to be complex and reciprocal. It's always at least two way, back-and-forth. It seems as if nothing is single in this universe and nothing goes one way. In this view, humans appear as particularly lively, intense, aware nodes of relation in an infinite network of connections, simple or complicated, direct or hidden, strong or delicate, temporary or very long lasting, a web of connections infinite, but locally fragile, with and among everything, all beings, including what we generally class as things, objects.

Decartes and the behaviorists willfully saw dogs as machines without feeling. Is seeing plants without feeling a similar arrogance? We don't know. But one way to stop seeing trees or rivers or hills only as natural resources is to class them as fellow beings, kinfolk. I guess what I'm trying to do is subjectify the universe because look where objectifying it has got us. To subjectify is not to co-opt and colonize and exploit. Rather, if it's done honestly, it involves a great reach outward of the mind and the imagination. What tools do we have to help us make such a reach? Mary Jacobus, in a book called Romantic Things, wrote, “The regulated speech of poetry may be as close as we can get to such things, to the stilled voice of the inanimate object or the insentient standing of trees.” Poetry is the human language that can try to say what a tree or a rock or a river is, that is to speak humanly for it in both senses of the word for. A poem can do so by relating the quality of an individual relationship to a thing, a rock, a river, a tree, the relationship to or simply by describing the thing as truthfully as possible. Science describes accurately from outside and poetry describes accurately from inside, you could say. Science explicates, poetry implicates. Both celebrate what they describe. We need the language of both science and poetry to save us from ignorant irresponsibility.”

[via: https://twitter.com/steelemaley/status/560283083430445057
"“To use the world well we need to relearn our being in it” -Le Guin http://vimeo.com/97364872 "]

[See also: “ARTS OF LIVING ON A DAMAGED PLANET”
http://anthropocene.au.dk/arts-of-living-on-a-damaged-planet/
https://vimeo.com/artsofliving

“Ursula K. Le Guin: Panel Discussion with Donna Haraway and James Clifford, 5/8/14”
https://vimeo.com/98270808

“Donna Haraway, "Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble", 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/97663518

“Inhabiting Multispecies Bodies: Panel Discussion with Donna Haraway, Margaret McFall-Ngai, and Jenny Reardon, 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/97663316

“On Damaged Landscapes: Panel Discussion with Kate Brown, Deborah Bird Rose, Eric Porter and William Cronon, 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/97852132

“Jens-Christian Svenning, "Future Megafaunas: A Historical Perspective on the Scope for a Wilder Anthropocene," 5/9/14”
https://vimeo.com/98751434 ]
ursulaleguin  plants  animals  art  2014  technosolutionism  via:steelemaley  things  objects  interconnectedness  interdependence  networks  systemsthinking  technology  jens-christiansvenning  donnaharaway  anthropocene  margaretmcfall-ngai  jennyreardon  katebrown  deborabirdrose  ericporter  williamcronon  jamesclifford  multispecies  objectification  subjectification  fellowahip  kinship  poetry  science  religion  morality  compassion  henryvaughn  maryjacobus  nature  humans  humanism  responsibility  environment  universe  interconnected  interconnectivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt: Finally, the Museum of the Future Is Here - The Atlantic
"When I visited, I talked to the Labs team in their office and then toured the then not-quite-finished mansion. We talked about the museum first—the physical one we were in. Unlike leaders of other New York museums, who are investing in events, Chan (and the Cooper Hewitt generally) believe the heart of the museum is in its collection and its visitors. In other words: its stuff and its people.

“They don’t want to have the burden of this preservation forever,” he said of the increasingly event-focused Museum of Modern Art, 40 blocks south. “The beauty here is: We’re the Smithsonian. We don’t have a choice. No matter what other staff in this building might say, we don’t have a choice but to keep all this stuff forever.”

The museum will forever be committed to its stuff. But it has to have a more enlivening presence, he believes, than placards and shelves. Cope held up his smartphone at one point and pointed at it."



"Notice the trick the Labs team has completed. The API seems to be first for users and developers. It lets them play around with the collection, see what’s there. As Cope told me, “the API is there to develop multiple interfaces. That’s the whole point of an API—you let go of control around how people interpret data and give them what they ask for, and then have the confidence they’ll find a way to organize it that makes sense for them.” But who is doing the most work around the collection—the most organizing, the most-sensemaking? It’s the museum itself.

“When we re-open, the building will be the single largest consumer of the API,” said Chan.

In other words, the museum made a piece of infrastructure for the public. But the museum will benefit in the long term, because the infrastructure will permit them to plan for the near future.

And the museum will also be, of course, the single largest beneficiary of outsider improvements to the API. It already talks to other APIs on the web. Ray Eames’s page, for instance, encourages users to tag their Instagrams and Flickr photos with a certain code. When they do, Cooper Hewitt’s API will automatically sniff it out and link that image back to its own person file for Eames. Thus, the Cooper Hewitt’s online presence grows even richer.

The Cooper Hewitt isn’t the only museum in the world with an API. The Powerhouse has one, and many art museums have uploaded high-quality images of their collections. But the power of the Cooper Hewitt’s digital interface is unprecedented. There’s a command that asks for colors as defined by the Crayola crayon palette. Another asks if the snack bar is open. A third mimics the speech of one of the Labs members. It’s a fun piece of software, and it makes a point about the scope of the museum’s vision. If design is in everything, the API says, then the museum’s collection includes every facet of the museum itself. "



"Even if things do work, the model turns museum websites into museums themselves, catalogs of once-snazzy apps built for special occasions before being discarded forever. Exhibits go away, but those apps never do. A museum’s website—the primary face of the museum to the world—winds up looking like a closet of old prom dresses.

When Bill Moggridge became the Cooper Hewitt’s director in 2010, he wanted the museum to make its digital infrastructure more thoughtfully. Moggridge, it should be noted, is a legend. He helped design the first laptop computer. He founded the world-famous firm IDEO. And he invented the term “interaction design.” Moggridge died in 2012, not living to see the renovation project he began.

Moggridge created Chan’s position and hired him for it. And while Chan could have kept outsourcing projects to big outside firms, he instead lobbied for funding and hire a staff. The museum’s digital work was too important. It had to have in-house experts. “There's a lovely phrase we use a lot,” Cope said. “The guy who invented the Perl programming language talked about Perl as being there to make easy things simple and hard things possible.”

“That’s how we try to think about this. Not everyone’s gonna understand what we’ve built or the potential of what we’ve built right away. It’s gonna take some of the curators longer than others to figure it out. But the minute they get it, they should be able to turn around and be like, 'What if…? Can we do…?'—and if it’s easy, it should be live in 15 minutes.”"



"The team has accomplished so much largely by accepting imperfection. When the Labs launched the API, it was missing a lot of information. Cope called the quality of its metadata at launch “incredibly spotty,” before Chan clarified, “it’s terrible.”

But that was on purpose. Better to put the museum’s grand imperfection and incompleteness out in the world and let people make of it what they will, the team decided, then wait for it to be perfect. “It was a tactical play to say, don’t obsess about that stuff, because its what people do with it that matters,” said Chan.

“We could spend the next 50 years trying to make that data perfect and it still would not ever be perfect. There was 70 years of collecting that had different documenting standards. Museums only started collecting policies in the eighties and nineties. How can you retrospectively fix everything? It just can’t be done. So let’s move on and figure out what we want to do with it,” he said.

This attitude—popularized by Steve Jobs with the phrase, “Real artists ship”—extends to how the team thinks through media production, too. “I can’t sit on a video for six months, making these minute edits. I have to pitch it out door, so we can say: This interview got this many views, this thing got this many views, let’s keep going with this,” said Shelly.

The Labs’s work, as a whole, is an investment in a particular idea of cultural democracy. It’s a view where imperfect speech can always—and will always, and should always—be augmented by further speech. It trusts in the discourse over the perfection of the original work."



"And perhaps already, the Labs team believes, that digital information will be inextricable from the physical object. The Cooper Hewitt has long collected napkin sketches of famous logos and inventions. If it wants to collect the rough thoughts of today, it will have to work fast, because napkins last longer in files than sketch files do on iPads.

“To collect a Nest absent of any data, what does that tell you?,” asked Cope.“It tells you it’s a beautiful piece of industrial design. Well, maybe the museum should start thinking about some way of keeping that data alongside the object, and maybe it doesn’t need to be privileged in the way the object is.”"
robinsonmeyer  2015  cooper-hewitt  museums  collections  archives  internet  web  sebchan  aaronstraupcope  billmoggridge  design  interaction  api  data  digital  online  objects  things  applications  software  unfinished  imperfection  democracy  culture  culturaldemocracy  infrastructure  visitors  events 
january 2015 by robertogreco
List of Physical Visualizations
"This page is a chronological list of physical visualizations and related artifacts, curated by Pierre Dragicevic and Yvonne Jansen. Thanks to Fanny Chevalier and our other contributors. If you know of another interesting physical visualization, please submit one! Or post a general comment.
This list currently has 169 entries."
dataviz  data  datavisualization  visualization  physical  physicalvisualization  objects  pierredragicevic  yvonnejansen  history  timelines  tactile  blind  textured  textures 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Molds and Totems: Nonhumans and the Constitution of the Social Self
"The role of nonhumans in social life has recently generated significant scholarly interest. The two main paradigms for explaining the sociological significance of nonhumans are constructivism and actor-network theory. We propose a pragmatist synthesis inspired by George Herbert Mead, demonstrating how interactions with nonhumans help constitute the social self—that is, the identity one constructs by imaginatively looking upon oneself as others would. Drawing upon observations of humans interacting with objects, animals, and nature, we identify two complementary ways that nonhumans organize the social self and enable people to experience group membership in absentia: (1) by molding how one is perceived by others and constraining alternative presentations of self and (2) by acting as a totem that conjures up awareness of, and feelings of attachment to, a particular social group. This formulation moves beyond constructivist claims that nonhumans reflect people’s self-definitions, and it offers a corrective to actor-network theory’s neglect of sociality."
nonhumans  totems  pragmatism  self  actor-networktheory  sociality  objects  animals  nature  georgeherbertmead  colinjerolmack  iddotavory  via:oddhack 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Want To Learn About Game Design? Go To Ikea - ReadWrite
"The path is constantly curving to keep you enticed."

[also posted at: http://killscreendaily.com/articles/game-design-ikea/
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKCDJ89ODyM ]

"IKEA’s reach extends beyond simple economic heft. In Lauren Collins’ epic 2011 New Yorker profile of the company, she casts the IKEA vision as something that extends beyond pure commerce. “The invisible designer of domestic life, it not only reflects but also molds, in its ubiquity, our routines and our attitudes.” Our IKEA, ourselves, as it were.

But to become that successful requires a unique understanding of the consumer mindset and there are certainly many explanations for why this might be. I wanted to introduce something else. Intentionally or not, IKEA embodies some of the best values of good games. I’m not saying that IKEA is a game, per se, but it exhibits many game-like characteristics.

So how?

DESIGNING A GOOD MAZE …

BUILD A STORY WORLD THROUGH DETAILS …

"Because Ikea's founder is dyslexic, the company built a whole taxonomy for products to help him remember. Furniture is Swedish place names, chairs are men’s names, and children’s items are mammals and birds. (Lars Petrus’ Ikea dictionary reads like a key to reading Ulysses in this respect.)

The act of naming an object is an incredibly powerful key to immersion that games use all the time. Think about the names of the drones in BioShock or inventory descriptions in Dark Souls. Each of these games uses unique in-game language to build a convincing story world and keep you there.

For Ikea, they want you to identify with a place, in this case the Swedish concept of “folkhemmet,” a social democratic term coined by the Social Democratic Party leader Per Albin Hansson in 1928, that means “the people’s home.” And this identity is bolstered through numerous elements that want to capture a full-bodied Swedish identity, despite the global presence of the store. The colors are the Swedish national flag; the store sells traditional Swedish foods; the children’s play room is called Smaland as a nod to the founder’s hometown and so on.

As Ursula Lindqvist, an associate professor of Scandinavian studies at Adolphus Gustavus, writes, “The Ikea store is a space of acculturation, a living archive in which values and traits identified as distinctively Swedish are communicated to consumers worldwide through its Nordic-identified product lines, organized walking routes, and nationalistic narrative.”

But the language plays the largest part Ikea builds their retail universe, the same way that Borderlands doesn’t just call a pistol a pistol. It’s a Lacerator or The Dove or the Chiquito Amigo or Athena’s Wisdom. Ikea doesn't just sell you a coffee table; it sells you a Lack or a Lillbron or a Lovbaken.

As writers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn said of their Significant Objects project, “It turns out that once you start increasing the emotional energy of inanimate objects, an unpredictable chain reaction is set off.""

