As I travel from place to place in new and old cities, I increasingly catch myself holding a phone in my hands, looking at the map and asking myself where I should go next. It was not always like that. Before google maps appeared below my fingertips I used to wonder through city, following the sunny streets following the shady streets, following the noises and smells of the city. I used to discover most amazing buildings and tastiest cake shops and the coziest squares full of flowers, playful dogs and happy book readers. I planned to go back to them, but I seldom could retrace my wondering steps back. And so I rejoiced at having a map in my hand that knew where I was and where I could go. Except I stopped wondering along the streets and instead of relying on joys of serendipity I began looking at the tiny screen and reading reviews. I red in the squares and the coffee shops and in front of amazing buildings that I did not see with my attention focused intently on a screen. And so I began longing for the freedom of wondering with the ability to retrace my steps. And so I created the Sunshine Traveler. For the first time in many years, I explored the city without thinking of direction, following the my fancy and feeling with joy at every accidental discovery. And when I got home, all I had to do is to pop a memory card in my laptop and retrace my journey on the googlemaps, marking the funny graffiti and a bluest sky and a magic shop.
It is remarkable to think that only a few dozens of years ago, the wireless communication was equated to a miracle and that near-every household was connected by a wire. These pictures of New York and Stockholm date to late 19th century before these telephone wires were berried underground away from the elements, but they are still an excellent illustration of human drive to stay in touch with each other. One could only wish there was a way to visualize the wireless connections that are all around us now.
We are all familiar with the Dark Side of the love tokens. The cultural history is full of tales of the chastity belts and keys from the tower that been worn into battle. Jordan Rozansky and David Odio created an excellent spoof that brings this into a 21st century. What you see here is a joke, but there is a warning in it: when looking for your 21st century accessories (be it your latest fitness gadget or a present from dearest and nearest), it is worth to conciser who is in control.
The keepsakes truly come in many shapes and forms. And this golden whistle is a testament to that. It was a first love token that Henry VIII gave to his beloved Ann Boleyn. This little pendent contained all necessities of the time that a future queen night have needed: a whistle, a spoon, a tooth-pick and of cause an ear-pick. now, this beautiful, if odd little object could be viewed at the British Galleries in room 58E of Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Far from being an invention of the twenty first century, technological wearables devices have been a part of our cultural heritage for almost five hundred years. This a precursor of a wrist watch as an earliest known dated watch. It was made in 1530 for a humanist Philipp Melanchthon by an unknown German artisan. It is thought to originate in Augsburg, and currently resigns in the collection of The Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore Maryland. And whats particular remarkable: this beautifully crafted technological marvel is still capable of keeping time.
One of the Modern Keepsakes, called The Distant Heart will be featured at the V&A's Digital Design Weekend as a part of the London Design Festival.
The Distant Heart is a computational necklace, developed as a part of the research into rectifying the emotional void created when families, friends and loved ones move away from each other. By tapping into the emerging infrastructure of the Internet of Things, the necklace wirelessly receives real-time heartbeat data from a paired device, and interprets it into the affective expressions, embedded into the necklace.
You can meet the creator of The Distant Heart and ask questions about the project and see demonstrations on Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 September 2014, 10.30-17.00 at Victoria & Albert Museum.
Perhaps one of the best known set of early pieces of Computational Jewellery was created in 2002 by a student of the Royal College of Arts for Professor Kevin Warwick Cyborg 2.0 experiment. Sure at first site these necklace and the bracelet could be mistaken with a techno-bling, But they did in fact reflect a remarkable advance in science, implicit interaction and affective design. This was a first time a peace of jewellery on one person was wirelessly connected to the senses of the other person. The implant in Proffessor Warwick's arm was connected both to his nervous system and to the web. when he felt cal, the necklace that his wife Irena war was glowing blue. When it was exited, the necklace was glowing red.
The exact origins of the keepsakes disappeared in a fog of human prehistory. But anthropologists generally agree that we humans have been exchanging these tender tokens of love and memories ever since we acquired language and culture. Not long ago, a team of archaeologists rediscovered two crude Nassarius shell beads, lost among the dusty cupboards of London's Natural History Museum. The beads were identified as the earliest known jewelry dated to be over one hundred thousand years old (Vanhaeren M., 2006). It is now difficult to know if the two ancient beads were part of a body decoration, an amulet, a symbol of status, or a reminder of a romantic walk by the sea. But it is fascinating to know that a hundred thousand of years later, similar shell beads along with an array of novel objects and materials are still being exchanged as gifts and used in personal adornment to represent the same archetypes.
"In all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
It is comforting to know, that as the Voyager 1 entered the interstellar space and left our star behind, it carried a snapshot of our humanity towards the distance worlds. A keepsake, containing voices and cultural references of our moment in time 37 years ago...
A golden record, carried on board of Voyager 1 spacecraft.