Monday, September 24, 2018

Hertzian Tales and Project Design

          The reading of Hertzian Tales contains interesting ideas about electronic art. Overall, the writing discusses the use of theory, often specifically semiotic theory, to create meaningful works. According to the text, electronics were forced to become tied to the continuing evolution of consumerism as a result of its usefulness in material objects. However, despite being so important in our daily lives, electronics are often not viewed theoretically in their most simplistic forms. Instead, society tends to focus on the built application of electronics over the simple parts, such as with radios. While the individual pieces are not seen as valuable, once the object is assembled into a working interface the object beings to obtain value. This application of meaning is also reinforced by the role electronics play in consumerism, since society enforces the idea that progress needs to be made so that new and better applications of electronics can be created.
          When considering the role of electronics in culture, one must also consider material culture theory, since the evolution of electronics and their uses must be examined. Relying on semiotic theory, one can examine the semiotic signs and meanings associated with the object and its use to develop a complete understanding of the object’s place in its culture, and then begin to develop other methods of viewing or applying the object in contemporary society. However, because one common method of designing objects is to continue relying on the object’s world-known sign, the object often begins to be constrained even when revolutionized. Viewpoints are often constrained to the object's function, since the object purposefully illustrates the role it plays in society in a relatable way, such as a phone. Even though new models of phones are being created, the basic model of a phone is understood in many different cultures because of the continuation of the object’s form in relation to the history of the object’s purpose.
         In order to create new ideas, one must break from completely following traditional modes of thought. This mode of thought is expressed in the writing’s reference to Theodore Adorno, which states that Adorno believed that “authentic art could only function to resist totalization if it was strange and unfamiliar.” When thinking about my project, I considered aspects from the reading such as the above statement, as well as the idea of the poetry of everyday objects. When considering these ideas, I tried to think about basic, common ideas of circuitry and electronics. Reducing this, I thought about the starting point for many objects that surround us: power. From there, power is understood to be supplied from outlets. So, I am planning to create an object in the form of a power strip. The circuit chip will be placed inside of the strip, and wires will connect to the inside of the outlet. Therefore, the circuit will be completed when someone sticks something in the "outlet". I chose this idea because I felt that outlets are extremely recognizable, and are often the most important part of every electronic, since power is required to operate other electronics. Another motivation behind this thought was that outlets are often contextualized to be dangerous in the sense that people are not supposed to complete the circuit with metal, and I feel that this relates to the noisiness and loud quality of this project. While interesting, the sounds produced by the circuit are often harsh on the ears, a quality I find particularly irritating since as a child I have hated extremely loud noises. The fear and annoyance I felt while attempting to test this circuit relates to the feelings one might have when being told to complete the circuit. 


Fig 1. Basic Design Sketch

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