The project "Useless Machine" is a clear example of how a small spark of inspiration transformed into a concept which then became a project, and a process we chose to follow and work on as a team. After a few late nights at school, alone in the classroom with Rowan and Jolijn, we began considering the thought of starting a new project together. We loved the idea of forming a team, due to our similar artsy natures, and were all fascinated with the idea of creating a project against the client projects, unhindered by commercialism and restrictions.
One day during lunch, we were discussing Disney movies and listing our favourites. Eventually, we came upon the film Beauty and the Beast and the wood chopping machine that Bell’s inventor father had created. This appealed to us immensely because of its almost pointless nature and how the machine would start working, clearly exerting itself, before presenting a final anti-climax. This made me personally reflect upon my process and how an object can quickly obtain humanistic characteristic while being a machine. We then picked this theme and turned to the large white whiteboard in the hallway. Rowan, Jolijne and I worked well together as we bounced ideas and inspired one another while brainstorming and navigating through the project. As we came up with the idea of a family of defects we realised that defects and faults somehow made the objects more human. We brainstormed different ideas such as a chair that would be afraid of people sitting on it or an Alexa that keeps asking “why, but why, why…” and discovered that there was an underlying theme of uselessness between them all. None of these creations and ideas were fulfilling their intended purpose and therefore deemed useless. And so the concept of “The Useless Machine” was born.
To make it more concrete we started bringing in and working with second hand objects that we found either useless, sadly funny or just interesting. We brought these items to school, dismantled them, reformed them and played around with them. The idea of this phase was to have fun while discovering what the object could do. After we had created various objects, we created a short gif with a narrative of two robot based machines destroying each other during an impact. While this was fun and provided many insights, we became a little derailed from our initial concept. With the help of Cynthia and writing a blog post, we found ourselves back on track, this time with the purpose of answering fundamental questions such as "can irony within a machine or artefact challenge us to view things differently and to redirect our core values entirely?".
Jolijn and I decided to combine the project with the subject Research, as we believe that it could provide vital insights into the needed next steps and provide us with a framework which we could use to reach our goal of creating a useless machine. The results from this research led to further questions and new methods of advancing our research plan. In the end, we hope to achieve creating an object that questions the idea of value by being useless yet empathetic.