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Salon of Open Secrets

Project leader:
Stefanie Wuschitz (IKL)

Project team:
Patrícia Reis

Funded by:
FWF – Austrian Science Fund | Top Citizen Science (TCS133)


FWF I Top Citizen Science
led by Stefanie Wuschitz, Institute for Education in the Arts
Duration: 1.11.2022 – 31.10.2023

It is an open secret that hardware operating on our smart devices contains not only plastic, but also conflict materials such as tungsten, tin, tantulum and gold. Technology is therefore not neutral. These resources are mined in conflict regions, assembled to electric circuits under harmful labour conditions and mostly ending up in contaminating landfills. This pollution is best understood as an enactment of ongoing colonial relations to land.

Arts-based research methods seize artistic practice to unpack complexity. Through opening up our artistic research project to citizens we want to make this phenomenon tangible. Intersecting Art and Science needs to be an experience of empowerment, of encouragement to find new ways.

This Citizen Science project tackles sensitive issues through a colourful 2D game that introduces the player to alternative technologies. Visitors of the Technisches Museum Wien (TMW) can become players and navigate through different scenes to meet specific characters as avatars. These avatars represent people from around the world, collaborators in our main research project. Through this form of interactive storytelling young people are invited to become inventors of green and fair hardware themselves, to network among each other and transform their ideas into actual prototypes in the next phase of the project.

Through the term Ethical Hardware we want to describe technology that does not harm the environment, but embraces restorative practices for the benefit of nature and inhabitants alike.

There are strong social movements among teenage, female* and non-binary creatives who share similar values (Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For Future). Our Citizen Science project addresses the lack of communication between academia and the youth movement. We would like to explore the creativity and transformative work performed by young citizens, specifically from minorities, by offering a playful entry point to our research. We hope that the visions contributed by CSs will transform our theoretical definition of what imagining future technologies entails, and vice versa give participants the chance to discover alternative futures. This way together we hope to gain the necessary strengths to face this crisis.

Our research team composed by artists researchers Stefanie Wuschitz and Patrícia J. Reis at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna will interact with participants at Technisches Museum Wien (TMW), our national research partner and make the research results operative for use in classrooms and after school programs.