Design for Discomfort - Missing Dog

For the final presentation, Phil and I did a performance in a class, looking for a missing dog and giving out the fliers.

The front and back image of the flier looks like this.


The act of performance was done in this order.

- Giving out the fliers to the classmates.
- Talking about the relationship with the dog and us, how meaningful he is to us.
- Reading the fliers out loud altogether.
- Listening to the short response from the audience.
- Explanation of the performance and feedback.

Apparently the image and text in the flier is machine generated, and there is a disclaimer at the back. Since we was holding the flier showing the back to the audience, not many people bought what we performed. It should be very cautious performance since people hate the prank-like performance about serious issue, (I hate them so much myself.) we can just try in this class setting. Something like Sam Durant’s Scaffold can happen again, especially someone actually have experience of losing their friends, pets, or family members. We intentionally chose awkward photos and text not to deceive audience, and giving a sense of discomfort with uncanny images and text.

Thanks to some classmate, they asked why Don looks a bit weird, while the other audiences have time to look at the flier thoroughly.

The performance started from our small conversation, we were joking about we are getting serious about fictional event. I was upsetting while reading comics and Phil was laughing at movies. However, they are all “fake”.

Fakeness of Emotion

We want our lives to be expectable, stable, peaceful, meaning no drama in life. Meanwhile we enjoy media to entertain ourselves in daily bases. What does ‘entertain’ meaning? It makes us emotional without any harm. We can cry, laugh at, upset about something without any risk of affecting our relationships or being ignorant person to a sensitive political issue. It is like dividing ourselves into rational-real-life and emotional-fictional-life. We cannot be emotional to real matter since they are too serious. But can we call our emotions fake for the fact that we are feeling for the fictional event?

Some people say trying dangerous action, or watching horror films is preparing for the death. They are emotional prepare for death that is waiting for us. In my case, while scraping the photos and words for missing pets, I found myself just imagine about losing my cat, how sad it would be. Is that empathy? or some psychotic delusive habit to enjoy other’s sadness?

Ironically we rarely want to get involved to other people’s tragedy, since we want our live so stable. In my case, I avoid to receive any fliers on the street, even if it is not a commercial one, even if it is looking for a missing person. (Even I don’t give any attention to figure out what the flier is about.)

and what if, we actually feel any emotion to non living entity, can we call the relationship is fake? does it matter? Can we call pathetic to the relationships between hospice robots and patients?

We hope this performance arise some conversation about empathy and relationship with other entities.