Things handmade. About making things.
Is music a thing?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Manufacturing Landscapes

The Hot Docs film festival in underway. I think if the weather were rainier I'd be more inclined to see movies in the middle of the day. Today would be the perfect afternoon to while away in a theatre, overcast as it is.

Last Sunday I took the Boyfriend to see Manufactured Landscapes, a film about the work of photographer Ed Burtynsky as he travels to China to capture what he sees. The scale of human endeavour is staggering, as are the implications to human spirit and the environment. There is a sequence in the film where the camera focuses on a woman as she assembles switching boxes by hand. All the parts are pre-made, plastic, metal and what not. Her hands just fly, she says she assembles about 400 a day. Assembled by hand. Is it hand-made? What is the difference between what she does and what we do, with stitches and knots over and over again? Intention, largely. But it left me feeling both extremely fortunate that I can more or less decide what I make and when, and sad that so much of the world, so many humans are locked into a series of repetitious and unrewarding tasks. I wonder if the lady who assembles switches (or the one who wraps wire around a joint, or tests nozzles endlessly) allows her mind to wander. Do songs find her and sing themselves in her head?

How many hands made all the parts and pieces that make up my computer, and the electrical & telecommunications systems that supplies it. Staggering.

Almost as an antidote (and consumerism is a dangerous drug), I bought some Cestari yarn. "Manufacured Exclusively by the sheep and shepherds of Chester Farms". It smells like lanolin.

1 comment:

pele said...

What curious machines we are. Sometimes I think my freedom of choice paralyzes me at every interstice and my body demands such a constant supply of tasks to keep the circuitry happy that I wonder if I'd be happier in a factory. I have also watched Chinese people (family and friends) go about mundane chores with such elaborate calculation that it makes me feel we'll never truly understand Others, who suckled the breast of an alien culture from birth. Maybe you can contact the director and ask her what she's thinking about. Is it music? And ask her if she's seen Dancer in the Dark.