Nitzan Ron

Interaction Designer

Of Things

Of Things is a design experiment which relates to smart products, technology and interactive design today, in the light of ideas like Object Oriented Ontology and Animism. The project aims to look at the world through the point of view of things; to question what might count as an object and what counts as the subject; what happens when the power shifts from one side to the other; to explore how decisions are made in a human-nonhuman interaction, and who is in fact in charge.

As a distinct contrast to the endless stream of contemporary consumer-oriented projects trying to define productive, one-step-ahead smart objects, Of Things is built as an ecosystem of objects that would appear to have an id or ego, follow their own motivation, make their own investigations and challenge functions and behaviors in order to reflect, critique and play with the world of Internet of Things.

Created as MA project at Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin, 2018 

The Things:

The Observing Thing is in some way in charge of the room. Like a surveillance camera, it observes anything that happens, and keeps a log of the things it detects, human and non-human. It is connected to the internet and to a image detection service, to which it sends a picture every 1 minute, to get the information in return.  
The Pointing Thing hunts movements or dramatic changes in the surrounding, and constantly points at them. In a way, we already know that smart objects create a log somewhere of the data of our lives, but this object visualise it in a somewhat unpleasant way.

The Honest Thing is in fact a strong contrast to smart objects today, because it would always want to be transparent, and share all the knowledge it has. Every 15 minutes it would initiate a connection with the Observing Thing in order to investigate and receive the information it has saved, after which it would print the conversation onto paper, which would be made visible in the room.
The Thing That Doesn’t Want to Take Part, as its name suggests, doesn’t want to be a part of the system. An object that is in fact the opposite of what an IoT object is supposed to be, and so its biggest motivation is to run away from connection, and from attention. Whenever it feels that something sees it, gets too close or touches it, it will start to randomly vibrate and move until it finds a hiding place. But its movement, its look and its vibration sound, might actually provoke an unwanted reaction, as it is in fact very noticeable when it moves.

The Zen Thing would appear in its peak only when everything else is quiet. When the room is relaxed, and there are no machine or human sounds, the lamp would turn on.
The Clueless Thing is a stupid and a desperate object. This basic clock doesn’t know the time. It has only one function but it can’t even do it. It would hopelessly look for clues as to where it’s at, and only then — it could present the time, but at the end of the round, it would forget again. This thing would keep asking “Where am I?” with the hopes of getting some answer from one of the objects or humans around.
*This object was not built for the project

The Imitating Thing imitates other objects. It would translate another objects actions to its own function. In this case, it is a radio that maps the arm direction of the Pointing Thing in order to decide what radio station to play. 
*This object was not built for the project

The Balancing Thing would create order in the room by connecting all the Things to a single time frame. A curtain would serve as a timeline, and would slowly open and close in a fixed movement, visualising the moments that pass of the current frame of interaction. After a fixed time the curtain would be completely open, the objects would stop what they’re doing, reset to their base position, forget the information they had, and start everything over.
*This object was not built for the project