Slow Internet Café wins the call Next Things 2014

Sam Kronick, director of The Consortium for Slower Internet, proposes to artistically alter the data flowing through wireless routers

Published: Mar 05, 2014
Slow Internet Café wins the call Next Things 2014

One of the routers redesigned following the proposal of The Consortium for Slower Internet. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Slow Internet Café, a proposal by the American artist, designer and technologist Sam Kronic, director of The Consortium for Slower Internet, has been selected as winner project of Next Things 2014 – Personal, el Tercer Desafío Global de Arte y Tecnología, a joint call by Telefónica I+D, an R&D enterprise of Grupo Telefónica, and LABoral. This call aims to bring together art and technology and unleash the enormous potential resulting from the combination of creativity and the artists’ vision with the powerful open hardware technologies.

Kronic proposes, through the organisation he founded in 2013, The Consortium for Slower Internet, to develop a set of wireless routers which run on a firmware that intercepts and alters in a creative way the data flowing through them. This type of intervention is not possible using off-the-shelf hardware. In addition to modifying the software running on each router, the Consortium proposes to redesign the housing of each device using materials and shapes which show them as appealing objects to furnish our house. The Slow Internet Café will be opened to showcase the resulting objects. It will be a venue where visitors will be able to connect to many wireless networks, each presenting an extended version of the web.

According to Kronic, only those who control infrastructure control the flow of data. This way, “if we redesign and manipulate the infrastructure components in our homes, such as routers, handling the substrate that supports the network as a malleable substance, then we may consider that our data are actually our own.

Sam Kronic will develop this project during a 6-months art production residency, distributed into four months at Telefónica I+D centre in Barcelona, and at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, in Gijón, during two months. Telefónica I+D will provide a work space at its facilities, as well as equipment and access to technological knowledge, to the platform and to other technological resources of Telefónica. On the other hand, LABoral will provide lab space, equipment and technical support, as well as access and exchange actions with other artists and creators at the centre and accommodation in Gijón.

Sam Kronick is an artist, designer, and technologist who currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He studied art and architecture within an engineering culture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and this eclectic set of influences continues to guide his work today. He is interested in using art and design to better understand the cultural and spatial role of everyday technologies. Kronick recently completed an MFA in visual arts from UC San Diego. Recent works incorporate video, sculpture, software, and writing to create installations, products, and media experiences for a variety of audiences from the gallery to public spaces.

Most of Kronick’s work is self-produced and he has a wide range of fabrication skills working with wood, metals, and plastic in addition to electronic hardware and software development. In addition to producing his own art, Kronick runs the Consortium for Slower Internet’s research lab, creating prototypes for clients on a contract

basis.

Next Things 2014– Personal has focused on the personal sphere, going beyond the implications of Personal Data taken exclusively as data and software. It was aimed at exploring the scope and the existance, compilation, use and distribution of personal data, also from the point of view of physical devices –Internet of things and M2M.

The Slow Internet Café has been selected among 31 proposals by a Jury integrated by Pablo Rodríguez (Telefónica I+D), Pere Obrador (Telefónica I+D), Ramón Sangüesa (Co-creating Cultures / UPC), Pau Alsina (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), Mónica Bello (Fundación Telefónica), Laura Fernández (Medialab-Prado Madrid), Lucía García (LABoral Centro de Arte), Chus García (Fundación CTIC), David Morán (LABoral) and David Pello (LABoral).

Telefónica is one of the world’s largest telecommunications groups both by number of customers and by stock market capitalisation. With a consolidated position in this industry, and relying on fixed and mobile broadband as the key supports for its growth, the company’s strategy is to secure its leading position in the digital world.

It operates in 24 countries and has over 320 million accesses. Telefónica has a strong presence in Europe and Latin America, important industrial partnerships and an outstanding global scale that fosters the company’s growth.

Telefónica I+D Telefónica I+D, the research and development company of the Telefónica Group, was founded in 1988 and its mission is to contribute to the Group's competitiveness and modernity through technological innovation. With this aim, the company applies new ideas, concepts and practices in addition to developing products and advanced services.

Telefónica I+D is one of the first private R&D centres in Spain as regards activity and resources, and is the first company on the continent by number of European research projects in which it participates. The main asset of Telefónica I+D is its staff, which is 97% composed of university graduates from 18 nationalities.

LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial is an open platform for researching, producing, disseminating and interpreting cultural forms that emerge from the creative use of new technologies. Opened on March 30, 2007, the Centre is located in Gijón (Principality of Asturias), within the facilities of the former Universidad Laboral, currently Ciudad de la Cultura.

With Plataforma 0. Centro de Producción, LABoral provides the cultural sector with advise and tools for producing projects in the intersection between art, science and new technologies, in order to foster the execution of art proposals and their introduction in professional international circuits.

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