Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Bricolage Walker


Feature Entry: The Bricolage Walker

Our personal history can sometimes be a chronicle of what might have been. The MoneyWalker enjoys his money theme, but he could have been the BricolageWalker. A Bricolage walker is a person that makes good use of objects that are found while walking, things that everyday folks discard or leave behind.

This somewhat esoteric word is pronounced brē’ kō-lӓzh’, and means “something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available. Bricolage is used in diverse and interesting contexts including management theory, literature, and recycling.

M. Afzalur Rahim in his “Current Topics in Management, Vol. 12, 2007 book suggested that bricolage behavior is an important aspect of creative problem solving: ““people facing difficult and uncertain situations use whatever resources they have at hand to reach their goals.” George de Mestral (an avid walker) invented Velcro after a long walk aggravated by cockleburs stuck in his trousers. While removing the burs he noticed how their hook like properties interacted with the threads of his pants. Eureka, Velcro was invented. And the Apollo 13 astronauts used duck tape, discarded paper and other articles to patch their troubled spacecraft to rescue themselves from the troubled moon flight.

In recycling, there are community bricolages. They bring together people of all ages to discuss and learn how to re-use unwanted items. There are bricolage competitions. Designers compete to see which can create the most useful or interest object from whatever materials are at hand. The featured photo was from the Korean YEOSU-EXPO SILO Recycling Competition.

In postmodern literature the bricolage technique has resulted in a new genre which uses bits and pieces of older writing methods to produce new literary styles; stream-of-consciousness writing for example. Old tools from realism, characterization, tidy plot lines, romanticism, etc. are used but in unconventional ways.

The bricolage walker is at heart an environmentalist. The walks are for fitness and weight control, but the motivation to sustain the walks over multiple months and years of walking is the anticipation of finding objects discarded or lost by others and then recycling or repurposing them. Claude Leví-Strauss defined bricolage materials as"… elements which can be defined by two criteria: they have had a use.... and they can be used again either for the same purpose or for a different one if they are at all diverted from their previous function."

Finding money remains supreme, but more and more, the MoneyWalker’s “excitement of the walk” is the anticipation of finding useful interesting recyclable objects. He stores the treasures in his large basement, recycles them or repurposes them at his leisure, and then conducts a yard sale of the objects with all profits going to the New Orleans Friendship House for abused women and their children.

If you thought Ms MoneyWalker had trouble with a husband obsessed with finding dirty bent coins, don’t even mention the basement.


postmodern literature,

SILO Recycling Competition for YEOSU-EXPO / G.Lab* by Gansam Architects & Partner

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