Friday, October 28, 2005

Telephone Apparatus

Originally uploaded by Juzza.
What is a phone? Was it a piece of furniture, pipe organ, treasure chest, church altar? And where did this hybrid creature live? On a wall, on a desk, on the floor, inside a cabinet? What parts of its workings should be hidden and what should be revealed? It was all up for grabs as this entity came into being, not quite something old or something new...I made lots of photocopies and am going back next Thursday to do more research.


Dawno said...

There's something a little "Muppet-ish" looking about those illustrations, at least on my laptop screen. Made me wonder if there was a Cookie Monster phone.

Being a real technophile and early adopter (when I can afford it) of new tech, I've had the occasion to ponder the evolution of the phone every now and then. For years it was more form follows function. Now the form follows fads. I take pictures, somefolks can store their favorite songs. I know outside of the US people use more features than we do or have.

Ms M said...

Yeah Dawno, I agree completely that they are very muppet-like and that they are invested with a quality of "aliveness" undoubtedly added to by their animation of parts. Can you imagine what it was like when those bells went off? Talking about attention seeking! But it doesn't seem to me to be a simple matter of anthropomorphism either - that they have been created in the image of humans. Function was undoubtedly a driving force, but there were plenty of characteristics that were not associated with any obvious purpose. Even when the "form follows function" design paradigm dominated in the 50's this can be seen.

Dawno said...

Is it that there is an investment of anthropomorphic qualities consciously designed into things humans use so as to make them less threatening, more acceptable or is it that our brains force us to perceive things in familiar, comfortable patterns when we are confronted with the unfamiliar? Just finished a major Google search, what I'm talking about is "pareidolia"

Fascinating subject.

Ms M said...

Cool word! I'm not sure I have the answer to your very good questions or that there is one answer. My current interest is to try to think about how technology comes to be what it is, how it looks and feels, and what it does, not as expressions of human intention or even unconscious intention but as a social and technical accomplishment of many people and forces - including the cultural imaginaries that sometimes carry over generations, and the networks of things we draw on for inspiration and for building.