Tag Archives | thing theory

Follow the Thing

Danny Miller

For anyone concerned with the ethics of contemporary consumption I would strongly recommend becoming acquainted with the website www.followthethings.com/ This is the project of Ian Cook a geographer based at the University of Exeter in the UK. The premise is clear. There are many reasons we might want to ethically audit the goods that we use everyday. We may be concerned about their environmental impact, we may have issues about the conditions of labour that were involved in their production, or we may just feel that a fundamental source of education is simply to know how things that we use everyday come into being. All of this depends on research that is dedicated to exposing commodity chains, that is the often incredibly complex and convoluted ways in which the goods we buy actually emerge.…

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Review: Peter Carey’sThe Chemistry of Tears

Untitled 2Haidy Geismar, UCL

[Ed note: This is Material World Blog’s 1000’th post!]

I’ve been thinking about novels that have something profound to contribute to Material Culture Studies having just read Peter Carey’s The Chemistry of Tears which is a remarkable instantiation of the affective entanglement of techniques, materials, and emotion.

A bare overview: the story focuses around Catherine Gehrig, a bereaved horologist, whose secret lover (a colleague at a fictitious London museum) has suddenly died. Her boss, in an attempt to help her suffering, gives her several boxes to work on: the contents of which need to be conserved and put back together. The boxes contain a dismantled automata made in the 19th century in Germany. A number of notebooks accompany the object and stealing them to read at home she enters the world of Henry Brandling, recently bereaved of a young child himself, and desperate to prevent the death of his ailing son.…

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