In this project Fotis Flevotomos explores the idea of seeing an ordinary object in an artfully and imaginative way and create sculptural objects that provoke functionality expectations.
If you think there might be something wrong in seeing the world as a fast succession of digital images then you are probably a potential body seer! And being a body seer means being an artful observer. I learned this during my ten-year work with museum visitors who are blind or partially sighted.
As opposed to seeing with the eyes, seeing through touch is a slow process that reveals a lot about the inherent qualities of an object: its shape, texture, decoration, material, temperature and ultimately its purpose.
In this context, dis-order and dis-ability might often mean a particular order or ability that most of us are just not familiar with.
The main quest behind “Things to Touch” is whether ordinary objects like tables and stools could ever be stimulating enough for our imagination so that they can be seen slowly and artfully.
I explored this idea by creating a number of medium size sculptural objects to which I applied unfamiliar geometries and tried to play with the users’ expectations around functionality, balance and gravity. These objects are composed of oak, ash or maple wood, ceramic tactile surfaces, glass and pillows.
An underlying principle during this process was the desire to avoid visual clues that could give these objects an obvious functional meaning. And that’s because I wanted them to somehow stand equally familiar or mysterious in front of all users whatever their level of vision or any other sensorial ability might be.
One such example is the “Saddle” This work is inspired by the famous Oliver Sacks essay “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat”, a fascinating story that introduced me and many others to the realities of visual agnosia. Despite its title, the saddle is often interpreted as a side-table or even a random assemblage of abstract forms—a sculptural work. To name it and give it a functional role one needs first to spend time with it.
“You’re pretending to be making furniture” a friend told me once, implying that here curiosity and sensorial observation are prioritized over the more practical needs. It could be so, but I was thrilled he spent time to observe them and ultimately see more than meets the eye.
Facts & Credits
Project title: THINGS TO TOUCH: MAKING WORKS FOR BODY SEERS
Typology: Product Design
Design and making: Fotis Flevotomos
Photography: Anthony Katrakazis, Fotis Flevotomos
Text: Fotis Flevotomos