Critical Objects - Final Project Proposal


The process of deciding on my final project concept has meandered through a series of concepts and self limitations before I settled on this final idea. Firstly, the topic I have ultimately decided to focus on is the environmental impact of internet usage, in particular the large amount of electricity used to maintain servers which is largely invisible to consumers. This topic is essentially a combination of two different topics I have focused on in prior classes this semester, the largely unseen costs of internet browsing and the continued issue, particularly in this country, with human behavior directly influencing climate change. This connection to prior classes also fulfills one of my self-imposed restrictions, to focus on a topic (or in this case topics) that I also addressed earlier in the semester, thus hopefully allowing me to examine them in an even deeper and more meaningful way. And following an in-class discussion about uncomfortable design I decided that my second constraint would be to create a critical object that would generate a visceral, emotional reaction in users, rather than simply a contemplative one.

The outcome of this setup is my concept tentatively called “The Growth of the Internet”. In short the idea is this: connected via USB to a user’s computer will be a small, desktop terrarium, inside of which is a single, humble plant. The terrarium will look like a hacked together sci-fi experimentation chamber, in the style of inspiration images above. Besides the plant itself, which will largely be overshadowed by the presence of technology around it, the main features will be a small LCD screen and a large heat lamp. The interaction of the user will be simple - as they browse the internet (or perform any sort of activity that uses bandwidth) the heat lamp will turn on in intensity and duration in correlation to the amount of bandwidth used. In this way, the user will be forced to acknowledge the constant cost of their internet behavior and calculate every time they turn on the computer whether that cost is worth it.