‘Digging Deep’ with Anne Balsamo
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
“Making” has gained new currency through technologies such as 3D printing, single board processors, mobile devices and the web and through processes and platforms such as maker labs, thatcamps, hackathons and urban informatics centers.
However, there is often an assumed direct and natural connection between ideas/data and different types of material objects and representations. These assumptions do not properly consider the complex pathways between idea and outcome, often resulting in activities and plans that are ‘hylomorphic’ in planning and action. Whether it is the belief that ideas/solutions can simply be printed, that urban or historical data is a direct representation of some ‘real’ past or future city, or that ‘thatcamps’ enact a hierarchy-free dialogue, such a focus does not properly construe and consider the material, social, and organizational work that structures processes of making.
Increasingly – particularly given the powerful rhetorics that surround the above work – there is a need to dig deep – to think carefully about the way conceptual work and making are entangled, to examine how different environments and ecosystems can support intellectual-material work, and to analyze the social-cultural-scholarly impacts of such actions.
Over the last few years, the long-standing ‘firewall’ between critical thinking and physical making has been toppling, in no small part due to scholars and practitioners in design, the digital humanities, and other areas who have developed specific modes of material/conceptual engagement. While most critical work within the academy remains focused on linguistic processes and outputs, critical making (broadly construed) is more and more finding a place within pedagogical and research-oriented contexts. Now is the time to come together to explore the specifics of such processes, to place in relation the various modes, contexts, histories, objectives, and outcomes in ways that collectively help us all move forward.
This workshop investigates how conceptual and material work gets enacted in specific environments and ecosystems drawing on the experience and expertise of participants from a variety of disciplinary and practice-based backgrounds including media studies, design, art, literature, cultural heritage, digital humanities and science and technology studies. The participants also bring considerable experience from having key administrative and institutional roles in different environments invested in intellectual-material work.
The program includes two sessions. The first session foregrounds an institutional perspective. How do we make sites for exploring critical-material engagement (of different sorts)? The second session deals with the actual situated practices and processes of such sites (and critical making more broadly). We are hoping for a dialogic, informal, sharp and generous engagement. Case studies (there will be many) include Slope:Intercept, New York Scapes, Spotify Teardown Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music and Experimental Humanities.
12:30 pm-2:30 Designing Institutions of Critical Thinking and Material Making
Introductions by Anne Balsamo, Matt Ratto, Patrik Svensson and Allison Burtch
2:30 pm-3 Coffee break (Swedish-inspired ”fika”). Donald Robotham, Director of the GC’s Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC), will present ARC briefly.
3 pm-5:30 Getting Beyond the Material-Conceptual to Include the Critical
For full information on the event please click here.