C3RI Lunchtime Seminar - The Electric Guitar: A Design History with Professor Paul Atkinson
Event contact Alison Honnor
The electric guitar is a unique thing: at once ubiquitous and quotidian, and yet extraordinary and distinctive. Its sound is heard every day by millions of people in many different forms of music, consumed unconsciously by many, very consciously by some. Electric guitars can be evocative items. Particular models arouse childhood memories of longing, or devotion to favourite players. Their sounds take us back to the times we were first moved by their emotive resonance.
What appears to be an unremarkable object of modern culture to the majority, is to others a highly desirable object, shot through with cultural associations and meanings. What seems commonplace to most is to others a highly collectible artefact to be coveted and treasured. Unlike many other technological artefacts, an electric guitar may go out of style, but it will never be obsolete. Unless physically damaged, every electric guitar ever made, no matter how old, can still be plugged into an amplifier and played. As such, electric guitars maintain a use value and commonly increase in exchange value. Owned by a professional player the electric guitar is a work tool, yet always one that has a certain, exalted status. Owned by an amateur, it is unashamedly a luxury item, a clear expression of conspicuous leisure.
This seminar will describe in the form of an expanded book proposal, a piece of research that is at an early stage of planning and execution.
Paul Atkinson is Professor of Design and Design History in C3RI.