As a transversal field of inquiry, new materialism opens hybrid spaces between the social sciences & the humanities and the natural & technical sciences & engineering. Increasing computing power and technological advancements highlight the need to account for the material basis as well as material consequences of informatics and to ask how technopolitics and techno-epistemologies can be reconfigured for these complex times.
"Notes on the Three Stages of the Algorithmic Condition; The Ethe of Mimesis, Feminicity, and Bioinformatics" – Felicity Colman
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 / 9:30am - 11:00am
Session Chair: Goda Klumbyte
Keynote by Prof. Felicity Colman, University of Arts, London, UK.
Response by Dr. Beatriz Revelles Benavente, University of Granada, Spain
The algorithmic condition today is one where masses of data are conglomerated into patterns for the purposes of organisation, and attempted control of resources. Governance of algorithmically organised digital systems and the data objects, patterns, and sets made within these systems generate particular forms of behaviours, functions, actions, and expressions of life. While these systems are often attributed with having different forms of agency and intentionality, the condition itself is one of mimesis, glitches, interruptions, disruptions, changes, patches, hacks, mergers, mutations, contingencies, chaos, quantum speed, accidents, blackouts, and entropy. Philosophers, artists, scientists, politicians, the media, communities, each express the actions and narratives of the algorithmic condition in different ways; contingent upon the modal technology affecting the system in play, and the process of description of that system (cf. Apprich et.al. 2018; Bateson 1954; Hayles 2017; Poser 2013; Stiegler 2016). Drawing on the modal tools offered in these descriptions and analyses, this lecture will describe the three main stages of the algorithmic condition; cybernetics, feminicity, and bioinformatics, and offer a consideration of the ethos of this condition; as generated by technological rather than theological modalities.
Felicity Colman is Professor of Media Arts and Associate Dean of Research for the London College of Fashion at University of the Arts, London. Felicity is a specialist in media forms, creative philosophies, communication theory, and new materialist feminist epistemologies. Felicity teaches and researches forms of creative media practice. She has a professional background working life in the creative industries - in fashion and textile design, and working in curatorial roles. Trained as an art historian, she has taught and worked in Higher Education in Australia and in the United Kingdom for over 20 years. Current research focus is on feminist modal ethics.
Beatriz Revelles Benavente is a junior professor at the University of Granada in the department of English and German Philologies. She is also the main editor of the journal "Matter: Journal of New Materialist Research" and was part of the organizing committee of the V New Materialist Conference (Spain, 2014).
"Muddled Theories and Vibrant Mud: Notes on a Career of Reading and Walking" – Shaowen Bardzell
Time: Tuesday, March 23,2021 / 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Session Chair: Claude Draude
Keynote by Prof. Shaowen Bardzell, Penn State University, USA.
Response by Dr. Anna Croon, Umeå University, Sweden
Shaowen Bardzell is a Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University, USA. Originally trained in Comparative Literature, she approaches Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in ways that reflect her background, situating her work in the intersection of HCI, Gender Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and Internet and Media Studies. Her primary research foci have included interdisciplinary studies on feminist social science epistemology and methods; IT’s relationship to emancipation and participation; research through design and critical design; sexuality, identity, and experience; everyday aesthetics, including craft and DIY, in contemporary interaction; affective and emotional aspects of design; and sociability in social media and virtual worlds. Methodologically, she leverages cross-disciplinary theories and methods that include social science (especially qualitative research methods such as ethnography and interviewing), feminist social science (e.g., feminist action research, feminist narrative inquiry), and the humanities and the arts (including criticism, critical discourse analysis, close reading and others).
Anna Croon is an associate professor at the Department of Informatics, Umeå University. She has previously been the chair of Umeå Center for Gender Studies, and Vice head of Umeå School of Architecture, Umeå University, Sweden. She received a PhD in Informatics from the Department of Informatics, Umeå University, Sweden, and was appointed Head of the same department from. Her engagement in research, research education, is dedicated to alternative forms of knowledge production with respect to societal challenges, and digital materials. In particular, she focuses on the ways in which systems thinking, design theory and feminist technosciensce can be used to privilege situated knowledge, alternative visions and new companions, providing a sharp contrast to traditional views within science and engineering research and education.
