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  • Writer's pictureDulce Lamarca

About Obsolescence

Comments on Breakdown, Obsolescence and Reuse:HCI and the Art of Repair by Steven J. Jackson and Laewoo Kang

Consider this idea of obsolescence and how does it manifest in your work and practice?

We are all aware of the concept of planned obsolescence in which capitalism is based on. We live in a world with objects which at some point become #obsolete and "outdated and no longer used". But the use of the objects is a choice, is a decision that someone has at a given moment when they decide to discard an object, declaring it obsolete. It is no longer useful.

But since when objects have to be useful?

Is there a real an inevitable obsolescence or is it due to our lack of imagining new uses for this objects? New purposes, redirect and shape what we value. Artist have shown us for centuries the possibilities an object can have, without being "useful" at all (not in the practical sense). Some artists do this by reusing materials, some by repurposing objects that are already in use. But they are all challenging and rethinking the value, purpose and possibilities of objects themselves.

That being said, one can say a lot of artist are just creating "new things" and adding objects to the world which would end up in the trash anyway.

There is a clear imbalance and it is time to reinvent the wheel. The world doesn't need "new" things. As stated in Breakdown, Obsolescence and Reuse: HCI and the Art of Repair* by Steven J. Jackson and Laewoo Kang:

"(...) the role of design and designer may be less about building “new” things in the world, and more about inflecting and remixing the human and object worlds that exist, bringing old forces into new combinations."

Humans create objects and the objects are creating and reshaping us as well.

"We think and imagine in concert with things, not just through them or about them. Creativity is something we do in and with the world, not just to it."*

Years from now we will be able to look back and see what is happening here, what will result from all this symbiotic relationship between inanimate and animated beings.


Obsolescence in my work and in my practice

When moving to New York, there was a point of inflection on my practice. I did not wanted to continue painting and adding more things to the world that it is only purpose was an artistic one. I was naturally driven to a more ephemeral time based practice which allowed me to express my ideas in a more successful way. Through video and performance I manifest my ideas, re-utilizing objects that have a useful and practical purpose, just for a moment, in a different way.

I rarely think about the way of archiving my work. I don't think there is a way of doing so either. I believe what remains of any artwork is the audience made from it. And there is no way of archiving that. I would continue to archive the documentation of my work as videos, photographs, screenshots, as an album of memories from the past for people to go back to.

But the work itself is not the object, is not the documentation, it is what happened. And if that lives only through word of mouth, and I think that is more than enough.

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