Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More instructions

Please remind that:

1) the conceptual map must show (with the aid of 5/7 "ideas") the whole system of the leading points of view around the assigned "couple" of material properties.

2) the "ideas" represented in the graph hopefully must belong to the same grammar category (i.e. they can be adjectives, verbs, nouns, etc.)

3) the blog can be completed (but not compulsory) with a short spoken interview (mp3 file of no more than 2 minutes) that syntetizes the blog phylosophy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Alphabet

A good exercise for walking around the themes of our research is to prepare a simple alphabetical list, like this:

A for Agriculture
B for Botanics
C for Computer Science
D for...

and so on

Useful Web sites for preparing the Alphabet are:
- http://www.crosswordsolver.org/definition
- Freedictionary

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Lectures

Next lectures will be on:
Tuesday, November 2, 13 PM
Wednesday, November 3, 9 PM

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Singing characteristics

Songs are important and immediate messages, that refer to the more ancestral times of our history.

An important tank of suggestion is the Music Sheet Levy's Collection

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things & People: an Hyper_Index

- Bicycles
- Books: 1, 2, 3
- Cars
- Home appliances

- James Joyce
- Claude Lévi-Strauss
- Popeye & Olive Oyl, 1

- Dubai, 1

waiting for links


Colors are appearances of life

颜色 (yánsè) is color in Chinese

"COLORS" is the title of a magazine. Visit the site.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Movies and Material Culture

- The Secret Life of Machines - The Vacuum Cleaner

- Jour de fete (1949), directed by Jacques Tati

- Ten Canoes (2006), Directed by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr

- Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003), directed by Sylvain Chomet

- Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928), directed by Buster Keaton

- Acciaio (1933), directed by Walter Ruttmann

Instructions for Writing the Blog

Each Post must have:

- a Title, with a short phrase for curiosity
- a Picture, for appeal
- a Text, for explanation, but concise
- a set of Labels, for ginving the keys to the argument

List of the Arguments to be contained in the Posts (at least one Post for each):

- The couple of adjectives
- Translation in foreign languages
- Explication of the terms
- Synonyms
- Presence in mythology
- Proverbs and sentences
- Comics citations
- Literature citations
- Movies citations
- Song citations
- Title and book cover presences
- Agricultural vs Industrial Society
- Reference to materials
- Tools
- Measurement tools and units
- Things and objects
- Innovation and patents
- Product advertisement examples
- Time coordinates and chronologies

- A special attention must be paid for the intercultural relationship in order to compare the different points ov view around the central theme examined.

List of some Labels:

- Dictionary
- Literature
- Mythology
- Tales
- Innovation
- Patents
- Comics
- Proverbs
- Visual arts
- Movies
- Songs
- Things
- Places
- History
- Philosophy
- Measure
- Time

The Blog must refer to Things, i.e. material objects, because the focus is the MATERIAL CULTURE and its HISTORY.

The Blog must be interconnected with the others of the Class and with the Web in order to create a real Network

On the blackboard

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Sometimes it is useful to remind what has been written on the blackboard:


Proverbs (谚语 - Yànyǔ) are ...

A proverb is a short well-known expression that states a general truth or gives advice.

Look for them in a web site.

English Proverbs and Sayings.

Chinese proverbs & others.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chinese to start

你 好, here you find some interesting videos, available on YouTube:

- Beginner Chinese lesson part 1
- ActiveChinese lesson part 2
- ActiveChinese School Edition: Chinese 100 - In the Classroom

I like Chinese!

and others, good search!

www.zhongwen.com: in this site you find the complete Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary published by Yale Press and available at Amazon.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mythology & Technology

Most of the ancient myths are connected with the great cuktural revolutions and with their embedded technical innovations. Technology is part of the mankind evolution and without it we were not here.

A Web site for Greek Mythology.

Prometheus: the fire discovery
Oedipus and Jocastas of Thebes: the incest taboo
Pasiphae and Minotauros: genetics and technology
Heracles: the ecology challenges
Phaeton: the chariot of the Sun
Icarus: the flight adventure
Dedalus: engineering and architecture
Demeter and Persephone: husbandry innovations
Atalanta and Hyppomenes: the technology illusions
Romulus and Remus: the foundation of the town
Theseus and Ariadne: the intelligent discoveries
Ulysses and the Trojan Horse: technology as stratagem

James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, 1890-1915.

Chinese words #5
Mythology = 神话 (shénhuà)
神 (shén) = supernatural
话 (huà) = words

Literature Classics

The Literature Classics

Free E-Books by Planet PDF

Planet E-Books

The Odyssey by Homer

The Iliad by Homer

The Aeneid by Vergil

The Analects by Confucius

The Doctrine of the Mean by Confucius

The Tao-te Ching by Lao-Tzu

The Fables by Aesop

Utopia by Thomas More

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Ulysses by James Joyce

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ingenium - Engien - Engine

Machina is an artifact that operates against the nature. It is the Latin translation of the ancient Greek word mêchanê.
"Deus ex machina" is a device that - in Greek theatre - allows the Gods to enter on the scene of the human life.
Machina in Ancient World assumes a negative value (as the war machines, as the Trojan Horse).

