Haunted Machines & Wicked Problems

Haunted Machines & Wicked Problems examines how our relationship with technology determines, and is determined by, the stories we tell. As our technological landscape becomes increasingly complex, we are embracing myth, magic and monsters to explain our relationships with our devices.

A historical example of a haunted machine is the Mechanical Turk, an ostensibly autonomous, mechanical chess-playing machine built in 1770. The famous Gothic horror author Edgar Allan Poe witnessed this machine in 1836 and chided those dazzled by its spectacle:‘…men of mechanical genius, of great general acuteness, and discriminative understanding, who make no scruple in pronouncing the automaton a pure machine, unconnected with human agency in its movements, and consequently, beyond all comparison, the mostastonishing of the inventions of mankind. And such it would undoubtedly be, were they right in their supposition.’

Edgar Allan Poe, and many authors like him, seized on literary techniques such as allegory, analogy and metaphor to approach truths about the world. In his embrace of the occult, Poe did not escape into fantasy, but constructed ways for others to comprehend the inexplicable.
Impakt’s programme aims to examine these methods of understanding through storytelling and proposes ways in which magic and the mystical might be utilised as metaphors for use in art, activism and active engagement with technology.

Tobias Revell & Natalie Kane
Festival curators

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