Cut In Half: The Hidden World Inside Everyday Objects by Mike Warren, photographs by Jonothan Woodward (book review).

You’ve seen books before where illustrators do cutaway diagrams showing the insides of buildings and vehicles, haven’t you? Mike Warren goes one better. He has a 600,000psi waterjet cutter where a high pressure water beam pushing red sand is akin to high level laser that can zap its way through most objects. Warren notes it as being a high-powered erosion but it gives a very clean cut. Anything that falls out is cleaned and placed back inside. Check out the link:

This book, ‘Cut In Half: The Hidden World Inside Everyday Objects’, shows this the results of this being done to 58 objects from household appliances, sports equipment, electronics, toys & games and a miscellaneous section doing this to some more natural objects with photos by Jonothan Woodward.

What adds to this book is the interiors are tagged so you know what you are looking at and often with some surprises if you actually have something similar to what is shown. Take the clothing iron. The heating element is actually quite small inside and not the entire length of the bottom plate.

Seeing inside a touch-tone phone and the text explaining that there was little different inside compared to the analogue rotary dial phone made me wish Warren had cut one of those inside as well to compare them.

Don’t think this book is all about commonplace devices. The interior of a robotic vacuum did make me wonder just how much dust it can gather before it was full. The same is also true of a handheld vacuum cleaner as well, although I suspect that is on the side we don’t see. I should point out that for many of the objects, the other side is shown as well.

Having been using LED light bulbs for a few years now, it was rather interesting see inside one of the lamps and the LED arrangement and no wonder they are unbreakable.

With computer hardware, the PC Graphics Card shows how much of it is devoted to dissipating heat from all sides. As I’ve taken laptop computers apart, I’m a lot more familiar with them and not sure if a slice through the middle reveals too much. Although Warren points out that the newer laptops have solid-state hard drives, he doesn’t appear to know that, like USB memory finger drives, their lives aren’t as infinite as the regular hard drive.

The toys section is more computer-orientated. The inside of the Gaming Joystick hasn’t really changed over the years. If you’re fed up with the Furby toys, seeing inside one of them shows a lot of tech and should I mention the talking trout? Electronic games are more battery than anything else inside.

I’m not really sure who the market is for this book although I think all ages might find some fascination with seeing what is actually inside a lot of the things they own. In some respects, an artistic drawing can make things clearer but deny you of seeing the actual colours. To be fair on that, some this could appear bland but oddly that is mostly down to metallic parts and padding. If you come away from this book appreciating how they work then I think Mike Warren has achieved something here. I do wonder if he’s going to take his water-drill to bigger objects like a car next though.

GF Willmetts

August 2018

(pub: Chronicle Books. 140 page illustrated hardback. Price: $29.95 (US), £21.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-4521-6862-3)

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