Sunday, May 22, 2016

Whimmydiddles, Whirligigs, and Capital Punishment – A History of Toys and Games with Tyler Calkin (Machine Project Event)

I had the pleasure of attending "Whimmydiddle, Whirligigs, and Capital Punishment - A History of Toys and Games with Tyler Calkin. I came out of the talk with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the way games and play have come about in history to present.

Tyler mentioned at the beginning of his talk that most of his research was western oriented. His research is mainly on the shift from communal experiences to solitary eduction in America and Europe, examining the cultural forces, family dynamics, new technologies, and the persistent role of ideology in crafting the games we play.


Starting in the 17th century with industrialization, play was seen as useless. Idleness was a negative, playing outside was a negative. Toy blocks from 1600s were mainly used by wealthy families who wanted to segregate their children from the "vulgar masses". Private tutors used alphabet blocks, it was an individual private game prescribed by educators.

Toy Blocks

The founder of kindergartens Friedrich Froebel used toys in a spiritual sense. He used toys to represent the hierarchy of the universe, he developed a system with a series of gifts. Each gift was a different spiritual understanding of the world. There was this idea of learning about nature and the world by staying inside.

Froebel Gift

Capital Punishment board game. The purpose of this game was to convict "criminals" and sentence them severely as quickly as possible. This one stuck with me because of the current state of our criminal justice here in the states, the game is our reality.

Capital Punishment

The toy stove was and became an element of capital and commerce, while also being an instructional object. Toy stoves were originally used as a tiny model salesmen could bring around to show potential clients what they were buying. It ended up being used as a toy as well.

Toy Stove

16th century dollhouses were used by wealthy dutch women. These women would have their belongings miniaturized to show off their wealth. It was a toy for adults by adults. We have here signifiers of wealth becoming cheaper and cheaper. By the late 19th century this became a middle class children object of play.

1600 Doll House

This intersection of art and technology really tied in magnificently with what we have been learning during the quarter. It was great to really dive into something I didn't think much about, something that had a major impact on all our developments during childhood.


"Brief History of the Kindergarten." History of the Froebel Kindergarten. Web. 23 May 2016.
"Late 1800s Primitive Children ' S Wooden Toy Blocks, Old Victorian Estate Find." Late 1800s Primitive Children ' S Wooden Toy Blocks, Old Victorian Estate Find. Web. 23 May 2016.
"Gift Two: Sphere, Cylinder and Cube." Froebel Blocks Gift 2 Gabe Eunmul. Web. 23 May 2016.
"Online Collections." 107.1237: Capital Punishment. Web. 23 May 2016.
" Salesman Sample & Toy Stoves." Salesman Sample & Toy Stoves. Web. 23 May 2016.
"Most Expensive Dollhouses in the World - Best Dollhouse." Top Luxurious List. 2015. Web. 23 May 2016.

No comments:

Post a Comment