Notes on Living Outside Cultural Norms. Markers.

July 17th, 2014, 8am

You have to die a few times before you can really live.1

I struggle with Junes, I realise that now. One year ago I was lost in the routine of work-life, days felt the same, meetings covered the same topics, with conversations stuck on repeat. Time moves yet stands still.

A year on and I toil again, it’s okay, I expected to. For the first time in my life I’m consciously giving myself a break, as I understand now this June feeling is habitual.

The Gypsy Moths Have Returned.

Digital time has lost meaning while calendars box us into one hour segments the connection to humans and nature is neglected. Whatever happened to eating when hungry, finishing meetings when finishing, and using idle time to idle?

How time flies.
Now July and as I afford more of the day outdoors, it’s the subtle signs in nature that reveal the passing of time to me. Today the gypsy moths have returned for a month long frenzy of mating and egg laying. I hadn’t noticed them prior to the year before —moths were just moths regardless of time— but camping out in the middle of their night stage has given me time to ponder. The females lay eggs during the months of July & August, keeping them protected until dying and falling to the ground. Their egg clusters stay wrapped for eight to nine month, finally emerging as hungry caterpillars in spring. The cycle starts again. So here I am once more and it’s the gypsy moths who remind how a year has flown by.

Memory markers.
I speculate about designing subtle time markings or reminders into our future products and applications. Context sensitive meaningful identity markers between people within intimate relationships or social groups. Using materials that promote transformation, proudly displaying ageing and scars of living; marks of adventure. Not selling more unnecessary necessities to cover and protect; design in patination.

Consider hand me downs.
Redesigned products and services to promote the act of inheritance. Perhaps an approach to designing out waste - a lifecycle not unlike a moths with short contracts that ensure a continued supply of the latest technology (if that rocks your boat). With incentives to hand down or pass forward, eventually returning to the manufacturer for recycling or better still up-cycled and transformed into the next.

Labour-saving devices just make us try to cram more pointless activities into each day, rather than doing the important thing, which is to enjoy our life.2

As with difficult Junes and the returning gypsy moths, the obsolescence of products shouldn’t come as a surprise. A little preparation goes a long way. Lets take one step back and two steps forward.

  1. Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last, 2008 (Ecco) 

  2. Tom Hodgkinson, The Idler. 

Etaoin and David Wade said thanks.

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James Gibson

Hungry & Footsore

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