Even in the 1993 cult science fiction adventure film Jurassic Park, director Steven Spielberg, famously decided to feature a dramatic and foreboding walled enclosure that clearly indicated a separation between a side of safety and a side of danger to the audience. The wall’s purpose was to barricade in the dinosaurs that lurked in the forest on the other side. Spielberg, through the simple presentation of a physical wall, simultaneously provoked a sense of fear and of protection from the monsters behind the wall.
This fear of the other side and the unknown monsters behind the wall is a topic that the French born, Eindhoven-based designer Jonas Hejduk first began to explore within his thesis Now, eventually you do plan to have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right? Building enemies through walls. Using the fictional wall of Jurassic Park as a metaphor, Hejduk has been able to navigate the links between architectural, media, and psychological walls that are used to project the threat on the other side. He argues that “danger is no more standing beyond a single wall; today danger comes from a multitude of walls, more or less blurred, arranged 360° around us”, some invisible and others physically intimidating.
Hejduk’s investigation into the supposed monsters, dinosaurs, and ghosts that are held behind walls coupled with people’s need to know that they are safe on the side they are on became the foundation for his latest project, There is a domesticated enclosure in my living room. The project, that cleverly utilises the well-known story of Jurassic Park, physically confronts its audience with a similar walled enclosure in the centre of a living room. The enclosure appears extreme with its apparent electrified barrier that is preventing whatever threat is inside from escaping. However, in reality what is trapped inside are just shrubs and ferns, no real threat at all. Through the use of storytelling and a hint of humour the installation asks its audience to consider if the purpose of a wall is to protect them from the apparent monsters on the other side, or, if the wall actually provokes these monsters into an exaggerated existence?
The importance of this project lies in the realisation of the fact that deep down, as humans, we want to feel safe, we want to be told by trusted media, journalists, or the physical erection of a wall, that we are in the right place. Everyone can relate to these walls and everyone places their fears on the other side.
Through a process of designing with a child-like humour, Hejduk provided a simple route into an otherwise complex topic. He explains how the work he produces often starts from the realisation of his own ignorance of a topic, which he then proceeds to explore and educate for himself in order to inform an audience later. Having become more informed Hejduk managed to present his finding physically in a way that softly and clearly explains the necessary truths of the world around us, walled or not.
There is a domesticated enclosure in my living room breaks down the wall it presents; it asks the audience to understand that the grass on the other side can be greener if we let go of the monsters – of the dinosaurs – that confirm we are on the ‘right side’. The project presented at last year’s Dutch Design week and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy graduation show, ultimately informs its audience about the “physical, virtual, social, geographical and political walls that are rising more and more around the globe.”
When asked about the conundrum of the walls we build and the real or imagined dangers they protect us from, Hejduk simple states that we need to “communicate with the ‘monsters’ on the other side”.