Studio Class: Critical Making – Politics of Things
Prof. Dr. des. Michelle Christensen | Prof. Dr. des. Florian Conradi
Studio Class: Critical Making – Politics of Things
English Seminar, 4 SWS, 2 ECTS, 5 places
Notice: 2 SWS / 2 ECTS can be obtained within the framework of the Studium Generale and 2 SWS / 2 ECTS can be obtained within the framework of an elective (Wahlpflichtbereich)
Tuesdays von 10-13:30 h, weekly, introduction 15.10.2019
Einstein Center Digital Future/Robert Koch Forum, Wilhelmstraße 67, 10117 Berlin
Please register beforehand to: michelle.christensen and @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do things practice politics? In these times of technological entanglement, where hashtags tell us when to care about what, algorithms culturally reproduce us based on what we search for and ‘like’, and sensors and chips find their homes in our sneakers and coffee machines advising us on our personal behaviour – things are knowing, learning, evaluating, predicting – and even collaborating amongst each other. Do these things just help us to organise ourselves, or do they ‘help’ us to judge and feel? When are we still at the centre of the social algorithm, and when do we become extensions of the extensions that we built? Do we have to raise a discussion about political systems of technology – about ‘ubiquitous capitalism’, ‘algorithmic aristocracy’ or ‘object-mediated democracy’? In this studio class we will explore, practice and formulate critical perspectives on the politics of things. We will discover phenomena on the topic and shadow the material regimes of power that we ourselves live within – hindering and compromising our own personal devices and thus our own conducts, in order to uncover latent power structures embedded in everyday life. Furthermore, drawing on the approach of ‘critical making’, we will prototype possibilities and provocations, integrating critical thinking with critical fabrication (no prior experience with design or technology necessary).
Along the way, this course will offer input talks and workshops from critical makers – feminist hackers, decolonial makers and open technology activists.
Michelle Christensen is a sociologist and designer exploring the spaces in between these realms. Her research interests include trans- and postdisciplinarity, the politics of objects, and the democratic potentials of free and open technologies. Michelle wrote her Ph.D. (Dr. phil. des.) in the field of Design Research at the Berlin University of the Arts. Prior to this, she studied political sociology at Roskilde University in Denmark (B.A.), conflict studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands (M.A.), gender studies at the University of Amsterdam (M.Sc.), and integrated design at the Köln International School of Design in Cologne (M.A.). She has worked at the Crisis Department of Amnesty International USA, was a Humanity in Action Fellow, and a Congressional Fellow in the United States Congress in Washington DC. As a researcher she has worked at the Design Research Lab (UdK Berlin), the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), and she currently heads a research group on critical making at the UdK Berlin / Weizenbaum Institute together with Florian Conradi. She has taught courses in conflict analysis, gender studies and design methods at universities in the Netherlands and Germany, most recently as a visiting professor at the international master’s program (MAID) at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau. Since 2015, she is a member of the Board of International Research in Design (BIRD) at Birkhäuser, and since 2014, she is a board member of the German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF). As a visiting professor at the Einstein Center Digital Future / Technische Universität Berlin, she shares the chair of Open Science with Florian Conradi. Within this collaboration, their research focuses on decolonial, feminist/queer theoretical and sustainable approaches to critical making and free/open technologies.
Florian Conradi is a designer and researcher, combining critical theory and design practice as an approach to critical making. Using the means and principles of free and open technologies, he explores the politics of design within the digital society. Florian studied communication design at the University of Applied Sciences Mainz and art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. He
went on to complete an M.F.A. in design at the Sandberg Institute (Gerrit Rietveld Academie) in Amsterdam, an M.A. in integrated design at the Köln International School of Design in Cologne, and wrote his Ph.D. (Dr. phil. des.) in the field of Design Research at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK Berlin). Since 2008 he has been initiating sociopolitical design projects with institutions in the field of critical media and political advocacy, carrying out field research in Europe, as well as in the Middle East, East and West Africa. As a research associate, he has worked for the University of Applied Sciences Mainz, the Design Research Lab at the UdK Berlin, the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence – and together with Michelle Christensen, he currently heads a research group on maker culture at the UdK Berlin / Weizenbaum Institute. He has taught critical approaches to design and design methods at amongst other places the Köln International School of Design, the UdK Berlin, and most recently, as a visiting professor at the international master’s program in Integrated Design at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau. At the Einstein Center Digital Future / Technische Universität Berlin, he shares a visiting professorship for Open Science with Michelle Christensen. Within their work, they explore the potential of working in open lab settings – developing critical perspectives through the use of maker means and transdisciplinary collaborations.