ALLOW SHOPPERS TO CREATE THEIR OWN MEANING …

THE VALUE IS THAT YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF …

"But the value is that you have to do it yourself, which makes it more meaningful. Researchers found this is at the heart of “the Ikea effect” which suggests that people will value mass-produced items as much as artisan wares … if only they build them piece by frustrating piece. In their 2012 paper, “The Ikea Effect: When Labor Leads to Love,” Michael Norton and his team explain that the reason people love Ikea is a form of “effort justification.” You’ve put so much time into building Lack shelves that it has to be valuable."

DEVELOP UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCES

This is something we take for granted in games, but think about if you couldn’t play Tetris if you didn’t speak Russian or Super Mario Galaxy if you didn’t speak Japanese. Games are their own language and can be played by anyone, regardless of the nationality, location or background.

IKEA has a similar idea about decorating your home. They call it “democratic design.” As founder Ingvar Kamprad wrote, “Why do the most famous designers always fail to reach the majority of people with their ideas?” So IKEA tries to takes its designs to everyone in the world and designs products that ostensibly could fit in any living room from Shanghai to Berlin or Los Angeles.

This has obviously been a source of critique. Bill Moggridge, the director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, calls IKEA’s aesthetic “global functional minimalism.” He says “it’s modernist, and it’s very neutral in order to avoid local preferences.” IKEA flattens the experience of every home by selling the same furniture which, of course, benefits the company but also benefits the mission of the paradoxical non-profit that technically owns IKEA and is somehow dedicated to furthering the advancement of architecture and interior design.

Regardless, that impulse for world domination has a pleasant by-product in that creates a common design language for people around the world. It’s the same type of experience that Jenova Chen wanted to make in Journey. Chen argued to me that the language we use is a facade and that games like Journey can be played by anyone. One could argue is the same desire to explains the lack of words on IKEA’s instructions."
ikea  gamedesign  2014  games  gaming  jaminwarren  jenovachen  journey  design  videogames  effortjustification  dyslexia  names  naming  flow  objects  economics  effort  language  constructivism  construction  mastery  difficulty  ingvarkamprad  culture  acculturation  robwalker  joshuaglenn  billmoggridge  homoludens  significantobjects  ursulalindqvist  adolphusgustavus  universality  global  meaningmaking  michaelnorton 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Exhibition – Disobedient Objects - Victoria and Albert Museum
"26 July 2014 – 1 February 2015: From Suffragette teapots to protest robots, this exhibition is the first to examine the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. It demonstrates how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design."

[See also: http://www.materialworldblog.com/2014/11/disobedient-objects/ ]
objects  socialchange  2014  exhibits  art  design  disobedience  exhibitions 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Do Artifacts Have Ethics? | The Frailest Thing
"Years ago, Langdon Winner famously asked, “Do artifacts have politics?” In the article that bears that title, Winner went on to argue that they most certainly do. We might also ask, “Do artifacts have ethics?” I would argue that they do indeed. The question is not whether technology has a moral dimension, the question is whether we recognize it or not. In fact, technology’s moral dimension is inescapable, layered, and multi-faceted.

When we do think about technology’s moral implications, we tend to think about what we do with a given technology. We might call this the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” approach to the ethics of technology. What matters most about a technology on this view is the use to which a technology is put. This is of course a valid consideration. A hammer may indeed be used to either build a house or bash someones head in. On this view, technology is morally neutral and the only morally relevant question is this: What will I do with this tool?

But is this really the only morally relevant question one could ask? For instance, pursuing the example of the hammer, might I not also ask how having the hammer in hand encourages me to perceive the world around me? Or, what feelings does having a hammer in hand arouse?

Below are a few other questions that we might ask in order to get at the wide-ranging “moral dimension” of our technologies. There are, of course, many others that we could ask, but this is a start.

1. What sort of person will the use of this technology make of me?
2. What habits will the use of this technology instill?
3. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of time?
4. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of place?
5. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to other people?
6. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to the world around me?
7. What practices will the use of this technology cultivate?
8. What practices will the use of this technology displace?
9. What will the use of this technology encourage me to notice?
10. What will the use of this technology encourage me to ignore?
11. What was required of other human beings so that I might be able to use this technology?
12. What was required of other creatures so that I might be able to use this technology?
13. What was required of the earth so that I might be able to use this technology?
14. Does the use of this technology bring me joy?
15. Does the use of this technology arouse anxiety?
16. How does this technology empower me? At whose expense?
17. What feelings does the use of this technology generate in me toward others?
18. Can I imagine living without this technology? Why, or why not?
19. How does this technology encourage me to allocate my time?
20. Could the resources used to acquire and use this technology be better deployed?
21. Does this technology automate or outsource labor or responsibilities that are morally essential?
22. What desires does the use of this technology generate?
23. What desires does the use of this technology dissipate?
24. What possibilities for action does this technology present? Is it good that these actions are now possible?
25. What possibilities for action does this technology foreclose? Is it good that these actions are no longer possible?
26. How does the use of this technology shape my vision of a good life?
27. What limits does the use of this technology impose upon me?
28. What limits does my use of this technology impose upon others?
29. What does my use of this technology require of others who would (or must) interact with me?
30. What assumptions about the world does the use of this technology tacitly encourage?
31. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about myself?
32. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about others? Is it good to have this knowledge?
33. What are the potential harms to myself, others, or the world that might result from my use of this technology?
34. Upon what systems, technical or human, does my use of this technology depend? Are these systems just?
35. Does my use of this technology encourage me to view others as a means to an end?
36. Does using this technology require me to think more or less?
37. What would the world be like if everyone used this technology exactly as I use it?
38. What risks will my use of this technology entail for others? Have they consented?
39. Can the consequences of my use of this technology be undone? Can I live with those consequences?
40. Does my use of this technology make it easier to live as if I had no responsibilities toward my neighbor?
41. Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?"
artifacts  objects  ethics  technology  2014  morality  via:tealtan  limits  knowledge  responsibility  time  place  experience  habits  behavior  assumptions  michaelsacasas  culture  lmsacasas 
november 2014 by robertogreco
British Museum - Dr Dee's mirror
[via: http://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-12-propositional-density ]

"Dr Dee's mirror

Mexica*, 15th-16th century AD

This mirror was used by the Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer and magician John Dee (1527-1608/9) as a 'shew-stone', one of many polished translucent or reflective objects which he used as tools for his occult research.

The mirror, made of highly-polished obsidian (volcanic glass), was one of many Mexica cult objects and treasures brought to Europe after the conquest of Mexico by Cortés between 1527 and 1530. Mirrors were associated with Tezcatlipoca, the Mexica god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers, whose name can be translated as 'Smoking Mirror'. Mexica priests used mirrrors for divination and conjuring up visions. Dee had an interest in optics and optical mirrors or 'glasses' as described in his private diary and works. he was also interested in psychic phenomena and, from 1583, worked with Edward Kelly as his medium. Kelly would see visions in the 'shew-stones' of 'angels' that communicated by pointing to one square after another in tables of letters and unknown symbols, which Dee and Kelly transcribed.

The case, made to fit the obsidian mirror with its projecting handle, has a paper label with the handwriting of the English antiquary Sir Horace Walpole, who acquired the mirror in 1771. The text begins 'The Black Stone into which Dr Dee used to call his spirits ...'. He has added later 'Kelly was Dr Dee's Associate and is mentioned with this very stone in Hudibras [a satirical poem by Samuel Butler, first published in 1664] Part 2. Canto 3 v. 631. Kelly did all his feats upon The Devil's Looking-glass, a Stone.'

The British Museum has other objects associated with John Dee (see Related Objects and Information).

*The people and culture we know as 'Aztec' referred to themselves as the Mexica (pronounced Me-shee-ka).

J. Cherry, 'Medieval and Later Antiquities' in Sir Hans Sloane: collector, sc (London, The British Museum Press, 1994), pp. 119-221

H. Tait, 'The Devil's Looking Glass: the magical speculum of Dr John Dee' in Horace Walpole: writer, politi (Yale University Press, 1967), pp. 195-212

, Prag um 1600: Kunst und Kultur, exh. cat. (Wien, Kunsthistorisches Museum; Freren, Luca Verlag, 1988)

N.H. Clulee, John Dees natural philosophy: (London and New York, Routledge, 1988)"
objects  mirrors  mexica  mexico  aztec  obsidian  materials  johndee  occult 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The language of objects | Interactivate
"Objects may not be silent, but what difference does that make if you don’t speak their language?

I’ve been doing a bit more musing on some of the anecdotes Stephanie Weaver shared during her keynote at the recent Interpretation Australia conference (first instalment here). She mentioned the often-heard claim that objects “speak for themselves” (a view that appears especially prevalent in art circles), thus rendering interpretation irrelevant at best, interfering at worst. In response, one time she challenged some “speak for themselves-ists” with an image of a carburettor, similar to this one:

[image]

Did the object speak to them about what it was? Was it a particularly fine or noteworthy example? In the absence of any relevant mechanical or technical knowledge, Stephanie’s interlocutors were stumped. They accepted that this object was mute in the absence of interpretation (at least to them).

But Stephanie also told the story of the object that spoke to her immedately, profoundly, and so powerfully it moved her to tears – no interpretation required:

[image]

In this case, the painting was the trigger for an avalanche of meaning that lay within Stephanie’s own life experience. In was in the Musee d’Orsay, during a much-anticipated and long-awaited trip to Paris. The painting was beatifully presented in a gallery context. The content resonated with Stephanie’s childhood as a dance student. And of course there is an aesthetic appeal that needs no overt explanation*.

This made me think that the “objects are mute” vs “objects speak for themselves” debate may be missing an important nuance: perhaps objects do speak, at least some of the time, although we as visitors may not necessarily be conversant in the language any given object speaks. And if not, the object is as good as mute to us.

Some communication transcends language: in another conference session, Pamela Harmon-Price described how a Japanese tour guide used timing, gesture and body language to convey considerable meaning, despite Pamela not understanding a word of what was said. Drawing analogy to objects, there may be some aspects of an object: form, colour, positioning, and so on, that can speak to us on some level.

But then there is the Tower of Babel of other languages any given object may speak. And of course the same object may speak multiple languages (the languages of technology, or art, or social history). And that is where interpretation can step in – conveying that meaning to those who don’t know enough of the language enough to understand it.

On a radio interview held with Stephanie, Pamela and John Pastorelli during the conference, they reflected on the fact that people outside the cultural sector tend to assume “interpretation” has something to do with languages. Perhaps on some level they’re right: it’s just that it’s intepreting the languages of objects and places rather than other people.

So next time you see an object that you think “speaks for itself” – ask yourself: can you only hear it because you already know the language?



*At least to people enculturated into a Western perspective of aesthetics. Although there are some aspects of aesthetics that may be ‘hard wired’, so to speak, yet others will be a product of the culture we live in, and we deem those as “universal” at our peril!"
objects  communication  language  2014  gestures  bodylanguage  technology  art  socialhistory  interpretation  stephanieweaver  via:anne  pamelaharmon-price  form  color  positioning 
october 2014 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] interpretation roomba
"Part of the reason these two quotes interest me is that I've been thinking a lot about origin stories and creation myths. I've been thinking about how we recognize and choose the imagery and narratives — the abstractions — that we use to re-tell a story. There's nothing a priori wrong with those choices. We have always privileged certain moments over others as vehicles for conveying the symbolism of an event."



"I've been thinking about history as the space between the moments that come to define an event. History being the by-product of a sequence of events pulling apart from each, over time, leaving not just the peaks a few dominant imagery but the many valleys of interpretation.

When I think of it this way I am always reminded of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics in which he celebrates "the magic in the gutter". The "gutter" being the space between frames where action is unseen and left to imagination of the reader. These are the things I think of when I consider something like the 9/11 Memorial and the construction of a narrative around the event it commemorates.

Not much is left to abstraction and so it feels as though the memorial itself acts as a vacuum against interpretation, at all. It is a kind of "Interpretation-Roomba" that moves through your experience of the venue sucking up any space in which you might be able to consider the event outside of the master narrative."



"After the panel some of us went out for drinks and for people of a certain it was difficult not to fall prey to moments sounding exactly like our parents and saying things like: The kids today, they don't know what it was like back in the day when all we had were bulletin board systems... I mention this for a couple reasons.

The first is to ask the question: Is a slow network akin to no network at all? It is hard to imagine going back to the dial-up speeds of the 1990's Internet and I expect it would be a shock to someone who's never experienced them but I think we would all do well to keep Staehle's comments about the time to broadcast and the time to relay in mind.

The second is that as we were all sitting around the table waxing nostalgic about 28.8 Kbps modems I remember thinking: Actually, when I first discovered the web I wanted the next generation to be able to take this for granted. I wanted the "kids" to live in a world where the Internet was just part of the fabric of life, where it didn't need to be a philosophical moment everytime you got online.

The good news is that this has, by and large, happened. The bad news is we've forgotten why it was important in the first place and if it feels like the Network is governed by, and increasingly defined, by a kind of grim meathook fatalism I think maybe that's why.

