Where Are You?

Our fifth family is Emmie, Mark, Joseph and their dog Molly. They live in a small village in Cornwall in a house that is adjoined to Joseph’s grandparents. Mark travels regularly for work and can be away from home for up to three nights a week. Emmie who is freelance also travels for work – but not as often as Mark. The couple moved to away from London after Joseph was born, seeking a healthier lifestyle for them all.

For Emmie, Mark and Joseph we immediately responded to their love of their geography and the outdoors. We became interested in the way in which Joseph communicated his mum and dad when they were away.

When Joseph was younger he gave his father a small stuffed toy, which Mark took with him on his travels and would photograph at various landmarks. These pictures were then sent back to Joseph so that he could see where his dad was and where he had been. We decided to extend this ritual.

During our time with the family and with Emmie beginning to travel more for work as well, we decided to focus on this dynamic of the parents being away but Joseph being able to see where they are.

This Ritual Machine is an electronic telescope for Joseph that can be pointed in any direction and shows the world beyond, by zooming and moving the telescope the whole country can be explored. The world visible is an illustrated facsimile, with major towns, cities and landmarks, in a familiar landscape. When one of his parents goes away they take a second device, which when activated will leave a marker at the correct place in the illustrated world, which Joseph can then search out. With a paper map, he can then mark that location. We hoped this would begin a conversation about where Mark or Emmie has been or might go, either on the telephone whilst away or together with the map when they return.

The telescope contains an iPhone running an app of the illustrated world, it is equipped with WiFi and uses the electronic compass and gyroscope to determine the position. The parent’s device is based on an Android phone with custom software, using GPS and the mobile data network.

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