The Presence of Artefacts

These objects are the physical outcome of a research on the presence of artefacts. Together with Silvana Post, a multimedia designer from Germany and Karolis Ramanauskas, a UX designer from Lithuania, I examined the various ways (physical) artefacts act and how they can transcend from basic tools to an impactful presence.

This presence is often noticed in the form of wonderment which makes us aware of the objects ‚specialness‘. We set out to design 3 Mirrors that incorporate a „soul“.

The 3 weeks research phase brought together many approaches from different fields – we used the hermeneutic method from Sociology, looked at contemporary philosophers like Martin Heidegger, analysed UX principles such as the objects‘ agency, took learnings from Industrial Design about sensory perception and got inspiration from the world of arts from the likes of Renee Magritte or Anish Kapoor.

I distilled the learnings into a short story and made a small editorial (work in progress). Please find a description for each Object in the editorial.

A short story.


I remember the warmth of the moment my silver soul first touched my polished glass body. The flood of droplets that poured over me and rinsed away the stains. The little sting that separated me from my origin and so gave me my own form. The excitement over the first ray of light and the first impression.

Over the past years I had seen many places and many faces. Sharpening my vision as I observed the changing times. The numerous marks, objects that shifted in form and function came and went and I occupied several residences.

The sensation of the first ray of daylight on my smooth polished body, fragile and finite. Still cold from the night, I enjoy the warming touch. Then, it disappears. Sent back to the brightening sky. I watch the clouds move and form figures. They open up, giving way to more light that elegantly sags through the window.

Over the ceramic basin with the hairline crack, the white tiled walls and the gathering of capped vessels, figurines with bristled hair, standing in line waiting for the morning routine and stainless steel tubes, I lay a carpet of light. I spend my days looking over this sterile realm reflecting upon the existence of my surroundings and the role I play in it.

Am I just a silent witness? The observed observer incapable to act?

As the room fills with light like the bathtub so often does with steaming water, my vision is suddenly blurred. Everyday I experience a slight fear of falling when this happens. The feeling of my glass body rattling against the white ceramic tiles reminds me of my own fragility. The source of the tremor manifests itself in the form of a human pushing the door open as he enters my realm. This human lives here for some time now – how long exactly I can’t tell because he forgot to feed the clock that now hangs lifelessly on the opposite wall over the wooden cupboard.

He extends towards me and stretches his face, almost touching my body. His hands on the ceramic basin with the hairline crack to support his enormous weight.

What if the ceramic breaks? The human would crash straight into me and I would, most probably, fall and then..

I imagine, to him it would mean to lose a tool. A medium that moderates between his self-perception and the physical world around him. In moments like this I feel the urge to act, to have control.

The human grabs one of the figurines with the bristled hair. While thrusting it though his mouth, I observe him doing his face gymnastics and, as I expected, sprinkles of spit land on my polished skin. The cold drips slowly flow towards the ground, leaving me with blind spots.

The human now fumbles with his head, greases a paste in his hair, turns around and leaves me.

A silent conversation with the second ceramic tile in the third row on the wall around the door. The shadows extending – running away from the window. I paint a copy of my context and enjoy the changing colours that enter the room and jump in-between the other objects before they touch me. I see rays as my paint. They help me to experiment with different versions of reality and let me, even if only for a brief moment, express something.

The door is opened again. The human enters, speaking a tense body language. He rushes to the porcelain chair, opens the cover. Sitting down changes his facial expression to relief.

He stays for quite long, handling some kind of small mirror that first shows a series of images that change through the touch of his finger. He then lifts the mirror up and looks at the reflection of his face. What baffles me is that the reflection then does not change although the humans face changes! I feel a sting of jealousy. It is this, the awareness of the evanescence of my reflections, light paintings as I call them in moments that I dare, that is my greatest pain.

Before I get another glimpse of this enchanted mirror, the human stands up. He approaches me, a gaze in abstraction.

It keeps me busy. A past image emerges. The context was different back then, a bright room with a birchwood floor, large windows and flowing curtains made from cotton. And the little humans.

Before they started to use coloured sticks to paint their faces they would take a piece of paper, minutely observe their surroundings and record them in their own special way.

Thinking back at this scene, I am convinced that it was this ability to interpret, document and store something seen that woke up the desire in me. I see it like this: I am a delegate, made to serve a purpose I don’t own. I am overlooked, whoever glances at me sees a subjective reflection of themselves. This is not what I want for me.

I dream of acting not reflecting.

As I had lost myself in these thoughts the stream of light had started to cease. We are alone again and the colours transcend from pink to purple immersing the stage in a surreal scenery. The objects around me transform into silhouettes and as I can barely identify their shapes my consciousness projects their slow dance into the rising darkness.

While slowly losing my vision, a thought reveals itself. Just as the human had seen himself rather than me earlier during our encounter, I discover myself in the self-reflections that emerge through the friction between all the occurrences around me and my consciousness.

My self-discovery is an expression of a development which influences my vision on the world and eventually shapes my interpretation of it. The ability to interpret comes close to what I understand as fantasy. And fantasy is a way to project and to simulate. More precisely, to act.

This moment of illumination is accompanied by the sound of a lamp that is being turned on. My vision returns and so does the human. He enters the water box next to me and I feel a soft layer of warm moisture accumulating upon my silver-plated glass body.


Soon I find myself tightly tucked-into a blanket of opaque pearls. The light fades and I am easing in a soft and peaceful slumber.