- To understand the origins of our material culture
- To give both a theoretical and practical overview of the processes of production.
In this seminar, we will investigate the origins of our material culture, based on the process of technical exteriorisation as described by prehistorians like Leroi-Gourhan, Eric Boëda, by sociologist Marcel Mauss, anthropologist Tim Ingold or Jared Diamond, or by philosophers like Bernard Stiegler or Gilbert Simondon. The seminar will tackle the issue of the origins and the bases of human technicity, from the first tools used and manufactured, to the most advanced modern technologies. Several themes and questions will be raised, especially around the notion of Technics: why and how human beings started producing tools and objects? What is it that makes us the amazing makers and builders that we have become? Is there such a thing as a technical “species”? We will study some archetypal characters such as the potter and the blacksmith (Mircéa Eliade, Claude Levi-Strauss) through various myths of creation in different cultures and we will see if and how these figures make sense nowadays, particularly in pop culture.
The seminar will be based on a number of texts and practical examples (objects, constructions, paleontological sites…), but also on films (Barbet Schroeder, James Marsch, Stanley Kubrick, Michel Gondry, Frederic Wiseman…) and possibly on an exhibition.
Students will be invited to present a case-study (either an object, a gesture or a technique), articulated with a text from the bibliography.