Created by Luiz Zanotello, Habitat of Recognition explores the material dimensions of digital technologies by examining the intra-active tensions between the distinction and convergence of matter. On one hand, it enacts an infrastructure of mineral processing that happens at outsourced mining sites that support contemporary technology and on the other it re-imagines such infrastructures as habitats of reading and writing Earth and its landscapes as digital ores of residue and value.
An ore of granule particles (silica and iron) is written and read as a granular record. The imaginary consists of a coupled machine that reads the ore by performing its erosion and magnetic sorting layer by layer, while simultaneously writing the ore by depositing its residue sediments linearly according to the measured values. The infrastructure depends upon the manual labor of exchanging what was read as an ore with what is written as one, and what was written as an ore with what is read as one in order for the process to continue. The recognition of the ore as a record paradoxically requires its dismantling, and its new writing is prone to the resilience of its residues, entangled labor, and discrete measured values. The ore and the record alter iteratively upon each cycle, thus exhibiting the agencies of matter itself and how it entangles with information.
The reading of the ore and writing of the record is performed by extracting from the ore layer by layer abstract discrete values according on weight. It incorporates a mechanism for filtering matter into binaries by separating granules magnetically. An ore is manually put on top of the machine, and opened. The machine then pushes it by one side via a linear motion system, causing the mixed particles to fall slowly to the other. As soon as the particles fall, a sorting plate and a magnet interface begins its sorting. On the one side, predominantly non-magnetic particles (white granules) fall; on the other, mainly magnetic particles (grey granules) remains and eventually is sedimented on another residue composite. Bellow the residue composites, two scales measure the changes in weight thus creating its digital record which is sent to the Writing mechanism.
↑ Thesis document for Habitat of Recognition
The writing of the ore is achieved by the reading of the record and the sedimenting of its residues. An empty ore is manually assembled on the machine’s center, as well as past residue composites are put on its top. The two types of particle are slowly dropped within it according to the simultaneous reading of the scales at the Reading mechanism. Both mechanisms work simultaneously, and finish at the same time. When the processes are complete, the machines require the manual exchange of the empty/filled ores and empty/filled residue plates.
Software is written within the Arduino framework (C++) and the installation consists of 2x Custom made PCBs with Teensy 3.2 micro-controllers, 5x NEMA 17 stepper motors with DRV8825 stepper motor drivers for the linear motion systems, 2x Tiny servo motors for controlling the flow of particles on the Reading Mechanism, 2x “Hacked scales” for sensing weight, 5x Rare earth magnets, white silica sand and dark-grey iron powder, painted wooden parts, custom PLA 3d printed parts, acrylic laser-cut parts, plastic tubes and steel frames, steel tubes and threaded rods.
The project was conceived as part of a master thesis submitted at the University of the Arts Bremen in 2017, and supervised by Prof. Dr. Andrea Sick, Prof. Dennis P. Paul and Prof. Ralf Baecker.