First Response: “Why Things Matter” – Julian Bleeker

Why Things Matter brings to light many things which I can’t say I wasn’t aware of before, but which had not been placed in front of me so bluntly before. There is no denying that technology is moving in a direction where what we thought of as impossible not too long ago can become a reality. Julian Bleeker talks about a new way of looking at ordinary objects, and goes as far as calling pigeons and fish first-class citizens. They achieve this status because they are blogjects -objects that blog- with the ability to trace where they are and where they’ve been, archive their histories, and most importantly have some form of agency in asserting their voice and contributing to a conversation. The title Why Things Matter, which seemed unanswerable to me before, makes more sense after being introduced to the blogjects identified in the article. Objects can matter, they can make a difference, and can enhance experiences. Although I wouldn’t label these as citizens, my disagreement is mostly on a semantic level. Blogjects can certainly play a big role in informing people of important issues that must be heard by humans and which would not be obtained in any other way, or in communicating from part to part within some sort of self-correcting mechanism. Whether humans are involved or not, the main point here is communication. Communication is what is going to make things happen, the only thing is knowing what to do with it.

These innovations in technology and communication can make anything possible, and I think it all starts with reiterating big notions and ideas into comprehensible formats. I’m personally interested in exploring human psychology and interaction and merging the tangible with the immaterial through different forms of communication. The article’s description of blogjects, and coining of the word itself, inspired me to come up with new uses for old objects. I like the idea of taking an object with a mundane purpose and giving it a new role and therefore new importance in the exploration of possible psychological aspects through different sensory experiences.


1) Theremin-controlled LED sculpture

Expanding on the idea of communication between one thing to another, and looking at it on a psychological level, led me to the notion of synesthesia: “a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.” I want to take this phenomenon and translate it to an experience that simulates this intertwining of different senses. Two different senses will be affecting and reflecting each other: specifically sound and color. One way which this could be possible is through a theremin-controlled LED. A theremin is an instrument that emits sound simply based on the proximity of the players hands to its two antennae. The interactive sculpture will allow participants to use the movements of their hands to create sounds of different pitches and volumes which will affect the color and brightness of a glowing orb-like sculpture.

2) Parts of a whole

Part of what makes blogjects special is essentially the fact that they have a purpose beyond their basic functionality, and they contribute to a bigger idea. They are individual parts that make up a more complex being, much like different parts of a brain have to all come together to carry a function. I want to turn this idea into a simple intuitive game that will illustrate the importance of individual parts of a whole. The game will make use of certain objects that can be freely picked up and moved, and which will all light up in unison only if they are all in close proximity to each other. The objects will also be constantly moving to keep the motive of the game ongoing and to represent a level of complexity.

3) Emotional Roller-coaster

An interactive sculpture of a working roller-coaster structure will be built behind a face as a symbol of the ups and downs of human emotions. Different spheres can be rolled down the structure, coming to a stop behind the face. Each sphere triggers an assigned mood, that will be displayed as a certain color. The spheres are interchangeable and all look the same to symbolize the lack of being able to consciously choose what to feel. The communication between the action and the result is an illustration between an emotional response to an event or environment.

4) Ekochamber

Ekochamber is a kinetic sculpture that illustrates the litteral interpretation of a machine that produces humans. It is a visual metaphoric representation of the societal structures that are designed to produce people who are meant to benefit the system, disregarding personal happiness of individuals. The moving sculpture is made up of pieces that work in unison to achieve a seamless looping action. Two hands are attached to an egg that splits in half, allowing an embryo to spin down and around in a circle perpendicular to it, which will return to the egg after a full loop, and repeat.

5) The Waiting Hand

The waiting hand is another kinetic sculptural piece. Physically, it is a mechanical hand that taps its fingers, which is driven by a motor. Conceptually, it is an illustration of time and the fact that so much of time is spent waiting. The hand waits for someone to come near it, and when that happens, the hand stops moving, passing the waiting on to the viewer.


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