Somewhere in all the excitement of the last 20 years we forgot, or at least neglected, the creation myth and the foundational story behind the Network and in doing so we have left open a kind of narrative vacuum. We have left the space to say why the Network exists at all to those who would see it shaped in ways that are perhaps at odds with the very reasons that made it special in the first place."



"A question I've been asking myself as I've been thinking about this talk is: Does a littlenet simply transit data or does it terminate that data? Is a littlenet specific to a place? Are littlenets defined by the effort is takes to get there? That seems a bit weird, almost antithetical to the idea of the Network, right?

Maybe not though or maybe it's less about littlenets acting like destinations or encouraging a particular set of rituals but instead simply taking advantage of the properties the Network offers to provide bespoke services. For example, what if bars ran captive portal networks that you couldn't get out of, like Dan Phiffer's Occupy.here, but all they did was offer access to a dictionary?

That might seem like an absurb example at first but let it sink in for a minute or two and if you're like me you'll find yourself thinking that would be kind of awesome. A dictionary in a bar is a polite of saying We're here to foster the conversation on your own terms rather than dictate it on ours.

A dictionary in a bar would be a "service" in the, well, service of the thing that bars don't need any help with: conversation, socializing, play. People aren't going to stop frequenting bars that they don't have dictionaries in them, but a bar with a dictionary in it is that much better.

If a littlenet does not terminate then does it or should it engage in traffic shaping? What separates littlenet from a fake cell phone towers? What about deep packet inspection (DPI) ? What about goatse? If a littlenet does not drink the common carrier Kool-Aid is it still a Network or just gated-community for like minded participants?

None of these problems go away just because a network is little and, in fact, their little-ness and the potential ubiquity of littlenets only exascerbates the problem. It casts the questions around an infrastructure of trust as much as an infrastructure of reach in to relief.

We have historically relied on the scarcity and the difficulty of access to the tools that can manipulate the Network at, well, the network layer as a way to manage those questions of trust. Ultimately, littlenets force those larger issues of how we organize (and by definition how we limit) ourselves as a community to the fore. It speaks to the question of public institutions and their mandates. It speaks to the question of philosophy trumping engineering.

It speaks to the question of how we articulate an idea of the Network and why we believe it is important and what we do to preserve those qualities."



"It goes like this: If we liken the network to weather what does it mean to think of its climate as too hostile for any one person to survive in isolation? What would that mean, really? I have no idea and I recognize that this is one line of argument in support of a benevolent all-seeing surveillance state but perhaps there are parallels to be found in the way that cold-weather countries organize themselves relative to the reality of winter. Regardless of your political stripes in those countries there is common cause in not letting people face those months alone to die of exposure.

I really don't know how or whether this translates to the Network in part because it's not clear to me whether the problem is not having access to the Network, not having unfettered access to the Network (think of those Facebook-subsidized and Facebook-only data plans for mobile phones) or that the Network itself, left unchecked, is in fact a pit of vipers.

Should the state suspend reality in the service of a mandate for the Network the way that they sometimes do for universal health care or, if you live in the US, the highway system? Is that just what we now call network neutrality or should we do more to temper the consequences of assuming the Network is inherently hostile? To activiely foster a more communitarian sensibilities and safeguards?

You're not supposed to say this out loud, particularly in light of events like the Snowden revelations, but the reality is that societies announce that 2+2=5 because "reasons" all the time."



"My issue is that we have spent a good deal of the last 500 years (give or take) trying to make visibility a legitimate concern. We have spent a lot of time and lot of effort arguing that there is a space for voices outside the dominant culture and to now choose to retract in to invisibility, as a tactic, seems counter-productive at best and fitting the needs of people who were never really down the project at worst.

The only reason many of know each other is because we were willing, because we desired, to stick our head above the parapet and say "I am here". Acting in public remains complicated and is still decidedly unfair for many but if the creation myth of visibility is one of malice-by-default then we might have a bigger problem on our hands."



"The problem I have with littlenets is that I want to live in a world with a "biggernet" that doesn't make me sad or suspect or hate everyone around me. The concern I have with littlenets is that they offer a rhetorical bluff from which to avoid the larger social questions that a networked world lay bare. And that in avoiding those questions we orphan the reasons (the creation myths) why the Network seemed novel and important in the first place.

There's a meme which has bubbling up more and more often these days, advanced by people like Ingrid and others, that perhaps libraries should operate as internet service providers. That the mandate of a publicly-minded institution like a library is best suited to a particular articulation of the Network as a possibility space.

Libraries lend books on the principle that access to information is value in and of itself not because they know what people will do with that knowledge. Libraries have also been some of the earliest adopters of littlenets in the service of that same principle in the form of electronic distribution hubs. I bet some of those littlenets even have dictionaries on them.

So, despite my reservations and in the interests of defaulting to action maybe we should all endeavour to run our own read-only littlenets of stuff we think is worth preserving and sharing. If the politics and the motives surrounding the Network are going to get all pear-shaped in the years to come then maybe littlenets are our own samizdat and the means to save what came before and to say as much to ourselves as to others: This is how it should be."
aaronstraupcope  2014  history  storytelling  time  memory  scottmccloud  abstraction  gaps  memorial  objects  artifacts  shareholdervalue  motive  confidence  internet  web  purpose  networks  littlenets  meshnetworks  community  communities  occupy.here  visibility  invisibility  legibility  illegibility  samizdat  realpolitik  access  information  ingridburrington  libraries  sharing  online  commons 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The noPhone: A fake phone to help you talk to people - CNET
"Your phone is like your teddy bear, isn't it?

You like to talk to it occasionally. The real pleasure, though, lies in just being able to clutch it. Somehow, it makes you feel more secure.

Unlike your teddy bear, however, your phone is an active distraction. It wants to notify you all the time. It flashes at you at the most inappropriate times.

Which is why there now exists the noPhone.

This looks like a piece of plastic that looks like a phone. In fact, it is exactly a piece of plastic that looks like a phone. On its Web site, its creators boast that the noPhone has no camera, isn't Bluetooth compatible, and doesn't make calls.

It is, however, "toilet resistant."

Its purpose is, you see, to act as your phone surrogate. It enables you, the makers say, "to always have a rectangle of smooth, cold plastic to clutch without forgoing any potential engagement with your direct environment."

This is a joke, right? Yes it is. One of its creators, Ingmar Larsen, told ABC News: "We wanted to make people aware of their addiction by creating a product that can be used for their addiction. It works as a placebo."

The best jokes, though, have their core in truth. How funny, then, that the noPhone might become a real product.

Co. Exist was told by its creators that they'd received an "overwhelming" number of begging messages, saying that people really, really need this non-device to combat their non-sanity.

I can imagine that, soon, there will be noPhones of many colors. You'll be able to match them to your outfit.

People will sit at bars, squeezing them tightly, while actually looking another human in the eyes.

How difficult it will be, though, for the other human -- if they are noPhone-less -- to return the gaze, as they desperately look away to see if they have an urgent Twitter notification."

[See also: http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/09/maybe-you-should-get-a-nophone-instead/379881/ ]
nophone  antiobjects  objects  placebos  2014  via:ablerism  mobile  phones  technology  worrybeads  securityobjects  kombolói  securityblankets  fidgettools  anti-anxietydevices 
august 2014 by robertogreco
daniel sher's objects strengthen long distance relationships
"present day technology allows us to hear, text, see, and use pictures and icons to express how we feel. however, there are physical and emotional dimensions that exist only when we’re close to loved ones. in response to this problem, daniel sher asked himself, ‘how can I use technology to bring people closer in a different yet familiar way? it was important to me not to try to reenact the feelings of touch, pressure and warmth we feel when we hug of caress our loved one. trying to imitate that will always feel fake.’ with this understanding of human interaction, he wanted to create new experiences for those who wish to express their love and affection. as a result, for his final project at holon institute of technology, sher, along with ben hagin, has developed ‘saying things that can’t be said’, a series of objects that revolve around people in long-distance relationships."
danielsher  ambientintimacy  internetofthings  communication  objects  2014  iot 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Big Dumb Object - Wikipedia
"In discussion of science fiction, a Big Dumb Object (BDO) is any mysterious object (usually of extraterrestrial or unknown origin and immense power) in a story which generates an intense sense of wonder just by being there; to a certain extent, the term deliberately deflates this. Probably coined by reviewer Roz Kaveney,[1] the term was not in general use until Peter Nicholls included it in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as a joke.[2]

Big Dumb Objects often exhibit extreme or unusual properties, or a total absence of expected properties:

• The object discovered in Quatermass and the Pit was made of a material of extreme hardness, such that diamond-tipped drills and acetylene torches would not damage it. At the same time nothing would adhere to it.

• In the movie based on Michael Crichton's novel Sphere, the eponymous object would reflect everything in its presence except people. If it did reflect someone, he was alone, and the individual was accepted as worthy to harness the device's power.

• In Iain M. Banks' novel Against a Dark Background, the Lazy Guns have a lot of mass and yet little weight, and weigh three times as much upside-down as upright.

• The eponymous Dome from the Stephen King novel and television show. The dome is large and transparent unless touched by a person; it gives a slight electric shock when touched for the first time by someone, but not afterwards. It cannot be penetrated, even by a MOAB, and is seemingly causing a lot of mysterious things in Chester's Mill, the town that the dome is enclosing, including causing all electronic devices near it to explode, visions, and, in one character, premature birth. Such unexpected properties are usually used to rule out conventional origins for the BDO and increase the sense of mystery, and even fear, for the characters interacting with it."

[via: https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/500349935704109057 ]
objects  scifi  sciencefiction  bigdumbobject  iainbanks  stephenking  michaelcrichton 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A History of Education in 50 objects.
"This blog is a virtual museum. It a place to collect, display and discuss objects that are recognised as necessary if we are to understand educational history. Objects are real things that can be shown here but more important, they carry with them stories and memories and these will be collected too. Many objects that carry stories of significance are everyday, ephemeral things, the kind of things that people keep close to them over a lifetime: school reports; photographs; handiwork. Other objects serve their time before being replaced by technological advances such as reproduction technologies, printers and such. Some objects are iconic like blackboards, canes, globes. Which are the 50 most important objects in the history of education?"
chatherineburke  education  schools  objects  history 
august 2014 by robertogreco
MICHEL SERRES – 032c Workshop
"MICHEL SERRES is a French philosopher who specializes in the history of science and whose work attempts to reclaim the art of thinking the unthinkable. Born in 1930 in Lot-et-Garonne, Serres is a member immortel of L’Académie française and has been a professor at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, since 1984. He’s authored more than 60 volumes that range in topics from parasites to the “noise” that lingers in the background of life and thought. Serres’ writing is like a slow night of constant drinking, taking us irreversibly to places we didn’t know we were heading towards.

In 1985 he published Les cinq sens, a lament on the marginalization of the knowledge we gain from our fives senses through science and the scientific mind. So it came as somewhat of a surprise for his observers when Serres came out in unrestrained support of online culture, particularly Wikipedia, in the first years of the 2000s. “Wikipedia shows us the confidence we have in being human,” he said in 2007. Whether through technology or our own bodies, the world of information is only ever accessible through mediation (Serres often deploys the Greek god Hermes and angels in his writing). His most recent book, Petite Poucette (2012), or “Thumbelina,” is an optimistic work that discusses today’s revolution in communications and the cognitive and political transformations it’s brought about. “Army, nation, church, people, class, proletariat, family, market … these are abstractions, flying overhead like so many cardboard effigies,” Serres writes in Petite Poucette. It’s been on the French bestseller list since its release and has sold more than 100,000 copies. It’s a sort of love letter to the digital generation, and surprising in many ways. One of these is that almost no one in the English-speaking world has ever heard of it. In this conversation with 032c’s contributing editor Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serres muses on the dawn of our new era."



"HUO: You’ve often collaborated with others, and conversation is an important practice in your philosophy. Do you believe that we can invent new forms through collaboration, or even through friendship?

MS: Yes. Certainly. I think it can be done. The key to inventing through conversation is to ensure that the conversation is not … a sort of fight to the death between two set opinions. Each participant in the conversation must be free and open."
michelserres  hansulrichobrist  interviews  2014  digitalnatives  communication  optimism  petitpoucette  adamcurtis  revolution  tocqueville  21stcentury  micheldemontaigne  wikileaks  julianassange  wikipedia  knowledge  mobile  phones  quasi-objects  objects  future  society  conversation  philosophy  resistance  technology  justice  ecologicjustice  politics  montaigne  collaboration 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Material world: how Google discovered what software is made of | The Verge
"We’re hardwired to comprehend physical things, Duarte says, and software all too often behaves in ways that break with our models and expectations. Wiley thinks of it as breaking the suspension of disbelief, as when something happens in a sci-fi movie that doesn’t follow its own internal logic. Duarte is a little more direct, with a subtle dig at Apple’s iOS and its flying software layers: "We’re not hurtling you through space at high speeds," he says. "We’re not puncturing your hand with invisible, impossible surfaces."

