The Messenger

2011 MoMA | Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects

THE MESSENGER - Bridging our faith in God and the analytical mind.
Our group is focusing on the various thresholds between faith and science, and our locations of study were the CalTech campus in addition to the priest and selected congregation members at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church. During the process of performing research through survey, interview, and experimentation, we were led to the conclusion that the concepts of science and religion are popularly perceived to be representative of opposing philosophies of thought, behavior, and method. We found that the two spheres were often compartmentalized or that either faith or scientific theory dominated a particular individual’s life. Our conclusion is that the abstract and clichéd notion that science and faith are polar opposites can be challenged, and that elements of varying modes of discourse, belief and theory can inform and benefit the other. With that essential thought, we endeavored to create a specific design response that utilizes the specific strengths and habits of both.

Our device is activated whenever a person begins to pray, and that prayer is audibly recorded, transmitted to a satellite and the data is registered in a central database. The specific benefit is that individuals often pray for help, for instance if they are in need of drinking water, or if they are dealing with a disease they appeal to a higher power for assistance. Scientists, as well as faith-based and aid organizations would then be better able to quantify and address the appropriate response. In a scenario involving an epidemic for example, our information acquiring device could function to identify patterns of who is getting sick where, how fast it spreads, and what the symptoms are. The benefit to this process of acquiring data is that it is information acquired through an individual’s personal relationship with a higher power that is largely held above politics, influence, pride or filter.

The Messenger system does not attempt to subvert or replace any God, it is intended to reinforce the idea that when we pray, our community as well as our deity is listening. This can ultimately reinforce belief, because the grace of God is best felt through our shared humanity.