The Crowded Project
”We are designing technology that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demand of friendship.” (Sherry Turkle, Connected but alone?, 2012)
We are constantly being watched and followed on social media, with a screen between us and other people. There are security cameras watching our every move. We are never alone or unseen. Yet, London can feel like the most lonely place on earth. There are so many people surrounding you, but no one seems to notice each other. People blend in with each other, become part of a group, a crowd.
These objects enable the user to illuminate a specific part of this crowd, to lift out individuals. You are as apparent to them as they are to you. This is not about surveilling people, not about following them or recording their every move. These objects offer a two-way exchange, people on both sides become observers, observing each other. There is no hiding behind screens - it is just about seeing, noticing each other. In that moment.
The project traveled from the idea of trying to find places in central London where you can be completely alone. Starting from discovering quiet alleys I came to the realisation that once someone enters that space you are more more seen by that person than you are at busy places like Oxford Circus. I therefore conducted a few experiments where I was sitting down, as well as inviting people to participate, in Oxford Circus and in a more quiet road. There was a big difference in how noticeably I was depending on what I was doing or looking at. This later on led me to create the objects that makes a closer connection between two people.