When Crafting Leads to Hacking: Magnetic Materials Workshop

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  • Workshop Statement

    What happens when design research evolves into scientific enquiry, and ends up in potentially criminal territory? I am a material designer using magnetism as an ingredient. Recently, I have begun to use the magnetic field of credit card stripes in my research work. This followed a chance encounter with a magnetic engineer on a London tube line, and other twists of plot that sound stranger than fiction. The workshop tells the story of how magnetic materials transcend boundaries between technology and art. Workshop participants will be asked to take a leap of faith and employ their credit cards in a design technique. Using latex, cornstarch and iron powder, we will copy the body of the credit card and hack into the magnetic field stripe. The participants will learn the language of ANSI/ISO 16-character bit code. We will look at the magnetic field pattern and decode it to find the information concealed. What starts out as a craft process will result in a demonstration of scientific principles, and an exploration of how private information is securely protected.