New Ecology of Things, 2011

In collaboration with Asian Power Chiao Ho

The Future Particle Lab started in 2011. Currently, a team of 5 scientific researchers is working on research projects. Our main goal is to connect nano technology to our everyday life in a more meaningful way by creating plausible and everyday situations so that we can debate the social, cultural and ethical consequences of it.

In 2011, our research group discovered a new particle. At first, the particle seemed to have a life of its own and as we further investigated, it became obvious that it had distinctive characteristics that could be potentially used for different fields.

1. It dislikes hot water.
The unique property of the particle is that it reacts to hot water and quite peculiarly fears the same.

2. It interacts with other objects and people.
In presence of a camera and a person, this particle became expressive. In observation of this characteristic, our group is developing a new cosmetic line made with particles of vivacity. This product will enhance the natural glow of the consumers who apply make-up.

3. During the inquiry, we found out that its favorite snack is M&M. We are re-appropriating the reward and punishment theory by using 'hot water and M&M method' to tame the particle to behave in a way that is beneficial to its products and users.

4. Our current aim is to teach the particle to care towards the health of people. By collaborating with nutritional scientists and chemists, we are close to creating a new condiment that constantly checks on the health situation of the eater, and controls the amount of seasoning when spread on food.

5. Through 'hot water and M&M method', we also train the particle to provide useful information such as showing the time to the people.

Within this project, we explored characteristics of animism within the realm of interaction design. During this process we realized that there are many ways to give life to lifeless objects by adding humanlike behavior, consciousness, intentions or motivations. While experimenting with different sensors and materials, we came across a combination of iron filing and magnet. We were particularly interested in the materiality of iron filling and its unique movement accompanied with magnet. The design and the narrative of this project evolved as we experimented with different materials and learned more about the materiality.

By attaching the magnet to the servos, we discovered different patterns and these irregular patterns resembled social and group actions of organic creatures. Chiao and I started to view iron filings as a new form of particle capable of interacting and communicating with people. To contextualize our experiments, we set up a fictional lab called 'Future Particle Lab' that has a research focus on nano technology and the training of this new particle. Through experiments, our intention is to show how gradually this particle acquired behaviors-from a simple reaction to a more complicated decision making ability.

Make Controller, Adobe Flash, light sensor, servo and NET Lab Toolkit were used to create this project.