From Instruments to Containers, from Containers to Media. The Extensions of the Body



There is a long tradition of conceptualising the ‘extensions of man’ or the ‘extensions of the body’ as devices enabling the emergence of technical instruments and/or of media, a tradition renewed by recent discussions in German media studies (Siegert, Harrasser, Kassung). But most of the earlier protagonists of this tradition focussed exclusively on the extensions of human extremities and the brain (McLuhan, Leroi-Gourhan, Kapp). Only a minor tradition mentioned ‘containers’ as technical and figurative externalisations of the rump and of whole bodies (Mumford). Especially the British archeologist Clive Gamble has recently pointed to a long ‘drift’ from instruments to containers, and to the ambiguities of technical and figurative containers. Gamble’s renewal of Mumford’s intuition gives media theory a unique chance to develop a new prehistory of today’s media and computer interfaces: acknowleding the long-term impact of gender divisions of labour; completing the incomplete matrix of Leroi-Gourhan’s technical extensions by pondering the distributed cognition of traps and work-places; elucidating the spatial intelligence of useful, ritual and aesthetic skills; explicating the cooperative spatial action enabled by media such as maps and cosmograms, Amerindian bundles, Sub-Saharan masks and Siberian drums and many others yet to be explored in the long drift from instruments to containers to media.
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 author = {Schüttpelz, Erhard},
 title = {From Instruments to Containers, from Containers to Media. The Extensions of the Body},
 year = 2021,
 doi = "\url{}",
 volume = 21,
 address = {Siegen},
 series = {SFB 1187 Medien der Kooperation – Working Paper Series},
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