"Design is all about finding solutions within constraints," Duarte says, "If there were no constraints, it’s not design — it’s art."

Google’s designers steadfastly refuse to name the new fictional material, a decision that simultaneously gives them more flexibility and adds a level of metaphysical mysticism to the substance. That’s also important because while this material follows some physical rules, it doesn’t fall into the old trap of skeuomorphism. The material isn’t a one-to-one imitation of physical paper, but instead it’s "magical," as Duarte puts it.

It can do things that physical paper can’t, like grow and shrink with animations. Those animations were important to Google, because they help users understand where they are inside an app. "A lot of software … kind of feels like television or film in terms of jump cuts," Wiley says, causing you to lose your sense of time and place. For apps, you want something more akin to a stage play. "It’s going from one moment to the next," he says, "that scene change, and what’s happening onstage is choreographed and transitioned, and there’s meaning.""
design  android  google  materialdesign  constraints  rules  2014  dieterbohn  xeroxparc  objects  predictability  matiasduarte 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Deep Belief by Jetpac - teach your phone to recognize any object on the App Store on iTunes
"Teach your iPhone to see! Teach it to recognize any object using the Jetpac Deep Belief framework running on the phone.

See the future - this is the latest in Object Recognition technology, on a phone for the first time.

The app helps you to teach the phone to recognize an object by taking a short video of that object, and then teach it what is not the object, by taking a short video of everything around, except that object. Then you can scan your surroundings with your phone camera, and it will detect when you are pointing at the object which you taught it to recognize.

We trained our Deep Belief Convoluted Neural Network on a million photos, and like a brain, it learned concepts of textures, shapes and patterns, and combining those to recognize objects. It includes an easily-trainable top layer so you can recognize the objects that you are interested in.

If you want to build custom object recognition into your own iOS app, you can download our Deep Belief SDK framework. It's an implementation of the Krizhevsky convolutional neural network architecture for object recognition in images, running in under 300ms on an iPhone 5S, and available under an open BSD License."

[via: https://medium.com/message/the-fire-phone-at-the-farmers-market-34f51c2ba885 petewarden ]

[See also: http://petewarden.com/2014/04/08/how-to-add-a-brain-to-your-smart-phone/ ]
applications  ios  ios7  iphone  ipad  objects  objectrecognition  identification  objectidentification  mobile  phones  2014  learning  deepbelief  petewarden  ai  artificialintelligence  cameras  computervision  commonplace  deeplearning 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The Fire Phone at the farmers market — The Message — Medium
"With the exception of a few paintings, all of Amazon’s demo “items” were commercial products: things with ISBNs, bar codes, and/or spectral signatures. Things with price tags.

We did not see the Fire Phone recognize a eucalyptus tree.

There is reason to suspect the Fire Phone cannot identify a goldfinch.

And I do not think the Fire Phone can tell me which of these “items” is kale.

This last one is the most troubling, because a system that greets a bag of frozen vegetables with a bar code like an old friend but draws a blank on a basket of fresh greens at the farmers market—that’s not just technical. That’s political.

But here’s the thing: The kale is coming.

There’s an iPhone app called Deep Belief, a tech demo from programmer Pete Warden. It’s free."



"If Amazon’s Fire Phone could tell kale from Swiss chard, if it could recognize trees and birds, I think its polarity would flip entirely, and it would become a powerful ally of humanistic values. As it stands, Firefly adds itself to the forces expanding the commercial sphere, encroaching on public space, insisting that anything interesting must have a price tag. But of course, that’s Amazon: They’re in The Goldfinch detection business, not the goldfinch detection business.

If we ever do get a Firefly for all the things without price tags, we’ll probably get it from Google, a company that’s already working hard on computer vision optimized for public space. It’s lovely to imagine one of Google’s self-driving cars roaming around, looking everywhere at once, diligently noting street signs and stop lights… and noting also the trees standing alongside those streets and the birds perched alongside those lights.

Lovely, but not likely.

Maybe the National Park Service needs to get good at this.

At this point, the really deeply humanistic critics are thinking: “Give me a break. You need an app for this? Buy a bird book. Learn the names of trees.” Okay, fine. But, you know what? I have passed so much flora and fauna in my journeys around this fecund neighborhood of mine and wondered: What is that? If I had a humanistic Firefly to tell me, I’d know their names by now."
amazon  technology  robinsloan  objects  objectrecognition  identification  objectidentification  firefly  mobile  phones  2014  jeffbezos  consumption  learning  deepbelief  petewarden  ai  artificialintelligence  cameras  computervision  commonplace  deeplearning 
june 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA | The Unmaker of Objects: Edgardo Antonio Vigo's Marginal Media
"This exhibition celebrates the mail art, visual poetry, performative works, and publications of the Argentine artist Edgardo Antonio Vigo (1928–1997). From his quiet hometown of La Plata, Vigo developed an extensive network of contacts in the Americas and Europe, making the city a hub of the international mail art movement—a loose network of artists who exchanged ideas, art, and poetry through the postal system. From his defiantly local position, Vigo developed an internationalism tempered by a sharp critique of the foreign policy of the United States, from its role in the Vietnam War to its support of authoritarian Latin American governments.

Interested in mass media and alternative channels of communication, Vigo nevertheless maintained an intimate human touch, producing handmade works that he bluntly called cosas, or “things,” to challenge the hierarchies of aesthetic tradition. Consistent with his embrace of mail art, which involves the participation of a recipient, he developed instructions, actions, and visual poems to be carried out or completed by others. He also published magazines that promoted an accessible, democratized art in place of the unique and valuable art object.

Vigo was active during the period when Argentina was ruled by a military junta, which, in 1976, “disappeared” his son Palomo. Vigo and the artist Graciela Gutiérrez Marx together adopted the pseudonym G. E. Marx Vigo and campaigned for Palomo's return; they often stamped the envelopes they sent out through the mail-art network with the English phrase “Set Free Palomo.” Despite government censorship, Vigo's moving letters and graphic works reached artists the world over, testaments to his dedicated ethical commitment."

[See also: http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2014/vigo/
edgardoantoniovigo  argentina  art  mailart  laplata  poetry  visualpoetry  objects  massmedia  communication  cosas  accssibility  democracy  democratization 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Eye Magazine | Blog | An end to the curatocracy?
"The most unusual thing about the London conference ‘Chaos at the Museum’ was that it was devoted to design, writes Nick Bell.

Most discussion of museum practice is dominated by curators – whether at conferences or in the media. So it was not surprising that the designers attending ‘Chaos at the Museum’ (26-27 April 2014) could barely suppress their excitement all day. I’ve never seen so many smiles since, well, the Martin Creed exhibition at the Hayward. We were like children let out to play at this two-day programme about museums and exhibitions drawn up by designers.

‘Chaos’ was an event that burned brightly with feral visual intellects drawing deeply on a rare opportunity to share experiences, be outspoken and distil their vision for the future of visitor engagement and participation in the public spaces we call museums.

Why is it we behave like we do in museums and why must this behaviour be unlearned? How do we best organise museums to be engaging and why is it not really about narrative? Why is it not even about objects? Might visitors be the ones that finally undermine the authority of the curator? This was the dirt being kicked up at ‘Chaos’."



"Evidence presented by Mario Schulze (University of Zurich) would, like Francis’s, indicate that the distinction we make between museums (not like shops) and shops (not like museums) is outdated. Schulze said that the first department stores that appeared in the 1850s took inspiration from the great museums. Through his comparison between the Berlin interiors of the Museum of Things at the Werkbund Archive and the Andreas Murkudis’ concept store of ‘curated’ design objects, Schulze concluded that the museum is by its nature consumerist. Like shops, museums are about the display of desirable objects and hence the commodification of desire. (Commodification would be agonised over in later presentations, too).

Schulze quoted the Australian sociologist Tony Bennett in calling this ‘the exhibitionary complex’ – a way of seeing the museum as part of the world instead of treating it as a monolithic archive with no category in which to place itself. My heart sank when Schulze signed off his paper with ‘what you’ve learned in the museum, you can test out in the shop,’ but it was good to hear potentially false oppositions conflated and have my ingrained twentieth-century prejudices scrutinised.

In her paper, ‘The Exhibition as Experience’, Donna Loveday was the curator who in avoiding one trap promptly fell into another. Loveday’s current and popular ‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith’ exhibition at London’s Design Museum should be applauded for not further infecting the Design Museum with antiseptic commodification-of-desire type design moves. Loveday introduced a healthy dose of messy, human informality by choosing to present a singular creative mind with the warmth and chaos of all its motley inspirational sources rather than fetishising a few items from the Paul Smith back catalogue.

However delegates wondered (in the canteen at break time) why Loveday had assembled a design team without any critical distance from her subject? And why Paul Smith himself was allowed so much curatorial control? What kind of deal had the Design Museum entered into here? In trying to make sure the exhibition wasn’t a shop, Loveday succeeded in creating a pastiche of another reality – the Paul Smith studio. As Herman Kossmann of Dutch design studio Kossmann.dejong declared in his talk the next day, ‘Don’t copy reality – instead make another one.’"
museums  curation  narrative  chaos  design  experience  2014  nickbell  objects  retail  donnaloveday  tonybennett  marioschulze  museumofthings  andreasmurkdis  hermankossmann  paulsmith 
may 2014 by robertogreco
retrospective | the m john harrison blog
"Things I have bought over the years to convince myself I was happy: a brass lizard; a wire lizard; two small boxes, one in some featherweight lacquered wood, the other ceramic and half glazed with a stylised picture of the local architecture; a bowl in striking fire and earth colours now faded; various earrings; two belts and some peculiarly sordid- and pre-used-looking suede shoes; Italian things; Canary Island things; Spanish things. All these things bought out of a mistaken elation or assumption, all this unwarranted semiosis, all these unmemorable memories and tokens from moments unviable from the very start. You can’t quite call them kitsch, but they don’t have a quality of personal nostalgia either. It was weird being a romantic and living in a constant aura or vibe, a “dream” I suppose, or at any rate a sense of something happening when nothing, in retrospect, was. Luckily, age lifts you out of that, enabling a proud shiny new impulse control in boutique, fleamarket and gallery shop; freeing you up to buy the rubbish you actually like. (Something resembling a small wormy stone brain picked up on a beach does not belong to this class of objects.)"
objects  possessions  consumerism  materialism  mjohnharrison  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
mischer'traxler
"Katharina Mischer (1982) and Thomas Traxler (1981) form Studio mischer‘traxler.
Based in Vienna they develop and design products, furniture, installations and more, with a focus on experiments, context and conceptual thinking.

Balancing between hand craft and technology, they envision whole systems, processes and new production methods that indicate sustainability and the relevance of nature. Part of their Design process is to examine, experiment, analyse and reject. This critical view often questions and affects the relation between producer, object and owner. "Why and what for" are often the main concerns before a new project comes into being, whilst "What if" ceases in new interpretations and different possibilities. Their Results often make use of unexpected materials and are often characterized by external inputs, for example the condition of the weather or the usage of the existing.

After graduating from the IM-masters department at the Design Academy Eindhoven and several years of collaboration, Katharina and Thomas founded Studio mischer‘traxler in 2009. Their work won the Austrian Experimental Design Award 2009, the DMY Award 2009 and was shortlisted for the Brit Insurance Designs of the year 2010 Award. Exhibitions on contemporary Design displayed their projects in Museums including the Boijmans van Boiningen Rotterdam, the Design Museum London and the Triennale Milano, as well as on International new media Art Festivals. Projects by mischer'traxler are in the permanent collections of the Art institute Chicago and the MAK Vienna. They have been invited to lecture and give workshops in various institutes and Universities in Austria and Europe.

In 2011 studio mischer'traxler was honoured with the 'W-hotels designer of the future award' by Design Miami/Basel and W-hotels and in 2012 they were nominated as 'emerging design studio of the year' by Icon magazine.

Katharina and Thomas are giving talks about their work and heading workshops in various Universities and Institutions. Since Januray 2014 they are leading the master course 'European Design Lab' at IED Madrid."

[via: http://www.designboom.com/design/mischertraxler-wins-2014-be-open-young-talent-award-04-24-2014/ ]

[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpkYi0S9bVA ]
art  design  objects  katharinamischer  thomastraxler  mischer‘traxler  vienna 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Lebbeus Woods: The Politics of Small Things – Words in Space
[now redirects to: http://www.wordsinspace.net/shannon/2014/04/19/lebbeus-woods-the-politics-of-small-things/ ]

"In his introductory lecture Lebbeus examined the longue durée of mark-making – from cave paintings and cuneiform through the spiritualists’ fascination with automatic writing, Dada’s exquisite corpse, and Cy Twombly’s seemingly improvised scripts, and ending where the studio would begin: with the palimpsests of intentional and accidental markings on our urban facades and sidewalks. Over the course of two weeks, Lebbeus and Christoph urged their students to read, rather than read past, the small and the quotidian. They collaboratively developed a politics of small things.

