working group for unusual input and output media

Introduction to the contributions of the publication

Dear Anonymous Reader,

Digital technologies are now part of our daily lives. Digital maps, smart appliances, email, digital cars, websites, printers, and other black boxes. For many of us, these technologies have become so mundane that we hardly see them anymore. We just take them for granted. In this way, we simply accept their terms and conditions and ignore the effects and biases they entail. While digital technologies are specifically designed to fade into the background, there is a growing need to examine not only their technical but also for their cultural and social implications. What power structures, cultural circumstances, embodied knowledge, social conditions, colonialial histories, and capitalist logics are built into digital infrastructure?

With the invitation to “re-code everyday technology,” we invited 12 artists and researchers to rethink, redo, reinvent, reshape, respond, and reveal different aspects of the digital technologies that have become so commonplace in our society. Among the different perspectives included in the resulting publication are artistic, design-oriented, and scientific reflections or interventions. Our hope is to make you stop, think and reconsider – it is therefore not our goal to create a unified, seamless experience, but rather to make room for non-functional, bumpy, subversive, and sometimes ambiguous perspectives. What unites all the contributions is the shared understanding that technology, society, politics, and culture exist in complex interrelations and interdependencies

Extending beyond the scope of a classical glossary, this contribution deals with basic concepts in publishing and everyday technologies. It uses the format of the “glossary” as a starting point for the everyday transfer of knowledge.

Most of the technologies we interact with in our everyday lives are “black boxes.” The inability to peer into these technologies and the difficulty of understanding them frequently lead to calls to “open up the black boxes.” In his essay Do not open that trojan horse, Yifeng Wei examines this basic approach and asks whether keeping black boxes closed can be a strategy for marginalized groups.

Anyone who sends an email to will always receive the same reply – that Mario is asleep. At a time when constant availability via email or Zoom is all but expected, when productivity is the new measure of success, when information is available 24/7 – Mario is happy to be asleep. This conceptual work Auto-Sleep by Mario Santamaría is just an email address with an automatic reply.

Navigation apps such as Google Maps promise frictionless navigation. The essay Mischief Managed discusses the underlying complexity, as well as the limitations, glitches, and disruptions that come with mapping technologies. Guilherme Maggessi shows that map apps are more than mere representations of physical space and how they are being used subversively in different communities.

Cars are such a common ordinary technology that they are now an integral part of society. Few technologies have such an impact on us, the city we live in, or our lifestyles. Almost unnoticed, cars have turned into computers. In his project Cars Driving Cars, Diego Trujillo Pisanty documents how the data from his car is collected and repurposed.

Jian Haake challenges designers' tools with a speculative modular synthesizer for generating print files. How do our digital tools operate, and who has the power to decide? In her contribution, she illustrates the potential inherent in playful and self-empowering tools.

Choreographing You is an interactive website that explores online tracking algorithms and their impact on our daily lives. Through a series of choreographed prompts, users are encouraged to reflect on their online behavior, with each click serving as a physical enactment of their digital actions.

How can obsolete technologies be made useful again and what stories are hidden in their pasts? By deconstructing the fax, Lars Hembach and Paul Eßer explore it as a medium and a social phenomenon.

RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips can be found concealed in many devices: bank cards, smartphones, key cards... In his contribution Attaching as active practice, Benno Brucksch explores the relationship between digital information and physical objects. The essay highlights the power to shape human behavior and relationships with such technologies. A call to playfully explore technology and unlock its possibilities and implications.

With autobiographical playing cards Hearbreak cards, Naoto Hieda juxtaposes the fast world of social-media overload with a slow, personal response. An experimental website shows how the cards can be made and changed again and again.

HTML and CSS are among some of the basics when it comes to designing web pages. Nami Kim asks important questions about teaching students these basics. In a series of interviews with students, which appear as radically handmade websites, she asks questions about power relationships and self-empowerment in digital media.

Cutting the Cloud is an artistic research and hacking project that uses low-cost, battery-powered temperature sensors to explore the various social and societal implications of smart-home technology. A website designed as a diary documents the process of opening the devices, thereby disclosing the circumstances of their production.

This publication is an ongoing research project of the working group for unusual input and output media at the University of Applied Sciences Mainz and the NODE Forum for Digital Arts. In that spirit, we want you to see this publication as an invitation to respond to: