[artinfo] Object Inutile - CALL FOR PARTICIPATION
hock.beata at upcmail.hu
hock.beata at upcmail.hu
Fri Feb 13 14:36:22 CET 2009
---- isa massu <isa at aux2mondes.org> írta:
> CALL FOR PARTICIPATION
> Museums narrate the history of man’s evolution through the display of
> tools (silex, knife, jar, etc.). In contrast, we are looking for
> useless tools. This call will result in a vitrine of objects titled
> Object Inutile to be displayed at the Musée de Préhistoire in France
> (late Spring 2009) and the Thompson Gallery at San José State
> University, U.S.A. (Fall 2009). Along with the objects will be an
> audio-guide that describes and explains each object in its owners’
> This project is one display within a larger exhibition titled Early
> Man On a Modern Road by Dore Bowen and Isabelle Massu. The exhibition
> is coordinated with the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s publication of
> the Origin of Species. You can consult our website for more
> information on the full exhibition at http://www.aux2mondes.org/earlyman
> Email us a picture of your useless tool and a description based upon
> these questions. Send to isa at aux2mondes.org. We will contact you if
> your object is selected.
> 1) What is your useless tool called?
> 2) When was it made?
> 3) What is it supposed to do?
> 4) Why do you think it is useless?
> 5) If you like, add a personal story about the object.
> The Concept of Useless Tools
> 1) We are not necessarily looking for tools that don’t work or that
> time has passed by; we are looking for tools that you find to be
> useless. Tools suggest that a certain activity has value. When you
> define a tool as useless you are defining its activity as useless. (A
> clock, for instance, is for coordinating activities with other human
> beings. To find a clock unuseful is to find timeliness, precision, and
> sociability unuseful.) [For a theoretical discussion concerning the
> phenomenology of useless tools in Fluxus art see the essay “The
> Function of Dysfunction”
> 2) In addition to value, useless tools are related to consumerism.
> Over the past half-century machines have been produced to fulfill all
> sorts of unnecessary functions, or to fulfill necessary functions but
> without precision. The egg topper scissors is a good example (see
> image above). This tool was produced to facilitate the breaking of the
> top of an egg. Most people break the top of an egg with a knife and
> still do. Why the production of such useless tools? Since most
> consumers have all the tools necessary to live, capitalism produces
> weird and sometimes wonderful tools that are, essentially, useless.
> 3) And finally, tools (and their related values) are associated with
> class. Presumably, the working class man knows about cars, the middle
> class woman about specialty cookware, and the upper class businessman
> about fine watches. In France a signature middle class tool is the
> pince a sucre, a device to pick up sugar cubes without using the
> hands. It is essentially unnecessary as a tool (it’s easier to pick up
> sugar cubes with the hands) but it marks a certain disdain for manual
> labor and the body, and thus is a symbol of middle class cleanliness
> and propriety. To find this tool useless means that you find its class
> values useless. Such a choice acts as commentary and critique on class.
> 4) How does the idea of useless tools relate to the larger theme of
> the exhibition—Darwin’s theory of evolution? Related to the idea of
> unuseful tools is the notion of evolutionary maladaptation. When a
> behavior is no longer adaptive it is called “maladaptive.” Wikipedia
> notes that maladaptation can “signify an adaptation that, whilst
> reasonable at the time, has become less and less suitable and more of
> a problem or hindrance in its own right.” Useless tools can help us to
> understand maladaptation as they testify to traits or behaviors that
> we no longer considered valuable. In 1859 Darwin wrote in the Origin
> of Species, “We see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part
> of the organic world.” In its failure to perform as expected, the
> useless tool makes awkward maladaptations visible as well.
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