Booksprint Report in EASST Review

An interdisciplinary gathering of scholars took place at Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) on October 19-21 2017. We came together to discuss the issues we confront in our work looking at the intersection of remoteness, technology, and self-determination. What began as a plan to write a manifesto ultimately resulted in a hypertext document replete with ambiguity. The structure of the final piece was intended to mirror our booksprint location and site of inspiration – an archipelago of islands, in this case formulated as a series of interlinked but standalone pieces of writing.

I wrote a report about the booksprint for EASST Review and you can read that here.

You can view the online publication that we created here.


Workshop at the Critical Technical Practice Lab

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!


STS Italia: Sociotechnical Environments proceedings published

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.

Call for Participation: Strategic Narratives of Technology and Africa

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


Call for Papers: New Narratives of Art and Technology in Africa

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 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:

Gemma Rodrigues
Research Fellow
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
E-mail: gemma.rodrigues at

Michelle Kasprzak
Doctoral student
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
Email: michelle.kasprzak at


Ushering in the Era of Beneficial Intelligence

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.




STS Italia conference: Sociotechnical Environments

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!


4S/EASST Conference: Science + Technology By Other Means

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.”