With the evolution of technologies like artificial intelligence that empower machines with more agency and autonomy, designers are now increasingly humanizing technology and users are increasingly behaving as if their “smart” gadgets have their own lives. Still, we assume that objects were designed to be obedient and responsive to human expectations as tools. While humans are often thought to be domesticating technology, in fact, technology is also domesticating humans. To stimulate imaginations, develop more meaningful practices and relationships with the pervasive smartness, new interaction paradigms of these daily artifacts need to be explored. Set against this backdrop, Artificial Intimacy aims at exploring alternatives to the idea of electronically smart objects, asking questions about how objects could express feelings and evoke humans’ feelings for them.
The project recreates intimate interpersonal interactions between humans and objects, by conjuring a series of ordinary household things behaving in unexpected ways. The series includes Gaze the Clock, Tickle the Lamp, and Croon the Diffuser(WIP). These objects respond to subtle human input with unique animated attributes and performances that initiate dialogues, promote continued bodily engagement, and communicate emotion. Artificial Intimacy explores expressiveness in non-anthropomorphic objects that gain a form of vitality from their animated attributes and performances. The project embodies the idea of animism and aims at intriguing and provoking people to think about a more equal and intimate relationship between humans and non-humans, in this case, the quotidian objects.
“Most of the time the CLOCK does its job showing the time. But occasionally when I look at it, it flops down its hands. I think it is just being mischievous.”
“Sometimes I would tickle the LAMP when it gets tired. It flickers differently and I think I found where its sensitive spot is.”