Super Normal Written Report

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Jasper Morrison | Elle Decoration South Africa

Originating from the need to rebel against the cautiously aesthetic, Super Normal designs, which emerged from the 2000s, are derived from the exasperation of neo-modernist artists, proclaiming their fatigue in the constant need to appreciate the aesthetics of an object without considering its utility.

As defined by Silvana Annichiarico, Super Normal design refers to the “absence of style, originality and remarkability”. There is also the “ambivalence of contradictory qualities of extraordinary ordinariness”. In other words, the design should look completely lacking, and look as though it could be designed by anyone.

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Super Normal : Sensations of the Ordinary

Founded by Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison, Super Normal design consists designs which are “less concerned with its visual aspects” (Morrison, 2006); it is pure and extremely ordinary. They also ‘measure up to the reality of everyday life.’ (Morrison, 2006) Everything that is designed is purely functional and does not have any additional aesthetics to it other than the elements required for it to function. In other words, eliminating a part of the object would cease its supposed function.

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Jasper Morrison | Supernormal Wine Glass

An apt example would be a set of early 1900s wine glasses purchased by Morrison for just a few euros. He mentions that “At first it was just their shape that attracted my attention… but slowly, using them every day, I noticed their presence in other ways. If I use a different type of glass, for example, I feel something is missing in the atmosphere of the table.” (Morrison, 2006)

The Industrial Revolution in the 1970s caused a great stir in the artistic designs that were revered, as well as re-evaluated the practicality of art creation when it came to a time of struggles for mass production. The rise in consumer demand meant that there was no time to treasure the intricate delicacies of detailed art; rather, objects with uniform designs were prioritized.

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Bent Hansen Studio | Ultra-Minimalist Up The Wall Shelving Unit

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Eren Karayavuz | Dancing Chair

While its predecessors, Minimalism (1960s-1970s) and Neo-conceptualism (1980s-1990s) defied the artistic norm of being detailed and organized by being either extremely lacking in details or being anti-conventional, they still paid attention to how their aesthetics matched the theme they were trying to create.

For Minimalism, it was its clean, streamlined and muted designs which created soft impressions, forming a new art style. For Neo-conceptualism, it was its absurdity in designing and defiance of common sense which proved to be an identifier for its art style. Super Normal design, served as a bridge for these two concepts, along with conceptual art and Droog designs.

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Tejo Remy Rag Chair for Droog Design

Conceptual Art Collage

Conceptual Art | The Art Story

However, Super Normal was so normal and brand-less that its negated need for an art style essentially became its own identifier of a newly established art style. It embraces the idea of “Form follows function” where the importance of function precedes its form and reconciles its design through polishing by experience.

Super Normal designs are created not by things (material) or sight but by phenomena and experience, forming a sort of spiritual quality to its existence. It responds in changes of form, so much so that it becomes so familiar in its experience. Over time, this familiarity creates a Super Normal radiance which can only be appreciated when its bare function is being evaluated for all to see. In a sense, expression overwhelms the function.


Jasper Morrison | Super Normal Exhibition

There is also the idea of anti-vanity, where an object can be intentionally misused because it is so functional and basic that it can be used for so many other intentions. The lack of details and aesthetic needs of a Super Normal design also qualifies it as an anti-vain design.


Jasper Morrison | Super Normal Exhibition

A well-known inspiration for Super Normal art is mingei, which is known as “anonymous” art. It is a Japanese Folk Craft movement which strives to “challenge society’s narrow definition of art” (TOKI, 2016). Traditionally, it is commonly thought that art should only be aesthetic and produced by artisans, and should not be considered for its functionality. However, mingei broke this tradition by focusing on everyday objects produced by the average person, opposing the fine arts produced by professionals. It is also deemed a response to Japan’s rapid industrialization, as mentioned earlier; it elevates the idea of mass production by the common people, preserving cultural and historical roots in these handmade products.

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Mingei Art | Sgrafo Modern, 33 Vases. Korallen Series (design by Peter Muller)

However, it is to be noted that the idea of Super Normal design may be context-sensitive; while the design of a simple chair may seem absolutely normal and functional to one person, it may be considered more aesthetic than functional for another person. The culture of a person may also affect their perceptions of whether an object is perceived to be more aesthetic or more functional.

