Orbuculum Socii is an hourglass shaped installation, displaying the thoughts of a society, positioned in a central city location. Small spheres known as Orbus, located in high-traffic areas, collect these thoughts. In order to engage with the Orbus, users receive a worded prompt and enter a response on the tablet device. Users interacting with the Orbuculum Socii will receive a public and virtual city diary, which they interact with through exploration, and physically moving around the installation.
The hourglass represents time, as the installation shows the thoughts of the city over a given period, and the experience mirrors that of writing in a diary, or, keeping with the science fiction prescribed theme, visiting a fortune teller or looking into a pensieve.
Orbuculum Socii focuses on the premise that thoughts tend to be confined to within an individual’s mind, and allows members of a society to reveal their thoughts, dreams, ambitions, hopes and even apprehensions in a safe, anonymous and judgement-free environment. By unifying the community through a shared experience, the Orbuculum Socii ultimately creates a collective feeling of belonging and a sense that individuals are not alone.
The intended audience is anyone who is willing and able to use the interface, however the two targeted user groups are tourists, or people with spare time passing through, or those stuck in an everyday routine who don’t feel connected with the society they live in.
The depiction of thoughts positions human values to be at the centre of the project. The Orbuculum Socii asks, “What feels isolating, and by keeping private, isolates us from those around us?” This question provides an open-ended experience in order to explore how people think, operate and communicate within public spaces and allows physical computing to become a method for discovering answers to this question.