The Critical Technical Practice Lab, where I am based at M-ITI, has a new blog to disseminate the activities that take place there. In a recent post, there is some more info about a workshop we are doing with a group of youth who participate in the Esc@Up program in Câmara de Lobos. These youth, and the Esc@Up program, are part of the project I’m undertaking as fieldwork. Check it out!
I’m pleased to report that the proceedings from STS Italia: Sociotechnical Environments have been published and are available for download.
This volume is comprised of a peer-reviewed selection of papers which were delivered at the 6th STS Italia conference in Trento, Italy in November 2016. My accepted paper is entitled “Artist as Science Communicator”:
Artists and designers working with scientists or science–related topics in their work often work in ways which partially mirror the science communicator. In this paper I demonstrate that artists working on long–term investigative projects with science have a unique role to play which adds more nuance to the overall ‘straight’ science communication offering. I examine three case studies: Paper Moon, a multimedia installation by designer Ilona Gaynor; The International Space Orchestra, an ongoing performance project by designer Nelly Ben Hayoun; and Cloud Maker, an experimental object by artist Karolina Sobecka. My paper will describe the unusual merits of these three cases as science communication in addition to their status as art objects, from my perspective of having worked closely with the artists on the works as commissioning curator.
I recently published a piece entitled “From Innovator to Maintainer: the Anti-Heroic Turn” at the EASST Review. Check it out!
Strategic Narratives of Technology and Africa
The conference brings scholars, technologists, and cultural producers together on the island of Madeira: a European territory off the coast of Africa, a historical site of mutual entanglement between the Atlantic continents, and a point of departure for European expansion. Here we’ll strategize ways to revisit, reframe, and recode the future of technology on and for both continents.
What can African theorists, technologists, and cultural producers do to generate alternatives to the influx of neocolonial narratives of tech entrepreneurship? What are key epistemologies and ways of being which are endemic in Africa that should be offered to the world through new systems and processes? How can an African information economy avoid the dynamics of the resource curse, where connectivity is extractive and exercised upon African citizens rather than by and through them? What can Western technologists do differently, and what are the spaces for collaboration?
This conference aims to reinvestigate these relationships and more in order to engender dialog between African and Western audiences and participants, who should leave Madeira equipped with new strategies and new collaborative partnerships.
We are accepting papers, creative works, and technologies that explore or demonstrate alternative socio-technical approaches. Contributions should be grounded in analysis and move toward synthesis: we hope to paint the “art of the [radical] possible” and generate new threads and pathways for the development of fresh technologies.
Deadline for submission: May 1
Conference dates: September 1 & 2
The Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) 17th Triennial Symposium on African Art, hosted by the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies (IAS) Triennial Symposium August 8 – 13, 2017 will be held on the University of Ghana, Legon campus.
Open panel: New Narratives of Art and Technology in Africa
From Arnold Rubin’s comparison of art to a “system of tools and techniques by means of which people relate to their environment” (1991) to Alfred Gell’s idea of art as “a technology of enchantment” (1998), the study of African and non-Western art has proven fertile ground for art historical approaches using technology as metaphor for art as a mode of action in the world. The ideas of technology at play, however, most closely resemble techné, a term deriving from Ancient Greece to refer to the value-laden craft practice of pre-industrial societies, in which specialists serve functional needs while also conforming to society’s broader ethical and aesthetic values. Currently prevailing concepts of technology, however, in Africa as elsewhere, differ sharply. Technology as controlling, alienating, and disruptive coexists with notions of technology as liberator, economic salve, or ‘start-up innovation’; digital sound, 3D printing, cheap electronics and the Internet have opened up new semantic and aesthetic possibilities; while pioneering African technologies, such as M-Pesa and Frontline SMS, have transformed the terms of ordinary, everyday commercial and community engagement. What are the politics and poetics of new technological appropriations in African art (and art history)? How are artists responding to, or shaping, new socio-technical imaginaries? How do the discourses of Afrofuturism, speculative design, and ‘critical making’ (among others) inform artistic practice relating to Africa? Can technology be decolonized? How might we theorize anew relations among art, technology, and cultures of creativity? We invite submissions probing these and all related questions.
