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  • The NWO funded research project ‘Bridging art, design and technology through Critical Making’ aims to interrogate Critical Making by experimentally applying it to a broad range of artistic practices. The project will investigate to what extent Critical Making can serve as a comprehensive concept for design, technology, education and activism intersecting with critical contemporary art practices and artistic research.

  • 8 January 2018

    Critical Tools elective Willem de Kooning Academy

    Researcher: Shailoh Phillips

    8-18 January.

  • 8 January 2018

    Mapping Making: Critical Making session at HNI

    Researcher: Shailoh Phillips

    Critical Making session in collaboration with Hanna Piksen.

  • 19 April 2018

    Rigged Gardens: Critical Making workshop at HNI

    Prototyping Ecologies of Non-Violent Dissent

    Researcher: Shailoh Phillips

    In the workshop Prototyping Ecologies of Non-Violent Dissent, we will start by exploring a collection of historical organic and technological tools for action in peaceful protest movements, from barricades, blimps, potato protests to graffiti bots. Using simple circuit boards, small inflatables and organic conductive materials, we will prototype feedback loops and interventions in concrete situations of imbalanced power. What seems to be the ‘natural’ state of affairs can be transformed into an interface using the conductive properties of organic materials.

  • 16 February 2018

    Smart Contracts: Critical Making session at HNI

    Researchers: Anja Groten, Shailoh Phillips

    In the legal field, automation is rife. Some lawyers claim that by 2030 99% of legal procedure can be automated. During Bot Club: Legal Bots we looked at different attempts to fuse the law and programming language together. To what extent can we translate the spirit of the law into the letter of computer code? On Thursday Night 15 February 2018, Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert and Max Hamsphire talked about the rise of automatic legal code at Het Nieuwe Instituut. The day after, during the Smart Contracts Critical Making session, a group of around 25 coders, designers, artists and thinkers followed up on the questions addressed in the Bot Club with a practice-based approach to speculating on the possibilities of smart contracts.

    Max Hampshire of terra0 introduced participants to the basics of distributed autonomous organisation (DAO) and of smart contracts. Those inclined to coding were introduced to Solidity, the javascript-like code language used to write smart contracts. In small groups participants developed speculative, critical ideas for prototypes of smart contract applications. Jaya Klara Brekke, a UK based artist conducting doctoral research into the politics of blockchain applications, gave an introduction to the political construction of the Ethereum smart contract. Input from a Critical Making perspective was delivered by Anja Groten and Shailoh Phillips. See Shailoh Philips’ blog about the underlying issues from this session.

  • 17 May 2018

    Critical by Design: conference presentation in Basel

    Researchers: Anja Groten, Janneke Wesseling

    Anja Groten and Janneke Wesseling will give a presentation at the conference Critical By Design?, on 17-18 May 2018 at the Academy of Art and Design FHNW in Basel. This two-day international research conference on the capacity of design as a mode of critique offers a unique platform for the interdisciplinary discussion of critical theories and practices from a design perspective. Renowned experts from design theory, history and practice, the philosophy of technology, the art, cultural and media studies as well as the field of human-computer interaction come together to reconsider historical trajectories, advance contemporary understandings and propose future developments of design as a materialized form of critique.

    In her lecture ‘The device paradigm: contemporary practices in art and design’, Wesseling will focus on the concept of ‘device paradigm’ as developed by the American philosopher Alfred Borgmann in his Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. A Philosophical Inquiry (1984). The device paradigm locates the crucial force that more and more detaches us from the persons, things, and practices that used to engage and grace us in their own right. The more, or the more effectively, the device yields its commodities, the less visible, or present as a thing it is. This necessarily leads to a loss of engagement with the world, while at the same time the commodities become evermore shallow. What does the device paradigm mean for contemporary art and design practices? And vice versa, what can be the role of art and design in this technology driven world?

    In her talk ‘ctrl+c’, Groten will propose hands-on modes of learning about technology from the perspective of design practice, calling into question techno-optimist notions such as ‘innovation’. Strategies of Critical Making are hereby put forward as means to force quit (ctrl+c) and reevaluate accelerated technological processes. Practicing critically can be seen as practicing in ‘a state of suspicion and alertness’, a condition of not-yet knowing – ref. Rita Felski’s The Limits of Critique (2015). Situations of collaborative making turn into sites for exercising positions: opposing, contradicting and confronting. Could design – through initiating and cultivating oppositional forces during making processes – move toward a breaking of habits and practicing of new critical routines?

