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Thursday, October 24, 2013
Connection Anaysis and The Can Opener Collection
The Can Opener Collection presents a variety of ways to view the activity of opening a can. The most recent additions to the Can Opener Collection were in May 2012. My collecting process has slowed down with this theme for the “collection” project. This blog post is a short analysis of my research pertaining to material culture concepts and the Can Opener Collection.
The video clips from the collection theme present the social interaction between a person and various styles of can openers. This video representation is presenting the tangible and intangible processes of the use of a can opener. The tangible aspect of the process is the final result of using a can opener, which is to open a lid of a can. The intangible concept relates to the knowledge obtained from the process of using a can opener as a functional tool. Even though I have concentrated on documenting the detailed activity of opening a can with the medium of video, there are several additional material culture theories that I have acknowledge.
For this post, I am referencing archeologist, Ian Hodder’s argument pertaining to the forms of connections between objects (things). Hodder’s book, Entangled, is aimed toward “Bridging the divide between human-centeredness and thing-centeredness…” The concept of bridging the divide is concerned with exploring the human dependence on things and how objects (things) are not “fixed,” but are connected to other things. Hodder uses the term heterogeneous assemblages to relate connections between activity, social, and cultural conditions with the human relations to things.
Hodder’s detailed example of human connections to things is of the cultural act of making a fire. He visually maps out the networks of the initial acts to fire making by the tools and processes involved. This visual accompanies the text to present the stages in the connections. These stages range from the singular act of a person striking a flint in creating fire to the involvement of social units cutting and collecting wood to provide warmth, along with being included with the process of cooking food with fire. Hodder’s example refers to the primitive aspects of the connections of humans and things.
My collection of video clips of the interactions with can openers is related to the industrial revolution time period. I have used Hodder’s methods of mapping out the networks of the can opener with the basic concepts of the heterogeneous assemblages. My visual map is included with this blog post. In the layout of the map I have considered a singular act, which is the adaptation of the design of the can. Instead of needing a tool (the can opener) to open the can, the can is adapted to have a can opener attached. This is known as the easy open lid. As for the involvement of social units, I examined the broader aspect of human food consumption and the process of canned food preservation on a mass production scale.
I wanted to expand the visual layout of network mapping from my material culture research and art-based research. My inclusion of images of the objects with the text and geometric shapes is in regards to the archiving process of my “collection” project. I have included a reference of a visual representation with the archiving and documentation process of everyday objects from the industrial revolution used in the 21st Century. This archiving process is not intended to imply that these objects will disappear any time soon from the everyday use in western culture. These methods and “historic” research have future opportunities to be used toward my expansion of the collection with “everyday” digital objects.
Even though the Can Opener Collection theme hasn’t been added to in over a year, I am not finalizing the collecting process. I am open to the collection being added to with a new concept or collaboration that will investigate this “everyday” tool and process with broader social and cultural research.
 Ian Hodder, Entangled An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things (West Sussex, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) 42
 Ibid. 41
 Ibid. 44
 Ibid.44 - 45
 Ian Hodder, Entangled An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things (West Sussex, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) pg. 45 Figure 3.1 and pg. 46 Figure 3.2 and 3.3.
 Carole Gray and Julian Malins, Visualizing Research (Hants, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2004) 52-57.