Coal Fired Computers: Contraption
We wanted somewhere where we could talk about the assemblage of machines in the project, Lungs, Code, Air Compressors, Steam Engines, Data Records. We have been using a term Contraption to describe the kind of machines we make - the following extract is from the interview with Matt - Pits & Bits.
In French, Jean Demars says, contraption is pronounced "Machin, truc, bidule": something that one cannot or refuses to name. Its quality as “passe-partout” is to be unqualified, thus connecting elements and revealing sets of relations that are not evident or sometimes hidden. Its in-between states allows for a practical exploration and/or understanding of power and media ecologies that surround it.
A contraption in English is were the domain of the technical overlaps the imaginary, an experiment with nothing to prove. Usually strange, unnecessarily intricate, unfinished, inherently unstable, improvised machine.
'Strangeness' enables it to become a place of experimentation and fun. 'Inherently unstable' refuses easy utility, normalisation and emphasis the forces at play in the machine that break it. 'Unfinished' is about provoking thought, emotion rather than wanting to show it how it is/should be. 'Improvised machine' implies a playful assemblage of pre-exiting parts. 'Unnecessarily intricate' allows for a geeky self-expression or the elegance, aesthetics we find in complex code.
I suppose what I'm hinting at is the unstable state of invention before the 'machin' becomes normalised.