Studio Class – Politics of Machines
Prof. Dr. Michelle Christensen | Prof. Dr. Florian Conradi
Studio Class – Politics of Machines
Online-Seminar, English, 4 SWS, 2 ECTS, 5 Places
Tuesdays, 10-13:30 Uhr, weekly, Introduction: 10.11.2020 at 10 am via Zoom
Notice: 2 SWS can be obtained within the framework of the Studium Generale and 2 SWS can be obtained within the framework of a free elective.
Please register beforehand to michelle.christensen and @tu-berlin.deflorian.conradi. @tu-berlin.de
In a state of ‘ontological crisis’, all boundaries between human and machine, nature and culture, and the organic and inorganic have been severely blurred. These are times of curious contrivances, novel natures, inescapable automation and posthuman performances – where human and nonhuman find themselves being entwined, meshed and muddled into new unwitting entanglements. But from biased machine-learning to surveillance capitalism and digital colonisation – what power-structures are implicitly and covertly being embedded into these technologies? 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 things – about ‘ubiquitous capitalism’, ‘algorithmic aristocracy’ or ‘object-mediated democracy’?
In this studio class we will discuss ethical, social and political implications of technology with a focus on ‘automation’ versus ‘autonomy’. We will practice and formulate critical perspectives on the politics of machines, discovering novel phenomena and shadowing the material regimes of power that we ourselves live within – hindering and compromising personal devices and thus conducts, in order to uncover latent power structures embedded in everyday life. Furthermore, drawing on the approaches of research-through-design and critical making, we will prototype possibilities and provocations, integrating critical thinking with critical fabrication (no prior experience with design or technology necessary). The outcomes of the class will be displayed in the context of the Politics of the Machines conference (POM BLN) that is planned to take place in May 2021.
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 social dimension of 'thingness'. She wrote her Ph.D. in the field of Design Research at UdK Berlin, prior to which 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). Currently, she heads a research group on critical making at the UdK Berlin / Weizenbaum Institute together with Florian Conradi, as well as teaching as a visiting professor for open science at the Technische Universität Berlin / Einstein Center Digital Future.
Florian Conradi studied communication design at the University of Applied Sciences Mainz (Diplom FH) and at the Art Department of 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. in the field of Design Research at the 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. 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 at the Technische Universität Berlin / Einstein Center Digital Future, as well as heading a research group on critical making at the UdK Berlin / Weizenbaum Institute together with Michelle Christensen.