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Jasper Morrison | Chairs

Let us take the above image as an example. The different chair designs were part of a Super Normal design series by Jasper Morrison. With its various designs, one can say that they are not exactly Super Normal due to their being aesthetic. However, to others, it may be too simple or basic for them to think that it can still be minimalized. Then again, we can mostly agree that the main function of these chairs would not exist once you remove a part of it from its construction.

In conclusion, the industrial revolution did play a big part in influencing the change in trends of art styles from its detailed, elaborated designs to designs that went against the norm. The rise of unconventional, experimental designs such as droog, conceptual art, neo-conceptual art and minimalism also gave rise to Super Normal designs, which fostered a new priority towards function rather than aesthetics. Abiding its rule about how function precedes its form, Super Normal designs remain unconsciously embedded in our daily lives, serving us so practically that it becomes a natural necessity in our lives.




Domus. naoto+jasper= supernormal. July 2006. domusweb. Retrieved from–jasper–super-normal.html

Bhan, N. Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa discuss Super Normal Design. March 2008. Core 77. Retrieved from

Morrison, J. Super Normal 2006. Exhibitions 2000 – 2009. 2006.  Retrieved from

Industrial Revolution Presentation

TOKI. Mingei- The Revival of Japanese Folk Art. December 2016. Retrieved from

Artist Selection: Chris Milk


Chris Milk Interactive Works

The artist that I have chosen to work with is Chris Milk.

Beginning his career in music videos and photography, Chris Milk’s work has expanded beyond the traditional: his art straddles experimental genres and unfamiliar mediums, turning new technologies, web browsers, ephemeral events and even physical gestures into new found canvasses.

Chris Milk Installation Art

In recent years, Milk has focused on using cross-media innovations to enhance emotional human storytelling, exposing the beauty in the physical, the digital and the intangible; the things that connects us all. His works span from making use of intensely personal, emotive and powerful music and breakthrough technologies to create a visual experience rooted in a global consciousness while not losing its meaning, to making a crowd-fueled installation that physically connects the audience and their collective emotional response.

Treachery of the Sanctuary by Chris Milk

One of my favourites from his range of interactive installations is ‘Treachery of the Sanctuary’, which is a large-scale interactive triptych: a story of birth, death and transfiguration that uses shadows of the participants’ own bodies to unlock a new artistic language.

Treachery of the Sanctuary by Chris Milk is an interactive art installation created to explore one’s creative process through interactions with digital birds. The installation consists a giant triptych, and gallery visitors can stand in front of each of the screens.

The first screen allows a person’s shadow to be reflected on it, while it slowly disintegrates into a flock of birds who flies away. This represents the moment of creative inspiration, our imagination taking flight form our own minds and identities.

In the second screen, the shadow of the person will be pecked away by virtual birds diving in from above. This symbolizes critical response, where ideas and the person’s identity are being evaluated and critiqued by others.

The last screen, things start to look up; the person interacting with the screen will be able to generate their own set of majestic, giant wings that flap as you move. This is supposed to capture the instant when a creative thought transforms into something larger than the original idea.

This whole installation draws upon the idea of how human interactivity (and their active participation) can be key in creating art alongside technology. This art installation demonstrates the interdisciplinarity through the integration of art and technology simply by allowing participants to dictate how they want their art work to look like.

At the same time, participants are also immersed into this experience because every single movement they make will affect the final presentation of the performance created by the installation. Whether you move to your right or left, or start raising your arms, these little movements do matter.

Armed with emotive and high-impact works which binds art and technology together on not only a physical level but also an emotional level, this is why I have chosen to work on Chris Milk for my Hyperessay.

Principles of New Media: Confessions


Confessions is a project with a high level of interaction required, its concept based on the idea of innate thinking in people when they are exposed to an environment where they are free to think about what they really want without having to fear judgement by their community. With concepts referenced from Lev Manovich’s 5 Principles of New Media from his book The Language of New Media, I will be talking about how the 5 principles affects our project.

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This project is conducted in a quiet interstice place, for example a lonely corridor, where one is left to their thoughts and only their thoughts. They would then proceed to enter a small and cosy environment shaped like a small cube, where they will be comfortable enough to not worry about anything except being left alone with their own thoughts. This cube will be decorated with pillows and fairy lights; essentially a safe space for the participant. After watching a computer screen with a poem that would trigger them to type a message – about literally anything they want—they would then proceed out of the cube through another exit, and find themselves in another room where their thoughts are mapped out on a larger screen made out of suspended balloons in the room.

