Destructive Circuits is an artistic research project that examines the design and construction of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with appropriated and hacked digital media technologies. It will combine archival investigation, critical inquiry and practice-based artistic explorations to gain new perspectives on the ways the development of these devices is connected to the politics of local and global media practices.

Considering the increasing importance of hybrid violent conflicts in the current globally networked world and the prominent role of media technology-based IEDs in these, it is a matter of importance to gain understandings of the cultural-material contexts of the development of these devices. Nevertheless, media archaeology has thus far not engaged with these technologies and no research has been done into how these devices are related to digital maker practices and media culture.

Destructive Circuits explores area through several case studies of IEDs from the early 1990s until the present. These will include a Casio watch trigger circuit designed by Ramzi Yousef, one of the 1993 WTC bombers; an electronic incendiary device made by the Provisional IRA in the early 1990s; and a remote trigger made with a modified wireless pager system by fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1999.

The project, which forms part of artist and cultural theorist Dani Ploeger’s fellowship at V2_, will consist of three main components: A theoretical exploration of the case studies based on a series of semi-structured interviews with academics in media archaeology and conflict studies; a practice-based research phase during which several artists will respond to the technologies from the case studies; and the production of a short experimental film accompanied by an installation that processes the outcomes of the research in the form of a machine-archaeological sci-fi scenario.