“The objects are ‘socket bombs’. Socket bombing involves purposefully causing a short circuit in a buildings’ electrical mains. This trips the circuit breakers and so cuts the power to all the electrical sockets on that circuit.
The activists use cheap timer switches – by wiring a loop of cable between the Live and Earth pins of the plug, a short circuit is caused when the timer switches to ‘On’. Plugging these devices in to sockets in the public areas of buildings, the pirates can cause the main circuit breakers in the building to trip at a pre-set time, cutting power to many of the other electrical outlets in the building. Similar devices are used to cut the power to lights, and when a number of such devices are synchronised the power within an entire building can be cut.
The activists claim benign intent, and while no injuries have been caused thus far, it can cost money and create chaos when, for instance the power to the checkouts at a supermarket is cut.
The power remains cut until the device has been located and unplugged. The activists use this to create further inconvenience by plugging the devices in to sockets in out of the way areas like behind desks, seats, or display stands. ”
The concept of Energy Security is as much an issue as global warming in some political discourses around energy. This implies that energy use could become a highly charged political issue. The politicisation of energy fed in to our ‘creation’ of the Socket Bombers, imagined as an activist
group of the near future.
With this scenario we wanted to draw attention to the physical interconnectedness of the electrical distribution network, and our strangely unguarded access to it in many public buildings.
More important though are the motivations of the socket bombers. Do they target institutions who use energy ‘wastefully’, or those that buy their electricity from sources to which they object? A shopping centre whose supplier is investing in coal fired power stations? Government buildings after the passing of an unpopular energy bill? And what of the response from the institutions – locks on all electrical outlets?
GOLDSMITH operates within the boundaries of architecture and urbanism. We try to solve complex spatial issues in the most direct and efficient manner. GOLDSMITH aims for simple, but significant solutions.