Earlier in the week, I wrote about a hat. My story about a very simple object was full of thoughts, emotions, memory, history, and desire. It went beyond the everyday, functional object that it actually is and became much more. While researching and exploring the impact that my deep dive into social media, technology, and a life increasingly lived in a digital world had on my ability to be creative and my identity, I discovered Sherry Turkle. One of her books Evocative Objects caught my eye. While reading, I found one of those sentences that when you read it, it blows up your brain. She suggests that designers of “technology things or objects”, like a cellphone, see them exclusively as tools. However, the people who use them see them as carriers of meaning, even as extensions of themselves. Wow. No wonder Instagram made me feel anxious.
Turkle is an endowed chair at MIT and her area of research is the social study of science and technology. She’s since gone on to write Reclaiming Conversation where she links face-to-face conversations with the development of empathy. She also has a Ted talk called Connected But Alone that’s worth a listen. Of course, these are all written pre-COVID-19 where we’ve had to struggle, sometimes successfully I think with being connected in ways that make us NOT feel alone. I’m hopeful that the more thoughtful strategies we’ve developed to remain connected, to work, to support our essential workers and make them more visible will be carried with us into a more reflective post-COVID-19 world. I’m an optimist what can I say.
Back to the evocative objects. We’ve talked a great deal here about how garments can stimulate emotion and memories. Turkle talks about objects in another way, “things-we-use-to-think with”.
That resonates for me as both my thoughts and subsequent sharing are most often stimulated by a photo of a garment or accessory I am wearing. Today I am thinking again as the power of fashion to make change. So I pose the question for discussion today:
What if fashion designers designed clothes that were objects that became a “thing-we-use-to-think-with”?
Could they design an “evocative object” that would help us think about a sustainable and just practice?
As always stay safe and well my friends.