Container or Not

November 26, 2014

Bild seminarium 3

Reflections after reading “Container Technologies” by Zoe Sofia in Hypatia, 2000.

After reading Sofias text I got the feeling that almost everything could be classified as a container. One could say that even a tool is a container, containing a specific action that one could “pour” out from the tool at a specific time. One could say that the action was concealed within the tool when constructing it. Almost everything is able to contain something, like material things (classic containers like bowls, silos, buildings), actions (tools, machines), energy (material, oil, trees, earth, food), information (books, computers, pictures, art) or memory (specific objects or things, artefacts, pictures, music). One could say the whole world consists of containers, even an atom could be considered a container for protons, electrons and neutrons, completely determined by what it contains. But lets us stop there and say that containers are some sort of technology and can only be constructed by human. That leaves out some things like atoms, oil, trees and earth.

Lets say a building is a container. The containing function is only held by the void on the inside of the walls, the walls themselves are not containers. That means that a free standing wall would not be considered a container, or is it? Is it a container of memory? Or a container of the material constructing the wall?

We could draw a distinction and say that for something to be considered a container the purpose of its existence needs to be supply, and that it needs to be constructed with that purpose only. The “envelope” forming the void which is the containing function could not be considered a container containing the material it is constructed of, because if one “pour” out the material the “envelope” is constructed of the “envelope” would not exist any more. To be a container the container needs to exist both with and without the things or objects it can contain, it needs to be able to exist empty.

With this distinction a tool would not be considered a container because it can not exist without “containing” its action. And as well, something containing energy, like food, would not be considered a container containing energy since it will not exist after one “poured” out the energy, in other words, used the energy. And a book is not a container since one can not “pour” out the story and fill it with another story.

My thought was to pick a bench from my posthuman site Hornsberg strand as a container. But with these distinctions I made, I would not consider the bench a container since it can not exist without its “containing” action which is sitting. If one took away the action of sitting the bench would not exist.

Or I can look at the bench in an other way. A person can “pour” herself “into” (on) the bench, the bench can “contain” the person and then the person can “pour” herself “out” of the bench and the bench would still exist after this had happened. If I look at the bench in this way I would say that the bench is a container.

Lovisa Wallgren


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