To submit a paper proposal, please send the following to Gemma Rodrigues (gemma.rodrigues at m-iti.org) by February 7, 2017:
– Paper Title
– An abstract of 250 words describing the theme and scope of your paper
– A short abstract of 100 words for online dissemination
– Contact name, affiliation, address, phone, e-mail
For further information, please email the panel co-chairs:
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
E-mail: gemma.rodrigues at m-iti.org
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
Email: michelle.kasprzak at m-iti.org
I recently was commissioned to write an essay for this year’s GOGBOT Festival. The festival theme was Post-Singularity, and my piece, entitled Ushering in the Era of Beneficial Intelligence, explored Stephen Hawking’s idea of “beneficial intelligence”, the Golem, our inherent biases, nuclear waste storage, the Anthropocene, and much more. You can read it on Medium.
I’m pleased to be presenting at the STS Italia annual conference this November. The theme is “Sociotechnical Environments” and the organizers describe the theme thusly:
“…we are conscious that everyday and professional environments we inhabit are increasingly shaped by science, technology and innovation processes. However, these environments are not mere results of technical solutions and rational choices, but they rather emerge from a collective, dynamic and open-ended process of co-production, involving social arrangements and technoscientific processes, human actors and material artifacts, natural resources and cultural frameworks. At the same time, reflecting on the sociotechnical co-production of our social world brings to the foreground the relationship between technoscientific innovation and natural environment, turning environmental practices, politics and materialities as decisive focal points for the current research in multiple fields and intellectual domains.”
I’m presenting in the track entitled “Communicating Research in Public” and my paper, “Artist as Science Communicator”, looks at the practice of artists which could also be considered a form of science communication, and how the novel methods of production and display by artists contribute to STS dialogue on publics of science.
Hope to see you in Trento!
I’m really pleased to be presenting at the annual 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) conference, this year held in conjunction with EASST (European Association for the Study of Science and Technology) in Barcelona.
The theme of the conference is Science & technology by other means: Exploring collectives, spaces and futures. I’m presenting on the track entitled STS & Artistic Research, chaired by Peter Peters, Henk Borgdorff, and Trevor Pinch. This track will explore a range of “…STS research on the arts and Artistic Research. It covers studies of artistic practices; reflexive practitioners at the boundaries between the arts and science, technology, and medicine; arts-based research methods; and enhanced modes of publication.”
My paper is entitled “Emerging Post-Digital Methods of Artistic Production”. My short abstract reads: “In this paper I use two bodies of politically critical artwork to examine how 3D scanning and printing technologies utilised in artistic research contribute to STS dialogue on the backstage and practical technical concerns around the production of art, as well as material outcomes of digital processes.”
I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be giving a workshop in Toronto, Canada at the end of this month!
Join me at InterAccess on July 26 for the first in the “Social in the Studio” series.
The first in InterAccess’ new “Social in the Studio” series invites you to come and work on projects alongside an artist in our community, because making together is both more fun and more critical. Or as Matt Ratto has said, “Critical making emphasizes the shared acts of making rather than the evocative object. The final prototypes are not intended to be displayed and to speak for themselves. Instead, they are considered a means to an end, and achieve value though the act of shared construction, joint conversation, and reflection.”
Michelle’s session in the studio will investigate a Pop Art hero, pizza, and glitchy 3D models. Bring your own smartphones with Autodesk 123D Catch installed and objects you want to capture for printing (or whatever else you’re working on). Part of the conversation over the course of the session will also look at what it means to be a “practising artist”, taking career breaks (to have other careers), and finding the threads of your practice that are always there, no matter the media.
With the current reading I have been doing, and through discussion with my supervisor, I am refining my possible direction/research question.
I’m suffering a little bit from typical first year PhD student syndrome: everything is interesting and I can’t decide. But so far, from a quite vague statement about Innovation in Extreme Scenarios I have now narrowed things down a bit further, and my updated short abstract is below.
Here is an abstract of my current proposal.
Abstract: Social Innovation in Extreme Scenarios: Non-Expert Experts Remaking Tools Into Something Usable
My research will investigate the reinvention and repurposing of tools by communities of “non-expert experts”: in other words, highly creative and high-functioning amateurs. Social innovation is often seen as a top-down developed world export in the form of charity apps, microloan services, and projects such as One Laptop Per Child. What happens when groups of high-functioning amateurs hack corrupted, purposefully-broken systems to meet their needs (a current example is Angolan hackers using Portuguese Wikipedia to embed large downloads of pirated material)? What can we learn from their ingenious methods, borne of urgency? How can we overcome the barriers that cause Silicon Valley to ship broken products (if they ship anything at all) to communities that are not wealthy, white, and male?