Handy Made Project (2017-2018)
“Nomophobia” : smartphone separation anxiety
It is clear that the introduction of new media, especially in the form of smart devices, has had an enormous impact on contemporary society from a social scientific perspective, as we grow ever more reliant upon it. As the author James Katz writes in his book Perpetual contact: mobile communication, private talk, public performance:
“They [mobile phones] have transformed social practices and changed the way we interact, yet surprisingly we have little perception on their effect in our lives.”
the psychological effects caused by the interconnection with digital technology are commonly accepted and more openly discussed.
As the merging movement of diverse media produces a global public sphere that is changing the ways we work, play, write, teach, think, and connect, new behavioural patterns are emerging.
Smartphones are so central to our lives that being separated from them for any length of time can put people into a high state of anxiety. Researchers have been looking into the reasons for our ‘smartphone separation anxiety’ – known as nomophobia – and found that it has little to do with being unable to make or receive calls.
“When users perceive smartphones as their extended selves, they are more likely to become attached to the devices, which, in turn, leads to nomophobia by heightening the phone proximity-seeking tendency” Dr Ki Joon Kim, of the City University of Hong Kong.
The Handy Made project intends to represent a moment of intermission in a hyper-connected everyday life and offer ground for reflection. The project aims to raise awareness and to initiate a critical discussion about the profound interconnection between individuals and digital technologies.
In order to address the psychological effects provoked by the growing pervasiveness of new media, the project strives for enacting dynamics focused on tackling the distress raising from the mobile separation anxiety (nomophobia).
This video is abou tour public event at the Karlsplatz. In order to bring our project to the audience, we decided to plan an action in public space.
Our action has been designed not only to create a moment of interaction with the public and collect feedback from it, but also to present a playful vision which is capable of challenging the mainstream conception of technological devices, and moreover making visible alternative perspectives which are framed into practices of counter culture.
We choose Karlsplatz for this experiment since it is regarded as a multifunctional space. It offers broad audience by means of two different lines of subway, commercial area, furthermore connection to the diverse public spaces. Long hallway of the Karlsplatz leads passengers to the park, square and several educational institutions includes TU Wien. Karlsplatz station is also the spot which frequently has been used by passengers as a meeting point, transfer station. Therefore it is common to see people using their smartphone while they are waiting for their companion or the other public transportation.
As an essential part of our action, a performance has been planned to introduce the project to the public. By using very little details (e.g shower gown, mirror, bowl with water), we invited the audience to be spectators for the very intimate and private situation, as i was washing myself in what appeared to be a bathroom set within a public space.
The performance seeks to reenact a situation where our product might be used while it symbolically represents the privatization of a public space as conceptualized by James Katz – “One of the most distinctive characteristics of a mobile phone is that it privatizes public places. Interacting with a mobile phone in the presence of others lends itself to a certain social absence where there is little room for other social contacts. […] Non-verbally, the mobile device leads to “closed” and “passive” public behavior”