What does all the stuff you own say about you, and do you really need any of it in the first place? That is a central question in Objectified, a new documentary from Gary Hustwit, the director of Helvetica. I saw the Chicago screening tonight and was blown away.
The director says the term objectified has two meanings. “One is ‘to be treated with the status of a mere object.’ But the other is ‘something abstract expressed in a concrete form,’ as in the way a sculpture objectifies an artist’s thoughts. It’s the act of transforming creative thought into a tangible object, which is what designers in this film do every day.
He goes on to say, “But maybe there’s a third meaning to this title, regarding the ways these objects are affecting us and our environment. Have we all become objectified?”
Objects as personal avatars
The film got me thinking about the concept of objects as personal avatars through which we tell our personal narrative. Either consciously or unconsciously, we purchase objects that reflect who we are – or who we want to be. It’s fairly easy to see what someone values by seeing the things they own, right?
Like Helvetica, I have no doubt that Objectified will be a huge success. Next time you purchase something, anything really – ask yourself why you’re buying the item and what the purchase says about you.
The hurricane is coming. You have 20 minutes to grab the objects in your house that are most important to you. What do you reach for first? Why?
Personally, I’d grab my external hard drive. My music, photo and video collection are priceless.