The Circuit Breaker is a networked sonic installation that critiques the culture of constant connectivity. The installation takes the form of a series of customized modems overlooking a distributed network of online participants. Network connectivity is dependent on community-determined set of algorithmic variables. The variables might 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. This disruption will be marked by the dissonant sonic event of the tripping circuit breakers (and green light). Connectivity will be regained by a participant only after the network is balanced (red light), and then she can turn back on the switch.
The aim of this installation is to provoke critique and reflection about the social and energetic impact of our constantly connected digital lives in Finland. While harmony between man and machine, body and the network are seen as the primary aspirations of our post-industrial Finnish digital society, it has the potential for long-term discord to both natural ecologies and wider implications to local communities. Constant connectivity is not only energy-intensive, has health consequences, 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’.