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Garden of Virtual Kinship


Stephanie Rothenberg


ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe


Extruded Aluminum, Custom CNCed Brackets, 3D Printed Component Holders


TinyG, Arduino, Water Height Sensor


Reversal of Fortune: The Garden of Virtual Kinship is a telematic garden, both real and virtual, whose lifeline directly correlates to monetary exchanges between the developed and developing world. The project examines the cultural phenomena of online crowdfunded charity, or microfinance, through philanthropic social media websites. These websites enable more affluent individuals primarily located in Western countries to collectively donate small amounts of money to individuals and small communities in extremely economically challenged regions such as East Africa and Central America. The funding is intended to finance small-scale “entrepreneurial” goals. Examples of these pursuits include small retail businesses, local agriculture and farming, transportation and health needs. But contradictions abound within this economic model. What goes unseen are the exorbitant interest rates and fees, borrowers must pay. These can range from 30% up to 60% or higher, and for a loan of only a few hundred dollars. Who profits? It isn’t the lenders with good intentions, but an entire network of banks, starting at the local level and up to multinationals. For more information visit Stephanie Rothenberg's website