[-empyre-] "Chindogu" and re-design

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Thu Nov 26 01:55:34 EST 2009

I am very happy to learn about Chindogu.  I have been kicking around
some notes on cartoons and capitalism.  A particular object of
interest to me are rube Goldberg machines as well as the folklore of
the entrepreneur (the simple invention that makes makes a million
dollars, feeding rats to cats/cats to rats, and the proliferation of
pyramid schemes.)  But more than anything, I enjoy the spectacle of
the object that can contain it all.  Chindogu is a powerful critique
of the irrationality that occurs when a particular rationality is
allowed to advance unfettered...  and thinking about it will add
considerably to my thinking.

I also think it might be a transitional link between material culture
and digital culture, in that it materially juxtaposes functions in
ways that digital applications can be assembled seamlessly within a
particular platform.  In a sense, an app-ladened iphone is an absurd
object, but somehow "reasonable" because it is assemblage is virtual
rather than mechanical.


Davin Heckman

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 11:02 AM, Margarete Jahrmann
<margarete.jahrmann at zhdk.ch> wrote:
> dear friends,
> dear machiko {/wave we met at a Vienna Muqua panel},
> your nice submission spurs on to participate again- some time gone
> by since the game art thread...
> please let me kindly add, that of course the Chindogu as described
> by Kenji Kawakami and his "ten tenets of chindogu" was key for the
> founding of the "Ludic Society" - elaborated in issue one of the
> Ludic Society Magazine magazine in 2006.
> http://www.ludic-society.net/LS_issue1_nov05_min.pdf
> http://www.ludic-society.net/issue/play/issue1.php
> Practice, inspired by this concept, were play-objects, we called -
> GoApe chindogus...
> http://www.ludic.priv.at/ludicwheel/index.php?target=photo#
> >From my point of view it is not crucial, if it is a Japanese concept
> or a European.I also think it is a bit over exaggerated to say it is
> widely used in England - as far as I know the art academia scene
> from my own PhD studies and teaching experiences in the field of
> Ludic arts and interfaces.
> The Chindogu, from my point of view is an aesthetic and political
> programm, connecting traditions of 'patphysics, object orientation
> and conceptual arts
> - and most importantly can be used to introduce "uselessness" -
> connected to play - as subversive statement, at least in the
> European interpretation of the idea.
> and we make jokes on it ;)
> "In the logics of the imaginative Roger Caillois (1973) suggests the
> mollusc as soft conception model, which is obviously an adequate
> frame of expérience for the hereby proposed proceedings of Ludics.
> The mollusc mood styled smooth new objets célibataires trigger
> electronic and ´pataphysic poetic glitches, as a followup series of
> the ludic society gamebased search artifacts of “GoApe-Chindogus”."
> Title: GoApe Chindogus. Nouveau Objects célibataire. New Bachelor
> Machines, 2005-2008. 'Pata-physical Circuitboard things,
> Classification: conceived semi-synthetic object/ techno-affordance
> Date: Autumne 2005. Technique: Printed circuit boards, electronics
> URL: http://www.ludic-society.net/play/objects.php
> Collaborators: Max Moswitzer
> Presented / Exhibited: 2005 Neue Galerie Graz, 2006 ArcoMadrid, 2007
> Conteijner Gallery Zagreb, 2008 Laboral Gijon
> Published:
> Jahrmann, M. (2008), ‘Morales du Joujou: Ludic wonder objects’,
> Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research 6: 2.. Intellect,
> Bristol.
> Jahrmann, M. (2009). Plays on a metamorphosis of Contemporary
> Electronic toys. In: Coded Cultures, Exploring Creative Emergences.
> Ed. MUMOK Vienna. pp 23-27
> Jahrmann, M. (2008), ‘Play Fetish. The Portable Prison’. In: Jörg
> Huber, Philipp Stoellger (Hgg.): Gestalten der Kontingenz. Edition
> Voldemeer, Zürich. Springer Wien New York.
> love
> marguerite charmante
> Machiko Kusahara schrieb:
>> Hi all,
>> As Renate introduced me in her email, I am currently in LA.
>> During the weekend as we cycled around in our neighborhood, my partner
>> found a book "99 More  un-useless Japanese Inventions", a sequel of
>> "Chindogu" at a yard sale and bought it for 50 cents. What a bargain
>> price!
>> It is funny, because we have been recently talking about the strange
>> "Japanese" inventions by this author, in relation to questions I
>> almost always get when I give a presentation on Device Art, the
>> project I have been working with my colleague artists and engineers.
>> The strange thing is that although the term "chindogu" is not part of
>> our language (while we understand what it means by seeing the Chinese
>> characters) it seems to be now widely accepted as a Japanese concept.
>> These inventions were originally introduced in English. So, until
>> recently (until the author started showing up on variety shows on
>> Japanese TV) almost no one in Japan knew about it.
>> A typical reaction of Japanese when asked about the concept from
>> "foreigners" is: "What is that? I hope you don't think we are really
>> using such crazy things! This is a joke!)
>> Recently I heard that in UK this book is widely used in design
>> education, as a key concept to "re-design" things, i.e. to design
>> "impossible-to-use" things.
>> Playfulness is a very important part of Japanese culture, but I still
>> feel rather uncomfortable when I hear people praise "chindogu" as a
>> representation of Japanese creativity.
>> Each time when asked I need to explain what are the differences
>> between "chindogu" and our Device Art.
>> Yes, we design things that are not "practical" from coorporate point
>> of view, but we are not joking.
>> Machiko Kusahara
>> _______________________________________________
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>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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