From Retrospective to Retroactive

MArch research into book and beyond

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    Staying in the Moment

    Christopher Perrodin
    Feb 13, '16 2:12 AM EST

    Recently I went to Cooper Hewitt Museum with my partner and had a really cool and new experience that was largely separate from the art and design the museum actually contained. As part of our ticket purchase, we were given what I describe as a wand. We were told that with the wand, we would be able to interact with art in a new way.  Each time we found something to be particularly interesting, we could simply press the wand against the placard adjacent to the work and it would be stored in our own personal digital database.   Access to the database came from a code on the ticket.

    How cool!  With this design, I can feel a sense of discovery, stay in the moment, record, and review. 

    But what about cameras and cellphone cameras?  I hear you.  But think through the total action required by cameras and cellphones.  I would need to pull it out, aim the phone at the art and also the name/title of the artist and the piece, compose and take the photo, and try not to get distracted by all the other millions of things I could do with the device in my hand...selfies... God forbid I get a text.....  In other words, even though it seems simple and straightforward, I argue that cameras and phones take us mentally out of our current time and place and put us in direct dialogue with the camera/phone object and the art subject.   But the wand doesn't do that.  It's simple, mono function of just recording the information by pressing in a prescribed location keeps me in the moment.  It keeps my mental and physical energies within the atmosphere of one particular space.

    Many ways such an experience could transform our interaction with things.  I imagine us using the wand idea and shrinking it to a card or ring/bracelet/watch/wearable.  With a tap or a pinch, the object we are seeing physically is then recorded and transferred to a digital location.   A library could maintain the joy of discovery that only happens spatially and incidentally as we walk to a book and pick it out from a section of related topics.  A tap and any book I find goes to my e-reader.  A bookstore could reverse the trend of people going into the store only to read what is available before going to buy it cheaper online.  A pinch and the book is bought at online prices while being shipped to my home.  Architects, I am looking at you!  

    Traditional retail stores also become unintentional showrooms. Items observed and worn in the fitting room are earmarked for purchase online.  But why resist something that makes so much sense to the public?  Instead, retailers/banks/creditors could create a kind of wearable device that allows me to purchase an item by tapping my finger on the price tag.  I remove all unwanted devices and exchanges standing between me and compelling object in front of me.  I stay in the moment and do not have to go through all the mental exercises required to make a transaction.  

    Digital does not always have to mean more things between me and my physical world.  I feel that we are able to make things so, so small and with such built in sophistication that it is time to move our thinking away from digital devices/interfaces and towards their spatial implications.

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About this Blog

I will chronicle my design research and degree project, providing commentary on my thought process at the time. From there, I will transform the body of work into a book which seeks to place into dialogue the two (currently) separated semesters of work.

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