cultural expression and internet art in the connected home

The Internet of Useless Things

To better explain why I want to make an Internet of Useless Things, I borrowed some words from a recent talk by Bruce Sterling.

Sterling was discussing his work with Arduino, an open-source connected home called Casa Jasmina. The full 17 min talk can be viewed at the bottom of this post.

What follows is in no way a direct transcript of that video. Instead, it is a cut down, re-ordered, and re-written version of my favorite parts. The edits were made to better align with and summarize my own thoughts.

Also, check out my ITP master’s thesis presentation, How to Make the Interent of Useless Things.

I want domestic internet art, designed for the home. I want internet of things art. I’d rather prefer it to be open-sourced art too. Luxurious, open-sourced, internet of things, cultural expression for the home.

The trans-medial issue is, how to do it?

Few connected things have been made to live in a domestic context. They have been in the home office, on the desktop, on the laptop, or even in the mobile handheld, but rarely ever in the home, per se. So what does that look like? More to the point, how should that look? And how should that be made to work, from the artist’s perspective?

Will an internet of things home designed by corporations have any internet art in it?

Obviously they’ll be very eager to retail digital rights management, movies and pop music. You can see them already drooling at the idea of doing that and meticulously tracking your purchases and your tastes. They’re also keen to slam the door on any intrusions on their vertically integrated stack data-streams.

But what about the exploratory, inventive, and critical artwork that people actually find interesting? That needs a home, and I want to help make the home in which it properly belongs.

I want living proof of what it’s like to actually live with these technologies, on my own terms.

My home is not a business, not an office, and I am not a set of metrics. I’m not in any hurry. It’s my home. The things in it are not controlled by Facebook. They’re not optimized. They don’t have any particular purpose. You can’t rush me by pushing data at me. No, I will not archive any data. I do not data mine. I will not trace it back to anyone. Once data is expressed, enjoyed or experienced within the walls of my home, its gone forever.

I have been thinking about art and musical instruments in the Internet of Things for a while now, and it exciting to finally hear rhetoric like this. While Sterling nor I know what will emerge out of pursuing these ideals, we certainly know what we do not want to make, and that’s important.

If you haven’t read Bruce Sterling’s essay The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things, I highly suggest you read it.

bruce sterling arduino useless things open-source