An Antidote to Loneliness
North American Electrical Grid
Thesis at Harvard University Graduate School of Design

project advised by Sergio Lopez-Pineiro and created alongside Michelle Shofet

You think ecologically tuned life means being all efficient and pure. Wrong.
It means you can have a disco in every room of your house.

> Timothy Morton, Twitter, March 2016

An Antidote to Loneliness presents four proposals for the technologies of the electrical grid, each one weaving existing technologies into healthy relationships with the ecologies around them. The project rejects the treatment of these technologies as mere “utilities,” suggesting that design interventions be executed for the sake of enabling our technologies to more fully participate in the act of living. Expressed through a series of publications titled “Practices for Technological Friendship,” the project lays out interventions that the ordinary citizen — the user of the technology — can enact.

1: The overhead transmission cable

A relationship proposal between electron-consuming bacteria and transmission cables, rooted in a behavior known as “corona discharge” in which transmission cables discharge avalanches of electrons at sites of surface imperfection.

2: The substation

A relationship proposal between electrical substations, which produce magnetic fields of higher intensity than Earth’s average magnetic field, and plants that experience responses such as faster regeneration times and higher reproductive output when exposed to high magnetic fields.

3: The underground transmission cable

A relationship proposal between subterranean suburban animals and underground transmission cables. Underground transmission cables give off an aura of heat through a process known as “ohmic heating,” providing a consistent underground heat source that can nurture animals seeking warmth during cold seasons.

4: The power plant

A relationship proposal between human ravers and power plants. Due to their frequent positioning on the margins of urbanization, their aesthetic alignment with the technological sublime, and their vast dimensions, power plants and their industrial environs possess many of the qualities that characterize the environments of rave culture.

Through the strategic placement of lighting, ground markings, and sound systems, a latent rave space is inserted into the functioning industrial grounds.