LAST CHANCE FOR ROMANCE; BARELY USED (interactive couch-sitting experience)

Created by Shimshon Obadia & Em MacMillen.

New Google search > “free sofa bed” > about 1,230,000,000 results > sponsored ad: “Find a free bed on Kijiji!”

New Google search > IKEA catalogue > about 1,300,000 results > sponsored ad: “The NEW IKEA catalogue is here!”

The place we sleep is the place we centre ourselves, feel stable, protected, and safe as if back in the womb. But when I travel, more often than not, I find myself sleeping on someone’s sofa bed trying to recreate the security of the “womb” feeling in someone else’s home. So where would you prefer to spend the night? What would you want your guests to sleep on? Theres a nice, new, IKEA ‘Frëbedin’ for sale NOW, and it’s only $699. But three months, a ‘Strind,’ ‘Dudëro,’ and, ‘Rådviken’ later, cluttering up your studio apartment, and all of a sudden there’s a new ad on Kijiji with your “Frëbedin listed as a “free bed,” ‘Last Chance for Romance; Sofa Bed, Barely Used.’

We created this piece out of a realization about the absurdity of our society’s buy-what-you-want-now-and-deal-with-it-later mentality that we are all unfortunately implicit in. Through this piece, we hope that new light can be shed on the environmental impact of the relationships we have with our stuff. We hope that through this, we can start to think about valuing what we do have and thinking twice before impulse-buying what we want next.

When you approach Last Chance for Romance; Barely Used, you will see what appears to be a larger-than-life version of the online IKEA catalogue, spread across the gallery wall and floor, open to a page advertising the new ‘Frëbedin.’ Follow the animated iconic yellow and blue IKEA arrow circle on the floor as it directs you to this sofa bed popping out of the webpage. Take a seat on it, or just lye down. As you do, the precisely placed and specifically calibrated pressure sensors underneath will detect you, and before you’ve finished resting your head on the pillows, the webpage around you has changed. You are no longer happily trying out a brand new sofa bed at IKEA, but are in the centre of a Kijiji ad, trying to get rid of this newly accumulated clutter. Now listen, and you will hear the lament of every needless purchase as it is hastily pushed out the door to make room for something just a little newer, its online listing in the “free stuff” section.

For this particular sofa bed, we inadvertently underwent the entire process of everything we are commenting on in this piece. When we tried to pick up the first “free bed” from a local Kijiji ad, we were stood up, and later found out the owner had a last minute change of heart deciding to keep the bed, but didn’t think she should let us know before we waited outside her house for an hour. This made us consider the truly absurd nature of the indecision, and resulting lack of connection and commitment to our possessions. And not just in the life of the couch’s seller, but we also found it deeply unsettling how true this could be of ourselves. Then, upon finding the many listings which we used as the basis for the audio played when one sits or lyes on this sofa bed, many stories about these types of relationships to stuff, just like our Kijiji experience, began to come out and we discovered the importance of bringing up this conversation within the context of this online dumping ground, the world’s biggest excuse to buy new things we don’t really need… because someone will always want to take the old one off our hands if we just list it as “free,” won’t they? Simply put, this is a huge problem we have in our culture and it is one that needs to be fixed. We need to start looking at the absurdity of our purchase-happy trigger fingers on the mouse, and begin considering how we can make the most out of what we already have. Else wise, that online dumping ground may not stay in cyberspace forever, eventually it might seep out and we could easily wake up suffocating on our own stuff.

Also, see more from Em MacMillen on their website.