Only in more modern times the word machine (macchina, in Italian) assumed a neutral value, as a synonim of engine.

Ingenium is the useful invention of a device that helps performing some action.
Engien is the ancient French word that translated this concept in the Middle Age, hence the English engine.

Engineer (and the Italian word ingegnere) come from the Latin word ingenium.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The Life cycle of a silkworm.

Chinese words# 4:
Silk = 丝绸 (sīchóu)
Thread = 丝 (sī)

The Secret Life of Machines

The Vacuum Cleaner on YouTube:
Part one
Part two

The History of Vacuum Cleaners.

Chinese words # 3:
Vacuum cleaner = 吸尘器 (Xīchénqì) i.e. "absorb dust device"

To do

In Ancient Greek the verb "poiéin" (to do) had a more precise meaning: molding clay.

Poiéin is the creative action of God who create the mankind from the mud. Poiéin is the act of giving a shape to the formless matter.

Poiéin is the root for pòiesis, that origins "poetry", "poem" etc. that are artifacts of a creative activity.

The Latin word ars is the translation of the Greek techné: art, technique (and technology) have the same basic meaning, dealing with the production of things.

Chinese words # 2:
to do = 做 (zuò)

History & Matter

Memory is the condition for Consciousness.

History is a narrative activity grounded on Documents that concern with the Memory of some past activity.

Document is a Written Matter (Writing) framed in space and time.

Writing is a system of Signs or Symbols with a defined meaning, organized on a Material support.

ABC - Hyperblog Index

A. High / Low (Wang Youjie / Armentano Marco / Carrera Marta)
B. Hot / Cold (Dai Zhennan / Colia Elisa / Ghigo Francesca)
C. Light / Dark (Lan Qiuying / Gusmerini Valentina / Ninni Alice)
D. Cooked / Raw (Zhou Jingwen / Dal Palù Doriana / Varguarnera Teresa)
E. Straight / Curved (Teng Jiayun / Giannelli Valeria / Cristini Gabriele)
F. Hard / Soft (Zhao Sihan / Morello Desiré / De Paoli Arianna)
G. Wet / Dry (Faccin Cristina / Broccati Alessio Michele / Yuan Jue)
H. Dark / Refractory (Bao Peijin / Besenzon Filippo / Moretto Daniele)
I. Large / Small (Nervo Sara / Nino Maria Paola)
J. Waterproof / Porous (Camia Matteo / Melis Mauro)
K. Wide / Narrow (Arato Francesca / Takahashi Yoshiomi)
L. Liquid / Solid (Valerio Chiara / Colombo Riccardo)
M. Smooth / Rough (Mazza Eugenio / Feyza Baltaci)
N. Long / Short; (Alessio Riccardo / De Las Heras Ana)
O. Heavy / Light (Vernagallo Sergio / Morales Paula)
P. Full / Empty (Jamehtahaf Aboozar / Frazzetta Giuseppe)
Q. Regular / Irregular (Coletta Paola / Zivanovic Tijana)
R. Resistant / Weak (Larranaga Inigo / Iannuzzi Francesco)
S. Rigid / Flexible (Ruiu Irene / Viberti Andrea)
T. Robust / Fragile (Vanegas Angela / Giulini Serena / Santos Laura)
U. Natural / Artificial (Natalia Moreira / Zappalà Luca)
V. Sharp / Rounded (Pereno Amina / Renò Vittoriano)
W. Transparent / Opaque (Kurishita Takeshi / Giuliano Luca)
X. Fast / Slow (Rosa Cardinal Silvia / Ariano Giacomo)
Y. New / Used (Gerenzani Isabella / Casagranda Marta / Santa Alicia)
Z. Thick / Thin (Curatolo Alessio /

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cosa è una cosa? - What is what?

