"Equipment as Art, Art as Equipment: Notes on Film, Architecture, and Martin Heidegger's Philosophy of Culture

Max Ryynänen, Petteri Kummala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Equipment (das Zeug) and the work of art are key concepts in Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of art. In The Origin of the Work of Art, Heidegger contrasts equipment, sometimes translated as ‘tool,’ with art. The term could, however, be useful for discussing art and culture. The “readiness-at-hand” of a hammer (part of the network of equipment) makes it transparent. We notice it only when it is broken. Heidegger posits this function as opposite to the way works of art push (Stoss) us out of our comfort zone to deal with our existential abyss. However, since they have a constitutive role in culture at the same time, we think that the description of equipment could shed light on the nature of our use of art and popular culture. For example, in our everyday life we rely as much on architecture and TV series as we do on hammers when we need them. (Most of us use fewer hammers than TV series, though.) Some cultural products could also be seen as both equipment and works of art in the sense that Heidegger attaches to them; this might offer interesting insights for aesthetics and cultural philosophy. To think of both the quality of art and equipment in relation to a good film or a playful building could be a new way to apply and rethink Heidegger’s legacy, which we hope to make visible in this paper. We argue that the usual dichotomous approach to distinguishing art and equipment should be reformulated to show that the equipment in our everyday life can provide existential moments often offered by art.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary Aesthetics
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • film
  • film studies
  • architecture
  • philosophy
  • aesthetics
  • heidegger
  • david lynch
  • big
  • bjarne ingels


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