October 18-20, 2019
Prime Produce, NYC

Kalli Retzepi

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Kalli Retzepi (website) uses technology, design and images in order to explore the politics of digital interfaces, the narrative of the user and to imagine new metaphors for the Web. She has degrees in engineering, neuroscience and is a recent graduate of the MIT Media Lab. She has recently presented her work in conferences like Interface Politics (2018) and Interface Critique Journal (2019).


Internet as an Object

During this talk I will present my graduate thesis work at the Media Lab at MIT. My thesis lies in the intersection of three avenues: physical non-screen interfaces, storytelling promoting community connectedness and hyper-locality afforded by decentralization. The central question addressed is whether the design and underlying technology of entry points to a network change the way people interact with it and the experience they have.

To explore this, I designed and engineered a set of playful physical objects which function as nodes of a hyper-local network. Information (audio messages recorded by passers-by) bestowed upon this network remains within these nodes, cryptographically secure, and accessible only to local community members who are aware of the network’s existence and mode of operation. I successfully deployed this network in four locations across the MIT campus, where members of the MIT community could record and listen to audio messages using the physical objects.

The motivation in the heart of this project was to create network-forming, physical objects that “perform” decentralization. How is the quality of decentralization communicated via the affordances of interaction, of material, or form? How can we approach the concept of decentralization and alternative networks using design? While I do not pretend to have the answers to these questions, I believe it is very important to ask them and encourage dialogue between both technical as well as non technical audiences.

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