eCO2system (2019 – 2020). Interactive data-driven installation (custom electronics, custom software, microprocessor, peristaltic pump, LCD screen, aquarium, water, fish, data from twitter)
eCO2system is the third project of the Social Things series. Social Things are augmented common objects that dynamically change parameters of their functionality and appearance according to data retrieved from social media activity. They reflect on behaviors that appear on social networks such as the divergence between digital & physical identities, dataveillance by authorities, and internet materiality. The Social Things series consists of three projects: inflated_ego, #freeprometheus and eCO2system
The operation of internet presupposes a material infrastructure which consumes natural resources. Daily online activity harms the environment, despite the ecological awareness users may promote on social networks. Especially, social media platforms are among the most visited sites worldwide, contributing significantly to the increase of CO2 emissions.
The eCO2system installation draws attention on internet materiality and reflects on the divergence between digital actions and physical consequences.
It consists of an aquarium containing a micro-scale ecosystem of fish. The parameters of the ecosystem are affected by social media activity on twitter related to climate change and global warming. The activity that promotes climate change awareness deteriorates the conditions of the ecosystem, thus revealing the contradiction between our digital activity and its material impact on the physical world. Daily online activity has a negative effect on the environment despite the ecological awareness we may promote on social networks.
The aquarium is augmented by an opensource software and harware. A custom algorithm detects tweets tagged with hashtags such as #StopClimateChange. The algorithm drives the electronic circuit of a peristaltic liquid pump. Thus whenever a user uses these hashtags, the amount of water in the aquarium decreases: the peristaltic pump is triggered and it transfers water from the aquarium to another vessel. This activity can potentially deprive the fish of water (however this will never happen as the installation ensures that the level of water in the aquarium cannot fall under a given level that would put the ecosystem in danger). An LCD displays data related to the detected hashtags and the users that posted the most recent tweets.
The proposal of the project has been shortlisted for the EMARE 2019 award by the European Media Art Platform.
Related Talk: “Augmented objects interacting with social media activity” @ Ionian Academy, Corfu, May 2019
An online interactive graphical simulation of the installation has been created using node.js and p5.js