The Device for Disappearing at Sea is a floating hiding place, meant to produce a total isolation that can seldom be experienced on land. A sunken, one-person chasm is surrounded by a floating fiberglass ring. Once inside, it's just you, the sky and the sun. Don't worry, there is a rope that leads out of the sinkhole—this is intended for a safe and temporary disappearance only. When you're done being alone, just climb out and swim it right on back to shore.
The project is part of Fantastic, a larger series of devices by Andrew Friend that debuted last night at the opening of the Royal College of Art Design Thesis Show in the Design Interactions section. The project is about creating products to help people experience something fantastic, like disappearance, lightning strike (pictured below), and invisible electromagnetic forces.
We like this series because it proposes new, very direct ways that humans can experience the world. There's no denying that these products are dangerous, but so are motorcycling and sky-diving. These, though, aren't about sport. They could have been dreamed up by Werner Herzog: deliberate, in search of the sublime, and totally at the mercy of the terrifying forces of the environment, almost to the point of mysticism.
These projects deal with that which may seem extraordinary, unlikely, desirable (or not), confusing, or uncanny. I am interested in the fantastic experience, be it the conscious quest to achieve one's personal (or indeed popular) fantasy, or the more sub-conscious seeding of a fantastic situation or construct through the actions of others. The fantastic has the power to engage the imagination, initiate dreams and trigger desires, excite, manipulate and confuse. The projects explore how one can, through the production of objects and services located in specific contexts, enable these fantasies.
The lightning strike device, more fantastic but less believable, converts the energy of a lightening strike into heat in the hand of the user, scarring them forever with a memory of the experience.
Lots more great work at the RCA Show 2: go see it at the Kensington campus through July 4th, 2010.
More shots of both follow: