Politics of Machines
Prof. Dr. Michelle Christensen | Prof. Dr. Florian Conradi
Politics of Machines
Online-Seminar, English, 4 SWS, 2 ECTS, 5 Places
Tuesdays, 10-13:30 Uhr, weekly, Introduction: 20.04.2021 at 10 am via Zoom
Notice: 2 ECTS can be obtained within the framework of the Studium Generale and 2 ECTS can be obtained within the framework of a free elective.
Please register by the 16.4.2021 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 conference ‘Politics of the Machines – Rogue Research’ that is planned to take place in September 2021 (berlin.pomconference.org).
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.