It’s a question that captures the imagination and encapsulates the essence of blue skies research: What if…? That’s the subject of the new art installation in the windows of the Wellcome Trust headquarters in Euston, London. Come and have a look if you’re in the area.
The installation features six projects created by students, graduates and staff from the Royal College of Art. Each explores an aspect of how science and technology could influence our future – in both good and bad ways.
You can read more about the projects on display over on the Wellcome Trust website. But these are just part of a wider “What if…” series undertaken by the Royal College’s Design Interaction team in 2009.
A total of 19 projects were created, each exploring a different aspect of science. Not all of these will appear in the Wellcome display (though the window display will be refreshed throughout the year with others from the series). That’s a shame, as I do love so many of the ideas.
For example, ‘Mouse Assisted Interplay’ by Vanessa Harden imagines a dating service in which people meet and interact via their pet mice – who roam around their body through a series of tubes worn like a harness. “The interplay between the two mice could serve as a test of romantic compatibility as well as an opportunity to engage in a dialogue,” reads the accompanying blurb. It’s not such a weird idea (apart from the idea of wearing mouse tubes). If you think about it, lots of people meet through walking their dogs in the park.
I also really like the ‘Compass Phone’ by Hayeon Yoo. This is just a pared down mobile device whose only function is GPS. It measures the distance between two people in real-time and converts it into the time it takes for them to meet each other. It includes a compass indicating the other person’s direction. The combination of an elegant, simplified device and a purely romantic idea is a real winner for me.
Other projects that are on display in the Wellcome windows are a bit more scientific, looking at synthetic biology (E.Chromi and The Synthetic Kingdom) or geo-engineering (the ice cream-snowing Cloud Project). But all are equally imaginative.