[-empyre-] Documenting Repair

Patrick Keilty p.keilty at utoronto.ca
Tue Nov 26 02:10:07 EST 2013

Going back to my repair post briefly, Jonathan Reus (
http://www.jonathanreus.com/) alerted me to Benjamin Gaulon's Recyclism
projects (http://www.recyclism.com/) and to the way Apple uses non-standard
parts so that only Apple can fix its products (
similar to the way Microsoft deliberately makes their software

Thanks Jonathan!

On Sat, Nov 23, 2013 at 1:19 PM, Patrick Keilty <p.keilty at utoronto.ca>wrote:

> So I am going to shift gears a bit. I recently discovered Steve Jackson's
> research on the art of repair. He argues that breakdown, maintenance, and
> repair are central but neglected moments in our collective relationship to
> technology and the built environment. He developed an installation work on
> the concept of repair, which you can find here:
> http://cornellhci.org/scale/. A number of repair collectives have emerged
> throughout the world. These collectives work to repair objects (e.g. lamps,
> cell phones, computers, bikes, etc.) at no cost to their owner, but the
> "owner" (or "user" -- both conceptually and politically charged terms) has
> to be part of the process of fixing the object. Owners can't simply drop
> off the object with the collective and pick it up later. Repair collectives
> want owners to have a more intimate, material relationship with objects. In
> many cases, members of a repair collective will intentionally break an
> item, just to learn about how to repair it.
> I found the concept of repair interesting for several reasons. Partly I
> like that, unlike the maker movement, which always seems to be concerned
> with what's new, the repair or fixit movement concerns itself with taking
> things that are are old, broken, and discarded and repairing them. It
> rethinks recycling and reuse, particularly in an age when industrial waste,
> from digital technologies in particular, is on the rise. Usually we think
> of reuse as taking broken things and reusing them in a new way, making
> something new out of them, which often involves combining it with other
> objects that enable its reuse. Doing so often relies on other materials --
> such as glue, new screws, new wires, or whole recycling plants, an ironic
> industrialization of recycling -- in order to remake an object. This
> undercuts the goals of reuse, which is to reduce the amount of materials or
> resources we consume. Many people come to fixit collectives to repair
> sentimental objects, such as a grandfather's watch. Others fix objects so
> that they don't feel as alienated from them when those objects break down.
> We often don't know what to do or have the appropriate tools at hand to fix
> broken objects, a result of industrialization and assembly-line labor.
> Steve's installation of broken objects (above), and its subsequent
> documentation, or the installation of broken items as a form of
> documentation, got me thinking about how the art of repair makes small but
> meaningful interventions into issues of industrial waste, alienation from
> the built environment, new forms of knowledge in an industrialized age, and
> recycling and reuse.
> Best,
> --
> Patrick Keilty
> Assistant Professor
> Faculty of Information
> University of Toronto
> @patrickkeilty <https://twitter.com/PatrickKeilty>

Patrick Keilty
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Information
University of Toronto
@patrickkeilty <https://twitter.com/PatrickKeilty>
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