Sound Interventions

Andrew Todd Marcus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture
Richard Streitmatter-Tran of the Massachusetts College of Art, Studio for Interrelated Media.

Both Andrew and I were enrolled in the class, Interrogative Design Workshop at MIT shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. We were tasked to come up with a device that would respond to the unreliable information in the media. We designed a device that would hack the ubiquitous newspaper vending machine found throughout the city. When the door was opened, it would break a magnetic switch that would a) broadcast a message that would contest/question that day's front page news with a message that we pre-recorded or b) through a built-in audio recording device, would allow the last user to record up to 30 seconds of their own message that would in turn be broadcast to the next customer. Normally, this would have been a straightforward exercise, but given the climate following the attacks, hacking public machines was extremely dangerous, particularly with homemade wired electronic devices installed that might resemble bombs. We were very careful to monitor the hacked newspaper vending machine at all times and prepared to intervene and explain our experiment should there be any misunderstanding of what the device actually was to authorities.

The work was co-conceived, developed, prototyped and refined by Marcus and Streitmatter-Tran over the course of the semester as a demonstration for the potential of tactical art interventions.



Sound Interventions (2001)
Interrogative Design Workshop (IDW)
Massachusetts Institute Technology
Cambridge, MA
Multimedia Installation. Newspaper box, sensors, recording and sound devices.

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