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Circuit Breaker – Performance Installation – Pixelache Festival May 2019

CB Wall.001
Image: Samir Bhowmik 2019

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.[1] 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.[2] Infrastructures that support connectivity still remain perceived generally as intangible and ethereal just like the ‘Cloud’. 

Forthcoming in Communications + 1 Journal Vol. 7 (2) (Open Humanities Press): 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:

Hackathon Projects 2015-16

HACKING PERISCOPE (2016): Live Broadcasting of Cultural Heritage Videos

How to inject a freshness into old cultural heritage videos? How to use live video streaming for cultural heritage? What if we could Live Broadcast old cultural heritage videos into social networks? What kind of viewers we would get? Will the broadcasts attract replays, shares, likes and follows? How would this assist open cultural heritage?

In this experiment, we use Periscope, a location-based live video streaming app. We broadcast videos from the archives of the Swedish Literature Society (SLS) Finland:

The project was part of the #HACK4FI 2016 event in Helsinki, February 2016.


KERPLINK (2015): A Dating & Social Discovery Application for Cultural Heritagekerplink_final

The application was inspired by Tinder, a location based dating and social discovery application. The app allows users to log in with Facebook, like/dislike open cultural heritage images from the Europeana database, the Cooper Hewitt open source collection and the Flickr Commons. Users get matched with fellow users based on similarities in image liking and browsing history. They could then engage in chats with the matched user and maybe even meet up.

The project was part of the #HACK4FI 2015 event in Helsinki, February 2015.