Jaap de Maat, a Dutch designer finishing up a masters at the Royal College of Art in London, created something just a touch out of the ordinary for his final project: a filing cabinet that attacks people.
The piece, I Know What You Did Last Summer, follows people around the lobby of the Royal College of Art. It’s a traditional two-drawer gray filing cabinet, perhaps a little anachronistic in the modern white lobby. But it’s nothing that would seem, in any way, unusual. Until, that is, the filing cabinet starts chasing you around.
Inside the body of the filing cabinet is an electric wheelchair, along with a motor, an Arduino microprocessor (an inexpensive, open-source board), and distance sensors to make sure that the filing cabinet doesn’t actually run into anyone. And that’s critical, we think, because the filing cabinet is programmed to notice you when you walk in, and to follow you around like an eager puppy.
As you might have guessed, the project is a comment on the reality that our data–our emails, status updates, pictures, and communications–follow us around forever. “But this development contains hidden dangers, as those stored recollections can easily be misinterpreted and manipulated,” writes de Maat on his Vimeo page. “That sobering thought should rule our online behavior, because the traces we leave behind now will follow us around forever,” he says.
De Maat’s idea is cute and funny, and we appreciate the metaphor. It’s a smart conceptual reminder to pay attention to your digital footprint, not just your physical one.
You can read more about it over at Wired UK.