“Hacking” electronic toys isn’t homogeneous, as attested by these two examples, taken from (1) Game Boy Modding (a boo about to modify GameBoys) by Greg Farrell, (2) A fanzine by T.A.C.O. Team about toys hacking.
While the formats of the two documents are close (using drawings and informal ways of describing things), there is a clear different between the level of precision in the first book, and the second, which is clearly more playful (“take the wire and touch ANY part of a circuit board”). Perhaps this is caused by the purpose of the first book, which is more about maintaining/fixing the device, and less about fucking around with it.
Had a chance to visit the Cosmodule Art R&D Lab in Lyon yesterday. Not strictly focused on recycling electronics, but still highly interesting in the way some of their projects deal with old consoles, use video game spare parts (such as buttons, lights and motherboards) – both as an inspiration for creative projects, and as material to be re-used in their serigraphy projects.
See for instance their Flippaper project, and, closer to our research project, this kind of interface (under which a book by Gaston Bachelard is surrounded by Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles figurines, neon-lightings and stacks of drawings of spaceships inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s work):
Why blogging this? The flea market is an important site in this project. We try to visit it as much as possible, observing which digital objects are sold, their conditions, the price given by the seller, the discussions around them, and sometimes the body posture of the potential buyers. Two examples here from yesterday in Geneva, with a laptop as well as power adapters and cables.
Why blogging this? This street scene is from 2009 in Geneva. I am used to keep track of discarded digital technologies… I’ve been observing this kind of scene for more than twenty years. I realize I do have colleagues also working on this topic. Media Debris is a research project conducted by Katharina Niemeyer and Juliette De Maeyer about “street media history”, which aims as “documenting the crime scenes of (r)ejected technologies”.
Last year I spent few days at Nø School Nevers, a summer school about “critical research around the social and environmental impacts of information and communication technologies”. This was the occasion to spend some time participating in various activities and discover the work of Gambiologia… a collective that “exploram peculiaridades da cultura brasileira no contexto eletrônico, especialmente relacionadas à tradição da ‘gambiarra'”:
“Gambiarra is a word that only exists in Brazilian Portuguese. It indicates informal uses and technological solutions to everyday life and infrastructure problems. (…) The Gambiologia Collective transforms this repertoire into a science of combat. It promotes workshops, urban interventions, debates and exhibitions that stimulate the use and the reinvention of obsolete, broken or discarded devices. The jury recognizes its work and action methodology, directed at the critical and creative use of media, and decided to award Gambiologia as a process and strategy rather than as specific artworks.” (Prix Ars Electronica 2011 – Statement do júri)
Why blogging this? Gambiarra looks like an interesting variation of the practices we are interested in this project. The way it’s framed in Brazilian culture makes it quite relevant to investigate.
One of the many souvenirs of a repurposed digital device (The SEGA Master System II, a cost-reduced version of the Master System released in 1990) that we ran across few years ago. Certainly a good illustration of what we want to investigate in this project.