The Sympathy Of Things

Episodes

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Part 12018110120190121 (R4)Amica Dall and Giles Smith look at our relationship with the material world.

In this two-part series, Turner Prize-winning architectural collective Assemble explore the designed and manufactured world.

Together with an ensemble of guests, friends and accomplices, Amica Dall and Giles Smith argue that mass production has upended our relationship to the material world, and explain how the advent of digital technologies will do so again - but not in the way you think.

The series is an argument for observing our material world better and for understanding the way we make objects, and objects, in turn, make us.

Taking on the task as enthusiastic amateurs, Amica and Giles journey through factory floors, workshops and ivory towers, criss-crossing the country, learning to make radio as they unearth a rich, centuries-long history of thinking about making - from the Arts and Crafts movement and the design philosophy of machine age mass production to cutting edge digital pioneers.

You'll hear from the professor and best selling author Richard Sennett, Marcus Engman, head of Design at IKEA, and a host of other people actively engage in thinking about and actually making the stuff that we live with everyday.

Episode one starts with an exploration of the extraordinary, complex processes that go into the most mundane of things - from the humble toilet to your standard Argos toaster - thinking about the role that understanding how things are made plays in how we understand our place in the world, and our relationships to each other.

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Part 22018110820190128 (R4)Turner Prize-winning architectural collective Assemble explore the designed and manufactured world. In this second episode of a two-part series, they argue that the advent of digital technologies will upend the way we relate to the material world, but not in the way we think.

Computers have so radically dematerialised our access to information, that it's easy to forget the amount of material infrastructure they rely on. From data centres and transatlantic cables to uranium mines, digital technologies have scored deep and lasting marks right across the surface of the earth.

But if we find it hard to remember the physical impact of existing digital technologies, we haven’t even started to think about how digital production will change the ways that we design, make and occupy the rest of the material world. Together with friends, accomplices and collaborators, Assemble argue that the technologies we grow up with structure how we think. They visit designers and manufacturers who are starting to exploit and explore the social, economic and material changes these new technologies will bring.

Together, these two programmes make an argument for observing our material world better, and for understanding the way that we make objects, and that objects, in turn, make us.

Producers: Sean Glynn and David Waters
AN SPG production for BBC Radio 4

Amica Dall and Giles Smith look at our relationship with the material world.