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Checkpoints Lab

Checkpoints Lab

Work, Musings, Writings and Projects from FLEFF's Checkpoints Lab 2011

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Posted by Nicholas Knouf at 4:31PM   |  3 comments

Week 6 explored the poetic and the political in design, and especially how they interface with what can and cannot be done with technologies.


Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects (Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser, 2002), 57–73

Anthony Dunne, Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design (Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2005 [1999]), “(In)human Factors”, 21–42

Hakim Bey, “Immediatism”, 1994 (accessed January 23, 2011)

Michael Connor, “Rhizome | Interview with Graham Harwood”, January 28, 2009 (accessed January 23, 2011)


Mongrel, Tantalum Memorial (2008)

Norene Leddy, Platforms (2006)

Dunne & Raby, Between Reality and the Impossible (2010)


When I saw the words "poetic," "political," and "design" I couldn't help but think about a film that we saw in my Non-Fiction Film Theory class with Dr. Zimmermann called Man With a Moving Camera by Dziga Vertov. In this film, Vertov combines artistic and poetic modes of documentary with Lenin and revolutionary thematic material. By using a juxtaposition and montage of images that contain elements of technology, machinery, work, and masses of people, Vertov successfully made a political-centered film within a poetic framework.

Fiona Raby makes an excellent point at the end of the interview when she notes that we should avoid utopian ways of thinking about robots and technology. Although this temptation is always present in the appearance of "the new" it is essential for us to remember that even "the new" is an entity that is helplessly entangled with all that came before it - that it is an inherently flawed product of a flawed past. Thus, we should remember to focus on both the positive AND negative aspects of new technologies, along with the historical, political, and economic nexus in which these products are ALWAYS inscribed.

This poetic take on machinery also reminds me of some of the new-media projects we have viewed in class this semester. Is "the machine" capable of making our lives easier and more beautiful? Or, are machines simply another emblem of our increasing alienation?

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