Charlotte Strethill-Smith

Digital Media Design Student

Design Fictions and Other Worlds : Idea and Sketches — November 1, 2014

Design Fictions and Other Worlds : Idea and Sketches

My Idea that I have decided to go with, started off by looking into communication devices for disabilities. I wanted to look into this as most futuristic devices are presented in a utopian world where there seems to be no health problems and everyone who uses the product are young, healthy and wealthy. After looking into this subject I found there were a very small number of products for adults that were in an affordable price range. As well as mainly being marketed for children or young teenagers. A lot of the technology sold that I could find were for a sensory room or entertainment purposes.

I decided to design a device that would help with sensory disabilities. I didn’t want to stop at just a hearing device and thought about ways it could help with vision. I found a design concept called Lumigrids ( ) which portrays an “LED projector for bicycles that hopes to improve safety during night riding. It projects square grids onto the ground and by observing changes in the grids, the rider can easily comprehend the landforms ahead.”


This gave me inspiration for my device to project a grid system into the users mind so they can comprehend the environment around them and any objects are shown as blocky low poly objects in the space. This would also be able to connect to nearby devices so the users could use their phone or see the signs on shop doors and prices. I also started looking into the possible helpful benefits of this device in relation to Autism, in particular Aspergers. I took advice from a lecturer and looked into the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I liked how this book wasn’t written exclusively about Aspergers, but a book about a boy who sees the world in a surprising and different way, as well as his experience feeling like an outsider. I was also old about some people who regained a sense back from not having it at all, couldn’t handle the shock of it all. For instance being completely deaf, to having to combat the noise of everyday life in a busy city can be really distressing and invokes anxiety.

In the end I went quite dark with the concept of my design. I created a design that would aid disabilities and would effectively seem like a Utopian future. However, I wanted to address how there can never truly be a utopian future as there is always conflict. There can also never be a ‘ fix all/end all product as my progression of this device would result in the human body unable to handle the stress and anxiety of a dramatic change such as gaining full sight/full hearing and ultimately the user having locked in syndrome. With the device having programmed the users daily life routine it will just play through the usual routine and force what has ultimately become a shell, through a routine programmed by the repetitive nature of humankind. I also toyed around with the idea of the device living off it’s host and when one user dies it must find another one and will attach itself to them. This is why I designed my device with a parasite in mind and yet still wanted it to appeal as looking cute. I think this design may have created a Heterotopian world due to the user ending up in a place they neither want to be, nor can really escape from. The outside world looking at the user will assume this is the best thing for the user as it reduces any involvement for real people and has been marketed as something for an idealist future.


Design Fictions and Other Worlds: Research — October 17, 2014

Design Fictions and Other Worlds: Research

After losing steam with my previous idea I decided to look into strange worlds people have created to gain ideas. I found an interesting podcast called Welcome to Night Vale which describes it self as “Twice-monthly community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events. Turn on your radio and hide. Welcome to Night Vale.” This podcast is written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. It is a mock radio show which describes the events that go on in a strange deserted town as if they are normal.

Design Fictions and Other Worlds: Initial Ideas — October 15, 2014

Design Fictions and Other Worlds: Initial Ideas

Building on the ideas from last week my initial idea is a device set in a world where all natural resources have run out. So if wanting to communicate via technology, it will drain your own life resource and shorten your life span. I thought this would be a comment on how much we use technology and would make you think if it’s really necessary to use your phone all the time.

However, I have been finding it hard to visualise the device and after sharing this idea, it was said this was very similar to the concept of the film In Time. In Time is a film set in a dystopian future where time is currency and is shown in the form of an inserted device in the arm.

After thinking about this idea i am unsure wether to pursue it further due to not being able to why only technology is effected by the extinction of natural resources.

Design Fictions and Other Worlds: Starting Research — October 8, 2014

Design Fictions and Other Worlds: Starting Research

For Media Theory and Perspectives I chose two options, one of which is Design Fictions and Other Worlds. For this essay we can take two approaches and I have decided to choose the first in which I need to imagine a future/ other worldly communication device and describe (in 1000 word equivalent) a scenario in which this device I have imagined will be used.

I started looking further into the different futuristic worlds we could create, the main ones being Dystopian and Utopian. Utopian is a type of ‘paradise’ world “it traces the genealogy of ideal, planned societies as envisaged from Plato to science fiction. The appeal and the resonances are obvious and rather powerful: religious roots in paradise, political roots in socialism, economic roots in communes, and so on.”- Gordin, M., Tilley, H. and Prakash, G. (2010). Utopia/dystopia. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, Part 1, Chapter 1, p.1. Dystopia is not the opposite of a Utopia, that would involve it being a deliberate or completely unplanned attempt at making a world terrifying and awful. Rather Dystopia “is a utopia that has gone wrong, or a utopia that functions only for a particular segment of society.” – (Gordin, Tilley and Prakash, 2010)

Michel Foucault uses the term heterotopia to describe places and spaces that function in non-hegemonic conditions. Heterotopia is considered to be the third space. It can be said that “heterotopia embodies the tension between place and non-place” – Dehaene, M. and Cauter, L. (2008). Heterotopia and the city. London: Routledge, p.5.

I was interested in looking into heterotopia further to try and develop an idea for a futuristic communication device.  I was particularly interested in ‘Heterotopias of deviation’ which are institutions we place individuals whose behaviour is outside the norm such as asylums, prisons, cemeteries. I could design a device to communicate with the deceased or a device to communicate with a world which seems better than the place you are in but still somehow the same.