"Speculative Materialities, Indigenous Worldings and Decolonial Futures in Computing & Design"
– Round-Table Discussion
Time: Wednesday, March 24, 2021 / 9:30am - 11:30am
Session Chairs: Goda Klumbytė and Loren Britton
With contributions by:
Dr. Outi Laiti, University of Lapland, Finland;
Dr. Luiza Prado de O. Martins, Lusófona University, Portugal;
Femke Snelting, CONSTANT, Belgium and
Caroline J. Ward, Ada Lovelace Institute, UK
Outi Laiti is an Indigenous postdoctoral researcher at University of Lapland. Her field of research is education and computer science and focus is on Sámi language and culture in games and programming. In 2020, gamesindustry.biz nominated her as one of the 100 Game Changers for her work on promoting e.g. Sámi gaming. She was one of the organizers of Sami Game Jam in February 2018. Her doctoral thesis "Old Ways of Knowing, New Ways of Playing" was published in January 2021. At the moment she works as a project manager and media educator at Finnish Pensioners’ Federation.
Dr. Luiza Prado de O. Martins is an artist, writer, and researcher whose work examines themes around fertility, reproduction, coloniality, gender, and race. In her doctoral dissertation she approaches the control over fertility and reproduction as a foundational biopolitical gesture for the establishment of the colonial/modern gender system, theorizing the emergence of ‘technoecologies of birth control’ as a framework for observing—and resisting, disrupting, troubling—colonial domination. Her ongoing artistic research project, “A Topography of Excesses,” looks into encounters between human and plant beings within the context of herbalist reproductive medicine, approaching these practices as expressions of radical care. She is part of the curatorial board of transmediale 2021, is a lecturer at the Institute for Art in Context at the University of the Arts Berlin, and an assistant professor and vice-director of the Centre for Other Worlds at the Lusófona University in Lisbon. She is a founding member of Decolonising Design.
Femke Snelting develops projects at the intersection of design, feminisms and free software. In various constellations she has been exploring how digital tools and practices might co-construct each other. She is member of Constant, a non-profit, artist-run association for art and media based in Brussels. With Jara Rocha she activates Possible Bodies, a collective research project that interrogates the concrete and at the same time fictional entities of “bodies” in the context of 3D tracking, modelling and scanning. She co-initiated the design/research team Open Source Publishing (OSP) and formed De Geuzen (a foundation for multi-visual research) with Renée Turner and Riek Sijbring. Femke teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute (experimental publishing, Rotterdam) and a.pass (advanced performance and scenography studies, Brussels).
Caroline J. Ward is a designer and researcher. She is a Fellow at JUST AI (LSE), looking into racial justice and AI (supported by Ada Lovelace Institute). She has also been a Jerwood Fellow at Manchester International Festival in 2018-19 and researcher in residence at INIVA and the Stuart Hall Library in 2017. Together with Dr Erinma Ochu, she has co-founded and directs Squirrel Nation Studio that creates memorable experiences and concepts that consider co-existence as an ethic. Their work spans installation and live events in a range of public settings, from an urban mushroom farm reimagining the future of food in a climate emergency, to moving image; Nature’s Switch, which was also exhibited in a forest clearing and explores human-plant relationships to red light.
"Knowing-Making Accessibility: Crip and Unfinished Technosciences in Physical and Virtual Worlds" – Aimi Hamraie
Time: Wednesday, March 24, 2021 / 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Session Chair: Claude Draude
Keynote by Dr. Aimi Hamraie, Vanderbilt University, USA.
Response by Dr. Katta Spiel, TU Wien, Austria
Scholars and practitioners of disability accessibility across disciplines such as architecture, urban planning, computing, and the humanities often argue for the value of inclusive design for a broad range of users. In these accounts, access has definable and knowable qualities, which designers must simply adopt to achieve social justice. Yet, both the user and the designed environment are historical, emergent, and material-discursive phenomena; these phenomena are produced through and by specific ways of knowing disabled people and designing in their name. This talk examines the uses of new materialist theories of entanglements and emergence for the study of epistemic, built, and infrastructural forms of accessibility. The critical concept of “knowing-making” points to the impossibility of design without a politics of knowledge, and the impossibility of knowing without material experiments in technoscientific worlds. Drawing on the architectural histories of accessibility and the digital accessibility projects of the Critical Design Lab, this talk highlights crip and unfinished technosciences as political projects wherein accessibility is an emergent phenomenon of knowing-making, rather than something measurable and definable. Then, the talk examines the implications of entanglement and emergence for the responsibilities of accessible design toward creating more just worlds.
