Low-Tech Chronicles



Computers are getting smaller, faster and quieter. Despite surrounding us in large numbers, their presence often goes unnoticed. Even though our computing devices are more and more able to continuously perform highly complex tasks, the traces of their activity is ingeniously hidden. The inner workings of our computing devices are increasingly concealed as a result of rapid technological developments over time. Contrary to the previous generation of 'personal machines', today's 'general-purpose computers' fit in our pockets. Crammed into seemingly complex "blackboxes", their mechanisms are skilfully hidden in shiny cases that are designed not to be opened up. Their software is programmed to be 'convenient' and not to bother the 'user' with the complexity of its tasks.

This obfuscates the basic principles and true nature of these technologies. Its inherent operations therefore can become highly mysterious to its user. When a device is not working as promised, it can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Connecting us to the material properties of (computing and digital networking) the inner workings and processes can restore this relationship in order to regain a sense of control over the technologies we became so dependent on.

Low-tech solutions for high-tech problems

Digital technologies and methods quickly developed over time. Devices, systems and techniques often had a short lifespan and were discarded before their full potential could be explored. However, the methods and standards we use today are based on their 'low-tech predecessors'. Basic principles of computational processes such as programming, networking, and processing of text, images and sound, etc. often revealed the material nature origins of its functions. This aforementioned magic can easily be crumbled down.

By looking at how it was used and misused in the past, a method arises so to reveal the inner workings of a modern technology. Here, actively engaging with 'low-tech' is proposed as a method to open up the metaphorical "blackbox". It is two-fold:

    1.) Utilising obsolete methods can provide an insight into the technologies we take for granted. Actively engaging, understanding by using and mis-using can evoke a sense of empowerment and lead to some new insights.
    2.) With innumerable opportunities and high-tech possibilities and tools (latest developments), working with constraint, restricting of the obsolete methods can take away some of the choices available to us. A seemingly counterintuitive approach to some, embracing limitation can produce surprising results and insights.

Engaging with low-tech as an artistic research method:

Materializing the invisible:

Goal and outcome:


a collective low-tech networking experiment

Proposal: Lets create an alternative issue!

1) introduction
2) presentation of ephemeral encodings
   -listening and reading
   -demonstration of contents and contributions
3) we share a short story about the sound of computer activity
   we discuss the material nature of computation
   we discuss the role of sound (and the dissapearing)
4) each participant writes a short story
5) participants create a sound piece and add images (short sound byte)
6) participants modulate image with self-built tools (PYSSTV)
7) we create tape/beacons together
8) participants share, listen and capture collectively!


Material approach

While the series' topic mostly revolves around critical use of computers and its digital technologies, Low-Tech Chronicles takes a clear material approach. While [I] highly value online digital spheres, [I] believe in the offline information exchange and the power of engaging in physical formats that require some manual operation and physical interaction with the material itself. By experiencing physical contents, there is an active role for the user.

Low-Tech Chronicles chooses certain contents to be experienced in a certain way. This means that specific media have a specific place to be published. (Hence we don't dump everything online because it is technically possible.) This way, we research the meaning of the topic itself and how to publishing (and the politics) can be done otherwise.