Issue: double identity-having two kinds of life/personalities
Keywords: diverse features, hidden character, distinguishment, interaction, secret chamber
Object(s): a secret box
Material: Wood/Polyester resin
After days of sample testing, reasons why I choose wood/ polyester resin:
1. very different material features-color/tactility/temperature. Wood is natural warm, solid, porous and alive;the crystal clear polyester resin is man-made, has fluid states, adhesive, transparent and dead.
2. Polyester resin is proved to be great for embedding(especially for organic materials， in this case XOR Giessharz-"bioplastic"), for it is not sensitive to moisture.
3. The two materials combine well. Because of the right viscosity the polyester resin "hug" the wood part really well. It is crystal clear and there is enough flexibility as well as strength. There is no cracks on the edge.
In general, the two materials in combined in one object can appear very diverse characters and also has harmonious combination and interaction between the two materials, can create good metaphor-two different identities, interacting, one overflow, overcoming another.
How and why I choose the carrier/subject of the story-the secret box:
At the beginning, I am convinced that the "hero" of the story-the object should be something appears in everyday life. Like tableware, kitchenware. They are close to the very detailed daily routine thus close to the identity/personality of the one who use them. Then, how can I make the behaviour around this object relate to the double life problem? Being just a plate or a bowl with two different materials, it makes sense if we just look at the objects, but it hardly involves people around it. Maybe it should.
Then I step back to a not-so-specific level. How can the object have a meaning, with human around it? The issue of "two souls" should not only be addressed by this meaning , and also been made stronger by this meaning. SO IT MAKES SENSE.
Everything comes clear when I look at the behaviour of someone who has a double life again. Living one life, there are always small things, as clues, to prove the existance of another life. (It could be a photo, a postcard, a key, an used bus ticket, a receipt...anything) I personally have a habit of collecting all those things everytime I have been living in somewhere new. No matter how hard one hides the character/ experience, it is what it is.
The "hero" becomes clear-a container.For secretive/public life, for showing and hiding, character seen and unseen. The object on one hand has protential usage, connection and interaction to the audience, and allows imagination of the people using it, on the other hand can be interpreted as a person with character itself.
For the project of Doppelleben, I want to work with the distinguish between two lives and the consequence of it. This addresses the issue of double or multi-identity, or more commonly, the constant longing for life elsewhere, or life of others(the so called "wonderlust" or escapism). The chioces or questions I need to face are mainly:
1.For life in two places(situations, states, modes), do I really want to solve a problem?
The way I see the problem is from a level of identity confusion. It is on a psychological level and it involve the issues of values and beliefs. When facing the fact that the society is questing us to play different roles, the act of identity switching is very common in life, as long as one is involved in social activity. However it only becomes a problem when the distinguishment of the difference of the life states become extreme, and cause the incontinuous of behaviour, especially when it is done unconciously.
For most people, the multi-mind states is not so extreme to be called "identity disorder". But we all suffer more or less from the issue of double identity or double life. Here I am not talking about the objective problems like in a life of commuting, the problem between flexibility and usability. ( I am not against the useful design of changing the way of mobility or new solutions for travelling issues. However I find it is not the keyword for me in this project). It is the issue of identity loss I want to work with. It is metaphisical, and psychological. And to make a proper "solution" to it, I think in the design level the attempt is usually ineffective. Or we can say, for emotions and pychological states, the solution is usually not physically obvious and "curing the illness" for real.
2. Is there anything me, as a designer can do, to address the topic?
The answer is absolutely yes. At least for me, there is a more comfortable and somehow efficient way to find a way in the topic of identities. The moment we put the issue of double life emotions into discussion, the quickest way to think of designing, is to make something to change the situation, in this case-eliminate the difference. I tried to work from this angle in the workshop we took-the pair of ear and month is the result of trying to make distant together experience. It is my first attempt to make a design solution. However, some issues like identity or emotions, has its hidden features. It is not obvious and objective. It is subtle so one cannot overdo any interpretation or solutions.
To address the topic, the key word for me is the "expression". How do we describe the states of identity confusion, and the impact of it, instead of doing it in words, I try to do it in design. I try to tell a story like it is. I want to make objects with personalities("personfied objects") and use them as metaphors, which reflect the behaviour of people around them, in my story of double life.
And again, we came to this subject.
What is home to you?
A teapot. A laundry basket. A towel. A pillowcase.
All the things I dont "need". But they are "ME" somehow. They allow the small moments in life when you can stop for a moment and drench in the relaxation of doing nothing, the kind of experience you only get from home, from somewere you feel secure.
This autum I started a new project in Germany.The title is Doppelleben(Double life)，which focuses on people with a need of travelling between two places, commuters, or even a need of frequent role switching-like work/life.
