Object Lessons

Object Lessons is an essay and book series about the hidden lives of ordinary things, from ....

Series Editors: Ian Bogost and Christopher Schaberg

Object Lessons
9781623563110

Remote Control

by Caetlin Benson-Allott

While we all use remote controls, we understand little about their history or their impact on our daily lives. This book offers lively analyses of the remote control’s material and cultural history to explain how such an innocuous media accessory can change the way we occupy our houses, interact with our families, and experience the world. From the first wired radio remotes of the 1920s to infrared universal remotes, from the homemade TV controllers to the Apple Remote, remote controls shape our media devices and how we live with them.

9781628921380

Golf Ball

by Harry Brown

This book explores the composition, history, kinetic life, and the long senescence of golf balls, which may outlive their hitters by a thousand years, in places far beyond our reach. They embody our efforts to impose our will on the land, whether the local golf course or the Moon, but their unpredictable spin, bounce, and roll often defy our control. Despite their considerable technical refinements, golf balls reveal the futility of control. They inevitably disappear in plain sight and find their way into hazards. Golf balls play with people.

DRONE

Drone

by Adam Rothstein

Drones are in the newspaper, on the TV screen, and swarming through the networks. But what are drones? The word encompasses everything from toys to weapons. And yet, as broadly defined as they are, the word “drone” fills many of us with a sense of technological dread. This book will cut through the mystery, the unknown, and the political posturing, and talk about what drones really are: what technologies are out there, and what’s coming next; how drones are talked about, and how they are represented in popular culture. It turns out that drones are not as scary as they appear—but they are more complicated than you might expect. In drones, we find strange relationships that humans are forming with their new technologies.

Vicks VapoRub and Me

How Vicks VapoRub helps me overcome chronic olfactory sensitivity

by Alison Kinney

My own extensive use of Vicks will be familiar to anybody gripped by that scene in The Silence of the Lambs, where the investigators rub Vicks under their nostrils to quash the smell of a decomposing body. “That’s what I’ve been needing,” I said while watching that film. Vicks goes on smoothly but follows up with a volatile kick, like an irrigation of the nostrils, a salutary tickle, and a sneeze. It’s so strong that, two minutes after I’ve first applied it, I can’t smell anything at all. That is why, for twenty-three years, Vicks has been my armor of choice against the incursions of the material world. With an overactive nose and a tricky stomach, I need Vicks to protect me against the aromatic stimuli that life throws at me everyday—filthy toilets, diesel fumes, upholstery cleaner, perfume.

Read this essay at The Atlantic

The Beautiful, Invisible Game

And how technology can help or hurt our ability to understand the sport

by Miguel Sicart

Goal-line technology threatens to have deeper effects on the game for spectators, particularly when experienced as a televised sport. Goal-line technology risks presenting football as a game with a ball fetish. It christens the ball as central object of the game, the thing that matters more than anything else. This attitude makes sense in an era of individual stars (Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar) and televised spectacle, where the game is mediated through cameras that zoom on the player with the ball as he advances, dribbles, and scores. But that is the wrong way to understand football.

Read this essay at The Atlantic

Manifestos: a Manifesto

The 10 traits of effective public declarations

by Julian Hanna

Performance is part of the manifesto’s materiality, its existence in the world. Marinetti made art into a kind of Punch and Judy show, full of pantomime fisticuffs and bold, simple story lines: Destroy the past, embrace the future. From Dada manifestos in the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916 to the radical street theater of the 1960s to Lars von Trier’s scattering of red leaflets printed with his “Vow of Chastity” into the audience at a Paris cinema conference on the future of film in 1995, the manifesto—manu festus, “struck by hand”—has always been about striking gestures.

Read this essay at The Atlantic

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