A Material Strategy: Exploring Material Properties of Computers
Anna Vallgårda, Tomas Sokoler


As design problems are inherently indeterminate or wicked, we have to rely on various strategies when practicing design. In this paper, we propose a material strategy that emphasizes the expressional potential of computers. We argue how computers, in principle, can be understood as a material for design and how they can be part of a formgiving practice. We embark on the beginning of establishing a practical understanding of the computer as a material by articulating a number of material properties of computers. Two of these properties, computed causality and connectability, are given shape through material samples of a computational composite. The composite is in the form of a copper tile of which the computer controls the thermodynamic behavior. The material strategy proposed here which produced dramatic results is still in its infancy, but by adopting a material understanding of computers and beginning to embody the space of opportunities it unfolds, we take the first steps towards a new way of designing computational objects and architectures.

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