Art based research for Citizen Science


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    It is an open secret that the hardware in our smart devices contains not only plastics but also conflict minerals such as tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold. Hence, technology is not neutral. All these raw materials are mined in conflict regions, then assembled into electrical circuits under harmful working conditions and ultimately disposed of at contaminated landfill sites and even into the ocean, usually after a short period of use. This contamination is an expression of the still existing colonial relationships.

Art-based research methods draw on artistic practices to approach complex issues. The researchers want to make this phenomenon tangible by opening their artistic research project to young citizens. The intersection of art and science can help find new ways to think future technologies.
The citizen science project addresses delicate topics using interactive storytelling to allow players to discover alternative technologies. Citizen Scientists aged 13-14 navigate virtual landscapes where they meet certain experts in the form of cartoon characters. These avatars represent activists, artists and researchers from all over the world who work on strategies to prevent e-waste. This interactive form of storytelling invites young people to become inventors of green and fair hardware themselves, connect with each other online and turn their ideas into real world prototypes in the next phase of the project.

The researchers use the term Feminist Hardware to describe technologies that do not pose a threat to the environment, but apply renewable practices for the benefit of both nature and humans. There are strong social movements among young people, female* and non-binary creative minds who share similar values (Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For Future). The project also takes a critical look at the lack of communication between science and youth movements and tries to bridge the gap through co-design workshops in schools, museums and maker fairs.

Research Team: Mag. Dr. Stefanie Wuschitz MPS and Mag. Dr. Patricia J. Reis

Research Partner: TMW Vienna


Apr 28, 2023


Stefanie  Wuschitz