  • 11 April 2018

    Workshop at international SAR conference in Plymouth

    Researcher: Anja Groten

    Anja Groten will host a workshop during the 9th SAR – International Conference on Artistic Research, on 11-13 April 2018 at University of Plymouth. From the perspective of design practice this workshop introduces methods of critical making as a strategy to force quit (ctrl+c) persuasive technological processes such as algorithmic search–more specifically by putting forward the prototype of the Feminist Search Tool developed by Amsterdam-based collective Hackers & Designers and Utrecht-based collective Read-in. The Feminist Search Tool is a digital interface that invites users to explore different ways of engaging with a library catalog, putting forth the question: Why are the books I read so white so male so Eurocentric?

    Participants of the workshop are invited to explore the possibilities and limitations of the Feminist Search Tool pursuing hands-on exercises in querying, applying and enacting solvable and unsolvable search inquiries, working on alternative, imaginative, practical and impractical (paper)prototypes, all the while discussing pressing questions related to processes of algorithmic decision making: Who is taking the responsibility for which part of the search process: we, the users, the (re)searcher, the designer of the interface, the library, the algorithm? And how do these decision influence our search result and eventually the choice of books we read?

  • Critical Making Position Paper

    As a result of globalization, social and technological developments, we increasingly witness practices that cross the disciplinary boundaries of art, design, engineering and technological making and (artistic) social intervention. Sometimes these practices unfold within established contexts of art spaces, design culture, technology labs and activist projects. [Explain the urgency of contemporary socio-/technological/cultural/political developments that makes artists/activists redefine their practice/leave the confines of their traditional disciplines.] Increasingly, however, they leave their respective boundaries; for example, when contemporary art spaces are used for political assemblies and Internet anonymization services, when social design and community art becomes neighborhood activism, when a media design grows into a technological development project for empowering contemporary artists. Often, the positioning of these projects as “art”, “design”,“technology”,“activism” is merely tactical (or even opportunistic), tailored to the now-existing institutions and discourses which are still acting within the categories of the Western 19th and 20th century arts.

    Position Paper Critical Making[1]

    Florian Cramer, Lucas Evers, Akiem Helmling, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Marie-José Sondeijker, Janneke Wesseling with comments by Roland van Dierendonck, Shailoh Phillips, Ana María Gómez López, Shirley Niemans, Loes Bogers, mthom057, Yuri Westplat

    1. Why “Critical Making[a]”?

    As a result of globalization, social and technological developments, we increasingly witness practices that cross the disciplinary boundaries of art, design, engineering and technological making[b][c] and (artistic) social intervention. Sometimes these practices unfold within established contexts of art spaces, design culture, technology labs and activist projects. [Explain the urgency of contemporary socio-/​technological/​cultural/​political developments that makes artists/activists redefine their practice/​​leave the confines of their traditional disciplines.] Increasingly, however, they leave their respective boundaries[d][e]; for example, when contemporary art spaces are used for political assemblies[f][g][2] and Internet anonymization services,[3] when social design and community art becomes neighborhood activism[h][i],[4] when a media design grows into a technological development project for empowering contemporary artists[j][k].[5] Often, the positioning of these projects as “art”, “design”, “technology”, “activism” is merely tactical (or even opportunistic), tailored to the now-existing institutions and discourses[l][m] [n]which are still acting within the categories of the Western 19th and 20th century arts. ‘Critical Making[o][p]‘ has the potential[q][r] of giving these practices a common name. [s]Originally coined in the context of design culture and do-it-yourself technology,[6] it gathers (a) practices that are defined by a common characteristic of criticality[t][u][v][w] rather than a common disciplinary and institutional context[7] and (b) work approaches and attitudes of thinking-through-practice.[8]

    Through the latter, Critical Making does not only cut through the disciplinary divides of art, design, activism and technology.[9] In Critical Making, there is no longer a divide between critical theory and artistic practice, but the practice itself is critical and philosophical.[x][y] In this regard, Critical Making corresponds with contemporary philosophies that question the divide between idea and matter[z][aa].[10] But where this thinking still manifests itself in the classical format of written theory, Critical Making negates the dichotomy between making and thinking[ab][ac].

    2. Where does Critical Making take place?

    To date, Critical Making – as coined by Matt Ratto and Garnet Hertz – refers to design practices that critically engage with technology.[ad][ae] Open Source cultural production therefore is a general characteristic of Critical Making. This may entail alternative forms of authorship and copyright, as well as a reconfiguration of traditional linear design workflows of conceptualization, construction and distribution. [af][ag]Distribution, in this context, includes multiplication and archiving. In networked Critical Making processes, all these efforts can take place simultaneously and anywhere[ah][ai].

