Tribute proposes that American residents engage civically—by voting, paying taxes, responding to the census, and more—via digital device. With this government-issued, Tamagotchi-like technology, every U.S. resident simultaneously has their finger on the pulse of the nation and their local representative’s life in the palm of their hands, as local policymakers’ physiological well-being is controlled by residents’ collective actions on the device and policymakers’ adherence to their constituents’ needs. The key elements of this fiction include the device itself, its instruction manual, packaging, ID card, and a newspaper from a future with Tribute.
These objects were only as valuable as the discourse they could initiate. Through a series of speculative enactments centered around key moments and objects from this fiction, participants reflexively generated more elements of the narrative that respond to its central questions. In these moments, Tribute invites participants to inform the contours of this dystopic, techno-solutionist proposal for addressing democratic failure. The first series of enactments focus on the “unboxing” moment. Shooting unboxing videos provided the constructs for introducing a new technology like Tribute, walking through banal elements of its form and function, and spring-boarding into deeper reflections about a future in which this device is as ubiquitous as the newest Samsung smart phone.