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Giving the Toaster Eyes : Applied Anthropomorphism and its Influences on User-Object Relations with Everyday Objects

Frayer, Marissa LU (2010) KOVM02 20101
Division of Art History and Visual Studies
Abstract
Anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human characteristics and attributes to nonhuman objects, is evidenced in the design world, especially in product lines by companies such as Alessi and Koziol. As case studies, this thesis investigates Fred Flare’s Inanimates and Jenny Lundgren’s Plasticks, both of which are sheets of stickers that feature cartoonish facial features like eyes and mouths. These two products encourage the user to express applied anthropomorphism, wherein the user should literally apply facial features to an everyday object such as a coffee mug, stapler, toaster, shampoo bottle, etc., to explicitly demonstrate an anthropomorphic relationship. This thesis develops prior research by investigating how the stickers... (More)
Anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human characteristics and attributes to nonhuman objects, is evidenced in the design world, especially in product lines by companies such as Alessi and Koziol. As case studies, this thesis investigates Fred Flare’s Inanimates and Jenny Lundgren’s Plasticks, both of which are sheets of stickers that feature cartoonish facial features like eyes and mouths. These two products encourage the user to express applied anthropomorphism, wherein the user should literally apply facial features to an everyday object such as a coffee mug, stapler, toaster, shampoo bottle, etc., to explicitly demonstrate an anthropomorphic relationship. This thesis develops prior research by investigating how the stickers encourage and/or limit anthropomorphism in design and whether the stickers weaken or strengthen the user-object relationship.

Though grounded in visual culture, this thesis first discusses anthropomorphic research from cognitive sciences to explore potential theories regarding why humans anthropomorphize. Next Inanimates and Plasticks are visually analyzed regarding: visual and material characteristics; suggestions of use; limitations of use; indications of audience; and speculations of design. The stickers and anthropomorphic theories are then considered with respect to various design theories—user/designer roles, ornamentation, interaction, care/attachment—to analyze applied anthropomorphism’s effects and possibilities for user, designer and object. Inanimates and Plasticks are then studied using Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological theories regarding embodiment and the flesh to establish how the stickers may create stronger user-object relationships. Further implications for the stickers and applied anthropomorphism are suggested, whereby increased attachment and care could promote recycling and prevent premature object disposal. (Less)
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author
Frayer, Marissa LU
supervisor
organization
course
KOVM02 20101
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
plasticks, inanimates, visual culture, design, anthropomorphism, care, ornament, attachment, user-object relationship, interaction, phenomenology, embodiment, Merleau-Ponty
language
English
id
1604671
date added to LUP
2010-05-31 17:18:18
date last changed
2010-05-31 17:18:18
@misc{1604671,
  abstract     = {Anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human characteristics and attributes to nonhuman objects, is evidenced in the design world, especially in product lines by companies such as Alessi and Koziol. As case studies, this thesis investigates Fred Flare’s Inanimates and Jenny Lundgren’s Plasticks, both of which are sheets of stickers that feature cartoonish facial features like eyes and mouths. These two products encourage the user to express applied anthropomorphism, wherein the user should literally apply facial features to an everyday object such as a coffee mug, stapler, toaster, shampoo bottle, etc., to explicitly demonstrate an anthropomorphic relationship. This thesis develops prior research by investigating how the stickers encourage and/or limit anthropomorphism in design and whether the stickers weaken or strengthen the user-object relationship.  

Though grounded in visual culture, this thesis first discusses anthropomorphic research from cognitive sciences to explore potential theories regarding why humans anthropomorphize. Next Inanimates and Plasticks are visually analyzed regarding: visual and material characteristics; suggestions of use; limitations of use; indications of audience; and speculations of design. The stickers and anthropomorphic theories are then considered with respect to various design theories—user/designer roles, ornamentation, interaction, care/attachment—to analyze applied anthropomorphism’s effects and possibilities for user, designer and object. Inanimates and Plasticks are then studied using Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological theories regarding embodiment and the flesh to establish how the stickers may create stronger user-object relationships. Further implications for the stickers and applied anthropomorphism are suggested, whereby increased attachment and care could promote recycling and prevent premature object disposal.},
  author       = {Frayer, Marissa},
  keyword      = {plasticks,inanimates,visual culture,design,anthropomorphism,care,ornament,attachment,user-object relationship,interaction,phenomenology,embodiment,Merleau-Ponty},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Giving the Toaster Eyes : Applied Anthropomorphism and its Influences on User-Object Relations with Everyday Objects},
  year         = {2010},
}