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Interface Objects

PhD research

Electronics & Industrial Design

June 2015 – present

Melbourne, Australia

What are data trackers recording? How is the data used? Where is the output presented and embodied? Why should this data be considered reliable? Does it mean that I'm less authentic if I do not have some form of a data recorder to monitor my existence? These are salient questions that perhaps are becoming far less easier to answer, as digital technologies and design movements embrace and leverage upon massive data networks and machine learning.

Interface Objects consists of typical user interface elements familiar to users of modern desktop operating systems, and of the real-life controls that desktop operating systems have in turn borrowed from.

The objects augment a space, and in turn project a conversation about the way we interact with the environment. Their simple user affordances offer a mysterious yet familiar interface to the locality, and its site and placement of the object hints towards the context of each object’s function and purpose. Much like how we interact with digital data today, we are invited to feed this network of inputs whenever we like, but we are never quite certain how else the data is used by the ones who record it.

In this iteration, each input ‘moment’ is captured and time-logged. This data is sonified as a series of subtle echoes and notes that ring through the living space through hidden speakers. Like a windchime, the installation constantly repeats the murmur and presence of life in the space.

Technology-wise, Interface Objects is built over a custom-written IoT software framework that allows various microcontroller platforms. It uses the open-source nodeRED platform as core data broker.

This is part of a series of reflective, speculative design works done in my current practice-led PhD research on empathic computing and industrial design at RMIT’s School of Architecture & Design. I am probing new futures towards the way data can be used in designing social, ‘anti-individual’ devices.