Further research into the work of Auger and Loizeau and also, I believe, my better understanding of the nature and purpose of Speculative or Critical Design has led me to appreciate this work. Initially I found aspects of the work of James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau impenetrable, however further research around the subject has allowed my understanding to develop. This shows how important time is in allowing an appreciation of complex work to form.
Auger and Loizeau write about the Sublime Gadgets project:
Gadgets are the most ephemeral of domestic objects. Their dazzling but fleeting existence is a consequence of two combined factors:
1: The value of a gadget is found in its novelty and ability to provide spectacle.
2: This novelty is provided by the latest technological innovations.
Arthur C. Clarke’s often quoted 3rd law describes the relationship between these points:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
It is in this magical element that the spectacle resides but as a consequence it follows that just as the illusion dies when the magician reveals his slight of hand, so the technology becomes distinguishable from magic when it becomes familiar. This normalising of technology leads to the death of the gadget.
Sublime Gadgets aims expand the lifespan of these ephemeral objects through introducing notions of the romantic sublime. This shifts the focus away from technological fetishism towards objectifying ‘pleasures of the imagination’ (Addison), the infinity of time and space (Shaftesbury), agreeable kinds of horror (Addison), randomness found in nature and the management of life and death.
This work also illustrates the many layers of ideas and theory that are encapsulated in well developed critical or speculative design concepts.