Text by Kel Glaister & Amy Marjoram
The system of ‘stuff’ often seems quite seamless in its shared technologies and logical choices. Mass production then helps; we can get through our entire lives without making anything if we choose. The sanctity of objects brought on by this purposeful and incredible scheme of stuff can lead us to aspire to concepts like ‘pristine condition’ or ‘factory fresh’. But perfection is an oddly personal and finicky thing and most people at some time will come across an item that just doesn’t cut it. It might be that it’s new but doesn’t quite fit, it might be old and broken, it might be that you can’t afford what you want, or that what you want is outmoded or hasn’t been invented yet. Or it might just be that you can somehow do it better; better for you, better for the circumstances you have to work with. That’s why it’s hard not to love Mods, because a mod is necessarily comparative, and (for someone) they are better. On the website thereifixedit.com there is a toilet roll holder made out of bending a cheap metal coat hanger, it works and for the maker its either ideal or close enough or it might be that the solution itself is so excellent in its easiness that it gets to stay for that alone. Problem solved.
What does it mean to mod? To take it upon oneself to modify the objects around you is effectively to say I am not fully satisfied with the world as it is, I will make the world I want. A minor revolution in the realm of things – Modding is about changing the world, one broken tool at a time. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that it is about personalising the world, making it right for us. Because while Modding is in some sense a gently political act, it is not one done for the masses. It is done in back sheds by people with ‘short fat fingers,’ or who dislike how dim bike lights can be. Faced with an array of objects that are increasingly made for an ideal person, or ideally shaped human body, Modding acknowledges the vast array of embodied experiences of the world and the vast possibilities inherent in each object.
Objects come to us coded with social meaning and stained with their instructions for use. But these objects are also simple conglomerations of materials. The realm of things can seen more complicated than it actually is, or more simple. The Modder is able to see and understand both systems at once, both the accepted use of an object, and the more material experiental nature of it, the thingness of things. To mod is to jam both these systems together for the benefit of the individual and, we would like to imagine, the object. For Modding reveals the hidden abilities of objects, their qualities that are overwritten or ignored. A bong is a bong is a vase.
Inventions and improvements ricochet off each other causing chain reactions, patents spawn more patents, things are made then we exploit their possibilities, it is endless. The way we think about stuff is being endlessly fine-tuned. Amongst all of this some Mod’s exist like secrets that someone has found out. We have found a lot of these secrets, and we’d like to share. Welcome to Mod Off.