ClimateHack workshop at Transmediale09

By February 5, 2009Workshop

The formal manifesto:

The Climate Hack workshop brought together a team of researchers, designers and artists dedicated to reframing the international political climate using means well-outside the traditional political rhetoric. Driven by the often-absurd nature of politics and the collective creativity often generated from equally absurd artistic mediums, the workshop rallied around the task of hacking Cotton Candy machines. Custom and hacked electronics, connected to live political news and weather feeds, informed and animated the project.

We have documented several different methods for manipulating candy floss which we discovered during the workshop and during the several weeks of experimentation that took place beforehand. The methods that we will be demonstrating at Transmediale Salon include the Candy Floss Tornado, Candy Floss Crystals and Candy Robot.

In my own words – it was even better. The dynamic Kibu team (Adam Somlai-Fischer, Melinda Sipos, Eszter Bircsak, Christopher Baker, Marton Juhasz and Simon Forgács) had done an outstanding prep-work by hacking and experimenting with candy floss more than a month prior to the workshop so it was a flying start. Massimo Banzi & John Nussey from and Bengt Sjölen from Teenage Engineering injected their experience in and we were boogie. The Pixelache posse from Deep North, included Juha Huuskonen, Aleksi Pihkanen, Miska Knapek and myself.

Intense three-day period prior to TM09 event involved climate data research, both environmental and political, candy floss machine hacking, robotics, design work and loads of hot sugar in the air. We experienced through numerous possibilities how to route external data in to the process. Due to somewhat chaotic and most importantly quite slow process of floss cumulation, none of the tests produced results that would be realistic to realise in workshop context: automated, data driven floss making that is. That did not let us down one bit. We continued with three discoveries that emerged from the process.

1. Sugar Crystal Accumulation (SCAâ„¢)

Chris discovered interesting and more controllable side effect on our floss process. The spinning sugar cumulates to any surface around the machine. By gradual motion of the capturing surface, any realtime data could produce fragile layers of melt sugar.

2. Sugar Twister and the Disasters (< - free glam-punk band name, anyone?) Aleksi, our aerodynamics engineer developed a turbine cylinder, which with the power of two candy floss machine, produced enough lift to make continuous stream of floss propel up. This alone was quite an aesthetic performance and a subtle reminder of fragility and systems, but even more so with our tagline: "Energy Talk = Sweet Hot Air" made a link to the absurd "Carbon Jargon" in the times when action is needed.
3. The Church of Carbon Syndicate

Since the act of making your Candy Floss and eating it is quite rewarding performance, can this be used as symbolic action for our cause. Yes. Based on your carbon footprint, even an average, your debt to the planet can be calculated. If you are not exhausting the earths resources, you get a dose of sugar that produces normal size candy floss. Anything more wasteful increases your “measure of sugar” leading to lengthy process of contemplation when the floss is building up, not to mention the confrontation and eating of the mother-of-all-sugar-döners on your hand.

For me, the candy floss as a material and as a process combined with the theme of (political) climate discourse were most rewarding as performances. We were quite aware of our climate debt just as a result of flying to Berlin, with the little extra consumption of the hot machines themselves, let alone the impact from the sugar industry. However, creative beings, us all basically, will need to live and to meet in order to innovate. Billions of us will still more likely stumble on some quite serendipitious environmental innovations than all the scientist in the world. Otherwise we just end up in the grim deduction of “killing ourselves for saving the planet” as pointed out in the Environment 2.0 talk in when the meaningfulness of artists solving the climate crisis was questioned.

Thanks again for all the sweet fellow hackers and see you in Pixelache09 for continuation!

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