Prior to the staple gun, old-school upholsters used upholstery tacks, a tack hammer and their mouths. They'd line a series of tacks between their lips, pointy side in; use their secondary hand to hold the work in place; bring the tack hammer to their face with their primary hand; use the magnetic tip of the hammer to precisely pluck a single tack which they sort of spit from their mouths; then precisely place the tack; and finally, hammer it in. With each subsequent tacking action they'd bring the hammer back to their mouths to load up another one.
Lots of us use our mouths to work. We stick our pen in there while we shuffle papers; we chomp down on a flashlight while opening the fusebox; we tear packaging open with our teeth; we blow crumbs off of keyboards; we make weird clicking noises to summon dogs.
Chinese artist Cheng Guo holds a Bachelors in Industrial Design from Shanghai's Tongji University and a Masters in Product Design from the RCA. For one of his ultimate RCA projects, "Mouth Factory," Cheng decided to experimentally formalize the usage of the mouth for performing tasks. The result is a series of bizarre and intriguing tools that are ultimately less about practicality and more about provoking thought.
"Mouth Factory" is a series of functional machines specifically designed to be operated by the mouth of the user, Which includes Chewing drill, teeth lathe, tongue extruder, mouth breath rotational molding and vacuum form machines.
The project explores the capabilities and versatility of this wondrous organ and correlating facial expressions, re-contextualised within the realm of production. As a comment on human enhancement, the project aims to explore the aesthetic of production through a series of performative devices. By focusing on the mouth, the production devices acquire a fantastic quality that amplifies and render visible the reciprocal relationship and effects between our body and our tools.
Mouth Factory-5 Sequences from Cheng Guo on Vimeo.