Evil media distribution centre

I contributed to, and assisted YoHa in the production of the Evil Media Distribution Centre, which was displayed at the 2013 Transmediale festival in Berlin. The installation is an artistic response to the recently published book Evil Media (2012) by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey, which focusses on the pervasive presence of so-called “gray media” - an expanded notion of media or forms of mediation that provides a deeper, more complex understanding of their effects on how we act, perceive and think in our daily lives.

Sixty six contributors were invited to choose and write a short text about a gray media object (ranging from tampons to software compilers), and these texts and objects were then presented in the setting of a curiosity cabinet designed as a distribution center. Members of the Open Systems Association (of which I am a part) contributed several of the texts. My two contributions “Roomba” and “Shift Register - 7400 Series” can be seen below, along with a list of all contributors.


Author: Tom Keene
Date of origin: Introduced in 2002.

Manufacturer: iRobot

A 13” diameter, 3.5" high, autonomous vacuum cleaner equipped with sensors that detect obstacles, dirt, recharging points, airflow, malfunction and impassable staircases. A central processing unit controls power to fans, brushes, an audio speaker, motors, and wheels. It employs an algorithmic cleaning pattern that spirals, follows walls and randomly selects direction. If a Roomba gets stuck, humans are instructed to “Lift and move Roomba to a new location” by a firm yet comforting female robot voice. Designed to fight dirt and grime, they are built by iRobot, one of the largest manufacturers of military robotics in the US.

Shift Register - 7400 Series

Author: Tom Keene
Date of origin: 1940s
Manufacturer: Texas Instruments
The Shift register is an early form of computer memory that dates back to the Colossus computer of the 1940s. In the 1960s they were popularized by the Texas Instruments 7400 series of logic chips which introduced the familiar ‘black box’ Integrated Circuit to the electronics industry. Set by a timed sequence of electrical pulse, Shift Registers are simultaneously a mathematical concept, algorithm and hardware chip entangled within computational systems. A core component of digital logic, they control arrays of actuators, encode and decode signals, act as glue between parallel and serial transmissions, multiplex and delay output, reduce wire count in circuits, and store and distribute data to peripheral devices or individual sections of a Central Processing Unit.

Other contributers & objects

Ansell HYFLEX Work Glove: Renee Carmichael
ASCII Character Set: Shih-Chieh Ilya Li
Automata Natalie: Jeremijenko
Bernays, Propaganda (book): HeHe
Bimetallic Strip: Thomas Aston
Birth Record: Graham Harwood
Black Box: Hu Jie Ming Jieminghu
Clipboard: Matsuko Yokokoji
Compiler, Interpreter : Gareth Foote
Copper Wire: Graham Harwood
Death Certificate: Val Upton
Diagram of State Machines: Andy Goffey
Dictionary of Typewriting: Emilie Giles
Dolland Telescope: Graham Harwood
Electricity Substation: Anila Ladwa
Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity: Andy Goffey
Etienne-Jules Marey Sphygmograph: Jennifer Gabrys
Excel : Shih-Chieh Ilya Li
Finger Print: Raqs Media Collective
Form Fields: Walter Langelaar
Form Validation Rules: Felix Drăgan
Genomic Binary Assignment Map: Sam Hart
Gurley Flynn, Sabotage: Matthew Fuller
Gutta Percha: Joon Ian Wong
Hardware Dongle: Shih-Chieh Ilya Li
Hilbert’s Space Filling Curves: M. beatrice Fazi
Hollerith US census: Anna Blumenkranz
Hooke’s Telegraph Machine: Clifford Hammett
ISO Shipping Container Corner: Matthew fuller
Koseki - Japanese Registration System : Yoshitaka Mouri
Leo Algorithms : Alexandra Sofie Joensson
Lions’ Unix Kernel : Manual Derek Shaw (SoSlug)
Logical Framework : Jean Demars
Matrix Manipulation : Dan Mcquillan
Microwave : Jonathan Kemp
Modafinil: Tony David Sampson
Network Diagram: CAMP
Oracle Database: Adrian Mackenzie
Organisation Chart: Olga Goriunova
Palletts: Matthew Fuller
Paper Shredder: Noortje Mares
Pedestrian Barrier: Simon Pope
Photocopier: Jacob Lillemose
Pin Number: Matthew Fuller
Post Codes: Jean Demars
Post -It Notes: CAE (Critical Art Ensemble)
Project Mac: Graham Harwood
Project Management / Workflow: Heather Corcoran
Prozac: CAE (Critical Art Ensemble)
Ptrace: Martin Howse
Radio Wave: Armin Medosch
Random Numbers: Luciana Parisi
Regular Expressions: Stephen Fortune
Resonant Circuit: Olga Panandes
Roomba: Tom Keene
Shift Register: - 7400 Series Tom Keene
Significance Tests: Martin Feuz
Social Media Analytics Tools: Lisa Baldini
Stanley Milgram, Postal Experiments: Yuk Hui
Strowger Automatic Telephone Switch: Graham Harwood
Tampon: Alexandra Sofie Joensson & Miriam Wistreich
Virus: !Mediengruppe Bitnik
White Shadow: Eyal Weizman
X-Ray: Susan Schuppli
Zero Hour Contract: Lawrence Liang