Evocative objects bring philosophy down to earth.
In Spain we’ve been stuck inside for a week, but already the messages fly as to how long it feels, how much longer we have to go. Amusing videos and pep talks can get you only so far. I hear an increase in the raised voices of our upstairs neighbours and I wonder if they’ll make it.
We’re not the first and we won’t be the last to be under quarantine. Will this become the new normal? At the very least it will go on for longer than we expected. And while my daily life hasn’t changed too much, I miss my walks and the sun on my face. Instead of thinking about how long there is to go, I looked for a creative focus, something I could keep an eye out for throughout my day.
For the past few years I have been thinking with objects, exploring the ways in which objects can facilitate a way of seeing across cultures. So I decided to turn my attention to the objects around me in these days of confinement. What traces do I leave behind in my daily routines? What do the objects say?
There are many ways in which objects connected people to their environment, evoking an emotional pull or passing through people’s lives almost invisibly. This can be demonstrated through projects such as ‘Every Thing We Touch’ by Paula Zuccotti, which gives an insight into a person’s life over 24 hours through the things they touch. This is a very pertinent project in the light of a pandemic, where we become hyper aware of the prints everyone leaves behind.
As Sherry Turkle observes in the book Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, “Evocative objects bring philosophy down to earth. When we focus on objects, physicians and philosophers, psychologists and designers, artists and engineers are able to find common ground in everyday experience.” Is it possible to think through this major upheaval of our lives through our everyday things?
Below is a musing on the things that I rest with in my daily life under quarantine. They’re not all directly objects, but are a focused on the material world encountered in the constrained space of an apartment and the traces they leave behind.
What are the everyday things that help you find balance in these times of social isolation?