Thesis, and Statement
Design Academy Eindhoven
Graduation Research Thesis
Front Page Quote / Marshall Mcluhan
Modification Toward A Superhuman
Society today is framed by a singular structure that is geared towards constant enhancements. We have created numerous designs to improve our life, making it more convenient, productive, and efficient. The design systems and objects nowadays are constantly enhancing, adjusting, and optimizing our behaviors and living patterns. We have been implanted with various new experiences and upgraded with new behaviors to march towards the future. Taking Google glass and smart phone as examples, we have been designed with new winking behaviors and finger gestures to do the communication and to grab information.
Our identities are reflected from the physical world, and designed objects project our self-images by telling us what we are capable of doing and being (1). Designs nowadays tend to provide us with an ideal vision and solution, creating a clear template for individuals to modify and improve toward a superhuman.
a. Follow Me, Wang Qing-Song, 2003
b. Edward Heal
c. Next Nature,
Koert van Mensvoort and Henkdrik-Jan Grievink
d. Air Doll, 2009
From a robotic vacuum to an iPhone, these smart designs allow us to do multiple tasks simultaneously. From performance pills to genetic babies, these human cultivation tools allow us to adjust ourselves incessantly.
These endless enhancements and their fixed definitions for “the next human being” gradually become a limitation in our learning process, as they constrain personal development with one ideal scenario. They are telling us how to behave, how to upgrade ourselves, and how to evolve towards a successful human being in modern life. Therefore, how can design liberate us from these societal constraints, which demand us to perfect ourselves with the one and only structure? And how can design liberate us from this cycle?
Planting Constraints and Disabilities
The Other Tutorial attempts to create an alternative for this over-enhanced society. It tries to plant disabilities and constraints into daily routines, and therefore to disturb our over-improved behaviors and living patterns.
These constraints function as an electrical resistance to interrupt the one-way flow of our value system, and also to alter all the controlled patterns that are planning and aiming towards constant enhancement. The proposal envisions a series of courses in the future, which is going to disable us from the collective standards.
These courses include different aspects of life, focusing on appearance, expression, and movement respectively. They are prototype tutorials, which question the stereotypes and test in daily practices. Through interactions with body, face, and limbs, these tutorials assist users to deviate from our over-defined society.
The slight deviations from the normalcy provide us with the possibility to sail closer to ourselves. The disabilities reversely enable us to extend the state of self-awareness.
These disabilities challenge the norm, isolate external voices, expand personal spaces, slow down the time flow, and evoke neglected experiences. These obstacles stop us from behaving properly. At the same time, they
are also a boost to reflect, question, and to break the boundary that is already established. This breaking point is the transition point, for us to re-experience and reposition the relation between the self and our surroundings.
The Next Experience
Although my project aims towards the design phenomenon that is pursing endless perfection and enhancement, it does not define a fixed solution. It is more like providing a flexible approach to penetrate the ways that we aware of, feel, explore, and experience in daily life. It is a belief in constraints as the catalyst for personal identity, especially in the world where there is no limitation for being a human being.
The quality of absurdity stimulates more emotional responses from both users and viewers. Through the ironic tools and dramatic behaviors, this project might create an unrealistic feeling. However, these exaggerated
effects are one of the results that I want to create, in order to contrast, provocate (provoke), and criticize on the insanity of the superhuman future we are improving towards.
Additionally, I also see this project as a trigger point for the current design focus.
Do we still need and want further enhancement, adjustment, and adaptation? What is the
experience we have to acquire in the future? What is the next evolution of human being?
This project is more a statement that remarks on how constraints and downgrading ourselves can change our view of design, and reevaluate the notion of self. This reexamination is expected to start from a simple behavior in daily routines, and then to spark a chain of reactions in a bigger scale. Reconstructing the frame of self after we have deconstructed the current one.
In short, this is a project to...
to deviate from current normalcy,
to escape from current normalcy,
to have excuses from current normalcy,
to behave outside of current normalcy,
to be disabled in current normalcy,
to raise protest against current normalcy,
to reflect, trigger on current normalcy,
...and to recreate your normalcy.
“We should prevent people from having to live in a world where they are constantly confused about what it means to be human. We should prevent people from becoming unable to recognize each other as human.“ - Next Nature Network