I, and perhaps you, have traditionally associated Lebbeus Woods with big, aberrant ideas – proposing bold architectural interventions into war-torn territories, imagining tombs that traverse the galaxy on beams of light, grappling with forces of nature and laws of physics, envisioning buildings that not even Arup could render structurally sound. These are not small visions. Yet having license to be so bold might be the reward for humility. For all his big thinking, he also saw the power of the small mark, the subtle gesture, the nuanced articulation – and the hidden potential.

“Common Ground” echoed themes from Lebbeus’s earlier work. As he wrote in 1992, in regard to his Berlin Free-Zones project,
I am much more interested in the secret life of the city, those things which can maybe happen out of sight or in a kind of unseen way, strange things…that are unexplainable, even unjustifiable in terms of any sort of convention of society or certainly of architecture. I decided to bring to the city some…spaces that didn’t exist already…. [S]o I just simply began by introducing a kind of tectonic manifestation, a kind of form that was not quite yet architecture, not something inhabitable…. I began to call these freespace structures[,…] free of any kind of predetermined meaning or usefulness.

The Berlin Free-Zones, he wrote in Radical Reconstruction (1997), were imagined as a hidden city of interior spaces linked by communication technologies, which bound a community through the “vagaries of dialogue” (p. 26). These freespaces acquired meaning and usefulness as they transformed into spaces for communication.

Woods practiced architecture as if it were such a space for multiform communication. The current show at the Drawing Center, “Lebbeus Woods, Architect” (emphasis added), presents the sketch, the formal drawing, and the model as equal manifestations of architectural practice – in his case, a practice in which small marks and folds, intricate parts, and subtle annotations add up to big, potent ideas.

Later in his career, as he sought to free himself from the “tyranny of the object” and shifted his focus from “from objects to fields,” Woods added another practice – another field, or “freezone,” of architectural mediation – to his repertoire. The fall of 2007 brought us Lebbeus’s blog. The previous summer he had participated in an architecture blogging conference, “Postopolis!,” at Storefront for Art and Architecture, and the organizers of that event contend that it inspired Lebbeus to explore this new medium. His blog’s minimalist theme – the Hemingway – and small, sans serif typeface are unassuming on their face. And Lebbeus’s blogging voice, which is much less prone to manifesto-like proclamations than in his earlier writing, is generous and elegantly conversational and marked by wizened humility. The writing, much like the forms of mark-making addressed in that Cornell studio, strikes a balance between the intentional and accidental. Thus is the nature of blogging: it’s both planned and automatic; it’s a “freezone” web architecture that takes on purpose as it’s inhabited and actualized.

This space of subtle aesthetics and small marks was, since its inception, actualized into a zone of vibrant debate. Lebbeus’s posts often drew dozens of thoughtful comments and inspired follow-up conversations in other forums. It was a small space for big political discussions of both big and small things. The blog itself thus constituted a “common ground” for architectural discourse. It’s fitting, then, that the blog resides at wordpress.com. WordPress is an open-source blogging platform and content management system that users can either download and install on their own servers, or allow WordPress to host on their behalves. Lebbeus chose the latter – probably not intentionally, in an attempt to make a political statement about hegemonic discourse, but rather more likely because of a lack of technical expertise. Yet the accidental result of this unintentional choice is that lebbeuswoods.wordpresss.com lives out there on common ground, in freespace – echoing big ideas through small type; riding on a beam of light, in perpetuity, for all the world to read."
lebbeuswoods  shannonmattern  2014  small  architecture  blogging  blogs  objects  freezone  fields  freespace  wordpress 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Brian Eno’s Diary: A Year With Swollen... - Austin Kleon
"Art is about scenius, not genius.

Eno rails against what he calls the “Big Man” theory of history, “where events are changed by the occasional brilliant or terrible man, working in heroic isolation.” Instead Eno believes that the world is “a cooperative enterprise,” “constantly being remade by all its inhabitants.”
The reality of how culture and ideas evolve is much closer to the one we as pop musicians are liable to accept — a continuous toing and froing of ideas and imitations and misconstruals, of things becoming thinkable because they are suddenly technically possible, of action and reaction, than the traditional fine-art model which posits an inspired individual sorting it all out for himself and then delivering it unto a largely uncomprehending and ungrateful world.

Art is not an object, but a trigger for experience.
Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences (Roy Ascott’s phrase). That solves a lot of problems: we don’t have to argue about whether photographs are art, or whether performances are art, or whether Carl Andre’s bricks or Andres Serranos’s piss or little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ are art, because we say, ‘Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen.’ (…_ Suppose you redescribe the job ‘artist’ as ‘a person who creates situations in which you can have art experiences’.

“Try to make things that can become better in other people’s minds than they were in yours.”

Eno rejects the term “interactive,” and suggests “unfinished” instead. He suggests that new culture-makers will move away from providing “pure, complete experiences to providing the platforms from which people then fashion their own experiences.”
Once we get used to the idea that we are no longer consumers of ‘finished’ works, but that we are people who engage in conversations and interactions with things, we find ourselves leaving a world of ‘know your own station’ passivity and we start to develop a taste for active engagement. We stop regarding things as fixed and unchangeable, as preordained, and we increasingly find ourselves practising the idea that we have some control. Most importantly, perhaps, we might start to think the same way about ourselves: that we are unfinished (and unfinishable) beings whose task is constantly to re-examine and remix our ideas and our identities.

Art is where we go to become our best selves.
What a bastard Beethoven sounds — arrogant, paranoid, disagreeable. Why am I still surprised when people turn out to be not at all like their work? A suspicion of the idea that art is the place where you become what you’d like to be… rather than what you already are…

Stop obsessing over all the possible journeys you could take, and just start off on one.

Over and over, Eno expresses a desire for less choices in the process of art-making, not more. ”Less exploring of all the possible journeys you could make; more determination to take one journey (even if the choice of it is initially rather arbitrary) and make it take you somewhere.“
My ideal is probably based on the story I heard years ago of how the Japanese calligraphers used to work — a whole day spent grinding inks and preparing brushes and paper, and then, as the sun begins to go down, a single burst of fast and inspired action.
That cultural image — which you find throughout Japanese culture from Sumo to Sushi — is very interesting and quite different from ours. We admire people who stick at it doggedly and evenly (I also admire them) and put in the right amount of hours. But more and more I want to try that Japanese model: to get everything in place (including your mind, of course) first, and then to just give yourself one chance. It seems thrilling.

“If you don’t call it art, you’re likely to get a better result.”

Eno says, “people do much better when they don’t think they’re being artists,” and when they do think decide they’re being artists, they “suddenly turn out crap.”
Oldenburg’s earlier stuff — before he knew what he was doing — looked best. So often the case that people work best when they are stretching out over an abyss of ignorance, hanging on to a thin branch of “what-is-still-possible”, tantalized by the future.
"
brianeno  austinkleon  objects  art  experience  process  glvo  unfinished  interactive  royascott  culture  scenius  genius  andresserrano 
april 2014 by robertogreco
TRANSACTIONS
"Silent scribes record your debt. Nothing passes from hand to hand except the goods you receive, or the services you hire. All of the information necessary for the settlement of your debt is recorded at the same time as the transaction, along with notations about your identity, your past transactions, your social status. Multiple accounting devices exist. Ledgers circulate freely and are convertible, negotiable, can be signed over to others in exchange for other goods and services. There is no coin, no paper money, but rather an infinite chain of receipts in a variety of material formats.

This describes not the future, but the past: the ancient world before the rise of coinage, when money was a unit of account, not a tangible object, and clay tokens, pebbles, string and cuneiform tablets recorded debits and credits.

Instead of coins or paper circulating in exchange as tokens or representations of value, that first era of cashlessness captured in centralized records the transactional information of a multitude of participants and formed the basis for entire systems of exchange. How might we begin to understand the coming era, not as the end of cash so much as the return of cashlessness? How might this attention to the longue durée of transactions reframe our understanding of payments’ materialization? And how might a historically and ethnographically nuanced understanding of payments in practice focus our attention on the material forms of debt and transactional data past, present, and future?

TRANSACTIONS: A Payments Archive aims to open a conversation among curators, academics, payments industry professionals, numismatists, collectors and others about the great human transactional archive. In the process, we seek to expand that archive, to allow more things into it, to question its boundaries, and to reflect on the immaterial and material, ephemeral and durable, worthless and valuable qualities of those things.

Museums have long been repositories for the stuff of money: metal tokens, paper notes, shells, bars, plastic cards, a variety of tangible media of exchange, payment, and value storage. How might we reconstitute a material history of money, debt, payments, and transactional records across the institutional contexts and collections architectures that often leave these artifacts scattered and disconnected? And what of non-physical forms of money, from ancient accounting to contemporary cashlessness? What of the ephemera of transactions, the ledgers and receipts that were themselves frequently transformed into instruments and indexes of credit and tokens of value?

Shifts in the form of money and payment pose a challenge to curation, but also re-open the old question of the nature of money itself. There is also an urgency to this project: Artifacts from the early days of electronic transactions are in landfills, not museums. The preservation and curation of computers and data storage devices is still nascent. That of, say, the paper warning bulletins issued by the early card networks, or the records flowing through the Automated Clearing House—not to mention the diversity and abundance of records-keeping tools and technologies by everyday people around the world—is nonexistent.

TRANSACTIONS aims to provoke conversation by juxtaposing artifacts from across the history of payments and to raise awareness of the history and future of money, payment and transactional records and data. "
artifacts  money  exchange  transactions  anthropology  currency  payment  archives  tokens  objects  history 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Why we should love material things more – Nick Thorpe – Aeon
"For a new materialist, the term ‘inanimate object’ is similarly inadequate to describe the things that we collect and discard. In Vibrant Matter (2010), Bennett writes that if we paid attention to the aliveness of matter, we wouldn’t be so careless with our stuff. But the disjointedness of hyper-consumerism conceals the continuing life of objects, built anonymously in distant factories and eventually left to leech chemicals into landfill: ‘How, for example, would patterns of consumption change,’ she asks, ‘if we faced not litter, rubbish, trash, or “the recycling”, but an accumulating pile of lively and potentially dangerous matter?’

Another name for this is awareness – a spiritual virtue increasingly cultivated in the West through the growing popularity of Buddhism and meditation. By focusing upon a raisin for 15 minutes, as I was once exhorted to do in pursuit of mindfulness, you can find yourself inside a sensory fractal of awe, tracing its tiny life from seed to sap to vine, to sun-baked plumpness, as if on some benign hallucinogenic trip. It’s certainly never ‘just a raisin’ again.

Indeed, it is often the seemingly insignificant objects that tell us most about ourselves. In his celebrated debut novel The Mezzanine (1988), the American cult materialist writer Nicholson Baker feasts with such relish on physical minutiae – the patterns in a recently vacuumed office carpet; a can of soup rotating slowly at the end of a supermarket conveyor belt – that it is impossible not to feel affinity with them. The entire timeframe of the novel spans only the seconds it takes for the narrator to ascend one floor on an escalator, so dense and vivid are the lives and memories that fan outwards from the things he encounters."



"If I’m ever going to respond more consciously to my knee-jerk replacement anxiety, I need a product designed to last."



"The New Economics Foundation predicts that the new materialism will lead to more emphasis in spending on ‘experiences rather than disposable goods’, which means less shopping and more music, film, live performance, sport and socialising: more lasting satisfaction and less of the transitory hit of ownership. This in turn might lead to a proliferation of festivals, sporting competitions and cultural events celebrating the talents we share and occluding the endless proliferation of retail stuff.

Interestingly, this was more or less what changed for Easter Islanders when it became obvious that building totemic tribal monoliths was not going to save them from the ecological abyss. Instead, they evolved a new system of governance based on an annual festival known as the Birdman Rites. This colourful and demanding event pitted the fittest young men against one another in a death-defying swim to an islet a mile offshore. Their goal was to be the one to find the season’s first egg of the migrating sooty tern and bring it back, unbroken, to their tribal sponsor – who then became the ruling ‘birdman’ for the year.

If not an obvious recipe for social stability, at least it focused on an iconic object that did not require unsustainable quarrying or tree-felling: the egg, a thing of fragile beauty, is a universal symbol of rebirth and sustainability.

The Birdman Rite outlasted a rocky period of tit-for-tat statue toppling, and seemingly even suggested a way for the Rapa Nui to recycle and repurpose their ancient stone ancestors for a different age. Look closely at the back of the famous Hoa Hakananai’a moai at the British Museum, and you see much later carvings of birdmen and the sooty tern, whose eggs came to symbolise the true power on Rapa Nui. ‘There is something poignant in this dialogue between the two sides of Hoa Hakananai’a,’ writes McGregor in A History of the World in 100 Objects, ‘a sculpted lesson that no way of living or thinking can endure for ever.’

