Post 141: The walk man: Israeli artist digs into vintage gadgets and Tahini and Beet Dressing

The walk man: Israeli artist digs into vintage gadgets

Former photojournalist Gabi Menashe finds redemption in documenting the innards of old dial phones, Minoltas and tape recorders.By | Aug. 24, 2013 Haaretz

Taking Apart

Old dial phone Photo by Gabriel Menashe
Gabriel Menashe

Gabriel Menashe.

One of the gadget geeks’ favorite porn genres is Teardown, where gadgets are taken apart, disassembled to their basic components, and then photographed. In the “Taking apart” project, Israeli photographer Gabi Menashe does that to old gadgets − including a rotary dial telephone, a Sony Walkman, an alarm clock and a Minolta Hi-Matic-E camera − all of which he cleans, photographs, disassembles, organizes neatly and photographs the parts to create an anatomical poster showing the gadget next to its organs.

“I have two clear rules: I never break anything, only what I can take apart. And it’s important that the product is in one piece beforehand, because I also shoot it before taking it apart,” says Menashe, who works for the Israeli web magazine Xnet. The project was born of his longing for his former job as a photojournalist and his hobby of wandering around flea markets. “I’m able to find those products really cheap − tens of shekels [10 shekels equal about $2.80]. And disassembling them is fascinating, because there’s the philosophical aspect and the curiosity aspect. You see how complex the technology was compared to today’s all-electronic technology − the mechanics of the products − you can’t believe how many springs they have, and you know that if one is missing, it won’t work. It astonishes me every time, how it was even designed in such a small casing, be it a clock, a camera, etc. The philosophical aspect is that it makes me feel I’m giving the products a life for the last time, before they’re discarded. It’s really nice to arrange them in some composition and then shoot. By the way, I don’t try, and I doubt that I could, reassemble them.

Ten photos have been posted to Taking apart’s site, and Menashe keeps combing the flea markets for more items; he also searches secondhand Internet sites and Facebook. “Now I’m working on a typewriter, which I will be disassembling soon, it’s up next, and there’s a VCR.”

On the site he writes: “We may live in the age of smartphones and digital books and every day we are amazed by some new application, but believe me when I tell you, nothing beats the sense of awe you feel after taking apart an old watch and realizing what really made it tick. I can’t even begin to describe the admiration I have for the people who designed and built such intricate devices.”

Menashe didn’t start the project as a commercial venture, but he was delighted when people who liked the posters started
ordering copies of them.

Menashe doesn’t view his project as part of the geeky trend: “I don’t go for the thing everybody’s talking about and show its inner workings. It’s important for me to go for the vintage, for things people saw at home, like old cameras, something I, as a photographer, have a strong connection to. It’s porn, absolutely, but not because it’s trendy and geeky. I’m fascinated with how it’s built.”

So you’re intentionally, maybe defiantly, not going to disassemble new gadgets.

“No, no, it has to be mechanical, something that makes another thing work, not some electronic chip that is the core of the gadget where you can’t see what’s happening inside. When you take apart an old alarm clock, you can see that an engineer planned how this button will move this hand and this will move that, and if any part is missing it won’t work. But I don’t think I will disassemble an iPhone − it’s all two chips and a processor. No, ain’t gonna happen.” ;

This is one of the busiest shops in Machanah Yehuda. We are still puzzled over why all the action?

Tahini and Beet Dressing

Ingredients:1 cup chopped beets

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 cup raw tahini

1 cup water

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon ground mustard seed

2 TBS. Tamari / soy sauce

1 tsp. chopped horseradish / pinch Wasabi

1/2 tsp. Atlantic salt

Blend everything in the blender.

You can use any mixer


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