Un affare, aggeggio, apparecchio, arnese, articolo, attrezzo, bazzecola, bene, carabattola, congegno, cosa, dispositivo, entità, ferro, gingillo, macchina, marchingegno, ninnolo, nonnulla, oggetto, pezzo, prodotto, quid, quisquilia, roba, sciocchezza, strumento, suppellettile, utensile. Le cose affollano l’intero alfabeto che farebbe l’en-plein se si aggiungessero, in un multilinguismo etnico, anche le voci di dialetti e lingue aliene: chose, çfare, Dinge, dongxi, dud, kakvo, ma, matter, piece, què, thing, Sache, stuff, truc, zer. E in questo spazio, intitolato alla cose e ai giorni, come non incominciare con una scorribanda tra le cose. Perché le cose sono il substrato, il fondamento della memoria. Quando la Rivista di Sinisgalli e Luraghi, “Civiltà delle Macchine”; nei primi anni ’50 del Novecento affermava che l’Italia che “non è un paese povero” affacciandosi al miracolo economico, le cose più arcane, per esempio gli oggetti che abitano nei Sassi di Matera, trovavano una perfetta armonizzazione con le tecnologie più avanzate. E Adamo, il computer traduttore automatico di Silvio Ceccato, conviveva con la lanterna e l’oliera di latta celebrata da Sinisgalli come archetipi del moderno design, e dimostrava che, come aveva affermato José Ortega y Gasset, senza la tecnica l’uomo non sarebbe mai esistito.
Un tempo le maestre vietavano nei componimenti dei propri allievi l’uso di questa parola troppo comune. Eppure “cosa” è un termine così importante che dimenticarne il ruolo sociale e culturale sarebbe proprio un grave danno in una società che ammaliata dalle sirene della multimedialità, dimentica che viviamo perché siamo immersi in un mondo di cose. La cosa, che alle sue origini latine vede le sue radici nella causa, mentre la res si è trasferita a pieno diritto nel mondo “reale”. Reale e virtuale è il binomio in cui si dibatte la nostra società, postindustriale o postcontemporanea che sia. Il virtuale stupisce nella sua assenza di cose, ma dove sta il fascino del catalogo, materiale e concreto, magari polveroso, di un vecchio solaio?
Nel suo saggio sulle Geografie della memoria (Torino : Einaudi, 2008) Antonella Tarpino afferma che le case sono “testimoni indelebili del trascorrere del tempo e dei volubili sentimenti che lo accompagnano”, Sono tracce di un legame sempre più incerto e fragile tra il passato (prossimo) e il presente, che le riviste patinate, glamour, non riescono a contemplare. La polvere, questa protagonista del tempo, viene mangiata dagli aspirapolvere e da un’infinità di altre “cose” che la pubblicità tecnologica ci propone quotidianamente. Le cose restano e non per nulla il Codice dei beni culturali e del paesaggio all’Articolo 10 afferma “Sono beni culturali le cose immobili e mobili […] che presentano interesse artistico, storico, archeologico o etnoantropologico.” La nostra storia è fondata sulle cose.
La “roba”, dal provenzale rauba, è invece termine che trova le sue radici nelle lingue germaniche dove roub, raub e rôf sono il bottino di guerra: da qui il nostro “rubare” e così i vizi capitali trionfano, proprio tutti. Ce lo insegna anche la morale che Giovanni Verga pone al centro del suo Mastro Don Gesualdo. La roba è l’insieme delle cose accumulate con avidità, l’idolo di una religione pagana e senza speranza. Più lontano dal nostro mondo, in Cinese, una lingua che prima o poi entrerà anche nel vecchio mondo, la cosa è 东西 (dong xi) e i due ideogrammi che la compongono significano “oriente” e “occidente”. Sarà una profezia?

Vittorio Marchis, articolo apparso su "Avvenire" il 2 settembre 2010.

The "Avvenire" columms "Le cose e i giorni" ("Things and Days") by Vittorio Marchis appear every Thursday.

Le cose e i giorni - Things and Days

A collection of articles around the material culture appear in the newspaper "Avvenire" each Thursday. Articles can be found at internet address: http://www.avvenire.it/GiornaleWEB2008/Templates/Pages/ColumnPage.aspx?IdRubrica=.cose&TitoloRubrica=Le+cose+e+i+giorni&Autore=Vittorio%20Marchis

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Lectures for the Year 2010

The first lecture will take place at Alenia Buildings on Tuesday, October 12.

Students will be joined in couples; each couple shall prepare a blog named as:


Themes, related to material and physical characteristics, are:

A. High / Low
B. Hot / Cold
C. Light / Dark
D. Cooked / Raw
E. Straight / Curved
F. Hard / Soft
G. Efficient / Inefficient
H. Dark / Refractory
I. Large / Small
J. Waterproof / Porous
K. Wide / Narrow
L. Liquid / Solid
M. Smooth / Rough
N. Long / Short; 长 / 短
O. Heavy / Light
P. Full / Empty
Q. Regular / Irregular
R. Resistant / Weak
S. Rigid / Flexible
T. Robust / Fragile
U. Natural / Artificial
V. Sharp / Rounded
W. Transparent / Opaque
X. Fast / Slow
Y. New / Used
Z. Wet / Dry
1. Thick / Thin

On the other hand,

Useful / Useless
Nice / Ugly
Good / Bad
Fun / Boring
Smart / Stupid

are categories depending on Ethics.