There are many who believe that our own society is in the process of learning a similar lesson. But a more thoughtful commitment to love and cherish what we already have might yet save us, too. And leave us more deeply connected to one another."
objects  materialism  consumerism  nicholsonbaker  2014  nickthorpe  buddhism  rapanui  easterisland  materiality  events  experience  howwelive  cv  disposability  sustainability  ownership  sharing 
march 2014 by robertogreco
anthropology + design: anne galloway. | Savage Minds
"[This post is part of a two-week series featuring interviews with designers reflecting on anthropology and design.]

ANNE GALLOWAY. designer. ethnographer. archaeologist.

ANTHROPOLOGY + DESIGN.

My sense of anthropology is very materialist so I think it made a lot of sense for me to gravitate towards design. I originally trained as an archaeologist and did ethnographic fieldwork on Andean textile production, so I’ve always been interested in the things that people make. Of course, as anthropologists we’re taught the importance of context and I think that bringing anthropology and design together really stresses contextual meanings. For me, the most interesting connection between anthropology and design can be found in how each practice enhances the other. Anthropology provides a kind of thick description that contextualises design processes and products, and design offers anthropology creative means of exploring and representing what it means to be human. I also enjoy the explicit combination of thinking, doing, and making—of blurring boundaries between analytical and creative practice, between rational and emotional experience.

Sometimes, in design, we talk about research about, for, and through design—and I think that anthropology is well suited to contribute to each endeavour. As we know, ethnography (including material, visual, and discursive culture) can tell us a lot about the roles of design in everyday life. Ethnography also provides us with valuable information that can be used to design “better” things—or to design nothing at all. And although research through design is perhaps less obviously related to anthropology, I think that every kind of anthropological research could create and employ objects and images with as much nuance as we’ve come to use words.

PEDAGOGY.

My teaching is focussed on issues-based design, which means that my students have proposed everything from community recycling services and conservation activities to publicly curated museums and stray animal sanctuaries. My students also often work in the tradition of critical design, where they create object and image-based interventions or provocations into more culturally fraught issues, like euthanasia and immigration.

WHAT I DO.

My recent research has focussed on seeing how speculative or fictional design can be used as a public engagement strategy. Critical design has sometimes been criticised for a lack of nuanced politics and failure to engage audiences outside of gallery settings. So I began to wonder: what might happen if I applied my background in anthropology and science studies to practice? My “Counting Sheep: NZ Merino in an Internet of Things” research project was conceived as a means to explore possible human-livestock-technology futures, and each fictional design scenario currently exhibited on our Counting Sheep website is based on actual hopes and concerns voiced by research participants.

Inspired by cultural interests and artistic provocations rather than corporate or government forecasting activities, we created a series of speculative “everyday” objects, images, and narratives that we hope will challenge people to critically examine common assumptions and expectations about livestock animals and near-future technologies. (If you’ll forgive me for getting a bit more academic here—) By making the familiar strange, and the strange familiar, we were interested in learning how “what if…? ” scenarios might act in the present, especially in terms of constructing multiple publics and co-producing knowledge. We were also interested in better understanding how these scenarios might support and hinder understanding assemblages of people, places, animals, and technologies as moving processes rather than as static things.

invitro.culturedlamb invitro.meatballs

HOW I SHARE.

In addition to grounding our creative work in substantial empirical research, one of the things we wanted to do was systematically assess people’s responses to our designs—to see if and how they resonate. Since the scenarios were designed as prompts for reflection and discussion, we’ve created an anonymous online survey that anyone can take (Please take our survey!) before the end of April 2014. We’re also following up with our earlier research participants to have more in-depth discussions about the different content, our intentions, and their expectations. The project winds up at the end of June 2014, so we’ll be writing up our research results for both academic and popular publications after that. What I can say now is that things are looking pretty interesting—and not least because of disengaged or disinterested publics!

MY TOOLKIT.

It turns out that I’m compelled to get out and witness the goings on of the world, so despite working in design for the past five years, I still consider my primary tool to be fieldwork through participant observation. And, like all fieldworkers, I have a set of things that I use to collect what I see and do.

These days I never do fieldwork without my iPhone, iPad, an extra camera, a notebook and set of pens. I tend to use my phone’s camera as a sort of external memory device, and my other camera for presentation and publication-quality shots. To be honest, I’ve always found that cameras interfere with my ability to be present (and that’s a real problem during participant observation), but photos help me catch things I miss or to see things a bit differently, and that’s very helpful.

I record all my interviews with an app called Highlight, which I like because I can flag interesting points during the conversation and return to them later, without interrupting the flow. I do a lot of note-taking, using a regular paper notebook or an app called iA Writer (because that’s where I do most of my writing these days, including right now). I also try to post regular field reports to my research blog (http://designculturelab.org), but that’s not always possible or practical. I have quite limited drawing skills but I always map where I am and make sketches that are too ugly to share with anyone but are useful to me. Design work is much more varied and collaborative, and the tools we use are highly dependent on whether we’re creating objects or images.

METHODOLOGY.

I think I’ve already touched on where I see the most potential for design and anthropology to come together. In terms of more academic methodologies, I’m quite inspired by Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford’s 2012 edited volume, “Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social,” because they point out clear paths already being taken by interested researchers. I also hold out hope that speculative design can be stretched and strengthened by more explicit engagement with empirical research—not least because it may make it easier for us to explore a less anthropocentric anthropology, or tend to the nonhuman in new and exciting ways. I’ve also written about a bit about this recently—”Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design“–and there’s more to come!

RESOURCES.

Galloway, Anne. 2013. Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design. Ethnography Matters Blog. September 17.

Lury, Celia and Nina Wakeford, eds. 2012. Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge.

ME.

Anne Galloway (@annegalloway) is Senior Lecturer at the School of Design(Victoria University of Wellington,) and Principal Investigator at Design Culture Lab. Her research brings together social studies of science and technology, cultural studies, and design to explore relations between humans and nonhumans. She is particularly interested in creative research methods for understanding—and supporting public engagement with—issues and controversies related to science, technology and animals. Her current research, supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund, combines ethnography and speculative design to create possible future scenarios for the use of wireless technologies in the production and consumption of NZ merino."
annegalloway  2014  anthropology  design  ethnography  speculativedesign  methodology  fiction  observation  fieldwork  howwework  making  craft  friends  research  fictionaldesign  speculativefiction  criticaldesign  everyday  objects  provocations  context  pedagogy 
february 2014 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] Am I the only one who’s ever thought of referring to the @smithsonian logo as the “mullet sun” ?
"Increasingly the objects that all design museums collect will look more like like Planetary ["an iPad application for visualizing your music collection"] than not and they will face many of the same issues. Issues that no one is entirely sure how deal with. This may seem a little discouraging at first but that is cost of living in the present and we're certainly not going to figure anything out by standing around doing nothing."



"the common thread in all these passages [preceding slides] is the idea of motive and how we recognize it. That's an important question for all museums, but especially for a design museum since by-and-large we all have the same things in our collections. By their nature design objects come in multiples, often to the point of being mass-produced or in some cases not even being considered design objects unless they are mass-produced."



"The late painter Francis Bacon gave an interview, somewhere around the mid-point of his career, in which he said that he aspired to create paintings that defied narrative. Whether or not he succeeded or whether or not he even still believed that idea by the time of his death is sort of irrelevant. We have always celebrated works of exceptional execution and in contemporary times we increasingly afford artists the luxury to pursue a singular itch to that end.

It is interesting to consider that as the art world and the discourse that surrounds it continues to get wordier and more theory-driven we are also seeing both museums and artists create works that can only be described as spectacles. That's a whole other talk but just keep this idea in the back of your mind: That people are starting to use spectacle itself as a kind of medium in part, I think, because it remains bigger than words.

I want to mention craft and the timeless arts-and-crafts debate only long enough to describe a scene guaranteed to upset everyone involved. That capital-A art is the Abel to capital-C craft's Cain, but with a twist. If art will knowingly murder his brother the problem he faces is that his brother is also a zombie who can never die and wants to eat his brain.

It's not a very flattering picture for anyone but the reason I enjoy this fiction is because it's a useful way to consider design. That is, design is the shadow of the unresolvable struggle between an outstanding, over-achieving sociopath and a his seen-to-be lesser too who refuses to give up no matter what anyone says."



"we might consider contemporary design practice as akin to the decorative arts but with motive or deliberation. It is not the singular exceptional itch of the indivudual artist but rather the art and craft (sorry) of an elegant solution to a problem that can be articulated, in the service of a plurality.

Here’s the rub, though. No matter how impressive or elegant a solution they are not meant to be contemplative endeavours. They can't be. Imagine any thing you consider to be an elegant design solution or object and then try to imagine having a PHILOSOPHICAL MOMENT every time you used it.

We celebrate design that ultimately can be taken for granted. We celebrate a practice whose products afford us the plausible illusion of fading in to the background, of not always demanding center stage, and of not asking us to spend our already too-busy lives in a state of near-constant intellectual Rapture."



"We’re still not very good at that. We have a bad habit of falling back on how pretty a thing is or the mastery of its manufacturing prowess or a designer's access to production facilities as proxies for the merit and value of a design solution. The problem that design museums are facing, though, is that we’re increasingly collecting things which have no thing-ness about them so the rhetoric we've always used to talk about our collections make less and less sense.

Things like interaction design or service design or user-centered design or experience design. Given the challenge we already face collecting physical objects what are we supposed to do with practices that are as real as they are intangible?

Do you know who spends a lot of time trafficking in experience design, possibly more than anyone else in the aggregate? Museums.

What else are dioramas except early stage attempts at experience design? Because dioramas are basically fancy display cases for delicate or senstive objects we don't usually allow people to wander around in them. But when you consider that the film maker Peter Jackson, and his production company Weta, are creating a life-size trench experience from the Gallipoli Campaign inside Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, it doesn't seem like it will be long before museums can finally indulge their almost Captain Ahab like fantasy of a truly immersive experience. Personally I am waiting to see whether the trench installation offers a night at the museum style package where you can sleep in a pool of standing water, swatting away rats all while dodging ear-shattering explosions. When you stop to consider the many inevitable retrospectives that New Zealand museums will mount to celebrate the career of Peter Jackson, a native son, the crossover possibilities are endless.

For the time being we're left with stuff like this. This is a diorama from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition last year. It is a recreation of the men's bathroom at the now defunct music venue CBGB's where many of the bands that would shape the musical genre got their start. If you're wondering: It's not a functioning bathroom or, if it is, there's no way to find out because there's a short glass barrier preventing you from entering the space.

The exhibition's curators made a point of saying that the exhibition was about the influence of punk rock on the world of fashion and that they very deliberately stayed away from the politics of those involved. Which if we take them at their words makes the inclusion of an installation like this all the more problematic because it's the kind of thing where malice is almost more comforting than simple negligence.

I am going to leave the interpretation and meaning of using a tarted-up version of a gritty bathroom as a proxy object for... something as an excercise for the audience and only say that this installation was very deliberate and entirely with motive. It was designed."


"Even if we take a punt on the very real challenges of trying to create a preservation framework for still-living intellectual property, the more immediate problem we face is one where museums often won't even turn on the electronic equipment in their collections. That iPhone we've got with its version of iOS 1.0 (or maybe it was upgraded before we acquired it?) will remain forever powered-off because we risk damaging the circuit boards or simply because we've removed the battery to prevent the risk of it leaking and damaging the other objects in our collection. It all seems like a theater of the absurb, sometimes. The worst part is that in the absence of working solutions for genuinely hard problems we do these things for good reasons. But can we meaningfully talk about the iPhone without talking about the touchable interfaces, about the interaction design that was afforded by all that swiping? In short, about the software.

Aside from all its qualities as a stand-alone design object this is why we acquired Planetary. Planetary does not answer all of these questions but it does force us to address them."



"Don’t worry, though, we also printed everything out on archival paper using the approved OCR-compliant typographic conventions. Maybe one day someone will recite the source code for Planetary the way people perform Homer's Iliad or Joyce's Ullyses?

But, I want to emphasize that we did not acquire an iPad. We already had one of those.

We acquired source code that happens to have been written for an iOS device. This fact tells us something about the circumstances under which Planetary was created but I don't think that it defines what Planetary is or was trying to be. The iPad was simply the then-best representation of what Planetary was trying to be.

Had Bloom survived longer as a company they would have almost certainly released an Android version of Planetary and then what? Which one would we have acquired? Both of them? Only the iOS version because it is not so much the genesis of the project but the first manifestation of it? What if the Android version, by virtue of whatever hardware or operating system level optimizations it enjoyed, better embodied the spirit of the project?

So yeah, we acquired code because to my never-ending dismay it's just Sol Lewitt all the way down but we acquired that code as a way create an environment that will hopefully foster the preservation of the interaction design that was at the root of Planetary. Have we succeed yet? Probably not. Have we created the circumstances that will afford that preservation? I hope so."



