Yesterday I was waiting for an elevator with my colleagues Michael & Clark. As we stepped inside the elevator, it took a little too long for the door to close and we had an awkward moment. In that moment, someone quipped we should just take the stairs and right on cue the elevator doors shut. We chuckled and I sort of deadpanned that it would be amazing to have a Passive Aggressive Elevator installed in the building.
On the way home, I thought more about that moment. It’s funny to me how people can have complex relationships with objects, but most of their interactions are designed to be pretty simple – objects don’t have opinions, they canâ€™t argue. People on the other hand are completely different, people have feelings and opinions and biases and baggage and interactions get quite complicated. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in that complexity we (ironically) donâ€™t think about how we treat each other.
I started to wonder what it would feel like to create an art piece after some of the nastier ways we treat each other. You would probably stage it in a kitchen, since thatâ€™s sort of a communal hub. Instead of having simple interactions with all the appliances, you would have to verbally abuse them to make them work.
You could imagine a Berated Blender that only had one speed. To make it blend faster, you would have to scream at the machine because it was going to slow. Or maybe a Stove of Shame that, in order to keep it warm, you needed to continually counsel it in a disgusted tone that it wasnâ€™t living up to itâ€™s potential. And of course youâ€™d have to have a Passive Aggressive Toaster, in which youâ€™d place the bread and press the lever only to have it not work until you loudly proclaimed that you would â€œhave rather used the oven anywayâ€.
The big idea behind all this is that weâ€™d probably feel stupid chastising at a toaster, but we donâ€™t think twice about doing it to people. If you could create a moment that was so ridiculous, could you provoke people to treat each other better? Could you use humor and akwardness to interrupt people’s routines to help people be a little more thoughtful.
I guess creating an art piece that is passive aggressively trying to make people less passive aggressive could be sort of interesting. I figure all I need is a blender and an MIT student and we can make this happen.