How can eccentric technologies serve to explore the always inaccessible experience of others? These projects articulate novel communication systems that question how we might better understand that which we are not.
Sputniko, Menstuation Machine
Menstruation Machine is a prosthesis that simulates the experience of menstruation. With a blood dispensing mechanism and electrodes to cause abdomenal pain, this device attends to the ongoing bias towards the masculine in how and why technologies are developed and deployed. Sputniko notes that in Japan -
“New pills such as Lybrel and Seasonique, which reduce the frequency of menstruation to none or 4 times a year have recently been developed, but they are not yet widely used…It only took the Ministry of Health only 6 months to approve Viagra, but it took them more than 9 years to approve the contraceptive pill in 1999 (which was approved 3 months after the approval of Viagra). It is quite clear that the advancement of technology can be heavily influenced by political, social and cultural backgrounds of the time.”
Terike Haapoja, Dialogue
Finnish artist Terike Haapoja is particularly inspiring for her rich collaborations with forestry scientists. The resultant works reimagine scientific measurement techniques in evocative ways. Dialogue, 2008 is one of several in a series that engages with techniques used by environmental scientists to measure carbon and oxygen exchange by different organisms. Dialogue consists of an device for a tree which measures it’s respiration and also enables the viewer to communicate with it by whistling. When the visitor whistles to the trees they response by whistling back.
In a similar but more applied vein, Botanicalls is a sensor platform for a house plant. The board measures soil moisture and will text you if your plant needs water.