Investigation 2 - Creative Project

Haunted Devices / Device Hauntologies

tl;dr: Engage a line of spooky inquiry. Unsettle the present by making a creative technology. Prepare an intentionally haunted- or hauntologically-informed research product that can be encounters in the conditions of everyday life.

Due: Tuesday, Mar 30th

Submit Documentation: Gallery Pool - Haunted Devices / Device Hauntologies


Due Date Deliverable Details
Tuesday, Mar 1 Proposal Create a proposal for your creative project (200 words + illustrations) and share on in #projects
Tuesday, Mar 15 Project Develop a rough cut (conceptual design, low fi prop, rough prototype) to discuss in class
Tuesday, Mar 22 Project Develop a revision to discuss during desk crits
Thursday, Apr 1 Project Demo + Present your prototype in class to invited guests
Friday, Apr 2, midnight Documentation Deliver documentation of your creative project

Brief and Goals

Taking cues from ‘Material Speculations’ by Wackery et al., ‘Networked Anxieties’ by Pierce and DiSalvo and ‘Research Products’ by Odom et al. , we’ll continue to explore otherworldly design opportunities applied to tangible, ubiquitous and responsive technologies. Specifically, we’ll imagine a series of alternative devices.

Brief: Engage a line of spooky inquiry. Unsettle the present by making a creative technology. Prepare an intentionally haunted- or hauntologically-informed research product that can be encounters in the conditions of everyday life.

The goal of this exercise is to consider how hybrid objects might draw on the supernatural to render discursive designs. Remember: You should try to develop a critical stance on contemporary technology that sets up an intentional propostion for an alternative design. You should develop a prototype that demonstrates your ideas for how you can build a haunted or hauntologically informed smart home product. You may choose any one of the four broad approaches to do this:

  • Diagetic props or performances of existing products, e.g. Lindley, Gradinar, and Coulton’s “Ghosts in the Smart Home”
  • Revealing unseen forces in current Smart Home devices by developing prototypes and enactments suggest provocative ways to detect electronic ‘spirits’, reveal and perform Hertizan forces, or help to make visible the hidden systems and data we are entangled with for dialog. e.g. Ghost Bug and Wave Detectors from Lindley & DiSalvo; Arnall & Schulze’s ‘Immaterials: Ghosts in the Field’
  • Reinterpreting IoT Products through conceptual designs of alternative consumer products offer valuable strategies to present issues of explainability e.g. eGregor by Geeng, 2020
  • Machine Assisted Beliefs could builds on lineage of work in rituals suggests the value of new material enactments that examine and support alternative, occult, otherworldly rituals and practices. e.g. Believe it Yourself by
  • Hauntologically-informed research products can help to reflect and presence questions and concerns about a technology’s histories, entanglements, explainability, or other issues e.g. Chthonic Rites by Goatley

The possibilities are wide and varied. But you should:

  • Make - i.e. test your ideas and give them a form.
  • Research - i.e. uncover theory, ideas, and precedent projects that inform your approach.
  • Gather - i.e. find inspirational resources from speculative designs, design fiction, science fiction, etc..
  • Experiment - e.g. don’t just prototype the device and interactions but simulate/construct the data it might produce or use;
  • Document - e.g. test your ideas on yourself or others, how do you or others experience and encounter the device, what are your reactions and responses, document how you respond to it, what values it offer, and why it might matter to you or others.

Unusual approaches, left-of-center thinking and impracticality is encouraged!

Note: Hardware, technologies and other resources can be requested or purchased using the course budget.

Learning Objectives

This exercise is designed to develop knowledge relating to forgetting and digital technology, as well as, explore the ways in which forgetting (or aspects of letting go) can potentially be supported with new hybrid interactions through connected, ubiquitous and pervasive computing. As part of this exercise, you will:

  • Develop your domain understanding of ubiqutious computing by researching and making hybrid objects;;

  • Develop an understanding of concepts like critical making, counterfactuals, and material speculation and how they relate to the design of alternative devices;

  • Build skills with prototyping hardware, electronics, and intelligent processes using tools like the Particle Platform, Alexa Skills Kit and Teachable Machine.

  • Imagine how new hybrid objects can be designed to present critical perspectives on technology;

  • Investigate and respond to concerns and considerations that currently surround everyday technology and smart home devices through hands-on making and exploration.

  • Work collaboratively in an applied investigation to tease-out the broader considerations, issues and requirements in building alternative IoT devices.


  • You must work with computational processes.
  • It must result in a physical/tangible thing.
  • You must work collaboratively (in pairs).


  • A 1-2 minute video. Create a short (1-2 minute) video illustrating how the device would be used and how the ritual is performed with your smart object. This should illustrate the intended scenarios, interactions, and how it operates, etc.

  • A physical prototype. You can take any approach to preparing this tangible manifestation that you feel is appropriate. This should be of reasonable fidelity to give form your your proposal, but will reflect your skills with prototyping interactive systems.

  • other collateral to support the design (a user manual, webpage, flyer, advertisment, etc.) as needed

  • A digital demonstration and presentation of your process and outcome (5 minutes maximum)

  • Digital documentation of your process and outcome.

Final deliverables to be presented at the Crit/Review

Final Documentation Requirements:

Include a write up of the following:

  • Intent: What is the intent of this project and how does it reflect a critical perspective? Write about the big ideas behind your project? What are the goals? Why did you make it? What are your motivations?

  • Context : Give examples of prior work, ideas and projects that influenced your design. What work informed this idea i.e. make links to the material in class and the cases/projects you uncovered in this module. Describe theory, concepts, and research from this module that relate to your outcome.

  • Prototype/Outcome: Describe your experience/working prototype: What did you create, how, etc.? What tools and technologies were involved? Include appropriate content and illustration (e.g. a concept video, a video of the device in operation, diagrams, code, etc.) How does it relate or build on existing work (provide acknowledgements or cite this work). You should report this in sufficient detail that anyone knowledgable with electronics etc would be able to reconstruct your implementation. Be sure to include a system diagram, annotated images, code, and a bill of materials.

  • Process: Draw from your weekly project logs to tell the story of your exploration. Describe how you arrived out the outcome. What iterations, refinements, design decisions and changes were made? What challenges were encountered and how did you resolve them?

  • Open Questions and Next Steps: What remains unresolved (in the concept, implementation or conversation around this outcome)? What are the things we should pay attention to for future explorations? What questions about ‘spookiness’ or everyday technology did this exploration raise or generate? What questions reamin to be addressed?

  • Reflection: Critically reflect on the success of this project. Were the aspirations and ambitions achieved. Was it received and encountere din the ways you wanted? If not, why not? What do you need to get there, etc?

  • Attribution and References: Reference any sources or materials used in the documentation or composition.

Each of these sections should be no more than 200 words max. and well illustrated (images, videos, etc.)

For the Project Info’s goal description: it must be tweetable - summarise your outcome in no more than 140 characters