For nine months I’ve been trying to make an electric toaster, myself, starting from scratch. Travelling to disused mines around Britain, digging up raw materials, processing and forming them into a hand crafted pastiche of a product sold in Argos for the throwaway price of £3.94.
My quest is perhaps absurd, but the contrast in scale between the products we use and the industry that produces them also seems absurd. Massive industrial activity in the pursuit of additional modicums of comfort at lower prices – small trifles, like an evenly crispy piece of toast, that we quickly become accustomed too. However, I like toast, as well as many of the other trappings of 21st Century life. The laboriousness of producing even the most basic material from the ground up exposes the fallacy in a return to some romantic ideal of a pre-industrialised time. But at a moment in time when the effects of industry are no longer trivial in relation to the wider environment, the throwaway toasters of today seem unreasonable. The provenance and the fate of the things we buy is too important to ignore.
The Compass Phone does not support any verbal communication side, but has only a GPS function. It measures the distance between two people in real-time and then converts it to the time it takes for them to meet each other by either transport or time unit. A compass is hidden under the digit display. The centre of the compass always indicates the user’s position and its needle indicates the other person’s direction.
CoinFlipper is a decision making tool. CoinFlipper is 99.99% controllable, yet deliberately random.
After the long calibrating procedure, the users can predict the result of coin flipping by adjusting the angle and power of CoinFlipper. Decision-making is no longer in the hands of fate or randomness, but in the true intentions of the users.
How do we decide which worlds come true and which worlds are discarded? While we are typically thinking in terms of novel possibilities or scenarios set in different futures, it is rare to attempt an imagined past that might have led to a different present. Positioned at the right spot in the past, such counterfactual histories might offer an understanding of the forces at work as well as a fresh perspective on our present challenges.
The Golden Institute for Energy in Colorado was the premier research and development facility for energy technologies in an alternate reality where Jimmy Carter had defeated Ronald Reagan in the US election of 1981. Equipped with virtually unlimited funding to make the United States the most energy-rich nation on the planet, its scientific and technical advancements were rapid and often groundbreaking.
Its scope ranged from planetary engineering to the enabling of individual participation and profit from the creation of electricity. Notable projects include the development of the state of Nevada into a weather experimentation zone and the new gold rush in the form of lightning-harvesters that followed, or major modifications made to the national infrastructure in an attempt to use freeways as a power plants. The institute’s vision continues to inform the American consciousness to this day. In relation to energy preservation and harnessing, but also in terms of man’s relationship to the forces of nature.