black-box experiments

Making acquaintances with the machinery.

Handling everyday-things as Black Boxes has long become an immanent survival technique in dealing with complexity, which plays an increasingly important role especially in today’s electrified world: As users of things, we are surrounded by a wide range of products whose detailed inner workings simply cannot be understood by most – and luckily, they do not need to be. While this lack of comprehension for our electronic companions has only little immediate effect during a product’s use, it quickly becomes apparent in the moment in which a product breaks. The common inability to act upon an error, let alone the functioning of the product itself, led to an assumption that is worth further investigation: As users of electronic products – do we only truly own their outer shell, but not their technological interiors?

The heavy ecological implications of electronic products as well as the imbalance in power structures which are embodied in our physical devices motivated a series of experiments. They explore how the dualism between inside and outside – the hard separation between a product’s surface and its underlaying machinery – can be broken and how the design of a product can, instead, be applied to create a relationship with the technological interior. At the hand of a radio receiver (the technological ancestor for a large number of our modern technologies), the Black-Box Experiments challenge the traditional constitution of electronic devices.
Representative for many more products and thinkable experiments, the three radio receivers explore the relationship between a product’s outsides and the hidden machinery:  How can the circuit-board as a medium be utilized for the communication of functioning? How do spatial parameters influence the perception of normally flat circuits? How would an accessible, open and easy-to-manipulate product be designed?

Köln, 2020

produced in acrylic, PLA, copper and paper, with various electronic actors
exhibited at:

kisdparcours2020, Köln