"I like to understand what TinySpeck did in giving away all their stuff as another example of using open source as a preservation strategy for an endeavour that is very real but which lacks, by design, the known and quatifiable territory of a single work of art."



"Dan's project is not necessarily Glitch as its creators imagined but is it Glitch enough that perhaps we might look to the theater, with its multiple and on-going performaces of a single text, as our inspriration? Perhaps it allows us to imagine software preservation the way one imagines a working collection."
aaronstraupcope  preservation  software  art  craft  design  2014  cooper-hewitt  museums  motive  collections  objects  reproduction  glitch  tinyspeck  opensource  sollewitt 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Gifts Outright
“The object is known so that it may be loved, but the knowledge need only be so much as is sufficient to elicit love. Yet when we are connected to the desired object we know it better and more intimately, and then we enjoy it. Our first knowledge leads us to believe the object is good; in the latter knowledge we feel that it is so… . Thus love is the middle point between inchoate knowledge and the full knowledge of union, in which desire always disappears but not love. This rather burns more fiercely, the more and greater the goods found in that union.”

—   Juan Luis Vives, De anima. Quoted by Deborah Shuger in Sacred Rhetorics.
objects  juanluisvives  deborahshuger  love  knowledge  desire 
february 2014 by robertogreco
THE SOURCE | Conversations with DOUG AITKEN [Theaster Gates]
[Alternate link for video: http://www.nytimes.com/video/t-magazine/100000002652911/the-source-theaster-gates.html ]

Gates: "I have this great problem of space. When planners use words like blight and, uh, under-developed, it’s like actually what you’re talking about is available land. It’s just like no one’s really thought about it in those terms."

Aitken: "So tell us about this place that we’re in right now."

Gates: "We call this the archive house. It was just a shell of a building and I had 250, maybe 300 boxes of books in a basement. It really is an amalgam of labor over time that I think has made an amazing reading room."

Aitken: "And this kind of extends outside where I see a garden."

Gates: "I’m hoping that some of that willingness to grow things from very little will, will become hallmark to how we do things here on the block."

Aitken: "A lot of your palette and materials really is, you know, stuff that you find around you–these two by fours, this lumber, these bricks, it’s these, uh, trees have just been milled down into bark that you can put in your kiln."

Gates: "Yeah we talk about like how should these materials work? Like should we plane them, should we mill them? Should, should we sand them? And it’s not so much a story about like recycling this or that. But sometimes it’s just about what happens when you really care for the things that are in your life."

Aitken: "And when I see an exhibition of yours, you know, there’s a white wall, it’s a pristine space. It’s a gallery, it’s a museum. It’s very interesting to kind of see the isolation of the minimalism and like see this kind of like maximal landscape become very minimal."

Gates: "As artists, we’re always given the opportunity or we make the opportunity to say what a thing means. So let’s assume that the double cross in the atrium of the MCA is made from the same materials as this building right here. They function very differently in the world. Like say double cross will live in museums my–is my hope.

Gates: "At the same time, 6901, the building across the street where the guts of that building had in fact made double cross, that it gets to live here, a most excellent building that continues to function for our neighborhood. And I love that the same materials could do either work. It could either let you sit down and watch a good film or it, can help you imagine the sacredness."

Aitken: "So I, I want to come back to something else which I’m super curious about–performance."

Gates: "Yeah."

Aitken: "Yeah. Something's brewing inside."

Gates: "So the monks, which is a combination of great jazz musicians, some gospel players, some great classically trained and soul singers mashed up to, to reflect on the history of black music and to also slow that down so that instead of the whole song we would concentrate on a phrase and then in mantra style work it out."

Gates: "So if I’m thinking about clay and I’m making a pot but it–that’s one thing–but if I sang, I was born with clay in my veins, that turns into I was born with clay–you know, and it, and it’s like let’s just stay there. Let’s just stay there, let’s stay there all night, you know?

Gates: "And then I, I look at them, I’m not–I’m not an object. And they do something and it makes me do something else that makes them do something else. That’s a freaking good connection."
theastergates  dougaitken  2014  urbanism  urban  blight  development  space  cities  archives  art  glvo  houses  collections  reuse  recycling  caring  objects  materials  performance  music  jazz  via:soulellis  place  process  patterns  archivehouse 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Calculating the Weight of the Object / Snarkmarket
"I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between objects and activities. It’s something obviously affected by digitally-enabled multi-functionality. The digital object doesn’t so much have “a function” as a series of functions under an umbrella of one or two metafunctions – to wit, “this device is what I use to keep up to date” or “my tablet is what I use to read everything from the news to novels.” The association between object and function that was often one-to-one has become multiplied, perhaps receding into infinity (what, really, is the limit of what you can do with your iPhone?)

But more than that, though I know it sounds like mere tautology, the function of physical devices is related to their physicality. How they operate and what they do in 3D space is dependent on the manner in which they occupy that space. Maybe it’s my digitally-addled brain that needs reminding of that, but it somehow feels like a point worth repeating. And the Curta, in a world in which even the scientific calculator feels arcane, just seems so fascinatingly, resoundingly, undeniably physical. And perhaps it’s because of that physicality, but something about it thus seems so purposeful.

It is easy to get caught up in romanticizing the object we can touch, just as we here on Snarkmarket can occasionally get a bit too attached to pixels you can interact with and manipulate. But I’ve been wondering lately if, beyond the chatter about the attention economy or a supposed “inherent” nature to print or screens, there isn’t something pleasurable in the object that performs but one function. Physical or digital, it doesn’t matter. All I mean to ask is if there isn’t something to be enjoyed in a conscious minimalism of function rather than form – that one might find relief in the simplicity of a one-to-one relationship between an activity and a thing."

[Video referenced within: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDn_DDsBWws ]
snarkmarket  2014  objects  physicality  weight  navneetalang  williamgibson  patternrecognition  curta  calculators  digital  physical  digitalobjects  metafunctions  functions  space  purpose  pixels  dimensionality  3d 
january 2014 by robertogreco
On Animism, Modernity/ Colonialism, and the African Order of Knowledge: Provisional Reflections | e-flux
[Part of a series from multiple authors. Introduction, with contents in the sidebar:
https://www.e-flux.com/journal/36/61244/introduction-animism/

a link to the Animism issue: https://www.e-flux.com/journal/36/ ]

"How do we account for the recent resurgence of interest in animism and animist thought? Once considered a kind of cognitive error, as evidence of cognitive underdevelopment and epistemological failure, animism has once again become an object of discursive attention and intellectual inquiry, in addition to serving as a platform for political action, particularly around issues of ecology and the environment. It has become an acceptable if not entirely respectable way of knowing and acting in the world. Although E. B. Tylor’s nineteenth-century definition of the concept has remained foundational, we have come a long way from the modernist understanding of it which Emile Durkheim summed up in these words:
For Tylor, this extension of animism was due to the particular mentality of the primitive, who, like an infant, cannot distinguish the animate and the inanimate. […] Now the primitive thinks like a child. Consequently, he is also inclined to endow all things, even inanimate ones, with a nature analogous to his own.

This new interest has overturned the old prejudice which equated animism with everything that was childlike and epistemologically challenged, everything that was the negation of the mature, the modern, and the civilized."



"If the new convergence of interest in animism is to bear any advantage for those on the other side of modernity, it is here that we should begin with a conception of time that rejects linearity but recognizes the complex embeddedness of different temporalities, different, discordant discursive formations, and different epistemological perspectives within the same historical moment. And then we should search for a language to represent this knowledge."
animism  art  harrygaruba  2012  modernity  colonialism  africa  knowledge  brunolatour  wendybrown  karlmarx  objects  vymudimbe  alfhornborg  knowing  masaomiyoshi  talalasad  ramongrosfoguel  fetishism  commodities  mysticism  foucault  materiality  science  scientism  frederickcooper  time  knowledgeproduction  johannesfabian  dipeshchakrabarty  ebtaylor  technology  dualism  linearity  embeddedness  temporality  michelfoucault  linear 
january 2014 by robertogreco
George Maciunas (ed.): Flux Year Box 2 (1965-68) — Monoskop Log
"Flux Year Box 2, a signature Fluxus production, is a boxed anthology of works that was edited and assembled by Fluxus “chairman” George Maciunas beginning in about 1965. Like all Fluxus editions, the contents of each box varies depending on what Maciunas had available at the time.

“With this project, the assembled works nestle inside a partitioned wooden box designed by Maciunas and printed with a matrix of mismatched fonts on its hinged cover. In his request for ideas, Maciunas indicates the edition will be “limited to book events only, i.e. events that are enacted by the reader automatically as he inspects the book or box.” Scores for performances requiring additional props or instruments—for example, Albert M. Fine’s Fluxus Piece for G.M.—do not factor among this criteria. Rather, immediate sensation and contained experience are accentuated. A sort of tool kit or supply chest, Flux Year Box 2 contains materials for actions, such as corresponding using Ben Vautier’s The Postman’s Choice postcard, medicating oneself with capsules from Shigeko Kubota’s Flux Medicine, or burning down all libraries and museums using Ben Vautier’s Total Art Match-Box. In addition, during this period Maciunas produced film programs called Fluxfilms, and incorporated this audiovisual dimension into Flux Year Box 2, including numerous short loops and a hand-crank viewer with which to watch them.”"
fluxus  flux  georgemaciunas  art  objects  mailart  events  situationist  1965  1968  benvautier  shigekokubota  fluxfilms 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Weight of Objects
"The Weight of Objects is a portrait project that reveals people through stories about their most treasured belongings. It was created by Kristen Joy Watts. All pictures are by Ramsay de Give."
objects  art  photography  portaits  kristenjoywatts  ramsaydegive 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Can an exhibition be a story? | Fiona Romeo
"So story, in my experience, is a great device within exhibition design. But are exhibitions the best way to tell a story? Not often. Because visitors don’t visit every exhibit you either need a lot of redundancy in the delivery of the story, or it needs to be an entirely optional layer, which effectively sidelines it. And I think that’s why for both The Science of Spying and High Arctic, books followed. Cory Doctorow went on to write the young adult novel Little Brother and Nick Drake published his work in a volume of poetry, The Farewell Glacier.

My favourite example of museum storytelling is actually The Wellcome Collection’s The Phantom Museum, an anthology of stories, true and imagined, inspired by objects from Henry Wellcome’s collection. Each story starts with one object."

[See also: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/22/storytelling-in-museums ]
fionaromeo  museums  storytelling  experience  narrative  2013  objects  exhibitions  ncmideas 
november 2013 by robertogreco
101 Objects that Made America | Special Reports | Smithsonian Magazine
"“We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents,” Walt Whitman said, “and sort them, to unify them. They will be found ampler than has been supposed, and in widely different sources.” That was in 1883, and the task has grown immeasurably more difficult as our antecedents have multiplied. But sorting is a Smithsonian specialty, so you hold in your hands a brave new attempt, a special issue that tells the story of America in 101 objects. Our sources were, per Whitman, widely different, drawn from the 137 million artifacts held by the 19 museums and research centers of the Smithsonian Institution.

And we welcome alternative nominations. In fact, Richard Kurin (under secretary for history, art and culture) has selected 50 different items for his parallel book debuting this month, The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects. The Smithsonian Channel’s four-part series, Seriously Amazing™ Objects, premiering November 25, features surprising encounters with many of these objects."
history  smithsonian  stories  objects  via:lukeneff  us 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Ibraaz Talks: Trevor Paglen on Aesthetics | Ibraaz
"Ibraaz Talks is a series of specially curated conversations with artists, curators and writers. Participants are invited to respond to a particular issue or keyword that addresses formal and conceptual issues affecting both their personal practices and contemporary visual culture. Initiated at Art Dubai in 2013, this latest series was staged at SALT Beyoğlu during the opening days of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. In this talk, artist Trevor Paglen and Ibraaz Senior Editor Omar Kholeif ask the question: why aesthetics? The discussion considers the notion of aesthetics in the context of a practice that often deals with ideas of anti-aesthetics. The talk takes into account a project Paglen presented during the Istanbul Biennial with Protocinema titled Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite (Design 4; Build 3) (2013) – a 4-metre tall model for an orbital spacecraft, which considers how such a functional object might operate in a non-functional context."
ibraaztalks  trevorpaglen  2013  aesthetics  objects  function  art  anti-aesthetics  via:javierarbona  economics  politics  taste  relationships  class  inequality  time  mortality  space  satellites  immortality  elitism 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design | Ethnography Matters
"So how do I teach ethnography to design students? First, I tell them that if they’ve ever wondered why people do things, or how things got to be the way they are, then they’re already part ethnographer. I say that my job is to help them get better at asking and answering social and cultural questions, because understanding and building entire worlds is a huge challenge that no single discipline can accomplish on its own. And I tell them that I believe the best designers are those who understand that what they’re doing is cultural innovation, which requires them to move beyond both personal impression and expression, as well as any self-righteous desire to ‘fix’ the world. My approach to design ethnography binds us to others, and I place a lot of emphasis on the need to develop a social ethics, rather than relying solely on personal interests and beliefs.

