3G56k is an intergenerational BDSM love affair between a touchscreen and a tower. A twelve-foot iPhone, outfitted in fetish garb and sporting an interactive touchscreen, employs the services of a human "dialer" and to call its love interest: a dialup modem inside a feminized, phallic, ten-foot tall, pink tower computer.
3G56k's touchscreen functions like an iPhone keypad on which the numbers have been erased. People are invited to dial numbers by using their entire bodies to roll, sit, squat, press, and rub on its unmarked, user-unfriendly surface. The touchscreen's microcontroller uses bodily touch input to dial a phone number, accessing a VoIP (Voice over IP) network to place the call, before finally connecting to the tower computer's 56k modem. With each call, an analog thermal fax slowly excretes through a vaginal zippered opening in the tower, accumulating a continuous, undulating image of the rubber hose connecting these mismatched machine protagonists.
We are all familiar with how novel technologies serve as pet fetish objects, but I am concerned with trying to understand how technologies perform as subjects in fetish culture. To this end, 3G56k correlates restrictive interfaces in computational systems with restrictive interfaces in BDSM (Bondage & Discipline/Dominance & Submission/Sadism & Masochism) culture. Digital technologies appear to us as objects and present us with an illusion of mastery. In reality, technologies are active subjects and we, their "users," must bend to their requirements. Gaming scholar Alex Galloway refers to the process by which users must first internalize machinic logic in order to win mastery over a machine as "learning the algorithm." Indeed, cybernetics, the science of command and control through communication, has much in common with sexual power dynamics. Both involve getting a partner to do what one wants and to not do what one doesn't want. The dominant consumerist relationship with technologies is already sexually charged. But in order to imagine an alternative, it becomes crucial to ask where power accumulates and how power functions in our interactions with devices. In a given moment of Human-Computer Interaction, who or what is a master and who or what is a slave?