Rite of Passage to the Eternal Silicon Fields
The performance is a ritual cremation ceremony being played out in an installation setting made for the performance.
Below is a detailed description of the project.


Intro

In what way do we understand the part microprocessors and electronics play in our communicative structures? Are they simply material commodities for us to obtain, spend, and throw away, or may they be seen as a digital expression of the self?

By performing a ceremonial cremation ritual for each microprocessor submitted to the cremation, we honour these existences, which enables our consumption of goods, plans, forms, and experiences. These are primarily social signs, that are consumed and transmitted, and enable us to present ourselves as singular and autonomous subjects.


Background

The story of the Attiny85, that broke a leg and had to be put down
“I have been experimenting with ways to ignite propane. Using mosfet driven ignition coils and spark plugs to ignite the gas. I discovered the Attiny85 microprocessors in the late 2012, and quickly grew very fond of the little thing. The Attiny85 is a little 8 legged bug, that does all the magic that the Arduino does, programs from the Arduino IDE and costs about a dollar to buy. The first attiny85 I got, had to endure a lot of experiments, while I figured out how it should be handled. Eventually I got it running very well with the spark plug setup, and it made my sparks play little melodies.

But, one day I fumbled at the worktable. A stray spike of high voltage from the spark plug found its way through the steel work table and into one of the legs of the attiny. And the leg broke. The rest of the attiny was fine, but without this input pin, it was now useless to me.

What do you do to a racehorse with a broken leg? You put it down. It will never be a racehorse again. My attiny had to be put down. But since it had served so well, and had given me so many hours of experimental fun, I wanted to send it on with a little more grace. The attiny had served me well driving sparks and igniting propane.
I chose to send it on by sparks and fire in the Attiny85 funeral pyre.”

Christian Liljedahl, July 2013



Description of the ceremony

The ceremony is a performance in a lab-like chapel setting, where participants and performers can honor, generate sound, burn, and break microprocessors in a ritual cremation ceremony, that transform the microprocessors into remains to be displayed. The performance is led by a performer guiding a session of honoring the memories and the users attachment to the microprocessors through four main stations. Each station is set up with cameras projecting close ups of the proces. The live feed from the camera can be viewed on large screens.

We want to create a poetic experience - a graceful goodbye to the microprocessors. The experience can be witnessed as a celebration of the microprocessor that served you and the electronic objects so well, or as a transition - a new state of being. By using pre collected stories and donated microprocessors from personal electronic objects, the performance is based on real stories and memories. Furthermore the technical setup with live video feed will be an aesthetic addition to the experience - seeing the small micro chip enlarged - as it is honored, used to generate sound, burned, and crushed into dust.

Step by step
As the ceremonial performance evolves the ceremony goes through four stations transforming the microprocessors into remains to be displayed in the exhibition. The physical setup has four main stations placed in an performance/exhibition space:

Station 1:

Lit De Parade is a place where we honor the memories of the microprocessors. This is the first stage of the performance where the stories and memories are honored. In a chapel like setting the story of the microprocessor gets told. The focus is on the users memories about it, and how it has been defined both in terms of technical specifications and its place in society, thereby addressing and honoring these technologies both by facts and emotions.

Station 2:

Euthanasia is the second station where the final functional abilities gets taken away. Here you can play a melody on a piano, where the sound signals gets processed through ignition sparklers. This works both as a amplifier for the sound and outputs high voltage sparks aimed at the microprocessor, taking away its last functional abilities. This marks the beginning of the transformation into a new state of being.

Station 3:

Cremation is the third step in the ceremonial ritual representing transformation. By executing a high temperature burning of the microprocessor, it changes from a solid black material to a grey white color that oxidation have made unsolid. Besides funeral references cremation can be interpreted as immediate disposal or transformation of physicality.

Station 4:

Grinding is the final station where the transformed microprocessor gets dissolved by the user, and the remains gets capsuled in a box to be exhibited together with the key memories founded in step one. Thereby the result of the ceremony ends in a static collection of the remains, accompanied by the personal memories and factual data of the initial technological object.

This change in matter and separation finalizes the transition from a microprocessor with a definition directly linked to its physicality, to a (new) state of being withheld by the honorable transition ceremonial ceremony and the memories that remains.


Exhibition

Between the planned performances the space will serve as an installation where the capsuled boxes, with the remains from the past ceremonies, can be viewed.

The installation has two parts to it. One is a display area where the cremated remains capsuled in a boxes are displayed together with the facts and the users anecdotes and memories. This part also contains materials, showing and exhibiting past ceremonies. The other is a interactive part, where participants can explore the physical installation by trying the three stations: Euthanasia, Cremation, and Grinding - by performing the ritual process on pre collected microprocessors, or own personal ones they bring themselves.



Addressing the Transmediale 2014 theme: afterglow

Our ceremonial performance may both be seen as an expression of the wasteful state of digital culture, but also a transition to a new state of being, establishing a dialectic between permanence and disappearance, presence and absence. Though this ritual is an action focusing on death or decomposition, it is also a