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sensory room with 42 cooling fans

sensory room with 42 cooling fans

You are about to enter a room that is packed with:

The room has no light inside.

portable sensory room


  • install device in the desired place
  • if needed, use as dimmed as possible light for peoples’ safety
  • make sure that power button is in “off” position
  • connect power cable to the box and to the power socket
  • open the main black lid
  • use stick to fix position of the lid
  • open transparent lid
  • set adjustment regulator in the middle position (between two white marks)
  • switch the box on using power button
  • adjust the maximum distance where fans are starting to work. For this use adjustment regulator. moving knob counterclockwise increases the maximum distance. Do not set the knob in a maximum clockwise position!
  • After adjustment of the distance, box should activate fans when people are at the opposite side of the room (max possible distance is approx 3.5m)
  • done
Places for installing portable windy sensory room in Bergen (NO) in 2023 during Piksel festival / map by !Mediengruppe Bitnik
Setup at Bergen Ferry Terminal / photo by !Mediengruppe Bitnik
Working Process

history behind sensory room

The story of the cooling fans started for us, when we went to Boden, a former military town located in northern Sweden, 80 kilometers from the arctic circle.

Arctic circle -> Sweden -> Boden

In the city there was constructed a military base for aircrafts, the purpose of which was to defend Sweden from a potential attack from the east, where Russia was seen the most dangerous threat. But once the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union wasn’t such a big worry anymore, the Boden military base wasn’t as crucial for Sweden’s defense. They began shutting it down. After closing military facilities they started to be used as a tourist attraction. A former military airport and a hydropower plant — now to be seen as a ground for new spiral of economic growth.

There is a scientific datacenter nearby, it is part of RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) and works closely with Luleå Technical University. It is not storing or processing actual production data taken from the real world, it is made for experiments. Of course it is very small in scale, it is tiny. Some people are working on optimizing temperature settings in datacenters, heat up servers to monitor temperature changes. Some people are calculating endlessly π number.

Inners of research institute

The military left and the airfield was sold to a business park. Now it is a hole in the city. A wound that overruns by data centers. While they are laying hands on barracks, the airfield is still here. We met here teenagers, riding scooters and making circle stunts on the rear wheel.

Place for future economic growth

And even an abandoned data center, where we tried to snick in, but fast were scared because of a sound of turning on the devices (“beap beap”), connected together by Ikea power sockets. The friend said, that can be someone who is stealing a copper. Was is our collective imaginations? Anyway we spend the rest of evening discussing the economic conditions of people being stuck there because of the documents.

Abandoned datacenter — view outside
Abandoned datacenter — view inside

Instead there is a facebook data center nearby, in Luleå, 34.2 km from Boden. We have spent half of the day there, enjoying the view, the forest (but unfortunately not much was left out of it) and no people mood.

facebook data center nearby

We even drank tea there.

in Luleå, 34.2 km from Boden

The only ones that we have met — if we can say that — were the security guards working in a data center. We were making a circle around a data center with a cup of tea and sandwiches, from the other side of the fence they were following us on a car, slowly, with our human speed. Was it a form of an emotional pressure? Were they just performing the work obligations? We don’t know, they were all the time in a car, not willing to communicate. Or were we not willing to communicate? Isn’t facebook all about communication?

Or were we not willing to communicate? Isn’t facebook all about communication?

After a couple days, we went to a recycling center where work mostly migrant women from Somalia.

working place

Boden, which once operated as a military town, has now become an important reception center for asylum seekers.

Al Madhafah / The Living Room in Boden / Photo Elias Arvidsson

The firms and corporations recycle there the devices, not in need anymore. We have found there former facebook servers. For datacenters these components are waste, as you cannot generate profit from them anymore.

pile of servers

“I can’t get inside of a datacenter, but I can get to the devices that once fed it!”, — said one of us.

One of the worker there could potentially say:“ For four hours every day, I disassemble computers with an electric screwdriver at a recycling plant. It worries me that most of them are still fully functioning. Part of my research is trying to find reasons why these computers have been discarded. So far I haven’t found an answer for this question“.

We took these servers by weight. “200 kilograms. So you use it during the exhibition and then return the same ammount of servers back”. Agreed.

discarded computers

The day before leaving, we thought we could grab something with us. Not too big to fit in the suitcase. And useless. Ethereal. That digital translates into sensual.

cooling fans are still in the servers

So we took cooling fans.

And they have travelled with us for several years. Were on the mezzanine and under the bed. We’ve been looking for uses for them. We ventilated the room.

tornado modelling process

And made tornado models.

After the revolution in Belarus and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we moved first to Turkey and then to Germany. That became too dangerous to keep staying because of ongoing repressions in Belarus.

We took the fans with und and made a darkroom full of wind in a former granary in Potsdam.

darkroom full of wind — vide from outside
darkroom full of wind — vide from inside

Then the fans went to Bergen.

box full of wind in Bergen

Now a few of them are blowing on you.

Politics of technology through first-hand (second-hand?) experience.