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Samir Bhowmik presents a new work as part of the 2019 Pixelache Festival, the project Circuit Breaker will be presented in the MAA-tila space in Sornainen, Helsinki – opening 21 May 2019 at 18.00.
The Circuit Breaker is a networked participated installation that critiques the culture of constant connectivity. It is complemented by a photo exhibition by the artist about energy, fossil fuels, and energetic landscapes of Helsinki. The installation takes the form of a customized panel of indicator lamps, ‘coal’- meters, and micro-controllers overlooking a distributed network of online participants. Network connectivity is dependent on a set of algorithmic variables that include bandwidth usage, power consumption, browsing analytics, location and terrain. These together will form a model of online behavior, similar to ‘Load Factor’ a concept of diversity of use and geography used in electrical power systems. Online participants will have to balance ‘Load Factor’ to maintain constant connectivity. If ideal harmony in diversity is not maintained and network load not balanced by the networked community, it would result in circuit disruption and participants will be blocked out of the network. 

The aim of this installation is to provoke critique and reflection about the social and energetic impact of our constantly connected digital lives. While harmony between man and machine, body and the network are seen as the primary aspirations of our post-industrial digital society, it has the potential for long-term discord to natural ecologies and has wider implications to local communities. Constant connectivity is not only energy-intensive, but also has resulted in growing dissonance in society at multiple scales: from the social to the political, from resource depletion to climate change. Infrastructures that support connectivity still remain perceived generally as intangible and ethereal just like the ‘Cloud’.
By placing online behavior through a community-participated criteria of diversity, as well as an environmental agenda, the installation seeks to draw attention to the materialities and infrastructures of connectivity. How can art question the ubiquitousness of connectivity and environmental impacts? Can dis-connectivity remind us of our choices? Could it persuade us to think that every ‘click’ has an energetic footprint and every break in the circuit saves a piece of the earth?
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Samir Bhowmik / main concept, artwork and physical installation / Supported by Krisjanis Rijnieks / concept animation, electronics and code
Samir Bhowmik’s multi-disciplinary art and research practice deals with contemporary issues in Media, Memory and the Environment. His work examines the architectural, infrastructural and energetic entanglements of Cultural Memory. His latest infrastructural performance art project ‘Memory Machines’ opened at the Helsinki Central Library in January 2019, as part of the Library’s Other Intelligences project organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute of New York.