We have looked at hundreds of objects, and we are not going to stop, at least until Registrar threatens a mutiny. We are continuing to add to the queue, and the more we do research, the more we learn about our ideas for Talk to Me. There might be curators that start with a precise, well-cut thesis in their mind. That is not our case, and an important part of our curatorial process is reshuffling how we contextualize and categorize the fruits of our research. We believe in a productive biofeedback, findings reinforcing and redirecting ideas towards and sculpting the thesis.
As a result of our most recent restructuring effort, conducted in order to give the catalogue designers, London-based A2SWHK a sense of the sequence (more about this later), we now have added one tab. The checked tab is still there, temporary as it was, with projects roughly categorized according to apps, communication, interactions, interfaces, liminal spaces, mapping, pets & fairytales and visualizations—because we want to kept track of our progress, in order to adhere to this journal’s mission of transparency and documentation. We have however added our latest list under the who’s talking? tab. Indeed, arranging the projects based on who or what is doing the talking is very effective. It may be an object, such as a tiny cardboard robot or the interface of an airline check-in kiosk; it can be your body—a class of objects that we have decided to call I’m talking to you because it includes objects that are designed interact on an intimate level with your own body or with other people. In other cases, it is life that is talking to us, our family, our ancestors, the city we live in, the government, or, the whole world, natural or human-made. Then there are the worlds that we enter through the terminal of a computer, video game or smartphone that create an extended reality for us to inhabit. Finally, some very special objects, which we have grouped under the double entendre heading, are all about subtext, ambiguity, and open interpretation. It is a category that is hard to define but which holds together well. The objects are subtle in their communication, translating language or ideas through the form they take.
We will use these groupings in the catalogue and there is a good chance that the objects will be organized that way also in the exhibition. Have a look around, and see what you think—this is our way of testing out the research that we have done—designs that fit into our old categories may not do well in the new taxonomy—but ones that didn’t belong in the older groupings may fall right into place. That doesn’t mean that we necessarily eliminate them—it just means that we are continuously reshaping how we think about what we have gathered.