Creating Something From Nothing: Making Real-World Objects From Experiences

From websites you can bike through to sculptures of air travel, making experiences ‘real’ could help ground us against digital overload.

A general trend of the digital age has been the drive to log and digitize everything. Photos, writing, music, memories and even body language are now stored on computers for ease of sharing, instant nostalgia and posterity. Increasingly we have been driven by behaviors often referred to as ‘life logging’ or ‘life caching’ to quantify our physical bodies and health, while posting our details on our feelings to Twitter and Facebook. It would seem as if the value of physical artifacts related to significant events and experiences in our lives is diminishing in a time dominated by digital sharing.

Not so for everyone. Some brands and artists have turned this around and have used digital technologies to create real-world objects from non-tangible experiences that could previously only be captured through writing or audio/visual recording. Putting what this means in terms of sustainability and resource use aside, there’s something to be said for physically holding a plane trip or cycling through a website that simply can’t be properly articulated in 140 characters.

Toyota Africa designed a 1.8-km cycling track that recreates the Toyota RAV4 product site with sensors, special mechanisms and Wi-Fi that people can bike along. Suspended wooden panels acted a physical ‘menu bar’ for different sections of the site such as Models, Design, Safety, Interior, and Book a Test Drive. Riders could hit wooden buttons along the trail that made physical ‘pop ups’ appear with information on car features as the cyclists went through the different ‘web pages.’ A clever ‘refresh’ button at the end of the course sprayed them with a gentle mist of cooling water.

Although it functions as an advertising campaign, this exhibition perfectly captures the values of a segment of people (some might call them Luddites) who choose to be offline in their free time. Now, instead of missing out on the experience of a interesting or informative website, they can go experience it for themselves in the physical world, not screens or connections necessary.

Continue reading about other unconscious cultural coping mechanisms for future shock on iQ by Intel.

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