The Institute of Culturetronics : "modular domestic electronics"
I finally found some time last week-end to read the material produced by/for the Institute of Culturetronics. Proposed by Henrik Nieratschker, it's defined as "a framework for an ongoing number of projects and design activities that look at the intersections of local culture and modern technologies, discussing issues of technological development and adaptation as well as the local problematics and opportunities that come with them." The first phase of this observation-based design project is based on a field trip in South Africa.
Why do I blog this? What I find intriguing here is the diversity of material produced for the projects. I take the posters, video, booklet and artifacts as a series of artefacts that encapsulate the design researcher's findings about DIY electronics. It's very interesting from an ethnographic perspective, as a way to illustrate and describe field observations.
The presentation starts from a description of visites sites, along with a series of pictures. It then moves to a section with "personal observations" that reflects – subjectively – on some topics (repair culture, informal economies, etc.) using textual vignettes. Then, this material is turned into prototypes of "modular domestic electronics":
"The electronic products in this proposal exist as modules operated by communities. These modules are owned by the individuals in the community and some members are also involved in the development of new modules that tare then introduced to the community. All the modules are borrowed from individual to individual within the community, so everyone can take advantage of the total sum of possible applications. The system embraces experimentation to widen the total applications and functionalities as far as possible. On the software side the modules are programmable via sound that can easily be cut and rearranged by using a tape recorder and can also be transmitted via radio. This makes it easy to copy and introduce new programs to the community."