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Solar Protocol

“I envision a more equitable future, where anyone has access to life-sustaining resources like natural resources, food, knowledge, and education. A more decentralized, more community-driven and more democratic future where people collaborate towards building the future they really want to see while building and owning their own technologies, tools, and solutions.” —Benedetta Piantella

A solar map of the world representing the science behind Solar Protocol. Diagram showing the active Solar Protocol server being updated by dynamic DNS updates.
Current location
New York, NY
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
2020, Rapid Response Fellow
Alex Nathanson, Tega Brain, Benedetta Piantella

Solar Protocol is a naturally intelligent network. This website is hosted across a network of solar-powered servers and is sent to the visitor from whichever server is in the most sunshine.

The Solar Protocol network reconfigures internet protocols using a kind of natural rather than artificial intelligence. The network routes internet traffic according to the logic of the sun, where page requests are sent to whichever server is enjoying the most sunlight at the time. The members of the collaborative are working with people around the world who have built and installed servers that host this site alongside their own web content. When their server becomes the active node of the network, their online materials (if any) will soon become visible on this site.

By using the logic of the sun, Solar Protocol reconfigures internet protocols with natural rather than artificial intelligence in an effort to circumnavigate dominant systems of surveillance capitalism. Just as significantly, the project demonstrates the potential for technology to be powered by alternative energy without the constraints and environmental repercussions of cheap fossil fuels.

About Collaborators

Tega Brain, she/her 

Tega Brain is an Australian-born digital artist and environmental engineer whose work examines issues of ecology, data, automation, and infrastructure. She has created digital networks that are controlled by environmental phenomena, systems for obfuscating personal data, and a wildly popular, online smell-based dating service. Her work has been commissioned and exhibited by museums and galleries worldwide. She is a 2023 Creative Capital awardee, an Industry Associate Professor of Integrated design and Media, New York University, and her first book, Code as Creative Medium, is coauthored with Golan Levin and published with MIT Press

Alex Nathanson, he/him

Alex Nathanson is a multimedia artist, engineer, and educator. His work is primarily focused on exploring both the experimental and practical applications of sustainable energy technologies, particularly photovoltaic solar power. His work has been featured at Issue Project Room (NYC), the Museum of the Moving Image (NYC), Anthology Film Archives (NYC), Film Society of Lincoln Center (NYC), Dome of Visions (Copenhagen, Denmark), and the Art Prospect Festival (St. Petersburg, Russia). He was one of the long-term artists in residence at Flux Factory, in Queens, NY from 2012 to 2016, and his multi-media performance group Fan Letters was awarded residencies at The Watermill Center in 2017 and 2019. As a solar power designer, he has created interactive and educational projects for The Climate Museum, Solar One, and the NYC Department of Education, among others. He received a M.S. in Integrated Digital Media from NYU Tandon School of Engineering in 2019. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor at NYU Tandon and is the author of a A History of Solar Power Art and Design, published by Routledge.

Benedetta Piantella, she/her

Benedetta Piantella is a designer turned humanitarian technologist. She has been involved in international development for the past ten years, ever since her experience of surviving the Tsunami in 2004. She has also been teaching for the past decade in different disciplines and age groups, from Lego Robotics to K-12 students to HCI, Physical Computing and Engineering for Development to graduate students at NYU. She founded two R&D companies focused on producing sustainable solutions to social problems worldwide and built partnerships with organizations such as the UN, UNICEF, The Earth Institute, Universities such as NYU, Columbia University and Princeton, and multiple NGOs. Her design research and practice focus on applying systems thinking and user-driven development to insure equitable access to life-sustaining resources, often through networks, data-collection and real-time monitoring, and distributed infrastructure.

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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