Papier Machine is a booklet gathering a family of 13 paper-made electronic toys ready to be cut, colored, folded, assembled or torn. Silkscreened with special inks that have different electric properties, these toys aim to reveal what hides behind our machines' magic black boxes. A world of materials, shapes, colors, stories and even smell.
Papier Machine received support from the cultural program Audi Talents Awards, of which were laureates in 2016. It has also been exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, in Mai 2017.
Marion Pinaffo & Raphaël Pluvinage
Video soundtrack :
Please list the name and title of each person who contributed to this project...
Text written by Juliette Pollet on Papier Machine:
We start this exploration by diving into a world that is both familiar and mysterious—the microcosmos enclosed within our everyday electronic devices. Looked at closely, printed circuit cards become cityscapes, and our phones' components resemble little creatures. Papier Machine (Paper Machine) invites us to meet with these ghosts.
The electronic mechanisms that we constantly interact with keep escaping us. They're supposedly invisible, intangible, and impossible to understand. Who knows that we have gyroscopes in our phones? Who knows these devices make our screens automatically rotate from a portrait to a landscape orientation?
Marion Pinaffo and Raphaël Pluvinage's project aims to deconstruct these black boxes that we manipulate everyday without knowing how they work. Papier Machine provides us with tools that help us tell technology apart from magic¹, by revealing its materiality and its principles: A joyful demystification adventure that makes the world slightly more intelligible.
This research produced two sets of functioning prototypes. The first is a booklet that gathers 13 self-assembly paper games; the second is a set of 4 posters, forming together a space to activate. In other terms, a collection of silk-screened gadgets and a 2D amusement arcade. Although the project is meant to be didactic, Papier Machine doesn't impose any specific protocol, only games and toys that one should experiment with.
Scratching a surface with a graphite pencil, throwing papier-mâché projectiles, making confetti piles: through these rudimentary and iterative interaction modes, the user gets acquainted with electronic principles. The goal is not to develop a DIY phone, but "that one acquires experimentally what is the specialist's prerogative"² .
The educational intention takes shape in an economy of means and shapes, whose simplicity is a playful challenge in itself. As pointed out in its title, Papier Machine is mainly made of paper, a familiar material that one isn't afraid to mess up with. Paper is layered, creased, folded, bent, cut, fragmented, frayed, flattened, hung on walls, assembled into volumes: these simple actions enable super low-tech though interactive experiences.
Colored and/or reactive printed inks (the silver ink is power conductive, others are thermosensitive) bring the pages to life. A kit of components is provided to activate the result, including, for instance, batteries as well as propellers. Each toy offers MacGyver-like challenges: producing a sequencer only with a pencil and a battery, building a sort of primitive pinball machine in no time at all, or putting together a folded paper hovercraft. However, instructions are deliberately laconic, and the results are always uncertain. Anyone is free to interpret the manual in his or her own way, but also to decide of his or her own commitment level, and to rephrase, if needed, their intuitive understanding of whatever mechanism.
Nothing is given to the user straight away, except for shapes and colors, themselves meant to be misleading to the eye and the mind. Far from restraining themselves to the expectation of a scientific protocol leading to specific results, the games are experiences rich in signs and in chance discoveries. The designers took advantage of the decorative potential of printing techniques often restricted to an exclusively functional use. At first glance, some of the pages covered with labyrinths, moiré patterns, and mosaics seem to belong to the Grammar of Ornament. Only a closer look reveals the conductive lines. Raster graphics, a usually imperceptible pattern made to be seen from afar, for posters for instance, become sign "texturizers,"³.
1.The science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote in his essay Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination (1973): "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
2.Quote from "A critical-ideological debate between E. Mari and E. Facchinelli," in Enzo Mari, Autoprogettazione, Edizioni Corraini, Mantoue, 2012, (1st Italian edition, 1974), p. 45. In 1974, with Autoprogettazione, the Italian designer described in a subtitle to the eponymous book, "[a] project for making easy-to-assemble furniture using rough boards and nails. An elementary technique to teach anyone to look at present production with a critical eye."
3.Quote from "Ognuno vede cio` che sa" ["Everyone sees what he knows"] in Bruno Munari, Design e comunicazione visiva. Contributo a una metodologia didattica [Design and Visual Communication. Contributions to a Teaching Method], Ed. Laterza, Roma-Bari, 1968
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