Heed is a take on smartphone usage and our increased tendency to calibrate our lives according to technical capacity rather than human experience.
All products are handmade. Packaging, contents and poster are screen printed.
Heed imposes an alternative for those who feel chained to their smartphones but have difficulties coping without. It is an experience that harnesses the checking habits to work towards increased mindfulness and realising our presence in the moment, and helps with getting back in touch with reality.
Smartphones have introduced a new value for presence. Our time disappears into repeated social media checks that we don't consider time-consuming, yet lone moments can be interpreted as a waste unless our phones are out. Checking habits and user attachment is more to do with the technological capabilities of the phone rather than the object itself. We are hooked to the initiatives, the invocation of positive emotions, the immediacy and effortlessness.
We hold our smartphones in ways we do not hold or use anything else. This phenomenon has resulted in a new selection of hand gestures that mark smartphone usage as an trigger for us conforming and modifying our behaviour to our tools. The gestures may appear odd or even aggressive once the smartphone has been removed from the scene.
The unboxing experience begins the formation of emotional connection with a product; levels of the importance of information, the tangibility of the product and the overall experience, the materials, and the functionality. The package includes the Research Journal, phone placeholder, Heed Exercises and Ear Openers to encourage intentional listening.
"give somebody your attention"
"travel to an unfamiliar location"
"wake up and get out of bed"
The tasks mimic actions we complete on smartphones daily, except Heed turns them into real life, in-the-moment initiatives.
The Heed exercises fold into a shape that allows the top line and bottom line of each task to match with a different task in a variety of positions. This way the number isn't limited to just 15, but can create over 80 different instructions! The physical tactile play replaces the phone. Leave your phone at home, slip this in your pocket instead. The colourful flipside features imagery of moments of mindfulness and presence that I encountered whilst developing this project.
"We calibrate our lives according to technical capacity, rather than human experience."
- Branco Lukic
The research journal begins with context, statistics and information about smartphone usage; how it's affecting people, controlling our time management and moulding the physical world around us. The illustrations throughout the journal are candid photographs that I took around London.
The second part of the journal is, in a way, a 'rehab diary'. I underwent an 8 week experiment which had me replace my smartphone with a Nokia 6310; no internet, camera, nothing - just plain old SMS and calls. The hypothesis was that my personal and social behaviours and mental wellbeing would change during these 8 weeks. I recorded these changes as I noticed them, including any "smartphone urges" and new coping mechanisms, and updated the diary generally twice a week. These observations make up the personal chapters of the journal.
This is where the Heed exercises originate from. My memory improved and I felt a much stronger connection with my surroundings and the moment.
The chapters are chronological recordings of my encounters with everyday life without a smartphone, many of them very personal. Some are funny, some less so. One tells a story about a medical emergency in the family which I didn't know about for weeks because all communications happened over WhatsApp. This reveals the grim side of smartphone dependency that we all take for granted. Most importantly some chapters highlight moments of inner peace and an increased feeling of awareness and presence.
As a result, not having a smartphone did alter my behaviours. As it turns out, many of the things for which we use our phones can be achieved by using memory, pysical tools and real life alternatives.
If you'd like to read the journal, a PDF is available upon request.