    Critical Making in this sense is not confined [aj][ak][al]to particular sites. While Critical Making, in Ratto’s and Hertz’ original perspective, had the Maker[am][an] movement and its Maker spaces (i.e. FabLabs, hacklabs[ao][ap] and other public workshop facilities for distributed, personal digital fabrication) as its points of departure, their concept has become highly inclusive and therefore emancipated itself from this specific context[aq][ar].

    In our project, we experimentally take the concept of Critical Making outside the Maker movement and Maker spaces into the larger, general field of contemporary art and design practices. The question is: Can Critical Making reinvigorate the concept of criticality[as][at] in art and design theory and practice, in a technologically informed cultural field? Can existing art and design practices conversely radicalize the criticality of Critical Making? And how can this be made constructive?[au][av][aw][ax]

    3. Why an arts perspective on Critical Making?

    The notion of Critical Making is not specific to art and design, but potentially encompasses any practice that combines making with criticality. This inclusivity – which many art and design movements fought for in the previous century[ay][az] – is without doubt an asset of Critical Making. Still, we think that a more specific arts perspective might not constrain, but will enrich the Critical Making discourse with two specific qualities: artistic research and criticality of discourse.

    The liaison between thinking and making characterizes Critical Making as well as artistic research as it was established as a new academic discipline at the end of the 20th century. Artistic research typically involves practices in which textual and artistic approaches are closely interrelated. In artistic research, the researcher produces writing that critically reflects on the making, while conversely the practice informs and feeds into the writing.[ba][bb] How artistic research may expand the vocabulary of Critical Making will be subject of further investigation.

    Traditionally, contemporary art has had an edge over design in regards to the rigor of its critical discourse. Drawing on critical theory, conceptual art and institutional critique have radically addressed issues of gender, class, ethnicity and even questioned art as such, in its aesthetics, ethics, economics and politics. There needs to be research on the extent to which this radicality can inform expanded notions of Critical Making.

    Conversely, the Open Source and DIY practices of Critical Making can be constructively used to question under-reflected and under-criticized modes of production and distribution in contemporary art: authorship, intellectual property, ownership, privileges of participation. [bc][bd]

    4. Where our project aims to make a difference

    In our research project, we will address the following new questions[be][bf]:

    • How can art, design and technology fulfill a critical and reflexive role in society[bg], including “the possibility of revealing and challenging power relations” (Mouffe, Agonistics, Thinking the World Politically, 2013, 81)?[bh]
    • How can aesthetics still play a role[bi][bj], other than as surface aesthetics of consumer culture and of commodification based on advertisement?
    • We observe that the 21st century creative industries[bk][bl] as a hybrid of art, design and technology have largely subsumed 20th century art and culture under economic terms. Critical Making offers an alternative logic of including creative disciplines into an overarching concept that is not economically, but socially and artistically driven. [bm][bn] Can Critical Making be truly critical by overcoming the industry logic[bo][bp] of techno-optimistic makeability?

    Concluding questions to be addressed, partly taken from visitor feedback:

    • How do we position making?
    • How do we understand criticality? (See related text in full project description)
    • Can Critical Making be a pedagogy?
    • To which degree are our points descriptive or prescriptive?
    • Who needs a new concept?
    • Which difference do we make to existing concepts of Critical Making?
    • How far can histories of Critical Making be extended into the past?

