This is a cube which receives short messages and answers them. It is made out of concrete and epoxy, has a mobile number where you can text to and an e-ink display which shows the answers it has sent. The electronics are hidden in the inside – no visible connections are made to the outside. The cubes workings are kept secret. As I wrote more in depth here this project is about trust in electronics and services. How and why can we have trust in the machines around us? How are their workings verifiable? Let me give you the short general answer: They are not.

Imagine you are writing texts with this cube: If the cubes answers were complex and lively, would you either think that the connection is wiretapped or that the cube is equipped with an advanced AI?

I presented the project to a bunch of people who interacted with the cube. To my surprise, nobody questioned it’s function. They took it for granted, that the claimed operation is the only way this device could work, even if they had no proof whatsoever and a experience which diverged from the usual experience with a chat bot. And that is the normal case with all devices around us – we rarely question that our mobile phone work the way we expect it to work. We trust them blindly.

This project was about building a device which you are likely to distrust in order to experience your vulnerabilities and inabilities to get behind the curtain of your devices workings. We only experience the feeling of lack of control if our expectation diverges from our perceptions.