Over the years I’ve observed that design students often have much better observation and documentation skills than sociology and anthropology students do, but they appear to struggle greatly with how to interpret the information and represent this knowledge to other people. On the other hand, anthropology and sociology students often have superior analytical skills but are terribly limited in their desire or ability to communicate in anything other than the written word—even when their topic is visual or material culture. Consequently, I’ve come to think that ethnography makes design better as much as design makes ethnography better, and in that sense I believe we can serve each other equally.

Design ethnography, in the context of our classroom, is about trying to understand how people use words, images and objects to build worlds—and creating new combinations of words, images and objects that help us, and others, understand these worlds in different ways. All of our projects involve empirical fieldwork and analysis, along with the production of creative works that critically engage the subject of fieldwork. Because so many students attempt to do the creative work first, and use their ethnographic work to justify their ‘solution’ to a perceived (but rarely demonstrated!) ‘problem,’ I tend to be a bit more dogmatic about doing the ethnographic work first than I would otherwise advocate. The important thing I’ve learned, though, is that the best work always treats design and ethnography as complementary activities that are done in an iterative fashion that actually makes them difficult to separate in the end.

In teaching design courses, particular ethnographic methods became unappealing to me. Take auto-ethnography, for example: at its best the students continued to privilege their own thoughts and experiences; at worst it became a self-serving exercise in psychoanalysis or confession. And although performance ethnography can be interesting, I lack the expertise to assess it and worried that the students would again turn design into a form of privileged self-expression that could be difficult for others to understand. I needed something more accessible, that could more effectively trouble the opposition between subjective experience and objective fact—and I found it in fiction, which I think is rather beautifully both and neither."



"I think that the research environment for exploring these ideas has been crucial to their development. For the past few years, I’ve been working on a project that re-imagines NZ merino sheep in the (imagined) context of an Internet of Things. Note that I’ve not been tasked with designing possible software applications, but rather to imagine how different technologies could shift relations between livestock production and animal-product consumption. For this research I’ve combined traditional ethnographic methods of participant observation and qualitative interviews, with speculative design practices including fictional object and image-making—and I’ve given them both ‘life’ through creative writing. We’re about to launch these design scenarios, and will spend the next six months following up with more participant observation, interviews and online surveys to see how different audiences interact—or do not interact—with them.

For me, creating ethnographic fiction and speculative design has most often been a matter of material choice: both literally and figuratively. When the research subject matter is wool and meat-producing livestock, it was easy to start by imagining weird and wonderful things made of wool and meat! All the contexts for these fictional things (a government ministry and public programme, a host of consumer products and services) are plausible because they’ve been based on ethnographic research of people’s actual interests and concerns—but none of them are possible or even particularly realistic. To be honest, I really felt I was on the right track when I started talking about getting inspiration from contemporary urban fantasy novels—especially favourites by Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs—and both my design and ethnography colleagues just laughed. (It was like Joanna Russ had never written How To Suppress Women’s Writing!) But the important bit is that I came to understand that although fantastic ethnography and speculative design don’t have to derive their plausibility from realism or rationality, they should move people—because the space of the fantastic and the speculative is, after all, affective space, or the space of potential."

[Related (lined within): http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2011/08/28/why-you-need-read-designing-culture-anne-balsamo
and http://www.designculturelab.org/2012/08/17/on-fantasys-green-country-and-the-place-of-the-nonhuman/ ]
annegalloway  2013  ethnography  designethnography  fiction  designfiction  writing  speculativedesign  design  ursulaleguin  margaretatwood  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  ilonaandrews  patriciabriggs  plausibility  rationality  realism  research  speculativefiction  worldbuilding  imagery  words  images  objects  fieldwork  noticing  observation  listening  wondering  ethics  documentation  interpretation  autoethnography 
september 2013 by robertogreco
« earlier      
per page:    204080120160

related tags

3d  3dprinting  21stcentury  75watt  1960s  1970s  1990s  2001aspaceodyssey  aaronkeefer  aaronstraupcope  abahamlincoln  abler  abolitionism  abrahamlincoln  abstract  abstraction  academia  acceptance  access  accessibility  accra  accssibility  acculturation  accumulation  achievement  action  actions  actor-networktheory  actornetworktheory  adamcurtis  adammathes  adaptability  adaptation  adaptive  adaptivetechnology  adeliaborges  adolphusgustavus  adrianpiper  advertising  aesthetics  affection  affluence  affluenza  africa  africaisnotacountry  africans  africanstein  age  aggregation  aging  agriculture  ai  aimeemullins  alexandrakarentzos  alexandralange  alexbrechensbauer  alexismadrigal  alfhornborg  algorithms  alien  alienaesthetic  alienphenomenology  alienphenomology  alisoufan  altermodern  alternative  altgames  amateurism  amazon  ambient  ambientintimacy  ambiguity  ambivalence  amiribaraka  analog  anamaríaleón  anarchism  anarchy  ancient  andreasmurkdis  andresserrano  android  animals  anime  animism  animlas  anna-sophiespringer  annegalloway  anthropocene  anthropology  anti-aesthetics  anti-anxietydevices  antiobjects  anyarostock  api  apologies  apple  applications  approachability  ar  ara  archaeology  architecture  archive  archivehouse  archives  archiving  arduino  areacode  arg  argentina  armor  art  artappreciation  artclubbing  artcriticism  arthistory  artifacts  artificat  artificialintelligence  artisan  artists  artleisure  artmuseums  ascii  assembly  assistivetechnology  assumptions  astridrosenthal-vonerpütten  astroboy  atepovera  attendance  attention  attentiveness  audience  audiences  augmented  augmentedreality  aura  auras  austinkleon  australia  authority  autoethnography  autotelos  availabot  avant-garde  avatars  awarehome  awareness  axelroesler  aztec  baby  backpacks  barbican  barcodes  basquiat  bbc  beauty  behavior  being  belatedness  belief  bencerveny  benvautier  berg  bergcloud  berglondon  bertoltbrecht  bespokeinnovations  beta  bethanynowviskie  between  betweenness  bible  bigbang  bigdumbobject  bikes  bikesharing  biking  billieholiday  billmoggridge  billverplank  biology  birds  blackness  blackstudies  bldgblog  blight  blind  blogging  blogjects  blogs  bmd  boats  bobdylan  bodies  body  bodylanguage  bookclubs  books  borders  borges  boringness  borntobegood  boundaryobjects  bows  bradleyrobb  brain  brasil  brazil  brianarthur  brianeno  britishmuseum  brittalange  brokenness  brucechatwins  brucenauman  brucesterling  brunolatour  buckminsterfuller  buddhism  bugs  burden  burial  business  businesscards  buttons  byrdbaylor  cad  calculators  cameras  campainging  canon  capitalism  capturing  care  caring  carldisalvo  carloschavarría  carlsteadman  carolakrebs  carpentry  carrying  cars  cataloging  cativaucelle  chancesdances  change  chaos  chariots  charity  charlesdarwin  charlesmingus  charlesolson  charlieloyd  charlieparker  chatherineburke  checksandbalances  childhood  children  china  choreography  chriscampbell  christopherboehm  christopherpinney  christopherschaberg  cities  citizenship  citröends  citymove  civilization  class  classideas  classification  clatchristenson  clayshirky  clever  climate  climatescience  closed-loop  clothing  clothinglabels  cloud  clrjames  cnc  cocreation  coding  cognition  cohenvanbalen  colinjerolmack  collaboration  collaborative  collapse  collapsonomics  collecting  collection  collections  colonialism  colonization  color  combinationdevices  comfort  comics  comments  commerce  commodities  commonplace  commons  communication  communities  community  comparison  compass  compassion  competition  complexity  compliance  composition  compulsivity  computation  computerbugs  computers  computervision  computing  concepts  confidence  conjecture  connection  connections  consent  conspicuousconsumption  constraints  constructedsituations  construction  constructionism  constructivism  constuctivism  consumer  consumerelectronics  consumerism  consumption  containerfetishes  contemporary  contents  context  continuouspartialattention  continuums  contradiction  control  conversation  cooper-hewitt  copywriting  corbis  corinhewitt  corruption  cosas  cosmopolitanism  courage  coursedescription  craft  crafts  craftsmanship  craftwork  craigmod  craigslist  crapjects  creation  creative  creativity  credit  crime  criticaldesign  criticalpractice  criticism  critics  critique  crits  crossdisciplinary  crowds  crowdsourcing  culturaldemocracy  culturalgeography  culturalinvention  culturalphenomena  culture  cultureinvention  curation  curiosities  curiosity  currency  curriculum  curta  customization  customs  cv  cyberspace  dacherkeltner  dada  dadaism  dalailama  dance  danhill  danielarosner  daniellemorgan  danielmiller  danielsher  dansaffer  darkeuphoria  darkmatter  darkness  data  database  databases  datastreams  datavisualization  dataviz  davidanderson  davidhammon  davidmberry  davidrose  death  debate  deborabirdrose  deborahshuger  debt  decivilization  decolonization  deepbelief  deeplearning  deliciouslibrary  delight  democracy  democratization  demos  deniability  depth  deschooling  description  design  designanthropology  designethnography  designfiction  designfictionstudio  designobserver  designthinking  desire  desktop  destruction  details  development  devices  dialog  dialogue  dianazlatanovski  dianearbus  dieterbohn  difficulty  digital  digitalhumanities  digitalnatives  digitalobjects  digitalpreservation  dimensionality  dipeshchakrabarty  disabilities  disability  disabilitystudies  disobedience  disposability  disruption  disruptivetechnologies  dissent  diversity  divisions  diy  documentary  documentation  documents  dodoflip  dogma  donaldglover  donnaharaway  donnaloveday  dougaitken  douglashuebler  downsizing  drawing  drawings  drugs  dualism  dukeellington  dyslexia  easterisland  ebay  ebook  ebooks  ebtaylor  ecclesiology  ecologicjustice  ecology  economics  ecosystems  edg  edgardoantoniovigo  edmunddewaal  edouardglissant  education  eeg  efficiency  effort  effortjustification  egalitarianism  egonvoneickstedt  electronics  elielsaarinen  elitism  elizabethbishop  ellenlupton  embeddedness  emergingtechnologies  emmakay  emmanuelquartey  emotion  emotions  empathy  empire  empowerment  enchantment  engagement  engineering  enough  entertainment  entrepreneurship  environment  enzomari  eowilson  ephemera  ericporter  erintaylor  errors  etech  eternity  ethics  ethnography  europe  evanselinger  events  everyday  everydaylife  everyware  evocativeobjects  evolution  evolutionarypsychology  exchange  exclusiveness  exhibitions  exhibits  experience  experiencedesign  experimentation  experts  expressions  extension  extralegality  eyeborg  eyewear  fabbing  fabrication  facebook  factories  failure  faith  fakenews  families  fanfiction  fashion  favelachic  fear  feelings  fellowahip  feminism  fernandopessoa  fetishism  fiction  fictionaldesign  fidelity  fidgettools  fields  fieldwork  figurines  filippomarinetti  film  filmmaking  finance  fingerprints  fionaromeo  firefly  flickr  flow  flux  fluxfilms  fluxus  folkart  form  foucalt  foucault  found  france  francoisrobert  frankchimero  frankenstein  frankowen  françoisgirard  frederickantal  frederickcooper  fredmoten  fredscharmen  freecycle  freedom  freespace  freezone  friends  friendship  frugality  fun  function  functionality  functions  furniture  future  futurism  futuristmanifesto  gadgets  gamechanging  gamedesign  gamemechanics  games  gamification  gaming  gaps  gardening  gender  generalpurpose  generationx  generative  genius  genx  geo  geoffmanaugh  geography  geopolitics  georgeclinton  georgeherbertmead  georgelegrady  georgemaciunas  georgescuvier  georgesperec  georgiatech  georginavoss  geotagging  gestures  ghana  gifts  giovnnitiso  gizmos  glitch  global  globalization  glvo  god  goodness  google  googlecreativelab  googlesketchup  gordonhall  governance  government  gowanusheights  graffiti  grahamharman  grain  grammar  grammars  graphicdesign  graphics  gray  gregborenstein  grey  grief  grieving  groups  haarisnaqvi  habits  hacking  hacks  hajj  handbags  handles  handmade  hannaharendt  hannahknox  hannahsmithallen  hansulrichobrist  happiness  hardware  hari  harrygaruba  headmine  hearing-aids  heidegger  henrymoore  henryvaughn  hereandnow  hereandthere  heritage  hermankossmann  hierarchy  highered  highereducation  hipsterism  hipsters  hiroyukishimizu  history