Feather Tales

In the last two decades, our mobile phones and the infrastructure of electromagnetic waves have become our primary link to the social world that we construct for ourselves. We got accustomed to having a seamless connection to our acquaintances, a flexibility of scheduling and a freedom from punctuality. (A. Townsend) We have created a strong dependency on our mobile devices and the Hertzian space of electromagnetic waves.

Recently, mobile phones are being replaced by location- and context-aware & sensor-equipped smart-phones with computational power and wireless internet connection. Our dependency on such devices and the Hertzian space is drastically increasing as well. Today, we are not only depending on our devices for maintaining social relations, but also delegating our internal physiological, psychological and cognitive processes (such as orientation, memory, sensation or self-disclosure) to them. Our devices are keeping track of our geographical location for us, giving us directions and controlling our orientation. They are undertaking parts of our memory through reminder applications. They are checking the weather for us even when we are physically exposed to it ourselves, hearing for us through their microphones, or seeing for us through their cameras.

Our past work Taiknam Hat deals with the abovementioned transformation of contemporary individuals by similarly externalizing a very internal process: the process of horripilation. The hat unites with the user through being worn (yet it is still an exterior entity) and undertakes this internal process for the user. It detects electromagnetic waves, which are otherwise undetectable to the plain body. It processes the detected information for the user and expresses irritation through the flickering movements of feathers. As a result, the user of the Taiknam Hat becomes the owner of an expression, in the process of which he or she has no influence or control on.

We continue with this work in progress our interest regarding externalizing the internal process of detection-irritation-horripilation through soft interfaces in focus. Our research explorers techniques, materials and aesthetic possibilities to signal irritation. How can "design" signal the correct message of irritation to others? How can we make use of new materials and technologies in this sense?

This research was possible due to Gaîté Lyrique.

year: 2011

With Ebru Kurbak