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Show and Tell: 25
How to Feel More at Home by Francesco Imola

With many of us spending an inordinate amount of time at home, homemaking has become especially important. Beyond purchasing quirky LED lights and fluffy handmade cushions on Etsy to spice up our decor, we can have complicated feelings about the place we call home. While ideally home serves as a safe haven or sanctuary, it can also induce claustrophobia and the desire to escape.

How to Feel More at Home

In his browser-based project How to Feel More at Home, London-based artist and curator Francesco Imola captures fleeting, often contradictory thoughts, about domestic space. He presents ideas about the meaning of home and how we orient our bodies and minds—architecturally and temporally—to the space we inhabit in a scrollable text form. Vertical images that Imola took on his phone, such as of afternoon light flooding the corner of a room or a cat reclining in a garden, are revealed when the visitor clicks on random spots on the webpage, along with a geometric shape, color, or musical sound. Can comfort and shelter be housed by intimate moments, rather than a roof? Can home be contained within the warmth of a muted pastel color, a soothing chime of a bell, or an evocative word?

Imola began designing the website while living with his parents during quarantine. Undoubtedly, reflections on comfort and restlessness were magnified by the experience of isolation, precarity, and uncertainty. Yet, if all else becomes unanchored, we can still find stable ground and solace in somatic sensations—after all, as he writes, “home always starts with our body.” There is a clear physicality behind those photos, no matter how blurry and mysterious; the colorful shapes and sounds form a feedback loop in which the visual-sonic elements are activated by the user’s fingers and thereafter perceived by the physical self.

How to Feel More at Home

How to Feel More at Home is an example of “digital gardening”, a broadly applicable  term that uses gardening metaphors to describe activities on the internet. Mark Berstein first coined the phrase in his 1998 essay “Hypertext Gardens”, conceptualizing the web as a sprawling garden of many paths. Later on, decluttering files was compared to weeding and pruning. In the last decade, various web practitioners framed the act of collecting, curating, and developing ideas in the public domain as “cultivating a garden”, as opposed to the model of “streams” (constantly renewed flow of information) found in Twitter and other social platforms.1 Some aspects of digital gardening are accomplished with code, but the core concept revolves around the accumulation of information and what to do with them. Imola first started developing the ideas around homemaking on Are.na, a version of digital gardening. For the artist, a custom and independent site offered the opportunity to further develop the concept, as well as incorporate JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) color libraries, opening up a visually and sonically stimulating path to intimate thoughts in his mind that otherwise might have gotten lost in the interwebs.


Enjoy the work:
https://francescoimola.github.io/htfmat/



Artist bio:

Francesco Imola (he/they) is an artist, designer, and curator based in London working with software and code to explore the self in relation to public online spaces.



Links:
Are.na
Twitter


1. Examples taken from Maggie Appleton’s “A Brief History & Ethos of the Digital Garden”