How many things do you touch in one minute? How about an hour? Paula Zuccotti asked people of different ages and backgrounds all over the world to make note of how many objects they touch during a day for her series “Every Thing We Touch.” The photos were turned into a book that was published this past December.
Zuccotti—a designer and trends forecaster who founded the Overworld, a consultancy agency that specializes on the interaction between culture and technology—was curious to learn more about how our daily interactions come to define ourselves and what she might be able to learn about the things we “need, appreciate, consume, or simply touch.”
“I was amazed at the honest X-rays from our everyday lives that emerged from the photos,” she wrote via email. “As a result, the participants find the exercise very fulfilling in terms of mindfulness. Everyone realized something new about themselves.”
All of the participants in the project were required to record everything they touched on notepads or their phones. Zuccotti admits the project was very ambitions; she’s been working on it for two years now and said finding the subjects, briefing them, and ensuring things were done correctly required a lot of communication.
“They gathered all the objects together, sent me the list upfront, and we together ran through everything making sure that nothing was forgotten and that the story of everyone’s day was completed chronologically,” she wrote.
“This project was something different that emerged from the changes I was spotting on our everyday physical interaction,” she said.
All of the photos in the series are created in one singles shot, taken with a camera 10 to 13 feet above a canvas that was about 9 by 13 feet. Because the amount of objects varied by subject, arranging them for the shoots became a type of jigsaw puzzle of organization.
“I felt the urge to capture our relationship with objects as it stands today. Through my work I started to note how many of our everyday objects were becoming, or starting to become, extinct: alarm clocks, calendars, diaries, music, money!”
Online coverage of the work has gone viral, something she said has opened up new opportunities for the project. She has already shown the work in Shanghai during the summer at the Duolun Museum of Modern Art and said she has plans to begin a similar project about the lives of people in the public eye including celebrities, politicians, activists, and athletes. She plans to release a documentary about the making of “Every Thing We Touch.”
“Everyone sees something different on it, and for that reason it is taking me to new places. I’m mainly exploring the use of ‘Every Thing We Touch’ as a language of objects that is universal and we can all relate to it (it doesn’t need translation) so I see it as a new storytelling platform.”