Discomfort through Control: Analog Blinders

Over the summer, I was taking notes observing customers at a cafe, particularly those who are able to do work in a busy space. It’s not the zen-ish decor or the aromatic, artisan blend of espresso that sets customers to find focus, but coping with the chaos that a co-working space is prone to while sitting in the middle of the noisy chatter, complete with infants screaming and speakers blasting radio hits.

It truly bothered me how we have grown accustomed to a hyperproductive lifestyle and while at it, would be caught glued to our devices which make us feel accomplished. In fact, today, I and the whole marketing team at work, were tasked to work offsite, in the retail store’s back of house. There I’ve met different types of people and worked from 10-4pm on my feet, hanging clothes on a rack. Using my legs and manual labor left me a bit fidgety. It felt so strange to be flexing my muscles or moving too much, even having to interact with humans for a long time to spark conversations. And what surprised me was that Instagram scrolling during my 15-minute break was heaven? I felt right at home.

Analog Blinders

For a performance proposal, I’d like to explore the idea of how we subject ourselves under the control of devices in the guise of modern day productivity, using a speculative design of Analog Blinders.

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Having self-diagnosed visual anxiety and social media unrest helped shape this idea of using analog blinders to find relief by getting a momentary visual block.  

The premise of this design is simple – Analog Blinders closes up once the user starts typing 45 words per minute.

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What is the Analog Blinder made out of?

  1. Adafruit Feather Huzzah
  2. Mini Servo attached to 3d printed swiper
  3. Muscle sensors
  4. Existing eyewear
  5. Velcro and a piece of folded paper

Setting the Stage

My target location would be either a park, like The Highline in Chelsea. I would set myself up in a space in the middle of people who will be walking past me in both directions. Armed with my laptop, a desk, and a chair, I will reenact a life of a modern-day pencil-pusher doing her best to beat her deadlines. I also would like to have some sort of visualization in the background that denotes how many times I got distracted. It could be a digital calendar that has a counter written on a paper, slowly peeling away as the number goes up.

Reaction from Audience

This performance would occur outdoors and passers-by are regular NYC tourists and sightseers. It is possible that they will be asking me questions while I perform. I hope to have the viewer observe instead of asking, so possibly having a sign that says “Do not disturb, or “multitasker at work.”

The key takeaway from this experience is the control we subject ourselves to these devices. This sparks a level of discomfort on how much technology has taken over our lives. We are not able to reverse this addiction we have with efficiency and productivity. therefore trapping us in a feedback loop and constant sensory overload.

The analog blinder is an antithetical solution to a future of temporary relief, where tech controls even the simplest gesture of keeping us distracted from other unworthy stimuli, that are of lesser importance to how we put productivity on a pedestal.

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