Currently it’s degree show season here in London so I’m making the most of my time by visiting as many shows as I can. The other week I hit up the prestigious Royal College of Art to take a look at what their students have been up to and I was really impressed by the talent on display. My personal favorite was the work of David Herdberg; a graduate of the college’s Information Experience Design course.
For his major project David designed a TV, which, on first impressions, looks fairly innocuous. “It may have poor reception”, I thought to myself, “but its wooden legs look nice and they work well with its white plastic casing”. It wasn’t until I sat down in front of the set that I noticed a small label which read “SMILE TO WATCH”. Being a typically obedient gallery-goer I kindly obeyed and forced the muscles of my face to form the requested smile. Suddenly the signal shot quickly into clarity. My face – still proudly wearing its solicited expression – was repaid with a montage of surreal clips played out on the screen. As I continued to watch my face began to relax back to its typical scowl and, as my faux-cheery demeanor faded, so too did the television’s reception.
For David, the work examines how our society has the ability to access endless amounts of content. He notes that, in the past, a TV’s reception relied on an antenna to work. What this TV does is play with that idea. It is a set that must rely on the receptive nature of the viewer to function. “By expressing that we like something, we have very much become antennas ourselves – transmitting the content on to somebody else” he says. By combining a set from the last-decade with modern facial recognition technology, the piece asks us to re-consider how we engage with content and how we access it. It’s a fantastic idea and David’s execution is simply top-notch!
You can see more from David Hedberg on his website.