Abstraction from Purpose

Today we were talking about how it is possible for an item to be entirely abstracted from its purpose.

I couldn’t help but think of pottery tools for use when throwing on the wheel, which all seem entirely useless and even bizarre when you remove them from their context.

A simple plastic or wooden tool which one could use to help make the profile of a bowl’s foot or side is simply reduced to being nothing more than a piece of shaped wood or plastic when you take it out of the context of a craftsperson’s hands.

The kidney tool, which tends to have a hole in the centre, and can be made from flexible rubber, (either firm or flexible) metal, (solid) wood or (similarly either firm or flexible) plastic, is the item I want to focus on here.  The edges are tapered from use and for the sake of practicality, and the shape of the tool itself is incredibly specific so as to make it as easy as possible for the tool to be used efficiently; that is, so that the tool need only be used for a short period of time, and to not exhaust the user through its use.

It’s an item that without a larger set of tools is entirely pointless and without context.  Without the sharper metal tools there is little need for the tapered form of the metal or wooden kidney tool.  It loses its entire context if it is in isolation.

As an object all on its own, it can be visually satisfying or even disappointing.


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