Gadgets for the Caveman installation view ~ Parsons the MFA Design and Technology Thesis Show 2013
Gadgets for the Caveman is an installation consisting of three gadgets created while envisioning an encounter of an early human with the world in its current cultural, environmental and technological state. Each gadget rethinks an element or a concept from everyday life and illustrates it for the caveman: a switch, a night lamp, and the idea of time. To assist the Caveman in making connections between today’s tools and his ancient ones, the gadgets are ancient-contemporary, meaning they use the advantages of today’s technology, combined with elements taken from the logic and materiality of the natural world that has dominated human existence for so long.
Gadget for the Caveman 1
Fire dramatically changed man physically, mentally, environmentally,
and socially, and was a turning point in the process of our becoming the humans we are today . Knocking two stones against each other like quartz, flint, and other iron-containing hard stone is one of the most ancient techniques to create fire. Gadget for the Caveman 1 uses those two recognizable stones and turns them into a simple switch that lights up a light bulb.
Gadget for the Caveman 1 — The Interface
Components: Two rocks => mac => openframeworks [amplitude detection] => arduino board => a relay => 60w light bulb => electrical outlet
Gadget for the Caveman 1
Man associating alongside fire probably started around 6 mya, by earlier hominids. Man becoming close with fire was a long process that ended up in a technological revolution during which fire was intentionally created, maintained and controlled . With the revealing of fire making came the campfire where people would gather. These centers of warmth and light dotted the landscape - entered the eye and the imagination. Its emitted light altered the hormonal cycles that are lightness-darkness dependent like Melatonin that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, contributing to the enhancement of the memory and associative thought. Stored images, thoughts, ideas and feeling, could now rapidly join together to form purposeful actions that were charged with meanings . For approximately 400,000 years, flames have lighted the night. Gadget for the Caveman 2 is a body of light that aims to imitate the atmosphere that surrounded early man during the nights: the flickering lights, the crackling sounds, a source for soothing contemplation and imagination.
Gadget for the Caveman 2
The light bulbs dim respectively to values coming from openframeworks software that split a video to the same numbers of bulbs and averages the pixel colors.
Man’s intervention with the natural processes of his environment by his interaction with fire contributed to the evolution of the brain. The changes in the brain affected the anatomical structure and functions that were feeding back to its evolution. The changes in the brain enhanced the memory that permitted reflection on past memories, and thoughts around future events. A sense of personal continuity, an awareness of duration, a sense of time that are memory based have evolved, following a search for the permanent factors that will contrast the ever-changing natural events. Man’s perception of time was cut out from the natural elements that surrounded him: the sun, moon, seasons, birth, adulthood and death . The abstract notion of dividing the day and night into units of hours and minutes would be out of the Caveman’s grasp. For that, Gadget for the Caveman 3 brings back into the room the image of the SUN, that was the key element by which man divided the different parts of the day and first understood the meaning of passing time. The gadget aim to remind where the measurement of time started from, and that the sun is still out there.
Gadget for the Caveman 3 is made out of two stepper motors rotate a mirror, one degree every second, in a ticking sound, shifting the position of a flashlight beam on a corner of a room. Delicate marks on the wall indicate the hours, according to the position of the circling fake sun, assisting the Caveman to perceive time within the built environment.
Components: mac => arduino => stepper motor + 12v power => mirror => flashlight =>
Gadget for the Caveman #3
Two stepper motors rotate a round mirror that animates the static light coming from the flashlight, on the adjacent wall.