How we perceive determines how we think. The sense of vision is one of distance and thus gives us time to think. Something that we touch requires a more immediate emotional response. Our visual culture tends to marginalise the physical aspects of our thought. The most radical form of neglecting the physical is perhaps the strict division between body and mind which is sometimes attributed to René Descartes.
This way of thinking ignores the vital role that our body plays in our thinking. Our whole bodies participate in what we call thinking. Designers of interactive media and objects can’t avoid the question of how we intuitively know how to interact with the world. We do that by recognising the affordances of objects. This tacit knowledge is acquired through physical interactions of our bodies with the world.
Stories of Natural Matters
We use matter as “materials” and sometimes tend to see them as neutral interchangeable stuff, only worth distinguishing by their physical properties as raw material and by our personal tastes. Maybe there is a lot more to know – and ask – about the physical matters that surround us: What do we mean exactly when we talk about “natural materials”? When does a material become artificial? What stories can we tell about materials? What is their history, what are the processes that shape them? How are various materials – and organisms – connected? How are we personally interwoven in the web of materials around us? What can we do with them? What can they do to us?
We can shape, arrange and combine objects and materials in a way that they communicate (their affordances, their properties, their processes, etc.).
Use physical objects to tell us something about some material found in nature.
Format: Physical communication, “physical infographic”, “transcendent object”
- Talking materials: object as medium (physical infographics, Wabi Sabi, etc.)
- Where is the border between “natural” and “artificial” objects? (Goldsworthy, Herman de Vries)
- Material history: Objects in time
- Process: How do we shape objects? Growing vs. cutting
- Connectivity: How are we materially connected to the world
- Smart objects as objects which make us smart