Aimi Hamraie is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, USA. They are an author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) and articles in American Quarterly, Design and Culture, Disability Studies Quarterly, Foucault Studies, Hypatia: journal of feminist philosophy, philoSOPHIA, Age Culture Humanities, The Politics of Place and Space: Exclusions, Resistance, Alternatives, and Disability Space Architecture. Their research focuses on the relationships between bodies and built environments. Broadly, they are interested in the application of critical disability studies and crip theory to designed environments. Their work contributes the ideas of crip technoscience and epistemic activism to Science and Technology Studies. It builds critical methods for cartographic research. It contributes to critical histories and ethnographies of design processes. Their critical making practice spans disability access and disability justice organizing, participatory cartography, fashion, pedagogy, tactical urbanism, and earth repair.
Katta Spiel is a FWF Hertha-Firnberg scholar at the HCI Group of TU Wien (Vienna University of Technology), where they work on an individual project entitled “Exceptional Norms: Marginalised Bodies in Interaction Design”. Additionally, they teach the lecture on "Methodological Approaches" in the interdisciplinary Master’s curriculum in Gender Studies at the University of Vienna. Previously, they researched the attitudes, desires and interests of neurodivergent youth and children around technological experiences and play at KU Leuven and TU Wien. Before that, they studied Cultural Studies and Computer Science at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. In their research, they look at the margins of technology design. They largely focus on notions of Gender and Disability, with a specific interests on nonbinary identities and neurodivergent people. In doing so, they draw from a range of methods centred on notions of critical participatory research and design.
"Taking on Big Tech: New Paradigms for New Possibilities" – Safiya Umoja Noble
Wednesday, March 24, 2021 / 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Session Chair: Claude Draude
Keynote by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA.
Response by Dr. Edna Bonhomme, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany
In her recent best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble challenges the idea that “Big Tech” offers an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Her work argues that the combination of private interests, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of internet companies, leads to a limited understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in everyday digital engagements. Data discrimination is a real social problem, and in this talk, Noble offers a powerful set of data points, examples, and provocations. She asserts we are just at the beginning of creating new paradigms of justice with the tech sector.
Safiya Umoja Noble is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Information Studies where she serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2). She also holds appointments in African American Studies and Gender Studies. She is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford and has been appointed as a Commissioner on the Oxford Commission on AI & Good Governance (OxCAIGG). She is a board member of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, serving those vulnerable to online harassment. and serves on the NYU Center Critical Race and Digital Studies advisory board. She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press), which has been widely-reviewed in scholarly and popular publications.
Edna Bonhomme is a historian, writer, and interdisciplinary artist based in Berlin, Germany. She earned her PhD in the history of science at Princeton University, a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s in Biology from Reed College. As a historian and writer, Edna’s work interrogates the archaeology of (post)colonial science, embodiment, and surveillance. A central question
of her work asks: what makes people sick? She answers this question by exploring the spaces and modalities of care and toxicity that shape the possibility for repair. Using testimony and materiality, she creates sonic and counter-archives for the African diaspora in hopes that it can be used to construct diasporic futures. Edna has written for Africa is a Country, Al Jazeera, The Baffler, The Nation Magazine,
The New Republic, and more.
"New Players on the World-Stage: A New Materialist Approach to Robotics and HRI" – Maaike Bleeker
Time: Thursday, March 25, 2021 / 9:30am - 11:00am
Session Chair: Goda Klumbytė
Keynote by Prof. Maaike Bleeker, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.
Response by Dr. Pat Treusch, TU Berlin, Germany.
