Products are never neutral. They are always influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of the designers, engineers, and corporations who produce them. Politics of power is a set of power-strips that are openly designed to look, behave and experience the hidden ideologies in everyday products.
With a growing number of networked and autonomous objects as well as the outbreak of fields such as « the IoT », communication protocols used by connected products are increasingly important as they act as the network’s backbone.
Since the end product is « black-boxed » to the user, we often assume that all nodes of a network are equal.
But is it?
For example, in a home, two appliances in the same network must be working at the same time, but because of a power shortage, they cannot run in parallel. This brings us to question, who should be given the priority and why?
In every existing network - be it machine or nature, rules are established in order to determine its structure, hierarchy, and the way the communication will be synchronized between all the actors of the network. But who and what criterions will define this power hierarchy? Products and networks are inherently embedded with ideologies of the designers, engineers, and other stakeholders who shape their trajectory along the way.
“Politics of Power” is an exploration of these questions on a micro-scale by using a simple ubiquitous product, the multi-plug.
The project looks at how a mass-manufactured product - although developed for a precise and unique purpose - could behave differently depending on the nature of its communication protocol and how the design of the product itself could reflect these hidden logics and rules.
Three multi-plugs - Model D, M and T - are designed to look and behave based on different ideologies and structures, allowing people to experience the hidden politics of networks in an everyday life product.