[ISEA2019] Artists Statement: Vytautas Jankauskas & Jon Flint (VJF) – Somestic Media

Artists Statement

Somestic Media/LastSeen: Alarm clock, code, computer, LCD Screen, speaker, TV. 180x92x92 mm.  BreakingViews: Code, computer, LCD Screen, speakers, TV, 260x97x205 mm.

Somestic Media defines a trio of connected objects, retrofitting complex social media interactions within the domestic appliances from the last century. An alarm clock, a radio, and a TV distill and encompass our mundane digisocial dilemmas, from stalking to swipe-right and FOMO.
Each device pulls, processes and displays specific data from a major social network. However, the output of each device simply reports its information, depriving the user of any two-way interactions we are accustomed to in the digital age. This enforced isolation amplifies and exposes the presumably frictionless communication processes orchestrated by complex social media algorithms. The Somestic Media suite includes:
‘LastSeen’ — an alarm clock that goes off when a person of interest comes back online on Facebook, keeping track of how long ago the target individual was last active on the platform.
‘SoulMate’ — a radio that uses text synthesis to read the profiles of potential romantic partners on Tinder out loud and includes a special “Follow Mode” that can be accessed via a key switch, giving an accurate distance to each of your existing matches.
‘BreakingViews’ — a television that displays Instagram stories from your feed and keeps track of how many times you have replayed a specific story.
The saturated display of the collected data conveys the impact social media has on our perception of time, distance, and priority. Whose online presence do you follow, and why? What information on dating profiles is important, apart from the profile picture? What type of content — news or views — do we prefer and why?
The aim of Somestic Media is to critically render social media processes, make them more tangible. Such exposure is vital for understanding how the new technologies change the way we live and socialise, and the information we take for granted.

Vytautas Jankauskas and Jon Flint, or VJF, bring experiences around complex technologies and their impact on our domestic mundane. Vytautas and Jon met in London working at the critically-acclaimed futures design practice Superflux. After joining the Hive social innovation residency at ‘thecamp’ in the south of France, the duo decided to pursue critical and futures design endeavours as a collaborative practice. Since 2018, Vytautas and Jon are residents at the Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed in Bristol, UK.

  • Vytautas Jankauskas is a designer interested in how emerging technologies inhabit our domestic mundane. His practice encompasses the Internet of Things, data ownership, digital citizenship, social media and their influence on our everyday lives. Vytautas holds a BA in Media Art at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, followed by an MA in Media Design from HEAD — Genève. Vytautas’ work has been exhibited at the V&A, CCCB, Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and Cite’ du Design St.Etienne, among others.
  • Jon Flint is a designer with a hands-on approach. His work has been showcased at the V&A, Vitra, as well as frames of pushchairs and bikes roaming the streets of London, in the form of a high quality air pollution sensing kit. Jon holds a BA in Product Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and an MA in Interaction Design from Goldsmiths University of London. He has given talks on the criticality of making as part of 2016 MCE conference in Warsaw and Maker Assembly Sheffield. He has conceived and led workshops around drone technology. Jon was selected to be one of the delegates for the ‘Living research 2018’ programme by The British Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, exploring maker culture in China.