    • [1] http://pad.riseup.net/p/critical_making
    • [2] Jonas Staal, New World Summit (2012-2017), Occupy movement presence at Berlin Biennial 2014
    • [3] Trevor Paglen/Jacob Appelbaum, Autonomy Cube, 2014; !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Random Darknet Shopper (2014-2016)
    • [4] Jeanne van Heeswijk, Freehouse (1998-2017); Black Quantum Futurism, Community Futures Lab (2015-2017)
    • [5] Danja Vasiliev/Gottfried Haider/WORM, Hotglue & Superglue (2009-2017)
    • [6] Matt Ratto, DIY Citizenship, MIT Press, 2014
    • [7] Garnet Hertz, Critical Making zines (2012)
    • [8] Matt Ratto in We Make Things, documentary by Ryan Varga, 2011 (9:30-10:53). In a paper, he defines Critical Making as ”a mode of materially productive engagement that is intended to bridge the gap between creative physical and conceptual exploration” (Ratto, Matt, Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life, in: The Information Society, vol. 27, issue 5, 2011, 252).
    • [9] But also through the divide between practice as the “base” and theory as the “superstructure” that has shaped Western thinking and culture from Platonism to Marxism
    • [10] including pragmatism, actor-network theory, object-oriented ontology and New Materialism
    • [a]Anon: How do we position ‘making’? What is motivating people to act critically?
      Genealogy of Critical Making.
      Moments of intersection between art and science, pre-net collectives, anonymous collectives.
    • [b]Roland van Dierendonck: No, SCIENCE. It’s more about CONTEXTUALISING  that what is MADE in terms of criticality/within feasibility, the scientific knowledge.
    • [c]legitimate concern, but outside the scope of our particular project. This question is, with a focus on technology, addressed in the original Critical Making research of Matt Ratto and Garnet Hertz.
    • [d]Shailoh Phillips: What’s the scope? What’s the problem?
    • [e]Explain the urgency of contemporary socio-/technological/cultural/political developments that makes artists/activists redefine their practice/leave the confines of their traditional disciplines.
    • [f]Ana María Gómez López:
      – Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, Forex, for different takes on activism
      – Think Tania Bruguera, for ex. if you want other examples of working with immigrant communities in the United States and elsewhere
      – Again, for even earlier examples of artistic forms of activisim using technology and design, think of collective initiatives such as Peter Fend and others in Ocean Earth, or even Group Materialś actions around AIDS (including critiques of government funding and pharmaceutical industry.)
    • [g]Great examples, will be included in final version of the document. We will leave them out for now to keep the discource of the project more open for applicants to the researcher positions.
    • [h]Ana María Gómez López: Again, Group Material is an excellent example pre-Internet.
    • [i]Will be included in the final version.
    • [j]Roland van Dierendonck: You don’t mention the Critical Engineering Manifesto.
    • [k]Will be included in the final version.
    • [l]Shirley Niemans: This is quite problematic even when “critical making: in some form is part of the curriculum of – let’s say – a design school – hard to change the existing paradigm, and existing or ‘selected'(?) boundaries between disciplines (design vs. art, applied vs. autonomous).
    • [m]It is true that these boundaries exist and will not go away in the four years of our research project. However, the task of this research project is to look forward and develop radical visions that others may implement in curricula and institutions.
    • [n]Shailoh Phillips: This is the context, the launch point.
    • [o]Loes Bogers: The interpretation of “critical” isn’t specified, maybe clarify the tradition [of] Frankfurter Schule?
    • [p]Excellent remark. – We covered this in the original project description and may include this text here again. In the project description, we refer to Frankfurter Schule as well as to specific practices of critical art and design. The ambition of this research project is to treat both “criticality” and “making” as practices to be researched and potentially given new meanings.
    • [q]Shailoh Phillips: Why? What is the urgency?
    • [r]Will be answered above with the clarification of the social/political/technological developments that motivate Critical Making practices.
    • [s][Waag artist-in-residence]: If you are in the critical position you aim for.
    • [t]Ana María Gómez López: Against what? Take note of your own criticism towards creative industries.
    • [u]Indeed, this criticality chiefly marks an opposition towards creative industries and, by implication, neoliberalism at large. [We will add this in a later version of the paper.]
    • [v]Shailoh Phillips: Is criticality something that is conjunctive, connecting, umbrella? Also divisive!
    • [w]see remark above.
    • [x]mthom057: only?
    • [y]Not only, but this is an important observation to make.
    • [z]Shailoh Phillips: How does this relate to the rise of new materialism, imment philosophy (Barad, Deleuze, Haraway, Braidotti)?
    • [aa]Good point, these authors will be included as references.
    • [ab]Shailoh Phillips: Why was it installed in the first place? Why is it pervasive?
    • [ac]Complex question that concerns the whole history of Western thinking since Parmenidis (via Platon, the enlightenment etc.) Excellent question, we need to find a way of how to address it within the limited space of this paper.
    • [ad]Loes Bogers: For Ratto, it’s also a lot about learning, as a pedagogy of sorts. Is that a concern in the project?
    • [ae]Excellent question – learning processes are intrinsic to Critical Making processes (as we are experiencing right now in the open process of writing this paper). But since the focus of our research process is not on pedagogy, we cannot predict yet to which degree these learning processes will remain implicit or become more explicit (in the sense of a comprehensive meta reflection of the learning processes encountered in this project).
