In our digital plane do we sometimes forget how nice paper feels and smells? Maybe, but people like Yorokobu make us remember by editing –with actual paper and ink- this beautiful monthly magazine about creativity and happiness in general.
And the very digital Andy Goodman and Marco Righetto got this big smile on their faces when seeing their names printed on pages 54 to 57 of the April issue, in a comprehensive interview to both of them.
The topic is Hack You, the appealing research about the body as the next interface being cooked inside the walls of Fjord Madrid. An article that can be really read, touched and smelled. Well… just by us holding the magazine in our hands, but the interview is very enjoyable so we’ve composed a summary of it, originally in Spanish, translated into English.
Hack my body!
Published in Yorokobu, April 2013, under Creative Commons license. By @SrGarcia (many thanks Sir!) with illustrations by @velckro
Andy Goodman and Marco Righetto are essentially designers but, with Hack You, the project they’re developing in Fjord, they’re dreaming up unimaginable scenarios in which the human body integrates technology to make man into a ‘hacker hacked‘.
Their work isn’t focused on developing any technology but in thinking about how humans can interact with it and what uses can be given to these possible creations. “We think about what people want to do with this technology. Scientists are brilliant professionals, but often don’t judge if something is good or bad”, states Goodman.
Their work at Fjord is often inspired by science fiction books. According to Goodman, “it goes beyond integrating technology in the human body. It has been represented in fiction numerous times, but most of the times in a dramatic and kind of terrifying way, like the Borg or Terminator.”
There’s no intention at all to imitate any scientific work, but still they had to study a vast amount of material about genetic engineering, synthetic biology, industrial design and computing. Thus they create their frameworks asking themselves what would happen with combinations of functional blocks of genes.
Each of these DNA fragments is a “biobrick”. The idea, created by Tom Knight -one of the Biological Engineering Division leads at MIT-, was to create a kind of “Amazon of genetic engineering” as Marco Righetto says. “Let’s imagine, for example, you can get an extra eye by activating a certain gene in a place where it didn’t originally exist”, states Goodman.
The list of possibilities is endless. As Righetto explains, “we focus on the ecosystem and on a broad overview of every scenario. It’s complex, but the most basic human needs haven’t changed in the last hundreds of years.”
The creative process is similar to that used to build a story. “We start from a context and then we introduce technology. It’s like throwing stones into a lake: you throw one and you watch how waves expand. It’s sequential.” As Goodman adds on, this is not simple. “You have to consider a lot of scientific, technology and design inputs.”
Can you imagine that our hair color change instantly according to our Facebook status? Some of these situations are only dreams in a mind in the mood for party. Others, however, are just around the corner.
The most relevant approaches to these technologies usually have to do with healthcare. “You could even take one pill in a lifetime. It’d release the appropriate treatments at any particular moment,” Goodman says. Of course, when considering hypothetical scenarios, there are many ethical arguments arising.
You know everything about me!
Certainly all of this will change the way we sense and interact with everything surrounding us. Interpretation of gestures by invisible devices implanted in our bodies could also lead to many changes in our social relations.
Andy Goodman explains that, as per the way of offering consumer products, based on the prediction of our behavior, vending machines -“and this will happen very soon“- would offer a selection of different products depending on who is nearby them.
The very nature of the products or branding would also be different. What if we could pack a single t-shirt able to vary its length and the thickness of its fabrics? “You might never buy a product again, just the instructions to make it into one pattern or another, “states Goodman.
Genetic DIY for the handyman of tomorrow
When playing the imagination game, Goodman and Righetto consider DIY genetics. “A bridge is not built by throwing concrete and steel to a river. You have to know how to combine them and calculate its structure. This is kind of the same thing: you have to know how to do, but almost anyone could do it,” says the Italian designer.
Should I be afraid?
The future is a mystery. All we can do are hypothetical reality construction exercises. The day will come when everything will be recorded and the only thing that will be out of focus will be Schrödinger’s cat. “Nothing will be forgotten and that will enable us to recall happy times for therapeutic purposes,” says Goodman.
The scenarios proposed by these designers make us consider situations that help us assume the use of technology embedded in our body. It’s on us to reflect about it.