Market Buzz: Digesting Euro Turmoil……….Monsters laughed during gang rape……….Regime bulldozers pave space for Euro vision……….I feel everything will be okay……….EU to cash in on Libya………..Somali radio reporter murdered………..Dancers urge action on anorexia………..
These are topics of concern being transmitted to the Poor Clare Sisters, an enclosed order of nuns living in a monastery in York, England, by way of a new device called the Prayer Companion. The Prayer Companion, or “Goldie” as the nuns have come to call it, is an elegant, clerical-looking electronic device designed by Goldsmiths University Interaction Research Studio.
Reminiscent of the Cross of Tau, it comfortably resides on a side table in a communal space within the monastery looking not unlike a reliquary box or some sacred vessel from which pours forth a steady stream of current headlines. An attached, behind-the-scenes computer receives the transmissions gathered from selected news feeds and social networking sites.
The design team at Goldsmiths envisioned the Prayer Companion specifically for the Poor Clares. From the onset, the designers were interested in working on a project involving technology for older people, as well as one that could explore the role that technology can play in religious and spiritual activities. Most of the sisters are in their 80s, and have devoted their lives to prayer, including prayer of intercession in which they act as “translators” between humans and God, helping people reach the Higher Being. Their interaction with the outer world is limited by circumstance. With its understated design, the Prayer Companion unobtrusively connects their monastic world with the world outside. The device perfectly fulfills the working goals of the design team, and brilliantly serves the prayer life of the sisters.
There are only two Prayer Companions—the original in the Poor Clares monastery and another created for MoMA’s exhibition Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, which was on view last fall. MoMA’s Prayer Companion, acquired for the collection in 2011, is currently on view in the exhibition Born out of Necessity.