The Circuit Breaker is a networked participated installation that critiques the culture of constant connectivity. The installation aims to provoke 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 both natural ecologies and wider implications to local communities. Constant connectivity is not only energy-intensive but could also result 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 behaviour through community-participated criteria of diversity, as well as an environmental agenda, the installation seeks to draw attention to the materialities and infrastructures of connectivity. As a participated artwork in a gallery, the installation aims to engage local communities, elicit critical responses and reflection on the state of the infrastructure of the Internet that dominates our daily lives. Could artistic methods question the ubiquitousness of connectivity and address related materialities and environmental impacts? Could 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?
Samir Bhowmik / main concept, artwork and physical installation / Supported by Krisjanis Rijnieks / concept animation, electronics and code
CIRCUIT BREAKER / May 22 – 26, 2019
MAA-Tila Gallery, Pääskylänrinne 10, 00500 Helsinki
Opening hours / Wed – Fri 14:00-18:00 / Sat – Sun 13:00-17:00
Artist Talk 21.5. at 17:00
Vernissage 21.5. at 18:00
THE BATTERY IS THE MESSAGE: MEDIA ARCHAEOLOGY AS AN ENERGY ART PRACTICE
When media start to explode in your hands, it deserves a description. When it causes airplane evacuations, general panic and hysteria, it warrants an examination. When it quietly dies in your pocket before the end of an eight hour work day just like the other two billion smartphones, it deserves an explanation. It is reasonable to believe that a ‘Thermal Runaway’ event is far more spectacular than a quiet smartphone death. Leakages take place, fire and toxic chemicals are involved, possibly leading to personal bodily injury. It can be traumatic. Thermal Runaway is today one of the prime modes of battery failure. Chemical reactions within raise its internal temperature, and if not dissipated, the temperature keeps rising that will further accelerate the reactions causing even more heat to be produced, eventually resulting in an explosion. Especially a Lithum-ion cell above a certain temperature, its internal chemical reactions out of control, will explode.
NOTE: The thoughts in the following article came about during the Community Power Bank(CPB) workshops at Pixelache Helsinki in 2015–16.The project recycled Lithium 18650 batteries with community participation and re- purposed them to build power banks for handheld media devices. The workshops were conducted at the Museum of Photography and at the OSCE (Open Source Circular Economy) Days in Helsinki, Finland. All acknowledgements are due to the participants and colleagues in this project. For more information see: http://samirbhowmik.cc/2016/06/22/community-power-bank-recycling-lithium-ion-battery-workshops-2016/