Material Speculation: Russia

Revive a bombed Ukrainian museum

Material Speculation: Russia is both a tribute to and a re-interpretation of the original Material Speculation: ISIS and 3D Additivist Cookbook series by Iranian New Media artist Morehshin Allahyari.

The original series inspects the petropolitical and poetic relationships among 3D Printing, Plastic, Oil, Technocapitalism and Jihad through the reconstruction of 12 Roman-period Assyrian statues in Mosul Museum destroyed by ISIS in 2015. In the same spirit, Material Speculation: Russia focuses on the reconstruction of a vintage Macintosh Plus, one artifact of many housed in the Muzeya Kompqyuterov (Computer Museum) in Mariupol, Ukraine (a southern port city now occupied by Russia), that was destroyed by Russian forces in 2022.

Museum Bombing by ISIS and Russia

Muzeya Kompqyuterov housed more than 120 precious samples of computer technologies and game consoles of the last century. The bombing and complete destruction of it by the Russian airstrike have historical significance because its collection symbolizes the memories of generations of Ukrainian computer programmers and enthusiasts.

Cultural and Economic Significance

To a certain extent, the bombing both represents and exemplifies the Russian assault on the Ukrainian technology industry. Ukraine is a very common outsourcing location for global tech companies. In fact, it has a thriving tech sector that accounts for 4% of its GDP and grows over 20% every year. It is an important driving force for the future Ukrainian economy. However, the Russian invasion has forced many companies to exit the country and tech talent to flee.

The Recreation of the Macintosh Plus

We think that some meaningful parallels can perhaps be drawn between the Russian attack on the Ukrainian museum and ISIS's attack on the Iraqi museum. So re-creating one of the exhibits in the Ukrainian computer museum could be an interesting way to re-create, and even re-interpret, Moreshin's idea of addictivism and re-figuring.

The museum exhibit that we chose to recreate is Machintosh Plus. The Machintosh and the Original Apple Series both have some interesting connections to Ukraine. An important related historical event was the introduction of Agat, a Soviet computer that was inspired by Apple II and had widespread adoption in the schools of the USSR due to its relative affordability.

Macintosh Plus

Besides, both series were released around Gorbachev's 1980s policy reform, the period when the Eastern Bloc started to be more open to the world. In 1989, the US also lifted the export ban of Macintosh to the USSR, leading to the historical precedence of western computers being legally used in Ukraine and the rest of the USSR. Because of all these reasons, after the dissolution of USSR, old or cloned western computers were very popular among the first-generation Eastern Bloc programmers at the time.

Addictivism and Transcendence

In the original project, Allahyari included a flash drive and a memory card inside each 3D-printed object. Like time capsules, each object is sealed (though accessible) for future civilizations. The information in these flash drives includes images, maps, PDF files, and videos gathered on the artifacts and sites that were destroyed. Thus, it created a practical and political possibility for artifact archival, while also proposing 3D printing technology as a tool for resistance and documentation.

King Uthal

Similarly, this project uses 3D printing as a means of resistance to the inhumane invasion of the Russian military in Ukraine. The miniaturized floppy disk embedded in the artwork contains a QR code which leads to resources for supporting the Ukrainian resistance. In this way, 3D printing becomes an avenue for resisting the brutal erasure of Ukrainian technological heritage.

3D Additivist Cookbook

Our work also expands on Allahyari's 3D Additivist Cookbook. We designed our contribution as additional pages to the original cookbook.