Scale

by Taezoo Park, Leo(Laewoo) Kang and Steven Jackson

Official website: http://cornellhci.org/scale/

Scale is an interactive art project created from the detritus of broken and discarded technologies. These things live all around us - the toaster that toasts on one side, lost media devices with no known source of content, the objects left over as we leap from world to world to world. Sidelined by age, wear, and context, these objects speak to the secret history of our love affair with machines, and the quiet relations of maintenance and fixing, care and loss that may persist after the passion subsides. Infrastructure without content, content without infrastructure: by weight, by volume, by history, we live in a broken world.

Our work gathers and explores these objects, seeking new sites of imagination, hope and empathy. As participants enter the site, they find strange and messy piles of broken, dark and silent objects, fronted by an old digital scale under a single spotlight. When the audience steps on the scale, the scene comes to life: digital clocks race through an accelerating series of times, old radios pick up random signals in their environment, electric calculators compute random numbers, and variably cracked and restored screens display text drawn and distorted from web-based environments. Step off the scale, and the scene returns to silence.

But in this moment, we are reminded: our objects remain alive, filled with mysteries and secret languages, neglected talents and strange beauties. How can we relate to this secret society of things? What values and qualities can we find in them (and in ourselves)? And what might they teach us about fear and wonder, imagination and care, love and belonging in the mixed world of humans and objects?

Awards
- 4 blue-ribbon awards at Maker Faire 2013
- Related academic paper, 'Breakdown, Obsolescence and Reuse: HCI and The Art of Repair' that Steven Jackson and Leo Kang wrote, has been selected to receive a SIGCHI Best of CHI Honorable Mention Award.

Exhibitions
- Maker Faire Sep 2013, World Maker Faire 2013, NY, New York Hall of Science
- Tjaden Gallery, Jan 2014, Ithaca, NY
- CHI 2014, May 2014, Toronto Metro Convention Center, Canada

Media
- BBC - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24272445
- The Verge - http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/23/4760212/maker-faire-new-york-diy-movement-pushes-into-the-mainstream