    • [af]Ana María Gómez López: There are examples of artistic production that offer new modes of intellectual production/authorship where artworks are made accessible by being instruction-based, circulate freely, and demystify artistic production. – Look at N55, a Danish group that exclusively produces manuals. – Also, it is worth noting that there is a DIY history already in the arts pre-maker culture which is diverse, be it in 60s conceptual art, activist subcultural zine production, (based on older technologies of Xerox reproduction), or even blue-chip recognition inititatives such as Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Do-It-Yourself Manual. (Applies also to page 1/bibliography in the beginning).
    • [ag]Excellent examples again that will be included in the footnotes and citation references of the final document. However, we do have discussions about the inclusion of Obrist as a Critical Maker (which for example concerns his method of text production where it is not clear to which degree a staff of editorial assistants is involved).
    • [ah]mthom057: What might a networked critical making process entail? i.e. in time, space, notions of community/public?
    • [ai]We will delete the sentence you refer to because it is too unspecific.
    • [aj]Shailoh Phillips: prescriptive? descriptive? Who needs a new concept?
    • [ak][needs longer thought process on our behalf.]
    • [al]There is a clear need for a new concept of criticality in contemporary art (if we just take the current Venice Biennial and Documenta as examples). The same is true for design and technology development.
    • [am]Shailoh Phillips: Overcoming schizophrenia: “makers” (Dutch, HBO) versus “thinkers” (university). Critical making as a way out of the pillarization of disciplines.
    • [an]Agreed. The position paper still needs to explicate the particular Dutch cultural context and connotation of making-vs-thinking.
    • [ao]Roland van Dierendonck: open bio labs
    • [ap](for us: included in the notion of the hacklabs)
    • [aq]Shailoh Phillips: By whom? How? Why?
    • [ar]Critical Making Zines by Garnet Hertz – will ad them as a footnote.
    • [as]Shailoh Phillips: What do you mean by criticality? [Irit] Rogoff?
    • [at]See the first question by Loes Bogers.
    • [au]mthom057: How does this differ from participatory art?
    • [av]Participatory art is neither critical by definition, nor in much of its practice.
    • [aw]Shirley Niemans: To what end?
    • [ax]”productive” has been replaced with “constructive” (following the suggestion of Shailoh Phillips)
    • [ay]Loes Bogers: Where are they in this paper? Should they be mentioned? (Situationism, Fluxus, [cyber]feminist art practices?) Which do you align with?
    • [az]Not included in this paper because it is meant to be a discussion paper, not a historically complete coverage of its subject. Related to the comments by Ana Maria.
    • [ba]Ana María Gómez López: This is the point where I would have the strongest criticism regarding the need to include more on art + science collaborative examples. Happy to share more if you find it relevant.
    • [bb]We refer to the specific concept of artistic research as an academic discipline (see the changed first sentence in the paragraph), not generally to research done by artists by themselves or in collaboration with scientists.
    • [bc]mthom057: Are there any thematic examples?
    • [bd]examples in footnotes (Situationist International, Telekommunisten, Assembly and others)
    • [be]Roland van Dierendonck: [Add bullet point] New history of art in context of ‘Critical Making’.
    • [bf]not the scope of this position paper.
    • [bg]Roland van Dierendonck: then also about how art is presented, for example outside of institutions altogether, check Norman White.
    • [bh]Shirley Niemans: “HOW can [….]?” – It seems a bit rhetorical. What is the kind of answer we/you want? Still a confirmation.
    • [bi]Shirley Niemans: Idem – “HOW can […]”?
    • [bj]agree
    • [bk]Shailoh Phillips: Creative industries is a neoliberal notion: one virtue – it doesn’t discriminate between disciplines. -> reclaiming CREATIVITY.
    • [bl]agree
    • [bm]mthom057: What activates members of society to engage in critical making?
    • [bn]Question is beyond the scope of this position paper.
    • [bo]Yuri Westplat: What if the answer is YES?
      (a) How do we take this further? Is it a METHOD we can LEARN and APPLY? And so change the industry?
      (b) How do “we” break out of the “art bubble” movement? [and into] -> business -> government -> science
    • [bp]Indeed this is not the right question with which to conclude this paper.
    • [bq]Ana María Gómez López: My main comment is first to offer praise to you for citing artworks bibliographically. – I find this to be quite positive. However, this is also where I would encourage you to look at much earlier examples of critical making in the arts, which would give this new concept deeper roots. Think of examples such as E.A.T. developed with Bell Labs (interestingly a corporate-sponsored program that encouraged collaboration between artists, scientists, and technology experts with no interest to prototype a product for the market, but only for unique art projects and events).
      I would also encourage other examples of artworks that make this bibliography more robust, which I have noted throughout this paper (in no particular order of importance and woefully incomplete).
      In general, contextualizing these project in braoder art-historical contexts that be broader than the artas of making you cite explicitly (Net Art, Land Art, Environmental Art, Bio Art).
    • [br]Roland van Dierendonck: Also add Paolo Cirio’s “Loophole 4 All” or Norman White.
  • What is Critical Making?

