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(Im)possible Chicago #23

There are no families in Chicago that live under the same roof, for each member lives separately: husbands from their wives and children; siblings from each other and their parents.

A few—and they are almost always the dads—choose single accommodations in bachelor pieds-à-terre, but most prefer to share quarters with the members of other dispersed clans. Fathers with other fathers, mothers with other mothers, parents with a brood of unrelated children.

There are all sorts of domestic arrangements, as different as the next, but not a single one involve immediate blood relatives (that is, up to and including the grandparents) living at the same address. The closest they can be to a next of kin is two blocks away.

Families still come together. They eat at the same table, nurse their sick loved ones back to health, and celebrate the high holidays in one big gathering. But at the end of the day, they retire to separate dwellings.

If they want to speak to someone about something, they simply tap on their touch walls and if answered, it then flickers with the videoconference images of their telepresent family. At the other times, the walls simply broadcast images of empty rooms, splicing dislocated spaces, as it were.

Meanwhile, holographic avatars move about the house like ghosts, passing easily through doors and furniture, some of which are part of a network of surveillance sensors. In fact, every decorative knickknack is an ambient actuator of a data stream.

Even the plants are wired to both monitor the health of your family and display these sensor readings botanically. In other words, if they seem vigorous, your child is physically well. If they’re starting to droop or yellow, then it’s time to call the doctor.

  • Chau Huh
  • September 20, 2011 at 4:12:00 PM CDT
  • Like this one.

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