Signs of Life is the longest showing digital artwork at MoMa!

I have just had an amazing call with the digital conservation team at MoMa, where my piece Signs of Life is in the permanent collection and has now been been on show for the last xx years!

They took the chance during the recent re-hang of the design galleries, to have a look inside the piece and check in with me what should happen if any of the bits of hardware were to break... ie what actually constitutes the artwork, and from a conservation point of view how can they maintain what an interactive digital artwork built in 2009 would have looked like, when their future colleagues come to take a look in say 50-100 years time. Fascinating stuff, and another delightful reminder of how exciting it is to have some work in such an important and well cared for collection.

They also let me know that to their knowledge Signs of Life is the piece of digital art/design that has been on show at MoMa for the longest period to date, which was amazing to hear and totally inspiring to get back to creating my own works again.

Below is the original film I made of the first prototype at the RCA show, an links to the Moma collection and blog about the acquisition of the piece.

By animating the stationary running man we see every day and usually ignore, Yauner gives the exit sign a life of its own and challenges the viewer to notice and observe ordinary objects.

Design Journal - The Context of Critical Design: Exhibits, Social Media and Auction Houses

After a year or two (in review etc) the paper I wrote with former colleagues at Northumbria was published in the Volume 18, Number 1 of The Design Journal - one of the leading academic Design Journals.

The paper looks at my work with video and the potential for designers to use Youtube to foster a debate beyond the primary audience of the work, the abstract is below.


Critical design and design for debate seek to critique contemporary society through the production of provocative artefacts that cause the viewer to reflect on current trends, assumptions and values. But such designs are typically displayed in relatively elitist contexts – art galleries, conference halls and academic publications. Many designers are now making short films of their work and posting them to sites like Vimeo and YouTube. This paper considers such sites as potential spaces for widening the context of critical design. It describes responses on YouTube to three videos of designs by Freddie Yauner. The Fastest Clock in the World is a clock that gives time to a millionth of a second, The Highest Popping Toaster in the World uses a compressed gas-powered mechanism to fire toast at the ceiling, Signs of Life appears to be a fire exit sign until the stick figure running for the door begins to yawn, stretch and wander out of shot to take a break. A film of each was posted to YouTube and the comments were analysed to consider the extent to which social media can be used to extend and promote the kinds of debate that critical design seeks to create. The paper outlines a method for analysing YouTube data which draws on site statistics, content analysis, grounded theory and critical theory. Viewing figures and comments indicate that such social media do have the potential to enlarge the audience for critical design although engagement may be relatively superficial. The paper argues that while critical design artefacts critique consumer society this does not prevent them from themselves becoming desirable objects to be consumed. It suggests that the context of critical design must be expanded if it is to escape this deadlock.



Moma - This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good

My piece Signs of Life which is in the permanent collection at Moma has been included in the most recent show 'This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good'.

This exhibition takes its title from the Twitter message that British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) used to light up the stadium at the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremonies. His buoyant tweet highlighted the way that the Internet—perhaps the most radical social design experiment of the last quarter century—has created limitless possibilities for the discovery, sharing, and expansion of knowledge and information. As we revel in this abundant possibility, we sometimes forget that new technologies are not inherently democratic. Is design in the digital age—so often simply assumed to be for the greater good—truly for everyone? From initial exploratory experiments to complex, and often contested, hybrid digital-analog states, all the way to “universal” designs, This Is for Everyone explores this question with works from MoMA’s collection that celebrate the promise—and occasional flipside—of contemporary design.


I just found a... Manifesto

I wrote this a couple of years ago on the bus from Highbury (home) to Somerset House (the studio) on a rare day back in London (I was commuting to Newcastle for work at the time) - I'm not sure I completely agree with it all - but some of it very much rings true.


I’m too comfortable : A manifesto for a bus ride­­­


Designed ‘objects’ penetrate all areas of life - therefore designed ‘objects’ can carry commentary to penetrate public consciousness.


Designed ‘objects’ can amplify the thoughts and messages of the brightest minds on the planet.


People know how to read signs, symbols and everyday objects - so use them.


Design is a tool of capitalism. Acknowledge that. It’s a strength and a weakness.


Take up issues you believe in and follow through.


Aim to reach the general public.


Disruption creates change -

disruption can cause discomfort -

this is your playground.



FLY 03.05.12

Objective Mirror and other digital doodles

The objective mirror allows the viewer to see themselves reflected within precious and hugely desirable objects. I was interested in what happens when the viewers image actually forms the surface of a faceted object and what better to try it out with than a diamond.

The two way mirror allows you to view the user through the glass with a hi-res webcam and then map their image onto a digital faceted diamond, which appear on the surface of the mirror.

The piece was commisioned by Gallery Fumi. 

At the time I was playing alot with the files that create the faceted diamond and would love to revisit it sometime.


celebrity and personal souvenir mashup

I've always loved souvenir's particularly the old "my dad went o London and all he got me was this lousy T-shirt" type stuff. Just personal enough for your dad to by, but broad enough for an oxford street shop to bother stocking.

After visiting one of these stores (which incidentally used to be William Morris's shop) I started thinking about the the logical ends you can take this stuff. How broad could a souvenir become? or how personal?

Here's the broadest offering - thanks to Marc Owens for the copy


Then on the highly personalised versions, I turned to some precarious links to my favourite artist...