Souvenirs From The Internet
When we travel to far away lands or witness life changing events we collect souvenirs to remind us of their place in our hearts and minds. What about a place that is always shifting? How could we begin to remember the virtual places and events that make up our increasingly digital lives? How can we capture the ephemeral discussions we have with our friends in this virtual space?
Souvenirs From The Internet imagines a world where our networked 3D printers are able to produce physical manifestations of our digital experiences. If we can CNC print on eggs why not plates? Commemorative plates, like Greek pottery, act as archaeological records of modern life.
The blue Youtube plates commemorate important viral videos (Numa Numa and JK Wedding Dance). Instead of the actual event or person featured in the video, the plate is celebrating the video itself and the related videos and comments that grew from it.
"The Internet" plates celebrate important physical landmarks of our digital age (Amazon, Youtube, Facebook, Craigslist, Google, and Netflix). But of course what's important today could become obsolete tomorrow. And the most important site in 5 years probably doesn't even exist yet. Thus "The Internet" plates could be an annual series embodying the shifting landmarks of our digital life.
Similarly, the Facebook Pillows capture a fleeting moment in your News Feed, like a party where all your friends showed up together at the same time. And while they may be far away, in pillow form they'll always be there to comfort you when you need them most.
Process & Reflections
This project initially started as an extension of the Rapid Spam project. I was interested in the affordances of networked rapid prototyping. If the objects of the future are being downloaded from the internet, could these objects then embody parts of our digital life instead of being generic blank objects?
Starting with existing objects found around the studio I began to prototype what it might look like to have ordinary things embedded with spam like different types of rashes. In one version the material on the trash can slowly peels away over time to reveal the hidden spam message. In the second version the message actively emerges out of the material, breaking through the surface of the table. And the stool has a crystal like formation that grows into the spam message over time. Like a patina, spam becomes the way people are able to discover a history within an object that would otherwise be generic.
Becoming more interested in the patina and embedding our digital memories into objects I moved away from spam and towards our digital lives. Each layer of the table is made of a piece of our Facebook news feed. As the table wears away the history begins to reveal itself. I liked the idea of this but given the time frame I was unsatisfied by my ability to execute the object with the level of craft I thought it would require.
At the same time I also began to get interested in the idea of commemorative plates being a physical keepsake of our modern lives. This began with encapsulating White Whine status updates and a Youtube video.
Looking at the trajectory of the project from the original Rapid Spam idea, I realize that despite the slightly detoured route I ended up making objects closely related to my very initial interest in producing physical tchotchkes of internet memes. But I really believe that without the detour into furniture I wouldn't have ended up with the plates in their current form, which I'm quite fond of.