Signal, Not Working?ㅤ&ㅤForced Switch

Zhao Zhou

Keywords: Ableism, Deconstruction, Immateriality

Internship: Bureau LADA & Atelier Robotiq,

We are on the periphery of a self-feeding cycle of ableism that makes the able-bodied person the required mode of being. But what is an abled body? It is a term we will all, at some point of our lives, understand. Over time, our ability of ableness will deteriorate as we grow older. A fully able state is only temporary – if at all. As our bodies change, so does our ability to participate. Urban space is designed focusing almost exclusively on the sense of sight. It is cluttered with elements, such as electronic screens and text that seek your attention. These elements exclude people with visual but also other sensorial impairments. I am one of those people and you might be as well. We have to comply by adding bodily-extensions and/or modifications. These changes fulfil our desire to participate in this public sphere that feeds on the constructed narrative of ableism and binary oppositions. Thus, we comply - consciously and unconsciously - by filling in our shortcomings and existing outside the standard. We see our reality through a medical lens that is an analogising machine added to the body. This perspective turns disability into an individual’s own problem and begs an interrogation beyond disability. Revealing the normalised embodied contours of individuality itself and depicts our desire as a wound of reality. Day-in, day-out, everyone faces the fully-abled space and complies to its rules.

Signal, Not Working? Is an installation of transparent screens. It uses polarising filters to address the standards and norms present within public spaces polluted with electronic screens, signage, and text. It is a quest to slow down the instantaneous transmission of information that characterise these mediums. The emphasis is on how our interaction with screens changes the configuration of physical mobility. By exploding the screen, it becomes a tool where the individual can re-learn how to use sight in conjunction with their body. With a visor the visitor explores the screen and space at their own pace. By unravelling this experience, it provokes us to slow down and the discussion around sight.

Forced Switch intersects linear transition spaces, such as this particular hallway. It is an apparatus that makes use of air vortexes in order to change the sensory detection from sight to tactility. It acknowledges the presence of visitors within space. As a visitor you do not acknowledge the space, because you navigate it only with your destination in mind. The skin is our biggest organ and often gets neglected when designing urban spaces. This project aims to reawaken the skin of the inattentive passer-by. This unfamiliar haptic experience creates a temporary identity for the space which is disappearing within a sea of destinations. Directing the visitor towards a different hierarchy of the senses.