This was one of our last lectures before we begin doing group work together. This lecture aimed to explore the role that objects, tools and other cultural artifacts play in the narratives that form the histories of the human body and explored how we can read the body through objects.
When we look at history of art and design we tend to look at it from a socio-cultural point of view, researching what the artist or designer was intending too achieve, who commissioned it etc. However, this history is shallow. It focuses solely on the social and cultural layer of history. Human history is told through political and social text with
natures role being only clinical. However, the truth is human history is a progression upon nature as a platform and substrate
Above you can see a timeline for recording history and it linear nature, with the pre-history stage being left to archaeologists. However, non linear history is philosophical approach to history taking a look at the micro-histories that actually shape human histories. Human history is actually tied into different parts of the world. Human history isn’t limited to genetics and social events. History is also related to other things that are going on. Interaction with the world changed the body as much as the mind.
As I have already realized with tools, objects of the environment become a part of the body when interacted with. This metaphorical idea realises that the body is distributed between the things that we rely on make, grown, interact with. An archaeological history of the body is told though object not though text speaking of objects.
This concept is all about exploring the plasticity of the brain; the hybridity of hammer and hand and it goes as far as to suggest that it can change the neuroscity of the brain; the hammer becomes an extension of the brain also changing structure of brain. From this objects become a trace of development of the neuro networks of body.
The body is just as plastic as the brain and can be described in genetics. However, the development of human body is not entirely genetical but can also be changed by us through the things we intend to have a certain effects on our body such as neck rings piecing etc, and also thing that we don’t intend or don’t realise might change our body.
An example of this change in action is food preparation. We have used for hundreds of thousands of years prepared food using fire and heat, making it easier to digest, taking process of digestion outside the body. Over the years cooking food has had an effect on our body; our gut is smaller than it used to be, our teeth are not as big, and our digestive systems have become more sensitive. It interesting to see how the gut has shorten as we have shortened the process of digesting food.
A further example is the binding of feet. At some point in history we began using hides to make shoes so one can run farther and faster etc. Wearing these shoes changed the genetics and the shapes of feet and body. Today we see feet as a tool for transport. But who is to say that before shoes feet didn’t have other purposes?
If we don’t have text or a record of human history, then look to objects and think about how that might have shapes the human body and its history. A interesting question to explore is can one control the way the body is shaped? Can one intentionally shape the body in a way that you want? The question to this appears to be yes as we have seen cultural artifacts such as neck ring that have changed the length of the neck over many generations.