Unfortunately the day I visit Tega Brain’s exhibition ‘Being Radiotropic’ there’s a new moon and I can’t connect to the WiFi. The frustration I feel is immediate and slightly embarrasses me, surely I can exist without internet access for a little while?
Luckily, there’s a peace lily that is giving off a strong enough signal to connect to. I feel a wave of relief as my social media pages load, even though I have only a couple new notifications and none of them are urgent. The underlying panic of being disconnected for even a couple minutes worries me. Am I that reliant on the internet?
This is the question posed by Tega’s exhibition: how do network connections orientate us and affect our behaviour? From that central idea many other questions follow. We’re forced to ask; should WiFi really be this continuous steady stream of access, or would it be better for us if it ebbed and flowed like the waxing and waning moon or flickered like a candle? Or even be dependent on how you care for a plant.
Once I’m connected I start to feel an affinity with ‘my’ WiFi enabling peace lily. The idea of looking after a plant and getting a stronger signal in return appeals to me immensely. It feels somehow more… natural. It helps that the “eccentric” wireless routers themselves are beautifully designed, making them feel like something you want to take home and put in the centre of your coffee table.
Overall, this small exhibition is a must see for any interactive design student or anyone interested in our constantly changing relationship to everyday technology. For a simple concept there’s certainly a lot to unpack. And maybe next time I see it there’ll be a full moon and I’ll have a choice of networks to connect to.
Tega Brain’s exhibition at the Botanic Gardens, ‘Being Radiotropic’, closes today at 3.30pm. Free to view.
By Ana Hine
Image Credit: Kathryn Rattray Photography