EM #1 – Interview machine

Enquiry Machines (EMs) are instruments of enquiry designed to help explore social worlds.

EM#1 is an interview machine. It enquires into (and exaggerates) the labour of producing knowledge.

EM#1 is operated in collaboration with Julien McHardy. Made of abandoned materials, it requires two operators to work together to power a dynamo light.

We interview each other about the interview process. We have to co-operate, balance, anticipate and respond to each other to make the machine work.

EM#1 reminds us of the emotional, physical and social work of interviewing.

Although conventional qualitative methods open up enquiry spaces, little by little, the character and conditions of interactions such as interviews are invariably tidied up via the act of translating them into text thus making them easily transportable and reproducible. Textual interviews can be infinitely edited, manipulated and circulated as objects of knowledge. EM#1 is an experience/instrument so awkward that it cannot be flattened. It resists being smoothed over and tidied up.

EM#1 was first performed at 2010 European Association for the Social Study of Science (EASST) conference in Trento, Italy. It was operated four times between 2010-2011 (until it was mistaken for rubbish and thrown out).