Try them again for the first time : Beth O'Brien. 19 June - 7 July 2007

“ In one case, the reinforced glass used to panel shelters (for railroad passengers) erected by British Rail was smashed by vandals as fast as it was renewed. When the reinforced glass was replaced by plywood boarding, however, little further damage occurred, although no extra force would have been required to produce it. Thus British Rail managed to elevate the desire for defacement to those who could write, albeit in somewhat limited terms. Nobody has, as yet, considered whether there is a kind of psychology of materials. But on the evidence, there could well be!”
-Donald Norman, The design of Everyday Things

At around eleven I remember watching my older sister try to figure out the function of a cricket box. She tried in vain to find some place on her body for it to go. Obviously it was made to protect, and obviously it was made to be worn, she could tell that by her understanding of materials. What she couldn’t match was the form and function, though she tried. First her elbow followed by her knee and her head while the boy who owned it nearly died laughing.

Our perception of what objects are for, not only create our understanding of the world but at any given time it also informs our understanding of self. Our limits and constraints are constantly reinforced in relation to our immediate surroundings.

My recent work has surrounded the notion of learned or perceived affordance within objects and the environment. In simple terms how we take on board an invitation or suggestion seemingly inherent within an object’s physical structure. But why is it inherent? And what does this mean for the way we use, perform and move through our environment? How can I begin to stretch the limits of suggested use between object, individual and action?

- Beth O’Brien