For me, the time spent on the road is like a vaccum space between to dimensions. Some people just want to take a rest from the daily routine and soak into silence. Some want to be occupied by conversations and new acquaintance. Or it is just a slow adjustment, both over space and over time, between two modes. The slower the process is, the more prepared you will be for "the new mode".--Divergency 1
Under this topic, many people tend to dig into the situation of mobility. The needs or the problems we meet on the situatuon of having some stuff in one place, and some in the other, and how we manage to balance the commuting life and the life settled down. --Divergency 2
I am interested the distinguishment of the two lives and the consequence of that. Especially the psychological effect of one man with divided lifestyles. The contradiction could be fierce in some cases. So problem of identity appears. --Divergency 3, the one I am aiming for, which is hard to find a way in.
Emotional dependence(objects and people)
Tell a story like it is(expression)/provide a solution
I interviewed someone who has pretty similar experience like me. He is also far away from home studying abroad. The distance between the two places is the main thing that caused this division of double life.
Being faraway from family in a total different culture, in a long distance relationship, all he can do is going back home once or twice a year.
How do you manage personal belongings everytime going back to China？
Just take the basic necessities(towels tooth brushes etc.) Buy the rest.
How do you manage when being in one place trying to control things happening in the other?
Usually deal with it later when I get back. If I have to I'll ask some friends to do it for me over the phone.
Plan for the trip or just go?
Always plan. But just schedule the trip-when to take off and when to come back. No plan for the things happening inbetween.
Which items have you forgotten last time?
Which usefull objects do you like to take with you during comuting?
Do you prefer to comute alone or together with other people?
Travel with someone I know. Some friends. So we have time to chat. Otherwise, I dont want to be disturbed by other people. I will take a rest during the time. Just spend the time doing nothing.
Is there a object/item you always have with you?
Photo of my girlfriend and family. Which I dont really "need".
Do you like commuting? Do you like long time travelling?
Yes. I dont think it wastes my time.
27, twice a year, long distance relationship. Our interview is conducted more like a random chat. During the time he expressed his fond of commuting. The commuting time between Europe and China is quite long-more than 10 hours. And the travel time between his city and his girlfriend's city is 2 hour. He does'nt travel too often though. He think the time spent on the road is precious, which he uasually use to rest and think about other stuff, just to relax. I think maybe this commuting time/empty space between two lives is crucial from someone, to prepare psycologically for another kind of life.--reflection 1
When asked about what kind of things one cannot live without in this double life. He thinks the best state of life is that there is nothing you can live without. One can just travel with an empty bag. But in real life circumtances he claims what he always need is the camera, some books and electrical products. He said he has been used to this kind life where he can live without anything but the photos, pictures, diaries and memories. Being in this kind of double life himself, it seems like the lifestyle is already miminalizing. Trying to depend on less things but at the same time dont mind buying a lot of things that are not that necessary when settled temprorarily in one place. That means when one is in one life, he doesn;t mind buying and scraping up a lot of stuff which would cause the problem of moving. On the other hand, when the situation like moving comes, they are not that hard to be thrown away, or let's say it is easier to compromise the trouble of moving to the emotinal need of piling up stuff. In this sense, the real necessity is minimalized, but there is still need of feeling secure(in this case by piling stuff up). When a fire happens, losing stuff is not so hard to master. And you can always travel light.
He thinks he can live with this kind of commuting between homeland and study for a reasonably long time and he can keep it. And he barely talks to his family about the future-whether to settle down in China or live in Europe, away from the family. Or even, moving the family in Europe. He thinks in the current state of student life, it is not the kind of prolem can be solved only by him. He thinks maybe it is possible to discuss it after a few years of working life and it is better to settle down in one place. As the sense of "home" and "homeland". He thinks it is also a concept of the relation between you can the people around. These bunch of people live close, either bound by blood or just friendship can be the reason why he calls a place "home". When leaving and arriving, there is always emotional change inside. Usually the sadness of saying goodbye can be overcomed after a some time. --reflection2
When asked if this double life changed one's personality, he thinks there's a big division between the two state of mind. Especially when back home, people cannot understand your state of life in europe, and people are talking about other thing you dont think is of importance. It is when u feel detached with the people and feeling like a different person. When the division occurs he always chooses silence. And he feels it is easy to be affected by environment and scenes. And this kind of life really effect the family situation.--reflection 3
My life during the past two years is pretty much moving all the time, not settled at all. I am constantly putting myself in new environment. I found myself trying to minimalize my life as much as possible. It seems like my whole life can be packed into a suitcase(a big one probably). I could just go. I feel like I am surrounded by a lot more of those everywhere products from brands like IKEA, MUJI, maybe because the fact that even I have to move and throw a lot of stuff away, I can always get the exactly same one anywhere else in the world. In this way I feel secure.
As the detachmemt(both physical and psychological)from my home in China has been there for a long time, I feel the division of my identity when I try to combine the life back home and life in Europe. I feel like a different person when I try to tell the my everyday life to my friends and family in a different continent. There is a line between my double life.
This week's workshop I decided to make something that can save me from this division. I made an "ear" and a "mouth" out of clay. I hope to connect someone's separated double life with these object, create involvement of another life and eliminate the line between them. Hopefully in this way the division of identity will slowly disappear and the edge of both lives will be blurred in the end.
