Michael Harboun – Strate College
In a world in which we are constantly bombarded with injunctions to react or to distract ourselves it gets scarcely possible in our everyday life to dwell upon the essential, the existential, the metaphysical… Transcendenz transforms the reality around us and enables us to live and share immersive, thoughtful experiences.
Designer: Michael Harboun Thesis director: Dominique Sciamma
In the Transcendenz project the authors reacted in a unique expression to the key drivers of web 3.0 – specifically, to the return of the focus on an individual rather than multiple on-line avatars. The Transcendenz world is that of introspection, not of outwards projected social aspirations. The jury has also appreciated the underlying humor that helps a spectator to navigate within the concept. The overall quality of the execution and many of the decisions that informed the final work surpass majority of the student entrants and student work in general. This stresses connection to the inner self over connection to technology. It can change your perspective and make you more aware of the people and environment around you. Most technological objects (like computers and mobile devices) remove you from the world – but Transendenz connects you further to the world around you.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
Transcendenz is a personal "design reaction" to the world in which we are living.
By observing our modern societies, a certain paradox caught my interest. This paradox concerns the way we behave in time. On one hand we are, in our everyday life, constantly trying to be efficient, organized and quick. As time is money, no time should be lost unnecessarily. We try to save every single minute and to be as productive as possible, which makes us busy people.
On the other hand, when we are not working, we suddenly have so much time for ourselves that we don't know what to do with it anymore. Not knowing where to invest our time, most of us will simply consume it throughout different mediums. Facebook, YouTube, TV or videogames are some perfect examples. These information technologies provide us with a time of connection, distraction or interaction, thus taking away from us the empty time.
The empty time is the most essential time. It is the time in which we are fully conscious about ourselves and our environment. It is the time in which we are sensitive to fundamental questionings and think about the existential; the type of thoughts which bring us back to our human nature, the only animal able to think beyond what he sees with his eyes and imagine the invisible.
After my analysis, I aimed to create a concept which would link our modern information technologies to the invisible reality of metaphysics.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
The brief I set to myself is in the same time a personal point of view. Transcendenz, apart from being a system integrated into an object, is also a strong message addressed to our modern societies. It tells a story of someone who is suddenly struck by the beauty of an invisible philosophy, which he had totally forgotten. He discovers an unseen world, which he never took the time to think about.
Today, all information and services are becoming so accessible and available that we don't make the effort anymore to think about the non-accessible, the imperceptible, but it is by thinking on what is not available that our minds evolve and are able to innovate, to imagine the non-existent.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Transcendenz focalized on our psychology. It transforms our perception and unveils a hidden meaning of our daily world. Hence it is a concept which is entirely based on the user inside his experience.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
My main researches are based on the sociological and psychological changes of the population throughout the advances of new technologies. French philosopher Paul Virilio and Bernard Stiegler have written many books and reports about the way our mentalities evolve in these contexts of modernity. They have helped me create a solid base on which I could build the different ideas of the project.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
While designing Transcendenz, I aimed to put the user's capacity to think and imagine in the foreground. Too many object and services today are not stimulating the user's mind. They are, on the contrary, distracting him or making the efforts for him. With an ethical approach I tried to change this paradigm and imagine a concept which would only work if the user uses his mind. For instance in order to select an experience with Transcendenz you have to go through a slight mediation phase before. This phase is important because it calms you down and puts you in the right condition before living an experience. Once you have meditated and are in an experience, your thoughts will be more lucid and clear.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
Making the message and the idea more comprehensible for the the general audience.