“The maturity of my projects has mostly depended on how I successfully incorporate or merge with other disciplines”

TRONS ‘R’ US is a project  that seeks to investigate and explore the relationship between humans, technology and our environment. Its author, artist Akwasi Bediako Afrane talks about the process and his expectations for the Driving the Human event.

When and how did your project start?
TRONS ‘R’ US emerged as part of the second chapter of a research project that began in 2015 which experimented with the idea of ‘prostheses. This ‘prosthetic’ idea explores the relationships between humans and technological gadgets with 21st century experience of automation and biotechnology. This idea also looks at the possibilities of an inverse prosthesis which has to do with the birth of machines that extend themselves into organisms with humans as prosthesis? This paradoxical space of human and machine interaction is what I explore generally in my project. Looking at how the world has become a mine with an endless supply of superannuated gadgets due to the “must-have” syndrome, this segment of the prosthesis research seeks to delve deeper and try to understand what it is that propels the human to these technological gadgets and why? It is answers to these and more questions that TRONS ‘R’ US would want to query.

What is the profile of the project collaborators?
Starting out with my prosthesis projects, I have constructed a link with field experts who have contributed immensely to this project in the likes of suppliers of electronic gadgets, repairers of these gadgets, those who deal with the collection of these devices mostly when their lives have run out (locally known as ‘condemn’ in Ghana), and those who salvage valuable parts from the gizmos. Their profound knowledge of electronic devices brought my attention to the ‘black box’ nature of most consumers which has become a core in this project’s exploration.

Which stage is the project in?
The project is still in its infantile stage. At this stage, experimentation with conceptual ideas stemming from research is still being tested for plausibility. The goal of this phase is to examine the feasibility of the project. How can the TRONS ‘R’ US project elucidate questions that will in turn incite responses from audiences?

In this phase of your research, what are the two most important aspects of the project?
At this current phase of the project’s experimentation, communication and provocation becomes the most essential aspect of the project. The projects’ ability to communicate its message and provoke critical discernment among audiences becomes imperative. I accept as true that this is a challenge for most artists, myself included. I personally believe a successful project ought to embody these two qualities.

What are the next steps in the research?
I am looking at how other participants from different fields or disciplines of the Driving the Human festival along with audiences can help broaden the project’s scope of perspective immensely through sharing and collaboration. As an artist, the maturity of my projects has mostly depended on how I successfully incorporate or merge with other disciplines. The art discipline itself is one that thrives by fusing with all other disciplines as it is deeply linked to every other facet of our lives.