"How can art be realized?
Out of volumes, motion, spaces bounded by the great space, the universe.
Out of different masses, tight, heavy, middling—indicated by variations of size or color—directional line—vectors which represent speeds, velocities, accelerations, forces, etc. . . .—these directions making between them meaningful angles, and senses, together defining one big conclusion or many.
Spaces, volumes, suggested by the smallest means in contrast to their mass, or even including them, juxtaposed, pierced by vectors, crossed by speeds.
Nothing at all of this is fixed.
Each element able to move, to stir, to oscillate, to come and go in its relationships with the other elements in its universe.
It must not be just a fleeting moment but a physical bond between the varying events in life.
Abstractions that are like nothing in life except in their manner of reacting."
After modernity, time is evil.
We dont have our own time any more, instead we are all doners. Donating our life time in exchange for something else. Who can actually keep the perfect balance?
Industrial revolution, mass production, new technologies, we are trying so hard to get faster, to get more. We can travel across the ocean in hours which takes the ancient people months even years. We almost can do any daily stuff on our own. We dont need anyone to give a hand. We have automatic doors, automatic locks, all kinds of convenient electric tools designed by perfect ergonomic priciples. All these try to save our hands from occuping. But what do we do when hands get free? There is no one to hold hands with. We put them in the pocket.
Technology makes living alone in the city, surrounded by walls and isolated from the people very convenient and possible.
I want to make a series of "evil design" hand made as reminicent of non-technology times, still has its technological evilness-to help people live alone, to do the tiny little things, which when you do alone, you feel like one hand missing, and alwyas need others to do it perfectly.
Here is a link to a video called future of screen technology. You can see how the technology changes people's behaviour in social activities.
A brief about my developing process of the Take Root project.
This project I started with looking into the swedish modernity. Interview and online discussion about concept of "home".
Interview by Salla Johanna
How has your work been effected by the fact that it will be presented in the Furniture Fair?
I think visitors aren't there just to look at perfect objects and design solutions, they expect something more. Through my project I want to engage people, not just with aesthetical and functional qualities, but more on an emotional level.
How do you see the Fair phenomenon evolving in the next ten years?
I see that Furniture Fair has the potential to become a place for different designer generations to exchange their visions. So it could learn from book fairs and offer platform for designers to have talks and also communicate with visitors. When it comes to exhibiting, there is a demand for more unconventional concepts. One solution is to provide more space and freedom for young designers.
What would you like the role of the designer to be?
Having my background in industrial design I am educated to operate as a problem solver. However, I aim to focus more on communicating values that I find essential, rather than just providing solutions to given briefs. I see design as something that can change the way people live, and find the antidote for the emptiness of existence. It can be “the cure”. To have money and a good job, is not an aim or destination, somehow it just shows the lack of beliefs. I think young designers should be clear about their morals, question their goals, and be prepared to argument why they design in the first place.
How do you see our theme of Collectivity and Sharing reflects on the designer's role today?
The value of communicating with people from different fields, also outside the design world, is becoming more and more crucial. Sharing can inspire and it helps to gain understanding and new perspectives.
How is your project connected to the theme of Collectivity and Sharing?
It was a method for me, a way of developing my idea by sharing personal experiences and being more open about my thoughts. The feedback I got during discussions, made me rethink the interaction and keywords in my design.
What can you take with you from this theme to future works and projects?
It was a positive experience and I see that I will encourage openness also in my future projects. The challenge is, the more you share with others, the harder it gets for you to decide what the final outcome will be. Some point you just need to narrow things down, that is a decision you need to make by yourself. It's all about making the balance here.
Can you mention one designer or a theme that inspired you during your project?
Within this project I looked into Swedish modernism, especially its relation to the concept of home. For example, I found the writings of Ellen Key very inspirational. She talks about beauty in every day life in the time where the importance of aesthetical surroundings just started to be valued. Coming from China, I noticed that Swedish people really pay attention to their home decoration. Every home seem to have some sort of style and taste, and people like to show it – at least if you walk around dark and look inside the windows, nobody seem to bother to close their curtains.
Notes taken from exhibition-'Phantom limbs' in danish design musuem. March 2012.
Phantom limbs-coupling psychic presence with phisical absence, reveal the complex and interwined relationship between the internal spaces of mind and the external spaces we inhabit.(* real environment)
Collyers' collection. New york borthers died within ten feet and one week of each other. Surrounded by their hoarded possessions. Newspapers one brother collected, for his blind brother to catch up with decades of news when he regained his sight.
"how objects lose its value(like when found fake) then suddenly become rich mine for sth else."
"collections-warding off the chaos and meaninglessness of existence. We fight off meaninglessness void by classifying, categorizing and grouping the phenomena of the world. Fear of losing ourselves in a fluctuating world. By knowing things we fix them in place, and thereby we fixate ourselves."