Vortrag | Lecture
Mutamorphosis 2012: Tribute to Uncertainty, Prag | Prague, Dec 6-8, 2012 | 06.12.-08.12.

"Philosophical Toys" is a term used for objects that enable us to understand processes, functions, relations and effects. In contrast to models – that are designed for quite similar purposes, but with the focus on visualization and objectification – Philosophical Toys are more closely related to processes of active research, experiment and knowledge production. Rather than being products, they are instruments of imagination, insight and invention – or, if you want so: tools for thinking by doing, for a synthesis of theory and/as practice. And, perhaps most important: this synthesis is realized in a playful way.

Looking at the history of science, we can indeed find examples for Philosophical Toys specifically developed for a use as scientific toys in the tradition of a “science amusante”, serving as didactic tools and communicators for education. Even more important and intriguing, however, are probably those we can rightly classify as prototypes for inventions (i.e. instruments, machines and other technological products) – their development usually being part of the process of invention itself.

But in how far can we draw from considerations based on observations regarding the history of science to rethink Philosophical Toys – as objects and concepts – from and for/towards a contemporary perspective? On the one hand side, there are definitely developments inviting us to draw parallels between the period usually coined as the heyday of Philosophical Toys (the first half of the 19th century, followed not only by a broader and more general popularization of scientific toys, but also by what we might consider as a first echo of both related objects and concepts in early 20th century avant-garde arts). Yet, on the other hand side, it remains important both from a methodological and from a historical point of view to critically ask for notable/decisive differences, regarding not only recent scientific and technological developments, but also the mutual relations between sciences, arts, and popular cultures.

To further explore this field, the paper will take an exemplary look at what we would like to coin as "Analogital Philosophical Toys": objects that operate at the intersection(s) of analogue and digital, hereby answering to and at the same time pushing forward the multiple ways analogue and digital technologies, media, and cultures communicate, intersect and merge on different levels as well as under different auspices in today's society.
After a brief overview over the field and the methodological framework, the concept of "Analogital Philosophical Toys" will be introduced and subsequently further explored by discussing in depth a selection of prototypical examples, most of which have been developed by individuals and/or interdisciplinary groups working at the intersections of science, art, design and (media) technology. Accordingly, special attention will be devoted not only to questions directed to the objects and their development, to concepts, designs and functions in progress and in process, but also the broader context(s) these are embedded within. Last but not least, also the relevance of different aspects of play, and of playfulness, will be discussed on all mentioned levels.

On this background, we want to finally return to the core concept of Philosophical Toys as instruments of imagination, insight and invention, as tools for thinking by doing, as well as communicators and learning tools, in order to conclude with some general remarks about what Philosophical Toys can contribute to re-think and at the same think forward contemporary and future perspectives for syntheses of theory and/as practice – playful and powerful at the same time.

The paper is based on an ongoing research project looking at the subject matter from a contemporary perspective with a strong focus on recent developments at the intersections of science, art, and 'do it yourself-cultures'. For more background information pls. see www.under-construction.cc/ptp

Conference Panel: Philosophical Toys Today (Attractor: Tomáš Dvo?ák)


Analogital – Art – Bricolage – Craft – Communication – Design – DIY – Do It Yourself-Cultures – Education – Experiments – Hacks – HighLowTech – History of Science – HowTos – Imagination – Inventions – Knowledge – Knowledge Cultures – Learning – Media –Networks – Objects & Things – Open Source – Participation – Perception – Process – Play – Popular Culture – ProAm –Prototyping/Prototypes – Science – Time – Tools – Toys

Hintergrundinformationen | Background Info:

Projekt "Philosophisches Spielzeug" auf www.under-construction.cc | Project "Philosophical Toys" at www.under-construction.cc

Projekt "A2D2A" auf www.under-construction.cc | Project "A2D2A" at www.under-construction.cc


main project: TOYS AND/AS TOOLS

tags: analogital, art & its media, art & science, communication, crafts, cultural history, design, digital culture, digitale kultur, dinge, erfindungen, geek, handarbeit, handmade, handwerk, history of science, inventions, knowledge cultures, kommunikation, kulturgeschichte, kunst & ihre medien, kunst & naturwissenschaften, kunst & wissenschaft, material culture, materielle kultur, media archaeology, media cultures, media history, medienarchäologie, mediengeschichte, medienkultur, objects & things, objekte/sachen/dinge, popular culture, populärkultur, spielzeug, spielzeug & werkzeug, technologie, technology, things, time, tools, topologien, topologies, toys, toys & tools, werkzeug, wissenschaftsgeschichte, wissenskulturen, zeit



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