‘Collective works’ is a production process which only fully functions when people pay attention to the producing machine.
This project was initially developed for the ‘W Hotels Designer of the Future Award’ exhibition at Design Miami/Basel 2011.
‘Collective works’ is a production process which only fully functions when people pay attention to the producing machine. Reacting to its audience, the machine translates the flow of people’s movements into an object. The resulting outcome varies in colour and size according to the level of interest shown at the time of production.
As soon as someone approaches the machine and looks at it, the production process begins: A 24mm-wide strip of wood veneer is pulled through a gluing device and slowly coiled up around a 20mm-thick wooden base. The turning platform with the base moves downwards, causing the veneer strip to slowly build up a basket. A mould is not needed, as the material supports itself and does not collapse while it is being coiled up. As soon as someone else joins to watch the process, colour is added via a marker onto the veneer.
The interaction is possible due to sensors located in the frame of the machine. If one sensor is activated, one person is watching and the machine starts turning. When another person joins to watch, a second sensor is activated, causing a light-coloured marker to be pressed against the veneer to colour it. A third person results in the activation of a second marker, and so on up to a maximum of four markers at once, each one darker than the last, with the fourth marker being black. The basket’s height is determined by the overall interaction time: the longer someone is watching the process, the taller the basket becomes.
The machine reacts directly to each observer, and thus the outcome is completely dependent upon the audience. Every spectator leaves a mark on the object, and therefore each basket becomes a unique record of people’s interest in the object’s production. A basket – a vessel used to collect something – itself becomes a collection of data. If no one is interested in the project, the machine stops producing entirely and the final object simply does not get made.
This can be seen as ‘production based on interest’.
‘Collective works’ also questions the relationship between man and machine. The audience is turned into workers, even though their effort is basically only the time they spend with the machine. But time is what most of us lack somehow. Many machines in factories just need a technician to monitor the production – and suddenly there is a machine that needs an audience to produce something colourful!
Machine: 160cm x 80cm x 115cm
Baskets: max. diameter 45cm ; height (max. 45cm), depending on the interaction time
Machine: wood, custom-made electronics, motor, sensors, electromagnets, metal, markers
Baskets: solid oak, oak veneer, colour