Every Thing We Touch
September 22–27, 2016
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Paula Zuccotti is a designer, ethnographer, trends forecaster and founder of The Overworld, a creative consultancy that specialises in research, insights and strategy at the intersection of people, culture and technology.
As an artist, Paula works with photography and video. She travels the world researching people’s everyday lives and speaks regularly at international events about user-centric research, cross-media and the consumption of art and entertainment. She has developed educational programs for school students with the V&A Museum and the Royal Academy in London.
She is also the author of Every Thing We Touch: A 24 hour Inventory of our Lives, published last year by Penguin Random House UK. She exhibited her work at the Duolon Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai, the Design Museum in London and was a finalist of 2015 LensCulture Visual Storytelling award.
Argentine-Italian, Paula holds an honours degree from the University of Buenos Aires and moved to London in 2000 to pursue a MA in Design, Strategy & Innovation at Brunel University. After graduating, she worked at design and innovation firm SeymourPowell for 11 years, where she was Director of Futures.
Every Thing We Touch
Can we make sense of someone’s life through the objects they touch in a day?
From the items found in our homes to the tools we use at work, we surround ourselves with objects necessary for our existence in todays world. But these needs are huge and diverse - they range from survival and performance to compensation and caring, emotional attachment and self-expression.
Our current interaction with objects is something I felt the urge to document. Many of the things we know about past civilisations are from insights gathered through their objects. Their possessions, tools, utensils, clothes, manuscripts and art have taught us about the type of work they did, what they hunted, grew and ate, and how they expressed themselves. Will ours do the same?
The following is a selection of images from my book Every Thing We Touch, a collection of sixty-two people’s amazing stories told through the objects they touched in a single day spanning six continents and seven decades. Their objects, elevated to the status of storytellers in their own right, tell us about their jobs and interests, what inspires them and gets them through the day, what they believe and fear, what they care about and want they want to learn.
Taking the photographs required proper studio lighting and white background paper to lay out the objects chronologically, as in the order they were touched. I hired studios in each of the cities I visited 12 in 6 continents: every photograph is a single shot taken with my Canon 6D (not a Photoshop mash-up). The canvas was always the same 4 x 2.7 metres; the camera was hooked up 3 metres above and I controlled it
from my iPhone, allowing me to remotely control the camera and shoot. The more objects there are, the more compacted the photo looks.
The resulting compositions were visually stunning, reflecting a style and colour palette unique to each person, be that curated or accidental. The images encapsule a vision of our world in 2015, artefacts of our time that future generations will look at to understand how we conducted our daily lives.