Generations of technical innovation, epiphanies, scientific discoveries, work, and toil were needed to create a $10.00 toaster. Humanity needed to learn to master electricity, smelt metals, mould plastics, and create a modernized supply chain. Advanced as they may be, few modern humans could build a toaster on their own. Artist Thomas Thwaites, however, gave it a shot. In his Toaster Project, Thwaites tried to smelt the iron, refine oil into plastics, and build a toaster in an effort to explore the connection people have to every-day technology. Thwaites wrote:
The point at which it stopped being possible for us to make the things that surround us is long past…This faintly ridiculous quest to make a toaster from the ‘ground up’ serves as a vehicle through which questions about economics, helplessness and life as a consumer can be investigated.
Where Thwaites sees the helplessness of the consumer, Reason magazine’s Radley Balko sees the genius of capitalism and the division of labor. “Pan back until you’ve framed the entire world economy,” Balko writes, “and it’s hard not to marvel at the wonder and miracle of capitalism’s invisible hand.”