Bodies in Transit – Performing Critique
Prof. Dr. Michelle Christensen | Prof. Dr. Florian Conradi | Marie Dietze
Bodies in Transit – Performing Critique
Online block seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS, 5 Places, Monday to Friday, 20.-24.9.2021, 10-16 h
Introduction: 20.09.2021 at 10 via Zoom
Please register until 1.6.2021 to michelle.christensen and @tu-berlin.deflorian.conradi! @tu-berlin.de
Bodies have always been in a constant state of material and discursive transition. From medical to DIY body augmentation, from meticulous self-tracking to life-mining mass-quantification of (bio)data, and from intimate lived reality to mythical metaphor, the body currently exists as a hyper-connected site of contestation and power plays. It can be understood as something that gets updated, altered, needs maintenance and sometimes breaks down and gets rebooted. As something that is not fixed, something collective and transforming, always in flux – as a site of negotiation.
Donna Haraway’s well-known feminist allegory of the ‘cyborg’ from 1985 already inserted an oppositional consciousness at the heart of the debate on new technological bodies and societies, questioning power relations and the making of ethical and political resistance in the age of an informatics of domination. In the ambiguity of the natural and artificial, self-developing and externally designed, Haraway proposes the potential of strategically confusing identities. We are all chimeras, she argued, fabricated hybrids of machine and organism – and should take pleasure in the confusion of boundaries.
In this block-seminar we will discover and debate the topic of performing bodies as a site of confusion, negotiation and of critique. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective on the politics and technologies of bodies in transit with a focus on ‘automation’ versus ‘autonomy’, we will discover real-world phenomena and engage personally with the technological systems in which we are embedded and embodied. Drawing on approaches of critical making and designing, as well as feminist and queer theory – we will (ad hoc) prototype concepts for performing bodies differently (no prior experience with design or technology necessary).
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.
Marie Dietze completed her bachelor’s degree at the Berlin University of the Arts where she studied industrial design with focus on product- and process design. Her main focus laid on iterative prototype development and on the intertwining of digital and cultural processes by means of critical reflection approaches. She expanded her studies at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in the field of industrial design in Jerusalem and graduated the master’s program at the Interface Design department of University of Applied Sciences Potsdam with her thesis: ‘Assembling Fragments – Exploring Feminist Modes of Hacking Through Design’. As a research associate at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, she researches the issues of accessibility, creative and socio-cultural potential of open source technologies. Her particular emphasis lies on gender performance in maker spaces and the hacker community.