    Critical Making is, according to its inventor Matt Ratto, ”a mode of materially productive engagement that is intended to bridge the gap between creative physical and conceptual exploration” (Ratto 2011: 252). It has its origins in North American design and is, to date, little known in European art, design and humanities. Critical Making generally aims to reintroduce the notion of criticality into creative practices that have been dominated by the industrial paradigm. Its more specific potential is to provide a new reflective discourse and way of working across art, design and technology.

    Critical Making was coined as a response to critical thinking and critical theory. The concept of critical theory was originally developed by the Frankfurt School. In the context of the arts, critical theory is intrinsically related to Adorno and Horkheimer’s general critique of applied artistic production (‘culture industry’). This had the side-effect of reinforcing the distinction between autonomous and applied practices, identifying them as critical and non-critical practices respectively. This made it difficult, in a continental European context, to productively use ‘criticality’ for creative practices outside fine art. With our research project ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’, we reject the preconceived dualism of applied and fine art. But we also acknowledge a greater experience and practice of radical critical thinking in contemporary art in consequence of the Frankfurt School. This experience has not yet been fully translated into design and technology.

    There are two notable exceptions: Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s concept of Critical Design, and Design Thinking. Dunne & Raby’s approach remains in the realm of speculative design, which concerns itself with desired and less-desired possible futures. It thus resides primarily in the symbolic realm and therefore does not directly relate to our specific research domain. Design Thinking has developed a multi-stakeholder, iterative approach and most recently focuses on so-called ‘wicked problems’. With its roots in problem-solving, it lacks the attention for critical problematization that is a crucial part of Critical Making.

    We are not satisfied yet with the existing concept of Critical Making as developed in North America, since it has mostly been limited to the (sub-)cultures of Maker and FabLab culture. Critical Making thinks of itself as chiefly a product design practice that combines conceptual with material thinking. We want to further research Critical Making and deepen it beyond product design. Criticality is the point of departure for this project. We research the existing critical perspective in North American Critical Making and augment it with the complex experience of criticality present in contemporary art, with the aim of creating a common discourse between art, design and technological making.

    Insights and methodological approaches gained from the (relatively) young academic discipline of artistic research will contribute to building this common discourse. Artistic research distinguishes itself by the pivotal role art practice has in the research. In artistic research, there is a unique relationship between the artist/designer, the research method and the outcome of the research. It is critically reflected research into and through the making practice of the researcher. Our project, a collaboration of academic scholars and practitioners in art and design, will bring artistic research into action in re-thinking the concept of Critical Making.

  • Project description

    The project ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’ aims to investigate (a) how the concept of Critical Making can be developed further within the context of critical theory and the discourse of artistic research and (b) how such a renewed notion of Critical Making can problematize and correct the narrow focus on systems and solutions in the contemporary techno-creative industries. Therefore, our main research question is:

    How can the concept of Critical Making be expanded into a general approach that ties the critical methodology of artistic research, and the established concepts of artistic autonomy, together with contemporary creative-technological development?

    Objectives
    (a) The concept of Critical Making, currently limited to Maker culture and product design, will be fundamentally and academically researched, deepened and applied to a wider set of creative disciplines;
    (b) The experience of criticality of contemporary art will be made available to design and technological making by introducing insights and methodological approaches from the academic discipline of artistic research;
    (c) Artistic Research will be brought into action in re-thinking the concept of Critical Making, which will enable the advancement of the discourse in both the field of art and in academia on design-issues relating to technological innovation and the impact of this discourse on society and on cultural values;
    (d) The project will propose a new theoretical and practical positioning of disciplinary codes in the field of art and design as well as in the field of academic research, to open up the discourses in visual art and design that are largely separated up until now;
    (e) In the context of Digital Humanities, this project will provide methodological insights for Digital Humanities scholars who feel stuck in traditional methodologies of computer-aided statistical analysis and visualization of data sets. The artistic research projects, symposia and workshops will use the competency of artists and designers to think up new ways of digital visual research;
    (f) In the context of practice-oriented polytechnical education (HBO), the project will introduce Critical Making as a reflective working method into Dutch art and design education and into the professional field of artists, designers and technological makers.

