On the tension and the ground of object repurposing.
People have long been fascinated by the creative ways that humans repurpose objects to suit their particular needs and desires. Recently, a number of artists, historians, and critics have begun to document the myriad cases of object repurposing and the impulses behind them—myself included. In The Practice of Misuse: Rugged Consumerism in Contemporary American Culture, I examined some of these practices as they surfaced in literature, art, and other cultural artifacts within the United States from the 1960s to the present. I spent the majority of the book outlining the strange interrelationships that arise among object repurposing, contemporary “Maker” communities such as Instructables, post-apocalyptic literature, and American left- and right-libertarian politics.
If I had to do it over again, I’d add the hit television series Project Runway, which issues an annual “unconventional challenge” asking contestants to fashion clothing out of material scrounged from a hardware store, a grocery store, or a candy store.