Memory In-Between Past and Present

Past form of memory in modern digital era

The twenty-first century has just begun, but it has already witnessed a remarkable surge of creativity around all design disciplines. Revolution is currently on progress with our rapid growing societies. The old notions and dogmas that dominated the last century are being thrown away and the new century is beginning to change its form in a different way.

The USB drive ‘Blank’ is part of a whole stationary series designed by Saburo Sakata in 2011. Saburo Sakata was born in Kyoto in 1985 and studied in Kyoto University of Arts and Design. Saburo is a graphic and product designer.

Blank USB
Blank USB 2011
Blank USB
Blank USB 2011

On focus, the Blank design neutrally stands in the middle of past and the present digital era. The message in a bottle and USB both symbolize and represent memory in a similar but in a different form. One of the first eccentric stories about message in a bottle derived from japan. In 1784, Chunosuke Matsuyama and 40 seamen set sail to find the treasure. Unfortunately, the ship struck a reef and forced them to seek refuge on an island. Those seamen w­ere left stranded, unable to secure fresh water and food. Matsuyama wrote his story on thin pieces of wood, placed it into a bottle and tossed it out into the sea. Coincidently, the bottle was discovered in the village where Matsuyama was born. The story appears in Robert’s Kraske’s ‘The twelve million dollar note’ (Kraske 1977). In the movie, Message in a bottle (1999), this form of communication is a prime gesture of romance that was created by exchanging messages in a bottle. Later, many individuals threw bottles containing letters into the sea unsure who would find them or gave it to their loved ones as romantic gift.

The Blank design integrates two different objects that represent memory from different era as a single object with its poetic sentiment. As the characteristics and nature of poetic designs transcend through time. The design Blank is quite literally, a modern digital recreation of the romantic messages in a bottle. Two different forms of objects have combined together and successfully produced a refreshing and thought provoking poetic design, leaving many people to think about the significance of the memories that have been harnessed.

The Blank design also challenged norm, firstly as a functional metaphor, both objects have the ability to functionally store but do so in very different mediums. Another interesting point that can be considered here, is that the data in USB’s is often suggested as private and confidential, but the glass bottle is transparent but at the same time, the purpose of bottle is to keep its content safe and secure, so those contrasting descriptions juxtapose each other to create something stimulating and to think about.

Traditional methods of communication have long been forgotten by many individuals and replaced by modern technology. Memory is a sentimental and valuable aspect to most individuals because it provides us with a sense of self and also makes up our continual experience of life. But over time, its value may deteriorate. The Blank design helps to remind us of nostalgic value and its role in our lives.

The Blank design also carries the methods of parody with humorous aspect by subtle modification of placing the USB instead of a letter, which is clever because it brings two different forms of memories at once. It also has the cuteness aspect since the bottle is in a miniature size and because of its visual aesthetic, the value of object will also increase regardless of its meaning since many desire to own such items.

The name Blank can be considered quite emotional. In present days, not many people write letters but instead, people use computer devices to write because it is more convenient and also faster. However, those method of communication feels vague and blank because there isn’t any physical form to actually see and feel.

Another interesting aspect of the Blank design is fidgeting factor. Since there are two different parts, the bottle and the cork that are supposed to be connected and because of that people may consistently play around with it and that could also prevent people from losing their USB from devices since one part will always remind of the another part.

Saburo has successfully enhanced the value of USB and memory into something more valuable for many individuals, not just by its visual but also by having poetic sentiments such as nostalgic and romance and it also reminded us of the forgotten way of communication from the past era.