The Formamat is an interactive installation, art piece and scientific-philosophical inquiry taking up the question what value we attach to digital data that we have stored on our mobile storage devices. With the Formamat - a vending machine that returns candies in exchange for the deletion of digital data from users mobile storage device - we invite people to experience the joy of deletion and encourage them to think about the value and (in)dispensability of their files while also researching the subject in a scientific sense by storing and analyzing their deletion-behavior.

More and more digital data is heaped every day, we buy bigger and faster storage devices and with smartphones, mp3-players, digital cameras, USB-sticks and flash cards we also carry increasing amounts of our data with us. While we throw away many things in every day life, for example because they are old, broken, not being used, or because we feel the need to clean up the space, we are often reluctant to delete files in the digital world. (A simple scenario: during vacation we take a few hundred photos, many of them blurry, redundant or unwanted, however we don’t take the effort to delete these.) Do we really need all this information, or is there an issue with deletion? Do we lack deletion criteria or is digital deletion failing to deliver the feeling of closure or joy? The Formamat serves as a decision catalyst by translating the value of a digital file into an amount of chocolate candies. A dynamic formula compares the characteristics of the selected file (file size, last modification date, the total amount of files on the connected device and file type) to the characteristics of all files deleted so far by previous user’s and determines how much candy a file is worth. An intriguing tension between peoples’ wish to get a lot of chocolate and the unwillingness to give up their data is created. An inviting and attractive interface with funny dialogs and simple explanations makes file deletion an exciting and joyful experience for Formamat users.

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