~e; (EM) Mechanisation Takes Command

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Sat, 20 Apr 2002 13:21:55 -0500

previously mentioned the book "mechanization takes command"
with regard to em-technologies, so decided to find out the correct author,
as it was a seminal work, and also some links to resources

so here are a few resources/urls in regard to EM appliances in
domestic settings and its transformative effects in society: 

    Siegfried Giedion
    Mechanization Takes Command:
    A Contribution to an Anonymous History
    New York: W.W. Norton, 1969

(1) [oddly enough, essay in a zine in an issue on modern architecture...]


By Loretta Lorance 

"However, if the interest were the point of conjunction between the home,
technology and readily available energy, it would be found in the 1920s. 

"On the corners of this 1920s intersection between the home, technology and
readily available energy stand the housewife, domestic servants and household
appliances. As technology produced more opportunities for women in industry and
business, less were willing to spend long hours working for low wages as
domestic servants.2 Correspondingly, those who were willing to serve as
domestics were in a position to demand better wages. Middle-class housewives,
whose budgets could not accommodate the increase in the cost of domestic help,
would be more likely to purchase appliances to ease their own workload than
wealthy woman who would probably purchase appliances for their servants to use.
Numerous manually operated appliances were marketed before the 1920s, but, the
rapid electrification of urban areas during that decade3 was complimented by
increases in the types and availability of electric appliances which were much
easier to use than the manual models.4 Electric appliances began to be
championed as 'electric servants'5 that would make housework less strenuous and
less time consuming while being more efficient and more manageable than
traditional domestic servants."


footnotes for PROMISES, PROMISES: 
By Loretta Lorance 

(2) (architectural) biography of Sigfried Giedion from 
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. c.2001. 
(zkh´frd g´dôn) (KEY) , 1883­1968, Swiss historian of architecture. Giedion was
a student of Heinrich Wölfflin and close associate of Walter Gropius. He was a
key figure of the International Congress of Modern Architecture (see CIAM) from
its inception (1928), and taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
Harvard, where he became chairman of the graduate school of design. Giedion
presented lectures at Harvard in which he broke with the German materialist
tradition of 19th-century art history and described history in terms of
constancy and change. These lectures were collected in Space, Time, and
Architecture (1941). Among Giedion¹s other works are Mechanization Takes Command
(1948) and the two volumes of lectures entitled The Eternal Present (1964).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright c. 2001 Columbia University
Press. (fair-use, ~e.og, 2oo2) http://www.bartleby.com/65/gi/Giedion.html

see .bio on Wölfflin at: http://www.bartleby.com/65/wo/Wolfflin.html
see .bio on Gropius at: http://www.bartleby.com/65/gr/Gropius.html

(3) essay of another, related work: Leo Mark, Machine in the Garden


This is an excerpt from Alan Trachtenberg's The Incorporation of America:
Culture and Society in the Gilded Age, published by Hill and Wang, American
Century Series, 1982, pp.38-69.


"The image of the machine, like the image of the West, proved to be a complex
symbol, increasingly charged with contradictory meanings and implications. If
the machine seemed the prime cause of the abundance of new products changing the
character of daily life, it also seemed responsible for newly visible poverty,
slums, and an unexpected wretchedness of industrial conditions. While it
inspired confidence in some quarters, it also provoked dismay, often arousing
hope and gloom in the same minds. For, accompanying the mechanization of
industry, of transportation, and of daily existence, were the most severe
contrasts yet visible in American society, contrasts between "progress and
poverty" (in Henry George's words), which seemed to many a mockery of the
republican dream, a haunting paradox. Each act of national celebration seemed to
evoke its opposite. The 1877 railroad strike, the first instance of machine
smashing and class violence on a national scale, followed the 1876 Centennial
Exposition, and the even fiercer Pullman strike of 1894 came fast on the heels
of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. 

"It is no wonder that closer examination of popular celebrations discloses
bewilderment and fear. In fiction and poetry, as Leo Marx has shown in his
seminal Machine in the Garden (1964), serious writers before the Civil War had
fastened on the image of a mechanical intrusion on a pastoral setting as a
characteristic expression of a deeply troubled society. In the language of
literature, a machine (railroad or steamship) bursting on a peaceful natural
setting represented a symbolic version of the trauma inflicted on American
society by unexpectedly rapid mechanization. The popular mode of celebration
covered over all signs of trauma with expressions of confidence and fulsome
praise. But confidence proved difficult to sustain in the face of the evidence."

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