Die Tücke des Objekts is a German concept loosely translated as “malice of the inanimate”. It ascribes the human trait of malice to lifeless objects and is used as a figure of speech in cases where a human feels wronged by a physical item. These situations could be mundane, such as someone stubbing their toe on a chair or stepping on a Lego, or more complex, like a bunch of electronic devices conspiring to malfunction simultaneously during an important event.
As humanity becomes increasingly dependent on man-made items, gadgets, structures and algorithms, we place our trust in these “objects” and attempt to humanize them, hoping they do not suddenly become malicious towards us. This trust is in many cases unfounded, as can be seen not only by numerous failures of technologically advanced physical inventions over time, but increasingly by the real-life hazards of our reliance on algorithms and artificial intelligence. The gadget or algorithm, of course, does not care about its perceived adversity, even though we may feel it does. It very simply and stoically does exactly what its – possibly flawed – design tells it to do, nothing more and nothing less.
As is fitting, the images in this booklet have been generated by artificial intelligence, and they seek to evoke states of mind that illustrate the concept of humans’ powerlessness over machinery. The music, however, has indeed been recorded by anthropoid organisms, not on a stone tablet, but with the help of electronic circuits. Oh well.