Archaeology’s of the present Session 2

I sat in on my first choice of lecture that continue from last year titled Non Linear Histories of Practice – Archaeology’s of Seeing and Knowing

This weeks lecture looked at the stuff we make and live with and identifies the undenied values of the artifacts that we live with.

We began with looking at the blind men and the elephant and questioned what kind of knowledge is being promoted and contested and what was the go home message.

  • Knowledge of touch, previous experience of what something feels like, name it a tree because that’s all they know. This goes against the notion that there is one way of knowing the world we live in.
  • Go home message of we dispute each other without even knowing what the experience of the other person actually is. So there is no one universal truth.

“There is no absolute truth but there are plenty of human truths.” (Johnson)

As soon as you focus on one view over the other, you hide the other possibilities of how you know something. EG say that the elephant is a fan, then you rule out the snake, the tree trunk etc.


We went on to look at Isotype, and examined what is being propose, what world views being suggested and hidden-

  • Purpose- To create a universal language that all can understand, with no need for words.
  • The world views being suggested is that we all use things like a payphone, that we read from top top bottom or left right. Doesn’t say anything about reading/ how we read.
  • There is a very European mindset, going to the far east and converting them to what we think in the west or what he thinks should be right.
  • English is a normal/ language and other should learn it not us learn theirs.
  • The pictures language should be used in schools to teach people how to think and work. It is very international- universal, with no diversity.
  • Its suggesting a life style and language. A European business an science lifestyle. It wants to impose this on other cultures, for the benefit of business and lifestyle in the west.
  • Language could ruin culture. It is a very western dominating idea.


From here we went to look at how design directs the trajectory of things; everything we make goes put into the world and then goes on to change it in some way. “No act of creation can avoid being an act of destruction.” (Tonkinwise)

We examined a text about how one should be aware of the full footprint of design. It wanted to change the purpose of design and what design is about. In the text It describes the different types of destruction-

  • Ecology
  • Materials
  • Human health
  • Human environment
  • Skills and practice
  • Ways of existing.

The take home message was is what you make worth what you have destroyed to make it ?

I really like this lecture, and think it is nice how it developing from last year. I really want to stay in this lecture series as opposed the the one I was in before.


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