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January 2021 · Speculative Design · For: Design Investigations

Soul Sweeper

→ Crises always affect people's worries and needs, making them more susceptible to comforting claims. This video essay explores how greedy minds use these circumstance for lies and exploitaition.

Bodies in Crisis

Soul Sweeper is a product-design research project. Crises always affect people's worries and needs, making them more susceptible to comforting claims, hoax products and lies. Energized water, placebo pills and DVDs with 60 minutes of a healing gaze are just a few examples showing how creative some “inventors” become to earn the extra dollar. As with many products that are promising the supernatural. An easy pseudoscientific alternative is offered in parallel to a scientific – but maybe uncomfortable – consens. These machinations boom during a crisis.

enthusiastic host
Enthusiastic host


Based on our observations, we set out and created a fictional venture in the field of pseudoscience. How do you make such a convincing alternative, how much function is too much, what are matters of belief, and perhaps most important how does one end up creating these systems?

Dr. Bea Alphin-Blois
Dr. Bea Alphin-Blois
the lawyer
The layer

The Movie

We ended up imitating a teleshopping situation to implement known tactics in an exaggerated form. Our protagonist, Dr. Bea Alphin-Blois, developed the Soul Sweeper, a pseudoscientific product to rid the body of bad light. In the film, we alternate between two situations. On one side we see our protagonist struggling with the legal and moral consequences of her invention while on the other side we can observe how she, supposedly a little earlier, tries to market her pseudoscientific product with questionable methodologies.

teleshopping studio
Teleshopping Studio
presentation of the product
presentation of the product

Making the Soul Sweeper

Mainly focusing on the user interaction and the associated effects on the body – we developed our very own fake health tool. A light-brush. A 3D-printed housing was primed, painted and equipped with a bright LED. The bristles were carefully fixed into a perforated acrylic sheet, which was connected to the housing. The LED-driver was borrowed from my Ambient Light project and controlled the LEDs brightness.

the soul-sweeper in the workshop
making props

How it "works"

The Soul Sweeper transports the bad light - which reaches our skin cells every day through environmental factors such as screens, street lighting and urban light pollution - through a special crystalline filter. The good light, which is simultaneously delivered to the skin through the bristles, replaces the bad light in the cells of the body with the good and correct light. Thus, an increased sense of well-being can be achieved. To achieve an optimal effect of the Soul Sweeper, the special filter can be cleaned at certain time intervals for a small fee. The Soul Sweeper is obviously not a real but a sarcastic product which questions dubious machinations from a design perspective.

Fake medical visualization
Fake medical visualization
application demonstration
Application demonstration

If you are interested you can watch the finished movie at the top of this page.


Starring Lena Golker, Antonia Patzak, Florian Fleischer and Johannes Lotze. This project was co-created by Valentina Sturn and Johannes Lotze. Special thanks to Universität Wien, Lukas Siller, Michael Schmidl and the DI Team.