The dominant story about RFID technologies has been one of stock management and privacy paranoia, with invisible tags deployed in the service of logistics and surveillance.
This project sought to move beyond such stock characterisations. Asking how people might live with and alongside RFID, we re-imagined the technology as something celebratory, emotional and productive – the backbone of a dispersed intelligence, a soft substrate capable of supporting networks of people and things.
Our speculative scenario envisaged an RFID-enriched landscape that transforms the ways we interact with digital media.
With RFID tags and sensors 'worn' on the body, individuals are able to build associations with digital content in the physical world. This tagging system, exposing the RFID infrastructure, would allow people to define their environments with a combination of aesthetic and practical augmentations.
In this context, RFID is reimaged as a performative resource, with people manipulating, extending and constantly updating their digital selves. Ideas of privacy are radically reconfigured, as previously invisible personal data is appropriated into a new aesthetic sensibility.
Tagged accessories are worn to negotiate different levels of intimacy, content and broadcast range. Users couple these accessories to digital content with an online service, using their Mobile Readers to scan the environment for content published by others.
These images begin to explore a scenario where 'early adopters' design and engineer their own tags. The large antennae used to ‘broadcast’ over distance have become overtly ornamental. Some members of the community adorn themselves with elaborate tattoo-like antennas and baroque RFID tags. Accessed through hacked sensors and readers, digital content comes to constitute a readily traversable geography, interleaving features of the physical and audio-visual.