Design and Conflict
Prof. Dr. Michelle Christensen | Prof. Dr. Florian Conradi
Design and Conflict
Block-Seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS, 5 places
Monday to Friday, 3.-7.10.2022, 10-17 h
Room: Berlin Open Lab, Universität der Künste Berlin, Einsteinufer 43, 10587 Berlin
Registration: Please register by emails by latest the 01.05.2022 to michelle.christensen and @tu-berlin.deflorian.conradi! @tu-berlin.de
What is the relation between design and conflict? From armed conflicts and environmental strifes, to anti-gender regimes and increasingly socially disrupted societies – what role might design and technology play in all of this? How are conflicts designed – and how do current modes of design activism assist in subverting unjust systems of power?
When observing design emerging in conflict situations – be it the re-use of phone credits as currency, DIY drones to monitor conflicts zones, open-source radical servers to construct alternative communication networks or the building of radio-transmitters out of electronic trash: Designing in times of conflict oftentimes involves a high level of improvisation. It exposes things that emerge out of dire circumstances, are made under strong limitations, and that incite Bottom-Up alternative infrastructures for and by those who need them the most.
In this block seminar, we will take a closer look at the topic of design as, against and in times of conflict. Bringing together insights from Conflict- and Design Research, we will locate the intersections and exemplify them on real-world examples, and on your own experiences. Drawing on low-tech open-source alternative tech, we will carry out a series of design experiments that explore and further develop the idea of ‘doing a lot with a little’.
Michelle Christensen is a visiting professor for Open Science/Critical Culture at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Einstein Center Digital Future, as well as heading a research group on Critical Making at the Berlin University of the Arts (Weizenbaum Institute) together with Florian Conradi. She wrote her Ph.D. in the field of Design Research, prior to which she studied political sociology, conflict studies, gender studies and integrated design. 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 for the Design Research Lab and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Berlin. She has taught courses in gender studies, conflict analysis and design methods at universities in the Netherlands and Germany, most recently as a visiting professor at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau. Her work focuses on decolonial, feminist/queer and sustainable approaches to design and free/open technologies.
Florian Conradi is a designer and researcher combining critical theory and design as an approach to critical practice. He studied design and art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, the KISD in Cologne, and wrote his Ph.D. in the field of Design Research at the Berlin University of the Arts. 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 the Middle East, East and West Africa. He has taught critical approaches to design and design methods at amongst other places the Köln International School of Design, the UdK Berlin, and as a visiting professor at the international Master program in Integrated Design at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau. Currently, he is a visiting professor for Open Science/Critical Design at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Einstein Center Digital Future, as well as heading a research group on Critical Making at the Berlin University of the Arts in the context of the Weizenbaum Institute together with Michelle Christensen.