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Week 29: 26 March 2012

Thomas Thwaites

Designer specialising in technology, science and futures research

Three Products for Citizens of Nowhereisland

The substance of Nowhereisland was exposed by a retreating glacier – an indication perhaps that the effects of our civilisation are now significant on geological timescales. It speaks of intergenerational responsibility – the idea that people alive today have some responsibility towards people not even born, or indeed conceived. As citizens of Nowhereisland, a nation whose soil hasn't been reached by the sun for the last 10,000 years or so, I think we should be mindful of time, and so I have made three products for our homes to remind us of this.


Your Last Physical Act

This contraption is a spring with a pencil on one of its arms. When the spring is compressed, the hooks lock together permanently. However, this action also dents the brass capsule attached to one of the hooks, breaking the small vial of blue copper chloride solution inside. The copper chloride solution now flows around the steel hook, and starts to eat away at the steel. The concentration of the copper chloride is such that in 100 years (± 1 year) the steel will be almost completely dissolved, and will suddenly give way, releasing the spring.

And so, if I were to compress my spring today, the drawing would only be completed in 100 years – long after I am gone, and witnessed (perhaps) only by my children, or grand children.


Year Clock

This clock only shows the year. It keeps time, but changes just once a year. Depending on the owner, perhaps a glance at this clock will remind them to take a breath, and not get too het up by the minute to minute details of life. Or alternatively, for people with a different personality, the clocks' passive progress through the years might be taken as a reminder to pack as much in to each year as possible. Also available in Long Now Foundation date format.


Calendar Wallpaper

This wallpaper calendar gives space to record birthdays as well as other significant days and milestones too. But on an averaged height wall it displays 170 years. So in a family home not just all the children's' birthdays and milestones reached can be marked, but those of their parents and even their grandparents can all be recorded too, and perhaps, in time, the children's' children. Four generations of births, deaths, marriages and divorces, all on one easy to read calendar!

Thomas Thwaites

Thomas Thwaites is a designer (of a more speculative sort), interested in technology, science and futures research, as well as communicating complex subjects in engaging ways. He graduated from the Royal College of Art with a Design Interactions MA in 2009, and since then has undertaken a number of commissioned projects, including work on; social trends, futures forecasting, biotechnology, the history and philosophy of science and bicycles.

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Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

Identity designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Wolfram Wiedner, website by Wolfram Wiedner.