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Day 03/11/2012

So much …* love: Kelli Anderson on Disruptive Wonder & the Hidden Talents of Everyday Things

“People arrive at experiences […] with expectations and when we make things we’re actively choosing what to do with these expectations. And in my work, I want to create disruptive wonder. I want to confound these expectations because I think that everyday fundamental things and experiences frame reality in a way that we often take for granted. So the small things we make can work to reinforce our assumptions about the world. Or small things can come out of left field and jar us into reassessing our complacent expectations about reality. This doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s awesome. Because then these small things act as a sort of humble backdoor into understanding a reality that is infinitely surprising.”

Watch this terrific TEDxPhoenix talk from 2004, given by artist, designer and tinkerer–Kelli Anderson–who aims to create disruptive wonder through design and tinkering in order to discover the hidden talents of everyday things. Kelli describes her philosophy about the power of small everyday things to jar us into rethinking the familiar and ordinary and walks us through of her own projects to

“demonstrate that by rejecting normal order, by messing things up and by rearranging the pieces, we can expand our notion of what we demand from reality. So today I want to put forth this idea that an avenue to better is for a million teeny tiny disruptions to whatever is sitting in front of you. So go mess with the complacently rational!”


Some of our favorite quotes from Kelli’s talk:

I get to tinker with everyday experiences and as we go through our everyday lives, visual and experiential things exert this invisible authority over our brains at all times. And they yield this power in subtle and sneaky ways. So visuals, for example, speak volumes through these teeny tiny details codified in things like type, shape, color, and texture. So these small picky things form the vocabulary that come together and make the sentences, enabling us to make tangible things like a solar powered Popsicle truck.

The world is full of order that doesn’t necessarily deserve our respect. Sometimes there’s meaning, justice and logic present in the way things are but sometimes there just isn’t. And I think that the moment we realize this, is the moment we become creative people because it prompts us to mess things up and do something better with the basic pieces of experience.

So what I’m after in my work, really, is this: the hidden talents of everyday things–all those overlooked powers bestowed on the things that surround us by the wonders of physics, the complexities of cultural associations and a gazillion other, only partially chartable, things.

Try to something better by doing something more absurd.

Ritual becoming empty gesture speaks to the fact that the more an experience repeats itself, the less it means because we begin to take it for granted and that’s why clichés are interesting and why people get in car wrecks nears their homes. When experiencing things over and over again they just lose their gravity.

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