5 Why a physical collection of tools and related objects?
Touch is important to how we interrelate with tools. The most important things about a tool cannot be known from an image. We need to interact with the physical object. A tool’s weight and balance are extremely important, but just as important are a tool’s dimensions, temperature and the way it connects with our bodies.
Much of a physical presence cannot be translated into another media without losing part of what makes it what it is. The information that is gathered by touch often determines our relationship with the external world.
Because of this we felt that initiating an archive of physical objects was important. Objects encapsulate their identity within a physical presence. They also have stories to tell, embedded in the objects themselves. When enough tools are gathered together it is usually possible to see evidence of the tool’s making or repair. Sometimes the repair of a tool shows a resourcefulness that exhibits a deeper understanding of the principles. A collection such as ours can show how one material can be adapted for different purpose than originally intended: the transformation of car springs or rebar into working chisels, for instance. Newer tools show the design and fabrication. Older tools show places and intensity of work wear. The comparison of equivalent tools reveals differences that would be invisible with single examples.
Our collection includes samples of stones. As the collection grows it will show geological differences in roughly equivalent stones. Stone samples allow the comparison of stones that in photograph might look the same because of scale, reflective qualities, weight, and touch — all the things that get dropped out in a photo.
Geographic differences can be seen in mason’s clothing and tools and their evolution over centuries. Cultural differences allow the comparison of, say hammers, and reveal subtle but different understanding of a tool’s principles and use.
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