In the Contaminated Life seminar on Thursday we were talking about making manuals for the designs that the students have been working on. One of the students, Adriana did some great work thinking about how ordinary household objects could be repurposed with entirely different functionality once they had come to the end of their original product life. See here. Following on from this, Pia suggested that the manuals to be written should address non-traditional uses for the designs.
This got me thinking about the manual that came with the hole punch I bought last week. I thought it was rather amusing that the manufacturers had gone to the trouble of putting together a ‘how to guide’ for an object that so evidently spoke to its function. There was an element of the ridiculous in the seeming redundancy of the guide.
However, after the seminar I began to question why I was so attracted to this manual. Perhaps what is interesting about it is that the excessive act of over determination actually creates its opposite. Instead of stabilising the identity of the hole punch it operates to draw attention to the inherent fragility of the function mapping at work in any object. It’s a little like the process of repetition as a means of dehabitualisation. If you repeat a word over and over it loses the ‘necessary’ connection to its meaning. By repeating the functionality of the punch in the form of the manual the neccessity of its symbolic identity is called into question.