    A larger ambition of this project is to give humanities researchers insight into contemporary creative practices that transcend the classical disciplinary categorizations of fine art, design and technology, and often take place outside the established art system (i.e. outside contemporary art galleries, museums, biennials and art fairs). The publications to be created in this research project will therefore give hands-on insight into these new practices to art historians and cultural studies scholars. These traditional categorizations of the arts are also reflected in the current disciplinary divides within the humanities. Our research products will give researchers and policy makers concrete examples and discussion material for the disciplinary transformation of creative practices in the 21st century, and hence (by implication) for possible changes of humanities disciplines.

    The project will include four subprojects by a PhD researcher (Anja Groten), two junior researchers (Shailoh Phillips, TBA) and an embedded researcher (TBA). The researchers will contribute to different events and programmes of the consortium members from a combined practical and theoretical perspective. The consortium will organise a series of Critical Making workshops with art and design students and teachers in several Dutch art schools, including Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam and the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. Furthermore, various public presentations, a national and an international symposium will be organized. At the end of the project, the project outcomes will be disseminated through a peer-reviewed, open access, hybrid paper and electronic book.

  • History of the project

    In 2017, the Critical Making consortium received a grant for the four-year project ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’ from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the research programme Smart Culture – Art and Culture. The project has its origin in a prolonged exchange between representatives of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, Waag Society in Amsterdam, knowledge center Creating 010 at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and PhDArts / Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) at Leiden University.

    In 2015, the private partners Het Nieuwe Instituut and Waag Society put the subject of Critical Making on the table and articulated a need to deepen and theoretically contextualize the subject and to connect practical research with academic research. Conversely, the academic researchers in this project recognized the urgency of overcoming the split between creative disciplines which they experience as increasingly problematic in their research, respectively art/design educational, practice. All partners agreed that today’s duality of an art and a creative industries system in The Netherlands has widened that gap instead of bridging it, thereby largely excluding fine art practices from creative industries. At the same time, the social impact of new technologies requires a new common discourse and language among practitioners in all disciplines.

    Therefore, the partners decided to initiate a research collaboration with an aim to further investigate Critical Making as an existing concept in the design and new media field with regards to its potential to provide this common language and practice. In June 2016, a one-year KIEM subsidy by NWO/Topsector Creatieve Industrie was granted for preliminary research and for a first position paper on this subject. The research proposal for the current project ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’ was developed as part of this KIEM project. The contemporary art institute West Den Haag joined the consortium in July 2016 because it was interested, too, in researching new critical practices spanning art, design and technology. For the other consortium members, it was an important addition to involve a partner from the field of contemporary fine art.

  • Consortium

    In the project ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making’, main applicant Prof. Dr. Janneke Wesseling (Leiden University) and co-applicant Dr. Florian Cramer (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences) have joined forces with Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (Het Nieuwe Instituut), Lucas Evers (Waag Society) and Marie-José Sondeijker (West Den Haag). In November 2017, designer, researcher and Hackers & Designers co-founder Anja Groten and media artist, researcher and educator Shailoh Phillips joined the team as PhD candidate and junior researcher respectively. Candidates for the final two available positions have been recruited in early 2018. Selected researchers will start in September 2018 and January 2019 respectively.

    — Leiden University (with PhDArts) brings in its expertise on the area of artistic research and art and design theory. For Leiden University, Critical Making– with its implied convergence of art, design and technology – is a new field for which no humanities theory exists yet.
    — Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (with Creating 010 and Willem de Kooning Academy) brings in its expertise on practice-oriented research on new media, art and design. It provides the link between Critical Making and art/design education, with the ultimate objective of introducing and structurally integrating Critical Making into the art and design curriculum.
    — Het Nieuwe Instituut brings in its expertise on critical design practice that transgresses the traditional disciplines of design, architecture, new media and digital technology, and its network of Critical Making practitioners. It wishes to gain a stronger theoretical framework for Critical Making.
    — Waag Society brings in its expertise as the institute that first brought Critical Making to The Netherlands. Waag Society operates from a cross-disciplinary vision on design and technology, with a focus on bio art and bio design. It wants to gain new insights from university research and art and design education.
    — West Den Haag brings in collaborations with international experts in a range of different cultural backgrounds and disciplines, and an expertise in the discourse on the presentation of art and on the role of art in society. West wants to expand its collaborations in the field of artistic research.

