Field Guide is a loose collective of designers, artists, technologists, musicians and journalists engaged with projects that focus on "the materiality of things that are immaterial, such as electricity, sound, light, emotions and the Internet." Often times these projects are ongoing works in progress or open-ended experiments that are, admittedly, sometimes a bit too conceptual to fully understand. Still, their showroom at Brompton Design District during London Design Festival was set up a like science fair with exciting, interactive gadgetry and liquid-filled glass vials that invited visitors to engage with the different projects and try them out for themselves to get a better sense of their intentions.
The most accessible project is The Happiness Machine, a device that randomly collects happy or sad Tweets and blog posts and prints them out on a thermal paper feed that runs like a ticker tape machine. Created by Brendan Dawes, a digital artist and maker, the paper printed by The Happiness Machine is designed to remind us that behind every Twitter name or Tumblr account is a real person whom we've never met, and that the Internet "isn't a network of machines but a network of people."
The Happiness Machine is connected to the web via an Arduino compatible micro controller called a Nanode, which has a built-in Ethernet connection so it can connect to the Internet without any other accessories. Two capacitive touch buttons created using Bare Conductive's Bare Paint trigger the Nanode to retrieve either happy or sad thoughts from Jonathan Harris's crowd sourced emotional collection website, wefeelfine.org.
"The future of connected objects isn't just about screens," Dawes said. "In many ways paper is actually less of a throwaway than the display of pixels. Combine paper with a network such as the Internet and you have a lightweight, flexible, connected 'display' that you can carry anywhere, share, keep, scribble or even reuse."
See more of the Field Guide projects or submit your own.
When Perrin isn't scouting the best new design talent for Core77, or working as the Products Editor of The Architect's Newspaper, or writing for Cool Hunting, Design Applause, Print Magazine, Frieze and The Paris Review, she's trying to put her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College to good use.