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Ad Infinitum: a parasite that lives off human energy

Credit: Arthur Silber

Patrick Baudisch (DE), Alexandra Ion (AT), Robert Kovacs (RS/HU), David Lindlbauer (AT), Pedro Lopes (PT)

Ad Infinitum: a parasite that lives off human energy is a parasitic entity that lives off human energy. This parasite reverses humankind’s dominant role with respect to technologies: the parasite shifts humans from “users” to “used”.

Ad Infinitum parasitically attaches itself to curious visitors when they reach inside to grab the handle of a crank mechanism. The parasite lowers a set of cuffs that hold the visitor’s arm in place and simultaneously attaches a pair of electrodes to the visitor’s wrist muscles. It then proceeds by stimulating the visitor’s muscles with small electrical impulses. When the muscles involuntarily contract, they automatically move the handle, which generates kinetic energy on the crank mechanism. The parasite leeches on that energy and keeps on electrically persuading the visitor to move their muscles. The only way a visitor can be freed is by enticing another visitor to sit on the opposite chair and take their place.

This experimental setup reminds us that, on the brink of artificially thinking machines, we are no longer just “users”; the shock we feel in our muscles triggers an involuntary gesture that acknowledges our intricate relationship to the uncanny technological realm around us.


Acknowledgments: Astrid Thomschke

Supported by Hasso Plattner Institute & VIDA16 Incentive Award