The two researchers Stefanie Wuschitz and Patrícia J. Reis, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, interact with visitors and users of the techLAB in the “Salon of Open Secrets” at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Museum of Science and Technology).
It is an open secret that the hardware in our smart devices contains not only plastics but also conflict minerals such as tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold. Hence, technology is not neutral. All these raw materials are mined in conflict regions, then assembled into electrical circuits under harmful working conditions and ultimately disposed of at contaminated landfill sites, usually after a short period of use. This contamination is an expression of the still existing colonial relationships.

Art-based research methods draw on artistic practices to approach complex issues. The researchers want to make this phenomenon tangible by opening their artistic research project to everyone. The intersection of art and science can help find new ways.
The citizen science project addresses delicate topics using a colourful 2D game that allows players to discover alternative technologies. Visitors to the Technisches Museum Wien (TMW) navigate virtual landscapes where they meet certain characters in the form of avatars. These avatars represent people from all over the world who work on the main research project. This interactive form of storytelling invites young people to become inventors of green and fair hardware themselves, connect with each other and turn their ideas into real prototypes in the next phase of the project.

The researchers use the term ethical hardware to describe technologies that do not pose a threat to the environment, but apply renewable practices for the benefit of both nature and humans. There are strong social movements among young people, female* and non-binary creative minds who share similar values (Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For Future). The project also takes a critical look at the lack of communication between science and youth movements.

The project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) as part of the Top Citizen Science funding scheme (01.11.2022–30.09.2023). The Technisches Museum Wien is the national research partner.




Further resources

Feminist Hacking
Mz*Baltazar's Lab