My presentation will be about the Performing Robots research at Utrecht University. This research brings together experts from the performing arts and robotics for a joint investigation of how expertise and knowledge from the performing arts may contribute to the development of robots and human robot interaction (HRI) and, vice versa, how theatre and dance makers to explore the possibilities of these new technological performers and the implications of a future of living with them. I will show how this combined theatre/robotics perspective inspires material-semiotic approaches that acknowledge matter as agent in world making, and invites a rethinking of key aspects of the design and development of robots and HRI. Following Claude Draude’s (2020) observations on how “Human-computer interaction, in its engagement with various forms of materiality and modalities and its need to integrate both human and non-human processes and contexts, promises to be a productive field for connecting new materialism”, I will argue that HRI similarly provides such a productive field for a reconceptualization of the performance of technology and human-technology relationships from new materialist perspective. In the field of human computer interaction, theatre has a history of being referred to as a generative metaphor in the design of user interfaces of computing systems. In her pioneering work, Brenda Laurel (1991) proposes theatre as model for interface design and for navigating the virtual. She developed her perspective on ‘computers as theatre’ in the midst of the multimedia revolution and in relation to the virtual worlds existing within the computational spaces opened up by computer interfaces. Laurel shows how insights from the theatre, in particular Aristotle’s poetics, are most useful for what she describes as “a dramatic theory of human-computer interaction”. Unlike the virtual, other worlds opened up by computer interfaces, robots exist and operate within the real material world of users. In this context, I will show, not Aristotle’s theory of dramatic narrative, but contemporary approaches to making theatre as a practice of material thinking can contribute to a posthumanist performative approach to robots and to HRI as part of the co-evolution of humans and technology.
Maaike Bleeker is a Professor of Theatre and Performance in the department of Media and Culture at Utrecht University. Her work engages with questions of perception, cognition and agency from an interdisciplinary perspective, with a special interest in performance, embodiment, movement, and technology. In her research, she combines approaches from the arts and performance with insights from
philosophy, media theory and cognitive science. She is an experienced dramaturge, having worked with both theatre directors and choreographers. Her monograph Visuality in the Theatre was published by Palgrave (2008). She (co) edited several volumes including Anatomy Live. Performance and the Operating Theatre (2008) Performance & Phenomenology (Routledge 2015), Transmission in Motion. The Technologizing of Dance (Routledge, 2016) and Thinking Through Theatre and Performance (Bloomsbury 2019). She is currently leading the project Acting Like a Robot: Theatre as Testbed for the Robot Revolution.
Pat Treusch is a feminist science and technology scholar and postdoctoral researcher at the program "DiGiTal" (funded by the BCP), working at the Department of Historical and General Educational Sciences and the Center for Interdisciplinary Women's and Gender Studies (ZIFG), both TU Berlin. holds a binational doctor (Cotutelle) in Sociology (TU Berlin) and Gender Studies (Linköping University). In her* dissertation „Robotic Companionship“, she* investigates the making of a specific robot companion, namely the robot Armar, developed in a kitchen robotic laboratory. Her most recent book Robotic Knitting: Re-Crafting Human-Robot Collaboration Through Careful Coboting (2020) has been published open source by Transcript Verlag.
"Authenticating Figures: Algorithms and the New Politics of Recognition" – Wendy H.K. Chun
Time: Thursday, March 25, 2021 / 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Session Chair: Claude Draude
Keynote by Prof. Wendy H.K.Chun, Simon Fraser University, Canada.
Response by Dr. Aristea Fotopoulou, University of Brighton, UK
What does recognition mean in an era of pervasive data capture and automatic pattern detection? Tracing the historical move from "pattern discrimination" to "pattern recognition", this talk unpacks the logic and politics of recognition at the core of systems designed to automatically identify and classify users. It argues for the centrality of the humanities in understanding how we have become characters in a drama called "Big Data".
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is the Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media at Simon Fraser University, and leads the Digital Democracies Institute. The Institute aims to integrate research in the humanities and data sciences to address questions of equality and social justice in order to combat the proliferation of online “echo chambers,” abusive language, discriminatory algorithms and mis/disinformation by fostering critical and creative user practices and alternative paradigms for connection. Dr. Chun is also the author of Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (2016), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (2011), and Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (2006), as well as numerous articles and edited collections.
Aristea Fotopoulou is Principal Lecture (Associate Professor) in Media and Communication Studies, at the University of Brighton. She is the author of “FEMINIST ACTIVISM AND DIGITAL NETWORKS: Between Empowerment and Vulnerability”, published in 2017 by Palgrave Macmillan. Her new book “Feminist Data Studies: big data, critique and social justice” (SAGE Publications, forthcoming, under
contract) demonstrates how the discipline and practices of media & communication studies, and critical data studies can be enriched by the theoretical and methodological projects of Feminist Science and Technology Studies, Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies, Disability, and Queer Studies. Her academic research is interdisciplinary and focuses on social, cultural and political aspects of digital media and data-driven technologies, e.g. artificial intelligence, self-tracking, wearable sensors, big data, and algorithmic media.