They will then be presented with various weapons that they can use to shoot down the balloons, which will then symbolize the destroying of certain thoughts that they might not like. Once they choose to shoot the balloons with their thoughts—or other people’s thoughts from previous rounds that has been left behind?—it represents that they have forgotten these thoughts. This is because ultimately, what we think in an interstice environment are usually not things that we actively think about, and are often flickering at just the back of our heads. The possibility of also destroying other people’s thoughts also gives way to a carthasis, where it might trigger some people to feel more than just indifference at the thought of their opinions being erased by a nobody.


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In a sense, our project does consist of numerical representations because the software- processing and Arduino- and the equipment used (Ultrasonic sensors and photoresistors) involved for us to transpose our code comprises of numbers and algorithms even though they might be random. There is also an algorithm when we transfer the files from one screen to another (from the computer screen, where the computer detects the participant typing their message, towards the balloons where the message would be depicted on).


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Modularity occurs in our project because our project is essentially a whole chain of commands with endless possibilities before it gets to its ‘completion’. From the entering of the participant into the safe space, to typing their message, to the message being transposed onto the balloons, to the participant coming out of their safe space and into the larger room, to shooting down the balloons – these are all a smaller part of a “fractal structure”. It is not necessarily solely online, but also an offline experience because the project is ultimately one that combines both the third space and the physical. Yet, these actions retain their autonomy even if they are removed and placed in another project, because while they are dependent on one another, they can also be independent with the right codes transposed.


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Automation in our project is derived from how the confessions are being generated on the screen, simply by keying in the words from another computer screen. Even the playing of the music and the poetry and the video on the participant’s computer is a form of automation that takes place without the participant having to actively search for a function trigger it. The disappearing of the confessions once the balloons have been popped is also a way where automation has taken place—efficiently, and without extreme participation on the participants’ intentions.


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There are many variables involved in our project as well. From the kind of thoughts people would put into the system when they type their confessions out, to how many thoughts they choose to put into the system, and whether they choose to shoot certain words down in the shooter gallery. All these variables will essentially affect how the entire interaction would turn out, and because of this, numerous different results can happen since every person is different and have their own sense of thinking and behaviours. Even the placement of their confessions on the screen may be randomized and different for every person even though they are not exactly random. Another way of seeing a variable is also about how each person feels about the interaction at each time when they read the different confessions, which should vary each time a participant enters the balloon space.


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Transcoding happens in our project because there is a certain amount of participation required of both the participant and the digital side of things. There is an entire sequence, as can be viewed from the above explanations, which has to be followed in order for the experiment to be successful or in some way ‘completed.’ The information that gets transferred from the participant to the computer, for example, is also a form of ‘transcoding’ because there is data from the participants (the confessions) that gets transferred onto the screen, which is a ‘computer’. In a sense, the culture from a participant can get influenced onto the computer’s depiction of the confessions, which intermingles the two cultures together.


Inspiration #1: U-Topia, projection mapping, act 2: the constellation of words are crumblingU-Topia, projection mapping, act 2: the constellation of words are crumbling


U-Topia, an art installation premised on the crumbling and disintegration of certain words, only to be accumulated in a pile at the bottom of the projection mapping is one example which resembles our project; Confessions. The algorithm required for some words to crumble and for some words to remain static is a form of numerical representation, and the code required for it to be instructed to behave this way is also a form of modularity and automation.

Inspiration #2: "Confessions" by Candy Chang

anonymous confessions

anonymous confessions

Exposing Thousands of Anonymous Confessions

Confessions, an installation which coincidentally has the same name as our current project, features random participants entering a small booth and writing their deeper thoughts before displaying them on a whole range of hooks for anyone to read and access. Resembling our project, Confessions (Candy Chang Version) requires transcoding but in an offline fashion where the participant writing down their messages and its manual display on the hooks (serving as a sort of digital screen) serves as a form of data transfer. Variables are also similar, because the thoughts that are being displayed in both versions of Confessions (ours vs Chang) are totally dependent on the thoughts and freedom of the participant. The placement of the messages (ours vs Chang) is also in a way randomized, hence creating another changeable variable.