This Art Machine Holds Your Arm Hostage Until Someone Else Puts Theirs In

Arthur Silber
Arthur Silber / Arthur Silber

Ad Infinitum, a piece of art previously on display at Science Gallery Dublin, is a parasite. When you place your hand inside the machine, it uses electrical stimulation to force your muscles to contract, making you involuntarily crank the lever inside to generate electricity. If you try to stop cranking, it uses the electrical stimulation to make you start again. As Co.Design writes, it turns the user into the used.

Created by researchers studying human-machine interaction at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany, the machine clamps around your arm, so it’s impossible to stop feeding it. If you stop moving, it will force your muscles to work, whether you like it or not. The clamps won’t let go unless someone else puts his or her arm in from the other side and begins cranking.

The minute you try the machine, you give up control of your arm. Ad Infinitum forces you to either serve this machine’s need for electricity forever or convince someone else to become trapped for the same purpose. The machine is using you for its own gain, and you can either become its servant or persuade someone that it's a super fun task they need to try immediately.

The creators of the project—Pedro Lopes, Robert Kovacs, Alexandra Ion, David Lindlbauer, and Patrick Baudisch—do not say what happens if you are the only person in the exhibit, so maybe don’t try it if you’re the last one in the gallery.