The Potato Internet

2022 — 2023 Data, Politics, Social Networks

The Potato Internet is a small-scale, experimental social network partially powered by potatoes that envisions and reimagines the internet in times of climate emergency and global energy crisis. A common criticism of imagined alternatives to today’s toxic and extractivist online world comes down to this: ‘Great idea, but it doesn’t scale up.’  But what if the future of the internet is actually all about scaling down?The small scale of The Potato Internet allows the artists to build a functioning social network from scratch. They have rethought every layer of the system, from hardware to protocols to governance in an ‘anti-upscaling’ network  that suits a local context and endorses slow communication.The artists used potatoes as a source of energy for the physical framework, and e-waste and other recycled materials for the interface. This piece draws on Sinders’ work on the Feminist Dataset for aspects of network governance, safety, equity and codes of conduct.

learn more about the project by visiting it’s low energy, low code website: https://potatoes.network/

The project is realised as a residency production hosted by M-cult in context of the European Media Art Platform EMAP in 2022.

The Potato Internet has been installed at Impkat Festival’s 2023 Festival and Exhibition “Don’t Be Evil” in the Netherlands, the inaugural Beta Festival in 2023 in Ireland, and in the SYSTEMS Exhibition in the Vantaa Art Museum Artsi in Finland in 2023.

credits:

Caroline Sinders, lead artist

made in collaboration with: Trammell Hudson, hardware design, and Motong Yang, metal fabricator.

visitors at Impakt Festival surrounding the Potato Internet, a round sculpture with a raspberry pi and potatoes on the ground. The background is a white wall that looks blue and purple from being lit with blue and purple lights.

visitors interacting with the Potato Internet at Impakt Festival.

images above from the SYSTEMS Exhibit at the Vantaa Art Museum Artsi in Finland in 2023.