Media archeology | For Recyclism, corrupting software was soon followed by corrupting hardware to explore the materiality of the digital world in the same spirit of hacking, remixing and bending but applied to chips, transistors, screens, modulators, condensers, microphones…It is empowerment through play and creation, there is no longer a mysterious and sealed blackbox....
Media archeology applies a historical approach to digital culture in order to cast a critical eye on the present and the future of the field. As the name, Recyclism may suggest, Benjamin Gaulon is interested in playing with planned obsolescence, recycling, and critical making. Subverting common appliances is particularly interesting because people tend not to question the purpose that is assigned to them, suddenly circuit bending, hardware hacking, and uncanny pairing offer them a whole set of possibilities. They are broken, but they are functioning. They are impaired, but they are useful.
Altering devices that are iconic to the digital and media cultures such as the NES, the Minitel, or CRT television, allows tapping into the nostalgia we have for devices that have been our companions earlier in life. Hijacking nostalgia reveals the emotional link people have with these devices, it is also a mischievous way to stimulate their curiosity toward the unknown possibilities they hide. It is a demonstration of the reversibility of those objects, which were assigned a specific role in our mind. It interrogates why we do not look past the role that was assigned to them by their creator. It also renews the relationship we entertain with these pieces of nostalgia.
Pairing appliances that weren’t meant to be paired in a singular piece creates a whole new digital ecology with symbiotic relationships such as mutualism, parasitism, and commensalism. Created from discarded appliances, Refunct Media is a piece of art assembled by multiple participants. It demonstrates, in a way, that an irreducible compatibility allows the different devices to work together engendering something that is whole. As if electronics was a common material language. When you look at Refunct Media, each piece is like a collective narrative woven from gutted appliances.
At some point the only thing that is left from hardware can be its brutal materiality. Projects developed from the idea of tech mining allow to transform devices into inert matter by shredding them. The resource takes the front stage, the design is abolished. Still an object is present.