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Mario Arnone, "The Toy Factory Across from the Tower of Babel"

Master's thesis

The Tower of Babel falls. Its collapse precipitates the loss of humanity's common language, splintering the species into linguistic tribes and making communication impossible.

For his thesis project, Mario imagined that there was a toy factory across from the Tower of Babel that witnessed the catastrophe.

After the tower's fall, in Mario's fictional universe, the factory begins using its manufacturing resources in an attempt to recover the common tongue. The result is the creation of a series of objects that facilitate, in various ways, the rediscovery and reconstruction of the tower.

This is one of 400 boxes that Mario screen printed to serve as packaging for the factory's toys. Each toy is represented by a unique series of symbols or glyphs. The arrangement of these symbols on each box alludes to the potential uses of each toy, and how a greater structure might begin to take shape through the sequencing of the toy's parts:


The rest of these images are 3D computer renderings that Mario created. They are not photographs of real objects, but they're intended to make viewers believe in the truth of the thesis. (The animation at the top of this page is also a 3D rendering.)

This is a plastic model-building kit that, when assembled, creates a segment of a tower. The tower will keep growing for as long as the factory is producing new parts:


One of 14 illustrations, which Mario intended to be interpreted as instructions, concept diagrams, or certificates of authenticity for each object — visual accounts of the collective memory of the Tower of Babel. This particular certificate depicts the commodification of the architectural fragment:


Architecture as currency. An image of people rediscovering a tower is etched into a series of coins:


While the design and material of each object changes, the principal goal of each interaction is consistent: What truths can be discovered through the use of each toy?


Wooden building blocks — a relic of the toy factory’s unending production.


An inevitable collection:


An inevitable aggregation:


An instance of the portable threshold:


Cataloging the infinite tower:


A sequence of objects and a recollection of language:

Advisor: John Shnier