SOS Telecommunications Box.
Why did I choose to create a replica SOS Box?
I wanted to take a very ordinary object otherwise un-noticed and transform it into the extraordinary as I was aiming at the idea of taking usual things from their usual contexts and representing them afresh as a way of celebrating the new and the imaginary. To use the platform of the mundane every day functional object to contrast an alternative use for the box. It was an exciting exploration in itself simply recording data from the real box on the Humber bridge in order to work to scale.
I became enticed by the SOS concept and what it could represent within a new context, being a tired old tried and tested distress symbol, I though it fitting the symbol related to the current times of conflict we live in regards a need to be aware certainly of how we are conducting our lives in the technological age and whether we are making healthy choices for our futures. This muse took me further into the idea of communications and what people are calling for in modern times and what design aught essentially speak of? How can design respond to and serve an SOS call for example.. I began to see potential of re using the SOS title as a co product to the mODPOD theme in so far as I am aiming at the DIY for survival and self sufficiency markets. Systems of Survival and Myriads of Defence are serious yet fun titles in tune with my developing utopian ethic and have connotations in what they originally relate to. This is design from dystopia for utopian aims, with a difference.. This is a product for current and future times, a brand, a philosophy not just in design but in design for life, this is life lived artfully and artlessly.. An attack on the norms and accepted mundane, stale states of existence, a call for sustainability of self through re-evaluation via social oriented crafting, up skilling and invention. This is The Art of Utopia.
In ways I am taking the norm into absurdity in a certain call to arms.. what are we fighting for, how ridiculous is the way we are living and are we truly happy with that? how could life be different and how best can design serve to assist our true evolution?. With this work I aim at ridicule and wonderment, in contrast with the call for help that can stem from the mundanity of life.. I argue this call for help to be of use as catalyst to the imaginary.. I demonstrate such processes of optimism via pessimism via crafting.. Life lived artfully, in exploration and wonder, in playfulness in turning what we think we know on its head and sticking a balloon on it for good measure. A symbolised call for renewal of tired regimes.
The beauty of this concept is that it deals with the essence of Utopias.. communications, new and alternative modes of perspective and existence.
The idea of taking a commonplace object and re placing it within unfamiliar territory can hopefully prove a disorientating concept as the audience to the box navigate its irregularities in reference to reality and thus possibly pause for thought and reflection. Would the audience be confused by the absurdity of the box and its contents, even be shocked or moved in some way. Would The box serve to confuse the audience as they struggle to relate in real terms..
The ethic of this project was certainly about having fun with our everyday experience of life and creativity whilst also being about serious crafting to high skill levels honing focus- meditation and discipline, enhancing the nature of caring for the moment which duly extends to every moment of our daily life’s given time and repetition. In this sense this project adheres to the Morris related ethic of life lived artfully extending to care in the community, all component parts of the utopian methodology.
The construction of the box is in copper, a material that can be connected to the worlds first ever telecommunication systems. I have aimed to traverse two poles within its making, that of utilising methods of decay and corrosion via acid etching for example.. with focus to the perfect and imperfect, that which can be controlled and that which is beyond our control being all with reference to the themes found in the essence of dystopia through to utopia, yin yang..
I have included traditional and cutting edge making techniques all easily accessible by the DIY enthusiast. I have also made a point of using out of context materials like pig skin as unusual yet also symbolic in many differing ways with many unsavoury connotations.
Additionally there is use of Spalted Conker wood. Spalting is a by-product of the early stages of the rotting process and is caused by an array of mold and fungi invading the wood. The idea of its use in this sculpture being to highlight the beauty within decay. The outer case of the box is Beech wood and was salvaged originally as a dirty old palette crate and is demonstrable of sustainability, upcycling and reclamation which are all themes within my utopian methodology as are all of the above mentioned concepts, materials and applications. There is very much an underlying theme of life and death within this work.
This piece is entitled ‘The Birth of Communication’. It can be seen as mocking mankind’s use of language as merely a means to ends. It is a suggestive piece with no one set answer to its viewer, more a whole range of possibilities in meaning via interpretation, dependant on mindset.
Below are some elements taken from the recent literature on the mODPOD that directly relate from project to project under the banner of The Art of Utopia.
Ethic: Tools and methods for survival, sustainability, creativity, wellbeing, flexible perception. DIY making and thinking, empowerment- social cohesion and re-order, addressing social and moral issues.
Disorientation, shock, inquisition that allow as catalysts for reassessments of perceptions and moral values.
Utopia is a destination and not an end result. It is a transformational journey in itself with no arrival and in this sense proves vital as a motivator as a means from a to b. Utopia is also otherwise known as ‘no place’ which I relate as unknowing, unlearning what we think we know, and re-learning a new essence of life via a blank space, the imagination.
Images of the finalised box. Photography by Nathan Pidd: Hull School of Art and Design.