Student: Jack Ratcliffe
☎️ is part of a continuing exploration into human expectations concerning the robotics we surround ourselves with.
The ringing phone evokes an “involuntary response … characterised by a brief distraction from ongoing activity” . This involuntary response is formed both by the phone’s aural 1 design, and our social expectations in interacting with the device. As Keifer Sutherland states in 2002’s Phone Booth: “a ringing phone has to be answered, doesn’t it?”.
If humans are socially expected - or even compelled - to answer a ringing telephone, then there is equally an expected role of the telephone itself: to be able to be answered.
☎️ usurps this paradigm by sensing the approach of humans looking to interact with it, and moving away. Every time a user moves closer to the ringing phone, compelled by our well-developed interaction heuristic, ☎️ denies them the ability to complete their side of the interactive bargain.
Beyond this, ☎️ will continue ringing and evading continuously - there is no way to enact the second of the binary phone interactions: wait for it to stop ringing. If a visitor inhabits the same space as ☎️, they are forced outside of their expected definition of their relationship, and into the phone’s.
That said, it is still possible to catch and answer the phone by lifting the receiver. When this happens, another atypical response is triggered: instead of hearing something through the handset, the phone’s buttons begin to vibrate and shift, ideally causing the visitor to personify a feeling of fear into the device.