Traces of Touch

serendipity into the oblivion


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I have started to look into signs made in material by purpose. First we have the hobo signs which is small markings hobos used to leave when travelling the road to alert people of the surroundings and how the people are responding. There is markings for things such as “kind woman”, “man with a gun” and “wealthy” which gives the person entering the area a good idea of what to expect but also more interesting kinds of markings,  in my eyes, such as “tell pitiful story” which tells the reader of the signs on how to behave to get the best outcome. I wonder of there is similar markings in today’s society which tells the reader on how to behave to get the best outcome. We have the dress code for certain clubs which tells the rules on how to dress to be let in but this is relative obvious signs and is open for anyone to read. I think it misses, and doesn’t try to be either, the secret society feel of  the hobo language where just the invited is able to read the signs. This goes back to many different groups of people and organizations that used this secret language to spread their knowledge. Just look at the insanely popular books by Dan Brown which circles around finding, leaving and interpreting signs in all kind of form and sizes such as architectures, city planning and paintings. I think the idea of leaving signs is really interesting. Something about showing what you have done, what you should expect and also preserve it for the future. It also adds the mystery of trying to interpret a sign and to get the underlying message to join the unique group of those that know. It is something about presenting information out in the open but still let it remain hidden.

With this markings and signs I draw a parallel to the way people use object. Even though it might not be by purpose that people leave marks in the object they use they still do and it tells stories about the use of the object. Maybe not as elaborate as the one telling that that the house coming up down the road host a angry dog but it might tell you about what parts of a device the user most frequently use which tells about how the persons sees the object and in what kind of context he might have been using it  and so on. This layer of information is maybe lost in today’s  digital interfaces where for example on the iPhone the use of the different apps doesn’t leave any traces. Are we missing out on something or is that a good thing? Would we interpret, use and maybe think twice on how the device is held and consumed because we don’t want to leave unfavourable traces?

Link to some more hobo markings


Written by sjunnesson

May 31, 2010 at 15:01

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