TV Predator, invisibly assaulting the TV set

TV Predator

In an almost amused way, this group from London, formed by artists and designers who studied at the Royal College of Arts, invents ‘intelligent’ objects. One of these devices is TV Predator, which looks like a harmless framed painting but it really is a TV saboteur. In fact, being ‘jealous’ of the attention given to the TV, it disturbs it, preventing it from working correctly, randomly changing channels, its audio volume, warping the colors, or turning it on in the middle of the night or suddenly turning it off. Artificial intelligence is the subject of an open debate that, besides conditioning the imagination of authors like Dick or Kubrick and being the foundation of the cyberpunk movement of Gibson and Sterling, involves scientists and philosophers. The fundamental question is only one: “can computers think?”. Hobbesian functionalists assert that a properly programmed computer would have a pure intelligence, indistinguishable from the human one. The so-called ‘weak AI movement’, on the other hand, states that a machine can simulate just a few cognitive processes. More than on this old debate, however, the TV Predator stimulates reflections on the relation between humans and objects, such as toys like the Tamagotchi, cybernetic stuffed dolls, ‘domestic animals’ like the Sony Aibo, the new robot dolls (My Real Baby) or more or less any electronic appliance. According to Sterling, these are Gizmos, that is, gadgets that acquire a meaning only in relation with their end users. However, these objects are revealing an unexpected dark side: the electromagnetic waves they broadcast into the environment. In this phisical and three-dimensional space, defined as Hertzian by Antony Dunne and Fiona Raby in their work Design Noir: the Dark Side of Electronic Objects, the user becomes an antihero who must fight against the negative effects of radiations. Even if the terrible computer-god of Brown’s short story ‘Answer’ is just science fiction, thinking about the direction taken by technological innovation with respect to the human-machine relation is a real necessity, and the devices made by Troika (TV Predator, Electrophobe, Guerrilla Project) try to do just that.

Valentina Culatti