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Contemporary Prophecies
by Alisa Goikhman and Iohanna Nicenboim (Germany- Israel)

Contemporary Prophecies is a street food stand, offering handmade fortune cookies that contain scientific statistical statements inside.

By replacing the classical "fortunes" messages with statistical facts, the project explores the thin line between predictions and prophecies and to which extent it is possible to separate both. Furthermore, the project raises questions about the role that statistics have in our society and the way we relate to quantitative data as an unquestionable truth.

Some of the cookies and the messages are produced on site, having as well a performative aspect.
The choice for using fortune cookies comes from their peculiar history: although they are commonly offered in Chinese restaurants and mostly produced in Asia, they are actually an American invention. Today, this cookies are considered a cheap product and are commonly offered for free after a meal. Therefore, by re-interpreting them and producing them by hand, we transform their character and elevate their value. Furthermore, using socioeconomic data, we point out their two-directional nature of cultural influence.

While the messages featured in the early cookies were normally Biblical sayings or recommended lottery numbers, today they are cryptic and nonsensical feel-good messages. The fortunes in the installation use this kind of language, displaying the dry facts as quasi-spiritual statements in a "broken" English.

The cookies are arranged in the stand on a strict grid and separated in different categories: health, love, professional life, etc. By choosing from these different categories, the commuters can discover their possible futures, but according to predictions that come from real local sources.


Alisa Goikhman
BA. Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.
Alisa is an Israeli designer and a media artist based in Berlin. Her work is inspired by the intersection between visual communication, verbal communication and tangible interaction.
She taught at the Interaction Lab in HIT and the Bezalel Academy of art and Design in Jerusalem.
In 2012 she was awarded the Sandberg Research Grant by the Israel Museum. Her work was recently featured in the "IL(L) Machine" exhibition as part of the 2013 ARS Electronica Festival in Austria and the Afsnit I Festival in Denmark.

Iohanna Nicenboim
BA. Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.
Iohanna is a data designer and researcher based in Berlin. Inspired by new technologies, speculative design and human beings, she creates fictional objects, installations and spaces exploring the overlaps between design and science.
In the last four years, she had worked in projects which show critical approaches to quantitative data and statistics and the interactions we have with them in our daily lives.
She is currently finishing her MA in New Media Design at the UDK Berlin and works as a design teacher at Node Center for Curatorial Studies. She is an Artis Grant Recipient and has received the Polonsky Best Design Prize for her final project and research "Objectology".

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