We often take for granted how incredible electricity is and how important it is in our lives. With just the flick of a switch there is light. Like many things, we often fail to recognize the "behind the scenes," where the free movement of atoms' lost electrons generates our sought after electric current. Whether it is your laptop or your ice cream maker power's needed. But it's the moments when the power is out or a bulb burns out that we all instantaneously reflect on the power of power.
So after Joseph Enterprises got its start with the Chia Pet, in 1985 they patented The Clapper. The devise plugs into any standard US electrical outlet, where it automatically turns appliances on or off via clapping. In addition to the Chia Pet, this was one of the earliest As Seen on TV products where The Clapper's catchy little jingle "Clap on, Clap off, The Clapper..." easily stuck in your head. The Clapper has been featured in The Simpsons, Uncle Buck staring John Candy, and Tyler Perry's movie Meet the Browns, but before anything else it was the infamous infomercial that got the clapping going.
But let's take a deeper look at The Clapper, no not the STD or the new dance, the one where you put your hands together to dim the lights. When did flicking a light switch or turning a lamp's on/off knob become so difficult? Those tasks require just as much effort as clapping, and not to mention the sex inherently associated with The Clapper's use. Now if you are a thousand year's old or a person with disabilities, sure it makes sense for you to own The Clapper. But for everyone else it seems rather impractical; where every time your doorbell rings you have to reset your alarm clock and microwave, while you're phone and laptop is never charged because of the dog's incessant barking. Not to mention the seizure you'll suffer from during The Clapper's strobe lighting effects. So save yourself the $20 buck or give your grandma the clap.
100 Objects of Popular and Material Culture is an blog exploring the manifestations of human consumption and commodity-ization. The purpose of this experiment is to explore material and popular culture in contemporary society by using objects and concepts to prompt wider questions and reflections. So by emulating The British Museum's and Neil MacGregor's format of A History of the World in 100 Objects I plan to satirically analyze and reinterpreted 100 material culture objects over the course of 2014. Material Culture is the study of our culture's consumption of stuff; namely the manifestation of culture through material productions where people's perceptions of objects is socially and culturally dependent. With this, objects reflect conscious and unconscious beliefs on the the individuals who fabricated, purchased, or used them, and by extension the society where they live. So examining materiality, cultural truths and societal assumptions may be discovered. As anthropologist Arjun Appaduai states "in any society the individual is often caught between the cultural structure of commodity-ization and his own personal attempts to bring a value and order to the universe of things." Objects and commodities make up a much larger symbolic system consisting of want and need, socio-economic status, fashion, etc. Often times form follows function whether the commodity, market, and or consumer forever evolve around one-another. Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's theories of capital flow full circle; where regardless if you are a minimalist or a hoarder the world is made up of things and everyone will leave their footprint on the earth. So by humorously analyzing marketed objects and concepts, hopefully this blog will provide further incite into ideas of over-consumption, a disposable society, consumerism vs. anti-consumers, planned obsolescence vs. sustainability, as well as the greater good of mankind and future generations.