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Saturday, May 20 • 11:00am - 12:00pm
Talk: Our strange attempt to put tiny, living creatures in your cell phone

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We worked on a module for the Google Ara phone as a provocation that asked users to bring a mindfulness to their cyborg connection with their technology. We invented a microscopy technique that allowed for users to view and interact with microscopic creatures that lived inside a cell phone. We explored bioengineered species that would survive the harsh conditions inside an electronics device. By highlighting an anthropomorphized creature, the tardigrade, a user shifts from the role of owner to caretake and is forced to confront questions about sustainability, addiction / reliance, and authentic emotional communion.

Human beings have a cyborganic relationship with their mobile devices. We carry them around with us every hour of the day, they lay next to us in bed, and they are the first thing we caress when we awake. When a phone is misplaced or its screen is injured, we feel a genuine emotional loss, as if it was a living entity. Indeed, the surface of phones teem with a layer of microscopic life; a vibrant ecosystem of flora and fauna that thrive in our pockets. In this way, the device is truly biological.

We depend on our phones to satisfy functional and emotional needs. In return, the phone only derives its meaning through actions of the human; we feed it photos, shape its personality through customization, and foster its bacterial layer with our touch and breath.
The relationship is symbiotic.

In this talk, we will discuss behind-the-scenes philosophy, technology, and art that drove this ambitious project.

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Midnight Commercial

Managing Partner, Midnight Commercial
Founded by MIT Media Lab alumni, Midnight Commercial is a collective of designers, engineers, and thought-leaders continuing their tradition of curiosity and invention into industry practices. We use technology as a material to mend our fractured digital and physical experiences... Read More →



Saturday May 20, 2017 11:00am - 12:00pm
CTW Conference Hub at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway 1871 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Attendees (2)