Thomas Thwaites is a designer even though, on his own admission, he’d sometimes rather be a goat – but more on that later. His work examines the interaction between science, technology and culture, and how they shape our present society, and possible futures. He uses a broad range of media and techniques, resulting in objects, installations, films and texts that tackle a diverse range of subject areas including biology, economics, philosophy and materials science. Thwaites’ work has been acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum for their permanent collection, and is exhibited frequently and internationally, including at the National Museum of China, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Science Museum in London, and the Zero 1 Biennial in California. His first book, The Toaster Project, describes his attempt to make an electric toaster from scratch. His second book GoatMan: How I took a holiday from being human, was published in 2016 and chronicles his mutation from man to goat. Can’t say we didn’t tell you so.
A holiday from being human
The speculative designer will take us on a journey through grassy fields to share his experience, one in which he became a goat to escape society and the angst that is inherent in being human. And he actually succeeded. For three full days. He even managed to become one of “them” – the ultimate recognition. In his words, the best moment was “when one of the goats suddenly decided she was going to be my friend, and she just followed me everywhere". He got prosthetic "goat legs" from a clinic in Manchester as well as a specially designed fake goat's stomach, which would digest the grass he ate before it reached his real stomach. Beneath this surreal adventure lies a genuine exploration of how modern technology can allow us to fulfil an ancient human dream: to take on characteristics from other animals. A bucolic conference of sorts.