We are now living in a time when the most dominant medium of communication is the screen. This project explores a speculative scenario in which our objects have mutated in reality but look normal on the screen. It suggests a future where the virtual representation of things has become more significant than their actual use or experience. In a world of increased mobility and accelerating migration our relationships with family and friends are increasingly mediated by digital devices. A rapidly growing number of us integrate video communication into our routines, through services like Skype or FaceTime, as a result of relocations. In these and many other cases, the screen is the conduit for connectivity, giving it a dominance and power once held only by in-person interaction, or written letters. As a result, we can examine our familial rituals and witness how they are now reinvented and reshaped when experienced through the prism of the screen. These changes point to how the screen is no longer a window to somewhere else, it is instead the here and now, while our physical surroundings are slowly becoming the “other world”. This research focuses on the family meal, the archetypical representation of the united family, and explores its redesign, prompted by the dominance of screens. The research takes a critical and sometimes anecdotal approach to fit dining rituals into our fragmented on/off self (where on represents the digital and off is the physical experience of our new mediated interactions). At the core of this investigation is the question of how far we are willing to go in distorting our physical experience to fit with the aesthetics and unique qualities of the screen, as a medium. The result is a proposal for a collection of props that are inspired by peculiarities of the medium and will highlight their surreal nature when performed.
© Design Academy Eindhoven, Photo by Femke Rijerman