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Given the extreme developments in the fields of drones, transhumanism and experiencing life, the theme for Design Column #8 is 'Beyond the Senses'. The exhibition gives an overview on how design can make us sense things we couldn't sense before. Meanwhile the theme will be explored and discussed further on www.designcolumn.nl.
We use technology to extend our influence at a distance by the use of cameras, Google Earth and drones. We also try to make technology part of our bodies as much as we can. Google has applied for a patent for a contact lens with an inbuilt photo function. A growing number of people are having chips implanted under the skin and the next step after the internet looks like being a ‘brain net’ which everyone will be plugged into. The bionic man and the cyborg are no longer futuristic concepts but present reality.
And even though technology is getting under our skin, for many people it remains an intangible phenomenon. Fewer and fewer people understand how our devices work and the feeling that we have lost control is growing. Each innovation means a new search for balance, an adjustment to our moral compass, a redefining of our humanity. Political columnist Marc Chavannes fears that in this ‘tyrannical technocracy’ in which technology is the answer to everything, standards of decency and the human scale are being overlooked. By contrast Professor Peter Paul Verbeek believes that morality and technology progress hand in hand. He argues that technology ensures that we are forced to take more responsibility, not less.
Design Column #8 Beyond the Senses investigates what the question is that we must ask ourselves from now on: the question whether we want this future, or how do we want to design this future?
Every three months the Design Column focuses on a news item in the form of a small exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and subsequently at the Droog Gallery in Amsterdam. The column is a place where new ideas are made visible, where the power of imagination is given expression. Designers and artists are especially interested in experimental imagination. With their idiosyncratic vision, they see things differently and are capable of bringing about change. The Design Column creates a space for these innovative concepts.
The Design Column is not only a presentation but is also an opportunity for reaction and dialogue. You are cordially invited to participate in a roundtable conversation that will take place at Museum
Boijmans Van Beuningen and Droog. The round table discussion is on 19 June at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen was canceled. A new data will follow. If you would like to participate in this conversation, please contact the curators of the Design Column at firstname.lastname@example.org and for the conversation at Droog go to www.droog.com. Also check out the blog at www.designcolumn.nl.
On view in Design Column #8 Beyond Senses
The art project #NotABugSplat wants to give a human face again to a young victim of drone attacks by spreading out an enormous portrait on the ground in Pakistan. The project considers the impact of a remote
war like this. Because even though the result of an anonymous action like this is the same as if the victim was killed by a soldier on the ground, these two forms of waging war will probably leave the victim’s relatives with a completely different impression. And what effect does this schizophrenic situation have on the servicemen who operate the drones?
The pieces of glass furniture that Gcric designed for Galerie Kreo in Paris are unusual not only because of the material used, but because they can move with unprecedented precision. The glass sections are fixed together with silicone joints. Because the chairs, tables and cupboards have industrial gas pistons, the pieces of furniture can make this movement with the precision that is needed for optimal functionality. The gas pistons act like ‘magic muscles’, and make the furniture move in the same way that our joints and muscles move our bodies. The set of furniture serves us with uncanny precision.
These chairs that the Japanese designer Tokuin Yoshioka designed for Glas Italia are a poetic representation of our human perception. The edges of the chair bend the light as a prism and show the full colour spectrum, which then reflects on to the rest of the chair and the surroundings. It prompts us to consider our view of the world around us. The fact that we see a blue sky, and not a yellow or red one, is because the blue colour in sunlight vibrates with the highest frequency and hence is reflected the easiest by the particles in the atmosphere. What we see when we look up is therefore not an objective reality but is only the way in which reality reveals itself to us. Yoshioka’s chairs make the actual nature of light visible; something that we normally cannot experience with the naked eye.
Drone-spotting: who knows, this may become the new fascination for many a bird-watcher and aircraft spotter. Or perhaps it will become the bitter need to survive. Ruben Pater offers the Drone Survival Guide for sale (and as a free download) online; a guide that gives normal people the chance to enter into battle against drones. In the same way that our ancestors were able to identify their natural enemies in the sky from afar, a growing number of drones can put us in a similar position. Pater is trying to prepare us for this changing technological environment with this survival guide.
In 2002 the Brazilian mechanic Alfredo Moser developed a lamp that does not need electricity. He was looking for ways to deal with the frequent power cuts in Uberaba where he lived. During his many experiments he came across a way to create light indoors without electricity: he filled plastic bottles with water and a little chlorine (as an algaecide) and fixed the bottles into holes in the roof. Because the water bends the rays of light the bottle acts like a lens and light of around 40 to 60 watts can be produced through a small hole in the roof, depending on weather conditions. Moser’s idea was picked up by Illac Diaz of the MyShelter Foundation in the Philippines. When the foundation heard that Moser was sticking bottles in the roof in Brazil, they decided to spread this concept further.
The American company Ekso Bionics produces exoskeletons for people. They are wearable robots that people wear over their clothes as a kind of outer skeleton. These robot skeletons allow people to increase their movement, strength and speed. They are, for example, used for the rehabilitation of people who are partially paralysed. The Ekso is developed for people with bodily impairments, but what if a healthy person puts on an exoskeleton? How does that influence our own bodies when it comes to movement, strength and speed? Is this perhaps the next step in our evolution, which we will take gradually and almost unnoticeably?
What will happen when luggage is a thing of the past because everything we need will be put on a chip and sent like a digital document to our destination and then reproduced there? This would drastically change our relationship to physical objects, to our journeys and to production methods. Is this still in the future or close reality? After all, 3D-printed objects are already in the shops and sending images and music digitally has been possible for years. Janne Kyttanen gives us a foretaste with his project Lost Luggage, consisting of a 3D-printed bag, complete with 3D-printed contents.
Textile developer and fashion designer Borre Akkersdijk in collaboration with Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a suit with built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, NFC (Near Field Communication) and Bluetooth. Akkersdijk converts mattress materials into clothes for his fashion label ByBorre. Conductive copper thread is also incorporated into the material for the BB. Suit in the knitting process. Thanks to this copper thread the suit can be used as a drop box, Wi-Fi hotspot and a GPS location. With his BB. Suit, Akkersdijk takes a step in the direction of truly wearable technology.
Floris Kaayk recently won the Volkskrant Visual Art Award for, among other works, his fictional online story ‘Human Birdwings’: a tale about a man who builds a set of wings and uses them to fly away. The project is not only about the age-old desire to fly, but also explores how a story can be told to a worldwide public via various online media. Kaayk is now working on a new internet story about the modular body.
Ted Noten researches what mankind needs to function optimally in our modern society. He designs jewellery; objects that traditionally play on the senses through their shining, glittering and attractive appearances. Noten gives this centuries-old form of bodily decoration a topical overtone by linking the objects to our age. What does a modern woman need in order to stand strong in the world? A weapon of beauty perhaps, or a chastity belt?
This lamp produces light that is exactly the same as daylight on a sunny day. Special particles in the resin diffuse the LED light in the same way as the sunlight that enters the atmosphere. Hence the lamp is blue too, like the sky. The blue light can help in the case of winter time depression.