“The Massage Is the Medium” is a piece of experience design by Chinese-born, Amsterdam-based designer and researcher Yin Aiwen, who’s work we discovered at Chaumont Design Graphique 2014.
The experience highlights the conditioning we are undergoing through extensive exposure to, and reliance on technology, specifically computers and the internet.
The montage is composed of futuristic clips from popular culture, 3D renders and animations of sci-fi worlds, representations of artificial intelligence and overjoyed actors engaging with technology. The clips alone convey perhaps a utopian view of the future, but when assembled together, present a far darker, realistic dystopia.
The sounds of the videos and animations are replaced by a soft emotionless, hypnotic, robotic voice, speaking directly to participants. The voice speaks directly and personally yet narrates a story and expresses a series of symptoms which most participants can associate with; muscle strain from computer use, reliance on technology, isolation, the increasing irrelevance of physicality and the disintegration of identity: “Your injured body has become the burden of your digital sole.”
Marshall McLuhan claimed "the medium is the massage". As extensions of man, the medium comforts you, persuades you, manipulates you, controls you.
“The situation has now flipped – under the spell of the medium, the human has become the extension of the machine. Design, with its notion of mass communication has taken part in mechanizing the human."
"Working alongside consumerism, it has transformed us painlessly. The Massage is the Medium is now open for a reverse experience. The harsh, ruthless massage has no interest in your pleasure. a flash in your eyes. a voice in your ear. a chair that makes it impossible to run. a message only for you.
Your heartbeat is so human that everyone can hear it; the message is so personal that it gives you the creeps. Not entirely comforting, but I do invite you with pleasure.” - Yin Aiwen
The whole piece is bittersweet. It’s a dark look into a dystopian future, highlighting the progressive reliance on and attachment to technology we have developed. These topics are areas we both engage with in our personal work and something we discuss regularly in the studio. The dark side of the future is fascinating!
“The Massage is the Medium” is now regularly open every Saturday between 13.00-18.00 at frans de Wollantstraat 84, 1018sc, Amsterdam. You can walk in or make an appointment via: firstname.lastname@example.org