The MFA Design and Technology thesis show, 2013

documentation ~
noadolthesis.tumblr.com/
gadgetsforthecaveman.tumblr.com/

GADGETS for the CAVEMAN
Noa Dolberg, Apr. 17. 13

Gadgets for the Caveman is an installation consisting of three gadgets created while envisioning an encounter of an early human with the world in its current cultural, environmental and technological state. Each gadget rethinks an element or a concept from everyday life and illustrates it for the caveman: a switch, a night lamp, and the idea of time. To assist the Caveman in making connections between today’s tools and his ancient ones, the gadgets are ancient-contemporary, meaning they use the advantages of today’s technology, combined with elements taken from the logic and materiality of the natural world that has dominated human existence for so long.

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These three gadgets connect early technologies with the ones that we have today, intentionally ignoring a long-long evolutionary process in which one technology led to another. “Everything made now is either a replica or a variant of something made a little time ago and so on back without break to the first morning of human time” [5]. The gadgets interrupt the continuous series of things made by man that run from the oldest surviving artifacts - the stone tools - to the things that we have today. The combination of the logic and materiality of the ancient technology and today’s technology reflects on both. With the positioning of the two ends of technology alongside, the gadgets contrast the past and the present, the ancient and the modern, which plays a leading role in the aesthetic of the gadget themselves and the installation.

The gadgets were created with a few observations in mind: One, is that the natural environment that the early man was inspired from, and the raw materials from which he built his tools, have almost entirely disappeared from today's urban surroundings. Another observation is that although the early tools served man for most of his existence and throughout his becoming, there is hardly any visual evidence left from it in its today's equivalents, meaning, a Neolithic man, miraculously transported into today's world, would probably not associate a modern cutting tool as anything to do with his cutting tool. The shape of the modern knife will probably not tell him much about what it is used for. The visual aspect of what the Caveman will recognize as a knife, and what we use today as a knife has changed so much, that the connecting thread has been lost.

In the prehistoric landscape, the world was a resource available for the early man to experiment, discover and form his ongoing possibilities to be whatever he is. This early man’s way of becoming a modern human was by seeing the world as something to be ordered and shaped by his needs, intentions and desires. In Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology (1977), technology is perceived not only as our relationship with different artifacts, rather, the artifact, together with our relationship with it is already an outcome of a ‘technical’ way (a mood) of seeing and being in the world. “The essence of technology is nothing technological.” Man as the designer of his technology, was and still is, the designer of the human he will become [4].

The gadgets are a hybrid between the natural and the technological, sculptural-technical objects. The gadgets are easy to operate and to be engaged with, for they were designed for the brain of a curious caveman. In their behavior and themes they bring the natural phenomena from the outdoors to the indoor environment, where they are installed. Although the outcome of such a juxtaposition might be humoristic for some, the installation aims to draw a line between ourselves today and our early beginnings, and surface questions about the dynamics of technology and how it affects us, where does it contributes and where it reduces our potential to be inventive and connected to the world.

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