‘Careful and curved, cake and sober, all accounts and mixture, a guess at anything is righteous, should there be a call there would be a voice.’ —Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons
The humble button encompasses ideas of connectivity, intimacy, relation, precision, production (on/off), kindness and smallness. Its origin in the Latin buttare, to thrust, and in the old French boton, bud, roots the button in a potentiality that stretches and plies its usage from metaphor to technology. The domesticity of the button, its closeness to our skin in clothing or its proximity in the home, the laptop, the TV remote control, the microwave, calls us to examine our relations to objects and the ergonomics of their interactions with us. As a mediator between man and machine, how does the button inhabit this interstice and what are the implications of their prevalence within the sphere of modern living? How do buttons function within digital culture? Buttons, too, can encapsulate very real threats; the detonation of nuclear warheads or the transmission of confidential information is only a button’s press away; they can contain and express our most strident political or aesthetic positions, but what happens when these buttons are in the possession of an enemy? They have become integral to the way we communicate: phone, email and the internet all require the push of a button to generate action. Playful and tender, the button functions as ornamentation and fastening, both aesthetic and practical.
We here at Static put forth the potentiality of buttons: a haberdashery of usages.
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