Spring 2018 / The Art of Living
For the Meyers Art Commission of 2017, israeli artist and design Ziv Schneider presented to us The Art of Living, an interactive exhibition in which she reimagines the course “Household Arts for Students from Other Lands” taught at Teachers College in 1923.
With it, Schneider presents the rendered model of the “National Better Home”– a model home built by the U.S. government to educate Americans about homemaking and homeownership. Schneider, who came to the U.S. as an international student herself, is here reversing her role and casting her avatar-self as the teacher/trainer for this guided experience. She is the one instructing us on things like how one should decorate their home and the acceptable way to clean oneself. All her answers are based on what educators at the time thought we should and should not do to live a proper American life.
The work exemplifies the famous quote attributed to scientist George Box, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” The model, in our case, the house, exists purely for the sake of pedagogy. The “National Better Home” was designed to be a segue to “real life,” and as such it optimizes usability and allows “learning by doing”. Now, in its new virtual form, the model allows participants to make new sense of environments that no longer exist. The game-like narrative and user interaction allows us to experiment in order to better understand the systems in which we operate and the objects that occupy our world.
Schneider’s version of the course is a copy of a copy, what Baudrillard called “a simulacrum to the second power.” As a virtual interpretation of an idealized place, this art asks us to examine our nostalgia for a prototypical American home.
Ziv Schneider, b. 1984, Israel , is an artist and designer working with emerging technologies as a medium for nonfiction storytelling.
EdLab's Design Team was responsible for the design of the exhibition and supporting material including posters, signage, plynths, wooden floorplans and iPad docks.