Objects & Things

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Experimental Objects Workshop

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Yet another example of the growing attention to objects at the intersection of design and science and technology studies.

Experimental Objects Workshop at the Institute for Advances Studies at Lancaster University.

Subject to experimenters’ manipulations, objects can seem to be exposed to human curiosity and imagination; controlled through experimental systems (Rheinberger 1997) and design (Latour 2008). But the purpose in both contexts is often to ‘tickle’ objects, to make matter ‘speak’ (Latour 2004). Experiments can reveal that, far from being mere things ‘out there’, indifferent to human attention until addressed, neatly bounded, predictable and knowable, objects are secretly lively, elusive, recalcitrant, responsive and changeable (Barad 2007).

I’d be curious to know if, and if so how, OOO figured into the workshop. While Latour provides a point of connection between OOO and design and science and technology studies, within those fields, use and users still take center stage. Its not clear to me if, or how, STS and design studies can (or should) divorce themselves entirely from the issues of use and users. Nonetheless, workshops such as this signal a change in perspective towards the object, if not placing it center stage, then at least giving it more of starring role. If any videos or proceedings from the workshop are put online, I’ll be sure to post links to them on this blog.

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Written by cdisalvo

February 28, 2010 at 2:39 am

Posted in art, design, sts

Ortega’s Cosmic Thing

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Damián Ortega
Cosmic Thing, 2002
Volkswagen Beetle 1983,
stainless steel wire, acrylic

Damián Ortega’s piece Cosmic Thing is particularly interesting object: it is work of art made from a canonical design artifact. Of course, there are innumerable such works of art. Beginning with Dada and continuing through the 20th Century design objects have repeatedly, and relentlessly, been transformed into works of art. Often this transformation from product to sculpture occurs by recontextualization — by placing the object in a gallery or museum. Jeff Koons’ sculptures are perhaps the most emblematic of this tactic (for example see New Hoover Convertibles, New Shelton Wet/Drys 5-Gallon, Double Decker).

But Cosmic Thing is a fundamentally different kind of sculpture than those of Koons. It does a different kind of work: it reveals the object-ness of its subject. In Cosmic Thing, the classic VW Bug is presented to us not in its iconic form, but as an exploded view of its parts, each of which becomes an object in its own right for our consideration.

In a poetic way, it calls to mind Harman‘s phrase ““…the object is torn asunder from itself in two directions.”

More on Ortega’s work can be found here:
http://www.orbit.zkm.de/?q=node/349
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/30/arts/design/30ortega.html

Written by cdisalvo

February 1, 2010 at 4:02 am

Posted in art

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