Humans since 1982 was established in 2009 by Bastian Bischoff and Per Emanuelsson. Both born in 1982, they met as postgraduate students at HDK Göteborg in 2008. Together they have built a diverse and complex practice which traverses art, design and technology. Their provocative sculptures and experiential installations are driven by a shared curiosity and desire to make sense of the world. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, their studio is a growing team of international specialists including programmers, designers and technicians alongside their partner at CTO, David Cox.
At our Design Studio, we have admiration and fascination for the artworks and projects created by Humans since 1982. In the lobbies of Ham Yard Hotel and Crosby Street Hotel, you’ll find sculptures belonging to their series ‘A million Times‘.
These kinetic sculptures subvert clocks. Programmed to spin individually and in formation, the clocks perform abstract choreographies and movement patterns. Once every minute, the clock hands align to accurately display the time in a digital typography, playfully reporting and representing the concept of time passing. We could easily watch these clocks dance a million times!
Join us as we ‘Meet The Maker’ with Bastian Bischoff and Per Emanuelsson of Humans since 1982…
How did you begin working together when you met as postgraduate students?
We always had a strong interest in the opportunities that technology provides beyond its pure practical function. We use technology as a tool to realise a certain idea but we are equally interested in how technology makes us feel or how it inﬂuences human behaviour.
In 2008 we started our first project ‘Surveillance Light’ during our studies at HDK Göteborg. ‘Surveillance Light’ is a standing lamp in which we re-purposed housings of surveillance cameras to accommodate light bulbs. We turned the original function of a surveillance camera into something more positive: to bring light. Back then this lamp was exhibited at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. The ongoing debate about surveillance in public spaces brought our lamp and our studio a lot of media coverage. From there we got in touch with galleries and curators and it encouraged us to start our own studio.
What are your reasons for exploring the concept of time through your work?
Time does something to us. We experience how time ‘exposes’ itself to us in so many diﬀerent ways, depending on the situation and mood. Time enables the emergence of true beauty. Think about dance, choreography, music: it is all time-based. And yet, time is so mysterious, it is impossible to grasp its existence, not even theoretically.
Your clock sculptures are works of art and require complex technology. How do you bring these disciplines together?
Our kinetic pieces are the result of an entire team of specialists with diﬀerent skills. Though it started in the realm of design and art as a graphical system, it was already required from an early stage to cooperate with an electrical engineer. Through a common friend we got in touch with engineer David Cox who was then working for Ericsson. We met David in a bar in Stockholm and showed him the animated typography and clock. David instantly believed in the concept and helped us to develop a physical prototype during night shifts after his day job. It was a major turning point for the project. David became our CTO and partner of the studio along the journey. Today we have around 12 people in the team and everyone is contributing in some way or another to a new project.
What would be your dream collaboration or your dream art work commission?
A dream would be to collaborate with Martin Margiela. He still is and was a huge inspiration since our early days. Not only his experiments and avant-garde creations are brilliant but also his way of staying out of the public eye, becoming some sort of enigma which created such a pull. In the light of social media and the temptation to constantly expose, his discretion is very inspiring.
What is next for Humans since 1982?
We just entered an explorative collaboration with Steinway & Sons to bring improvised live music and our kinetic installations together. We hosted two events with one of Sweden’s most prominent pianists, Mathias Algotsson. They were beautiful performances and since it was improvised, the two evenings were quite diﬀerent from each other. We are looking forward to hopefully bringing this to other venues and cities in the near future.