Politics of Tools (Saturday: 13:30)

Session Title: Politics of Tools

Date: Sat 25 March 2017

Attendees (who was there?):

  • Shannon
  • Klie
  • Gayatri
  • Leonardo
  • Jeff
  • Hagit
  • Akshai
  • JP
  • Goldjian
  • Bethan
  • Jeffrey

Overview of topic (3-6 sentences):


Session first looked at a camera (inc. packaging and manual) that is sold for hunting but is being used by Public Lab for industrial surveillance i.e. checking on mines or companies to check they are not engaging in environmentally harmful activities.

Embodied politics in a trail camera

  • Manliness
  • Gun Scope
  • Trail camera and gun violence
  • Camo design
  • Gas mask styling
  • Dogs
  • Individualistic
  • Non-intuitive
  • Small fungers
  • Assumes knowledge
  • Hunting vs other uses
  • Durable
  • Too large
  • Expensive
  • People or animal subjects
  • Surveillance
  • Red, white and blue LEDs > patriotism
  • Dominance

Some products are advertised for one purpose when it is well-known they are mostly used for other things.

Tactics that are used to communicate politics




Cultural messaging/hidden messages

Aesthetics, physical styling




Other objects to redesign

  • Hunting camera (4 votes)
  • Drone (5 votes)
  • Mobile phone (5 votes)
  • Fruit - layers on layers of plastic (1 vote)
  • Desktop paper cutter - sold at a fabric/craft store. Aimed at a different demographic to 3D printers and laser cutters. Instructions are youtube videos that are narrated differently, using different jargon but basically do a similar thing (no votes)
  • Remote controls (4 votes)
  • Vacuum cleaners (4 votes)


Next year, could bring catalogues e.g. in hunting catalogues there are also defence and surveillance.