neil cummings

The Object

Truth is ConcreteOver twenty years ago I edited a book Reading Things, it's long, long out of print, although an extract from the introduction was recently republished in The Object, edited by Anthony Hudek, produced by the Whitechapel and MIT Press, 2014.

With my recent interest in Stephen Wright's provocation Towards a Lexicon of Usership, maker libraries and fab-labs, I thought to publish a version of the introduction Reading Things: the alibi of use (pdf also available)

[..] The substance of our material culture, refracted through our advertising media, is an increasingly dominant site for the struggle to represent an individuals most powerful desires, aspirations and fears. In industrial countries, we are constantly encouraged to associate and identify, both physically and psychologically, with a bewildering range of things. From Tampax to Trade sanctions, these consumer choices - if media theory is to be believed - may embody the last remaining coherent space of personal and cultural representation. [..]

[..] The theme of this book lies in attending to things as they fall from the commodity loop into their rich and varied lives. How exactly are objects patterned with meaning and value, how for instance do they begin to trap historically transient experiences; like Love beads, Ben Shermans or safety pins. Most of our material world, like the iceberg, lies beneath the threshold of our comprehension. Things flow past and rest silently as a sediment shaping our consciousness. If our experience of time is dovetailed into the representation of the present, the object, like the pop song, can snare the fleeting moment as it falls away from memory.[..]


Reading Things: the alibi of use is the introduction to Reading Things
ed. Neil Cummings, Sight Works vol.3. Chance Books
London 1993, ISBN 0-9513932-3-5

See Richard Serra's and my intervention in the publication TO CONTINUE


Or, Stephen Wright's provocation Towards a Lexicon of Usership (pdf)


 Related projects include Browse, A Joy Forever and From Things to Flows


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