The Zeitgeist Project: The Curators Objectify

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

To conclude The Zeitgeist Project Berlin, the eight curators who talked previously returned to the stage to pitch us on their choice of object that best represented the cultural zeitgeist. This is what they picked:

Simon Waterfall

Simon Waterfall and a balloon

The one speaker that frightened the life out of him was the Google guy. He wanted his lifestyle and his pay check. He was talking about the physical all the time. Google don’t do physical – but if they did, how frightened would he be?

He was going to nominate Google Earth. Google don’t make anything, they don’t produce anything. It’s like an inflatable ring – filled with information from others, which inflates the company and hopefully allows it to produce useful things for you.

Richard Seymour


The Nest – a thermostat built by the team that left Apple after building the iPod. You pull off that grey piece of shit on your wall, and use this. And it learns. It turns stuff that your were bored about into something you’re fascinated about. It knows what the weather will be – because it’s hooked up to the web. It’s going to know how energy efficient you are compared to your neighbours… Something I didn’t give a damn about is something I’m really, really excited about. It’s a delicious thing replacing the nasty thing that was there before. It’s industrial judo; emotionally engaging.

Prof. Charles Spence


The 70s was technology in food production. Now? Technology in food consumption. The tablet as a plate, giving you the sound of the beach as you eat fish. It’s the signature dish in one of the world’s restaurants now – an elite experience. But could you use your tablet at home to do this? Could it chance the taste? Alter the plate colour, and things might taste sweeter… (Things on white plates taste 10% sweeter.) It’s neurogastronomy.

Michael Wolff


The discussion in the boats were about connection. Headphones are about isolation; they’re his secret weapon against Ryanair. He uses Bose’s professional sound-eliminating headphone, to anaesthetise his journeys.

Bobbie Johnson


3D printed products are generally shite right now. The Makie is the exception. They’re custom-printed dolls, built to your own specifications. It’s interesting that we’re starting with play. you create it on the web, and you give it a name and a story, and then a few weeks later it turns up at your door. There’s a hole in the body that allows you to customise it further with electronics. This is the edge of the Zeitgeist.

Tom Uglow

His favourite thing, because he likes the idea of the remote control of the future, is MaKeyMaKey, which allows you turn any physical object into a computer key…

Kati Krause


People’s ideas of privacy are very polarised. Data collection is great, or terrible. Tor makes you untraceable on the internet – and they’re developing it. It will be integrated into hardware, and added to mobile networks.

John Bird


John has children of a wide range of ages. He went to the Azores for a month with them. He’s fascinated by history, and is always trying to write books about it that will help. He took 200 books with him – on his Kindle. He had a phenomenal holiday, and was able to read a bit of any book he fancied wherever he was. He now wants a social Kindle – and is becoming a Kindle publisher, with a book about drawing: Why drawing naked women is good for your soul. He loves the fact that self-publishing is now respectable because of the Kindle.

The Big Issue is looking at ways of allowing the homeless to work for a Kindle.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.