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Artificial Afterlife – Mystifying technology by connecting to the dead

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Created by Amy Whittle, Artificial Afterlife is a personal interpretation of technology through spiritual phenomena. It focusses on mystifying technology, using exposed wires, apparatus and sockets physically connected with the dead.

“As a non believer I too desire a form of afterlife, as an interaction designer I believe these notions can be realised with the help of technology.” – Amy Whittle

Inspired by galvanism and the famous novel Frankenstein, an analogue electronic circuit was created using deceased animals as an energy source. The deceased animal (donated by a local animal rescue center) is the circuit’s key, generating red and blue visuals on a monitor screen. Without this source, the monitor will not be powered nor will it produce any visuals. With this set-up Amy is trying to introduce a combination of opposite theories: technology and spirituality.

To create the ‘machine’, Amy tried to think of a simple circuit that could visualize the decomposition of the duck. Inspired by the Albert Einstein ideas about how “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change from one form to another”, Amy created a circuit which is mostly “analogue”; consisting of: relay -> power supply -> oscillator -> VGA cable -> monitor screen and visualises the energy of the deceased animal.

“What I find interesting though is that the set up of the installation shows confusion, perhaps complexity and somewhat spiritual. I have been brought up with the idea that science, technology etc are based on facts whereas religion, spirituality are not: a combination of the two would be contradicting, false or just simply wrong. Soon my goal was to mystify (in a spiritual fashion) technology” – Amy Whittle

Fluids contained in the duck specimen generates a certain low voltage when the relay opens, enabling the machines such as the oscillator to generate a signal which then goes into the monitor’s colour canals. Hence the red and blue diagonal stripes. Since the relay is mostly a black box to Amy (simply turns either on or off in this case letting 9V through, or not), during her experiments she found out that, depending on what she attaches to the circuit (A big duck or for example a small sparrow), it changes the visuals: the canals are wider, smaller, brighter, or changes direction or goes slower (in motion), all driven by the decaying animal.

Artificial Afterlife is Amy’s thesis project at the ArtEZ, Interaction Design, class of 2016.

Project Page | Amy Whittle

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