“The Homemade Limits of Everyday Weirdness,” by Bruce Sterling

Thursday 4th January, 2024 - Bruce Sterling

*This is quite a long art and design essay of mine, and too prolix to fit on this blog.

*I had a lot on my mind — and still do.


“Why did the world’s most famous kinetic artist have a Maker home?”

As soon as this question struck me, I knew that I had things wrong. Clearly, I was “back-projecting.” I was distorting history to suit my own present-day notions.

Alexander Calder (the famous artist in question) created twenty-two thousand documented artworks in his lifetime. However, he never “hacked” or “fabbed” anything. Calder died back in 1976, when the concept of “hacking” was still restricted to eccentric engineering students at MIT.

However, Calder was an eccentric engineer himself, and to my eye, there was no question that many things in his home looked Maker-style “made,” or “fabbed,” or even “hacked.” Calder performed this personal activity, with various methods, intentions and materials, for seventy years.

Even today, there still exist quite a number of these non-artistic anomalous “objects” that Calder somehow invented, or amended, or subjected to freaky alterations, pseudo-repairs, re-purposings, and upcyclings. Some “Calder Household Objects” are easily identified and can be promptly named as “ashtrays,” “soap-dishes,” “bread tins,” and “drawer-pulls.” Other “objects,” though, are more mysterious - they lack any clear identity as any everyday thing….