[-empyre-] "Chindogu" and re-design/Useless Technology, 1994

Ricardo Dominguez rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
Fri Nov 27 21:54:35 EST 2009

Hola all,

This question of the "Chindogu" brought to mind a CAE gesture we
did many years ago. The products were quiet real and quiet useless
and were re-designed via conceptual framing and distribution only.
Had a ludic sensibility and also a no need to build it feeling -
a nice mood considering the demand DIY that floats all around us
now - which is not a bad thing - just a demand.



Useless Technology, 1994

Designed as a newspaper insert, this project was placed in Sunday papers
in autodispensers in major cities around the US.

You can see the newspaper insert here:

The essay about the CAE gesture:

The Technology Of Uselessness

Critical Art Ensemble
I am useless, but God loves me. - Mike Kelly

*The whole essay: http://www.critical-art.net/books/ecd/ecd5.pdf

The expectation that technology will one day exist as pure utility is an
assumption that frequently surfaces in collective thought on the
development of society and social relations. This prospect has typically
suggested two opposite scenarios of the future. On one hand, there is the
utopian millenium predicted by modern thinkers who were guided by belief
in progress; this concept slowly began to supplant belief in the concept
of providence during the 17th and 18th centuries. Both concepts were
characterized by belief in the unilinear development of the human race,
but providence was a force that was expected to result in spiritual,
rather than in economic autonomy. The engine of providence was considered
the guiding hand of God (which was later amputated and stitched to the
cyborg of capitalism by Adam Smith). In Early Modernity, when belief in
providence began giving way to belief in progress, intellectuals and
scholars were debating whether the social utopia of the future should be
based on spiritual or on secular principles. Philosophers searched for an
independent force in the universe that could save the earthly population
from its economic shortcomings and its spiritual privation. Thomas More
constructed a rather dubious literary utopia that marked the beginning of
the shift from God/Christ to science/technology as savior. From More's
perspective, neither of the two choices seemed particularly satisfying.
Given the choice between El Dorado and the regime of Mahomet the Prophet,
Voltaire found the former more tolerable. This type of thought which
valued secular human advancement and cast doubt on spiritual systems began
to tip the scales of judgment in favor of science and technology, but
certainly no celebration accompanied this shift. With the coming of the
industrial revolution, the scales tipped decisively in favor of science
and technology once and for all. At last, a foreseeable end was imagined
to the problem of production - soon there would be enough goods for
everyone, and with such surplus, competition over scarce goods would
cease. The idea of progress began to flourish from this point on. Both the
left (Condorcet and Saint-Simon) and the right (Comte and Spencer) shared
an optimism about the future in spite of the wildly divergent destinies
predicted by each - for example, council socialism was anticipated by
Saint-Simon, and the appearance of the bourgeois Ubermensch was expected
by Spencer.

Ricardo Dominguez
Associate Professor
Hellman Fellow

Visual Arts Department, UCSD
Principal Investigator, CALIT2
Co-Chair gallery at calit2
CRCA Researcher
Ethnic Studies Affiliate
Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies Affiliate

Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics,
Board Member

University of California, San Diego,
9500 Gilman Drive Drive,
La Jolla, CA 92093-0436
Phone: (619) 322-7571
e-mail: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu

Project sites:
site: http://gallery.calit2.net
site: http://pitmm.net
site: http://bang.calit2.net
site: http://www.thing.net/~rdom

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