Wednesday, 16 September 2015

(R:) Kano Unboxing

As part of Future C U R I O U S festival I was given a new toy, and challenged to use it within my creative practice. Yahtzee! This new toy was a KANO kit, a computer that you build and code yourself. Inside the box lay a Raspberry Pi 2, some charming illustrated manuals, a DIY speaker, fabulously orange keyboard, SD card, various colourful cables, a WiFi dongle, case and stickers (because what self-respecting future explorer wants their computer to look like everyone else's?) *NB: bananas not included.

After expending a lot of initial excitement in tearing open the box, I gingerly pored through the bits and pieces like a confused ape alongside the other TINKER commissioned artists, with the charismatic Adam from FizzPOP valiantly referring to different elements whilst we struggled to identify them. I think the initial hurdle was that the Raspberry Pi didn't look like a computer as I knew it; it was like a shrunken computer without the skin, but once you start identifying all of its organs - an SD card slot for memory, USB ports for wifi and other connectors, HDMI to hook it up to a screen - it all begins to make sense. The glee at getting it to turn on and connect was a total lightbulb-over-the-head moment. It was creating fire; inventing the wheel. It didn't matter that it was a prescribed assemblage because to us it was uncharted territory. The KANO made this moment really fun with a narrative about finding the white rabbit, and we were all fittingly child-like in the midst of our new adventure.

As an introduction to the pi we were given some simple tasks to complete such as running the Hello World program and setting up a circuit to control LED lights, as well as exploring the KANO OS, packed with apps, projects and games. It was interesting to think that I hadn't felt this ill-equipped for a challenge since school, and I mean that in a good way. I realised how comfortable I usually am within my practice because even when trying new things, I have a working knowledge and a schema for what to apply or expect. And yet here I was, a 25-year-old computer programming infant, being challenged to work something out from scratch. Well KANO, challenge: accepted.

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