Haunted Machines is a curatorial and research project by Natalie Kane and Tobias Revell, exploring narratives of myth, magic and haunting around technology.
The continued proliferation of connected devices and the narratives driving them forward has been running parallel to stories of surveillance, hacking and black boxes. While designers and technologists talk about 'magic' and 'enchantment' in regard to these devices, we forget that magic is a form of deception; a sleight of hand. Thinkers, writers, designers and artists are beginning to refer more and more to a new time of hauntings and the supernatural in respect of this new technological climate. Haunted Machines aims to explore these debates through writing, discussion, exhibition and interventions.
Haunted Machines was founded in FEBRUARY 2015, with an opening conference held and supported by FutureEverything festival in Manchester. We were joined by speakers from across disciplines and practise; Ingrid Burrington, Warren Ellis, Joanne McNeil, Eleanor Saitta, Chardine Taylor-Stone and Georgina Voss.
The conference reflected on the narratives of magic and hauntings pervading our relationship with technology and begin to analyse why these narratives exist, what they mean and what they do. Videos from the conference are now available in our Visions section.
In 2015, we began a series of video podcasts - Scrycasts - with various practitioners that we found had relevance to the project. These short conversations open up the initial framing of Haunted Machines and introduce new people to the debate. These are available in our Visions section.
In OCTOBER 2015, Haunted Machines were commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery to produce a hour-long radio broadcast as part of Transformation Marathon. Alchemy engaged scientists, artists, anthropologists, synthetic biologists and speculative designers in asking how and where this belief has become a useful allegorical tool to analyse current narratives around contemporary science and technology.
In FEBRUARY 2016, Haunted Machines were invited to Lift conference in Geneva, where Tobias and Natalie gave talks on their research relevant to the project. Tobias spoke on the Internet of Damned Things, and Natalie spoke on Uinvited Guests.
Haunted Machines are the curators of the 2017 edition of Impakt, a contemporary media and technology festival in Utrecht, NL. The festival theme, HAUNTED MACHINES & WICKED PROBLEMS, seeks to address the entangled complexities of contemporary technologies and social and cultural change. Through the framework of myth, magic and monsters, an international line-up of speakers, performers, thinkers, artists, designers and technologists will address how in magic, the spectacle is used to hide technical processes; in myth, how we build stories and narratives to culturally assimilate complex technologies; and how we use monsters to think about when things go wrong and people are hurt.
Haunted Machines in the press...
October 2016 Tobias on CBC Spark, Canada
April 2015 Natalie on BBC Radio Four's Digital Human
February 2015 Natalie on BBC CLick
February 2015 Northern Soul / Haunted Machines at Future Everything
February 2015 Vice / Technology Isn't Magic, It's Haunted