Had a working from home day and spent the afternoon at the V&A fuelling more thoughts on a presumably upcoming article/talk on digital materiality.
Ventured to the rapid response and modernist collections which I don’t often do. There’s always something fun about analysing the material product through the theoretical framework of the designer/maker in question.
Really dug Thomas Thwaites ‘The toaster project’. Design often obscures the truth about thermodynamic symmetry – that time and effort saved at one end of a process will incur a cost at another. This is one reason why the question of ethical design or ethical tech is either insultingly trivial or stereotypically complex – the time saved in a washing machine (for example) is taken in the form of excavating, purifying and shaping metal ores to provide circuit components. To reiterate a question asked at Sheffield’s doc fest panel, asking whether a particular example of tech is ethical requires a strong stomach.
The conservation of energy has financial as well as work-based components. The fact that a cheap toaster costs £120k to reproduce by hand speaks volumes about the hidden siphonings throughout the process.