In the age of Squarespace, Tumblr, and Cargo Collective, generating a website is no longer a problem. Nonetheless, with Small Victories, the team at New York’s Twenty Nine studio have created a way of further simplifying this process – free of charge. Instead of a separate content management system, Small Victories uses a Dropbox account, a service already used by many people to store, manage, and share all kinds of data. Logging on via Small Victories, the programme creates a Dropbox folder that can be filled with the desired content – be it text, image, video, sound or anything else. Using one of ten templates that can be switched and modified as desired, the content is then quickly displayed as a website that updates itself whenever changes are made to the content in the Dropbox folder. The project was initiated a few years ago in Berlin when Twenty Nine were looking for a way to automatically publish pictures from a local folder on a website. Now they use Small Victories as a universal tool to make presentations and documents, to collect and share inspiration or to sell products.
Politics of Power
At Shanghai-based studio Automato, Simone Rebaudengo, Matthieu Cherubini, and Saurabh Datta explore the role of automation, connectivity, and artificial intelligence in our everyday life based on their interest in new technologies. Like most of their work, the 2016 project “Politics of Power” moves between fiction and real product, questioning the often-assumed neutrality of technology. Based on the notion that the culture, power structures, and ideologies of a social system are reflected in the products it brings forth, which in turn exert an influence on that system, Automato’s founders think design decisions and their consequences should be made visible, opening them up for discussion. To illustrate this, they use an everyday product: a multiple power socket. The three models D, M, and T correspond to an egalitarian, hierarchic or despotic system, controlling the flow of power to various connected devices (such as lamps) via their programming of the individual sockets. Depending on which model is used, the lamps differ in brightness, shine partly or not at all. In this way, Automato draw attention to the political dimension of the man-made environment, as already discussed by philosopher of technology Langdon Winner in his 1980 essay “Do Artifacts Have Politics?”.
Punkt Punkt Punkt Magazine
The visible project setup of the Punkt Punkt Punkt magazine produced by Timo Rychert in 2016 as his graduation thesis at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, is simple: a computer connected to a screen, an A3 printer, a cutting mat, and a stapler. At the press of a button, a monothematic magazine is automatically created before the viewer’s eyes in Adobe Indesign, needing only to be printed, cut, and stapled. The programme, created by Rychert using Indesign’s scripting interface, randomly selects a theme for the issue from a pool of terms and searches online for public domain images and texts that are then typeset as double-page spreads on the basis of predefined parameters. Since this automation means no control is exerted over the selection or compilation of content, entirely unpredictable meanings are generated. The issue on “Hosenträger” [Braces], for example, reveals by the range of images to German readers that in English the word is also used in dentistry. In this way, referring to Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction and Roland Barthes’ thoughts in “The Death of the Author”, Rychert questions the role of the designer as a giver of meaning to his work.