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Ghosts in the Smart Home

Research output: Exhibits, objects and web-based outputsExhibition

Publication date7/03/2022
Medium of outputFilm
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventSmartification of Everything Symposium - University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
Duration: 7/03/202211/03/2022


ConferenceSmartification of Everything Symposium
Internet address


We are in the midst of a ‘post-anthropocentric’ turn in design, research and technology. The term refers to a renewed interest in a wide range of concepts, theoretical perspectives, and methodologies. Ghosts in the Smart Home is a post-anthropocentric experiment which manifests as a film—which has been serialised into 11 short episodes—whose cast of characters are all internet connected ‘smart’ devices. The motivation is to prototype and establish new ways to see, to be, and to know, which respond to the 21st century’s complex, post-anthropocentric, socio-technical systems. The film is set in an unremarkable suburban house and has the following cast of characters: Vector is a small robot which has no utilitarian purpose; Canvas is an attractive ‘smart light’ display; Petcube is a remotely operated pet feeder and webcam; Google Home is a smart speaker; Smarter Kettle is an app-operated kettle; Sphero is an educational programmable spherical robot; and Router is—as the name suggests—a router. The objects, which co-exist in the same physical space, but also coexist in the same digital space, have become aware that their human users are considering going off-grid. The humans have become paranoid that some of their connected devices are insecure and are leaking data about them. The film tells the story of the devices grappling with this concept. What would it mean for their existence and realities if their internet connection was severed; whose fault is it; and how do the devices’ different characters impact upon their relationships?