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Personal Cultural Radar

Tokyo: penis pleasuring chandelier

A lamp shade made from dozens of internal rubber sheaths of Tenga’s – a Japanese single use masturbation device.

The lamp shade formed part of the Peace Needs a New Logo event in Aoyama and an element of its appeal (or otherwise) as an artifact is in understanding its origins. In practical terms it means having dismantled a penis pump which in turn implies having purchased and used one, or at least having spoken with someone who has. And whilst there are contextual, individual and cultural differences to what you discuss with whom, the obscurity of its origins, its display in a public space, and the very personal nature of a Tenga’s use make this lamp shade a conversational bonding experience waiting to happen. As such it reminds me of the shift that is well underway in how we process the cultural references around us and how future changes in technology will in turn create new shifts in this landscape.

Today’s mobile phone already combines the ability to process audio, visual and other sensor captured information. It is in essense an early form of a cultural radar – in tune with your personal preferences and the values you prescribe to. The quality of those carried sensors, the sensors in the world around us, the extent to which interaction is automated will only grow over time – leading to new ways of understanding our context. If you value the perspective and critical eye of WallPaper*, the New York Times or even Future Perfect then you’ll simply sign up to their subscription service to apply their filter to your literal view of the world.

Given that part of the enjoyment of an object or service is in the process of discovery, in knowing and understanding obscure references, how does the designer/artist/creator remain two steps ahead when the links between things are inherently that much clearer?