  • Lucas Evers

    Lucas Evers joined Waag in April 2007 and is currently leading Waag’s Wetlab. He is actively involved in several projects that concern the interactions between the arts and sciences, arts and ethics and the arts in a contemporary makers culture. The Wetlab is a laboratory where arts, design, sciences, engineering and the public meet to research biotechnologies and their impact on society and ecology.

    Lucas Evers is trained in fine arts and teaching at Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design and he studied politics at the University of Amsterdam. He worked De Balie Center for Culture and Politics and Melkweg in Amsterdam, programming cinema, new media and politics.

    He organized a retrospective of French cinematographer Chris Marker was involved in projects such as ‘net.congestion – international festival of streaming media’, Next 5 Minutes, e-culture fair, an Archeology of Imaginary Media and a number of programs related to the societal debate about the life sciences.

    From 2010 until 2013 he was advisor at DasArts, second phase theatre and performance education, mentoring students. He has been commission member at Mondriaan Foundation and is currently commission member at Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.

    At Waag he worked and works on projects such as Trust me I’m an Artist (ethics of art and science collaboration), Future Emerging Art and Technologies, Hack the Brain, Do It Not Yourself Biology, Critical Making and initiated Designers and Artists for Genomics Award (now Bio Art & Design Award).

    His interests lie in the way we can learn from the interactions, the differences and similarities, between artistic, scientific and other cultures of research.

     

  • Florian Cramer

    Florian Cramer is a reader (Dutch: lector) in 21st Century Visual Culture/Autonomous Practices at Willem de Kooning Academy and Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands.

    work

    • since 2008: Reader/research professor Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam University of Applied Science
    • 2011-2015: Director Research Center Creating 010, Rotterdam University of Applied Science
    • 2011-2015: public program developer at WORM, cultural venue in Rotterdam (part-time)
    • 2010-2011: Director Piet Zwart Institute
    • 2006-2010: Course Director of the Masters program Media Design and Communication, Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam University of Applied Science
    • 2005: Research fellow Piet Zwart Institute
    • 1999-2004 lecturer/junior faculty Comparative Literature, Peter Szondi Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin

    education

    • 2006 Dr. phil. Comparative Literature, Freie Universität Berlin, thesis: Exe.cut[up]able Statements: Poetische Kalküle und Phantasmen des selbstausführenden Texts, 2011, Wilhelm Fink, München
    • 1998 M.A. Comparative Literature, Art History and German Philology, Freie Universität Berlin
    • 1989-1998 studied Comparative Literature, Art History, German Philology and Philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Konstanz and University of Massachusetts at Amherst

    publications

    For a list of selected publications relevant to this research project, see here.

    advisory boards

    awards

    • 2017 HBOAward for achievements in Open Access publishing, Stichting SURF, Netherlands
    • 2007 media.art.research.award Ludwig Boltzmann-Institut & ars electronica, Austria
    • 2005 Junggesellenpreis für Netzliteratur, Literaturhaus Stuttgart, Germany
    • 2002 with Sebastian Luetgert: honorary mention software award transmediale.02, Berlin, Germany
    • 1998 Pegasus electronic literature award, IBM/Die Zeit/Radio Bremen, Germany
  • Shailoh Phillips

    Polymash media artist | researcher | activist | educator
    Junior researcher in the Critical Making project
    PhD candidate at PhDArts, Leiden University
    www.studiobabel.nl

    Originally trained in Anthropology, Philosophy and Cultural Analysis (University of Amsterdam, Humboldt University), Phillips has spent the past decade working in the field of digital media and design education, as well as cultivating a collaborative studio practice of cross-media projects and tinkering with electronics. She works along the interstices between digital/analogue, making/thinking, art/engineering, theory/practice, building interdisciplinary bridges. Her practice revolves around fostering playful forms of resistance and seeking out pressure points to act in the face of social inequalities and unfolding ecological disasters. In 2017, Phillips graduated from the MA Education in Arts and Design (Piet Zwart Institute). She currently teaches Hacking and Digital Crafts at Willem de Kooning Academy, and in the Design, Curating and Writing Master at the Design Academy Eindhoven. In the context of the Critical Making project, she investigates the limits and potential of criticality through pedagogical experiments in the Fabulous School of Octopy.

    Previous jobs (selection)

    • 2016-2017: embedded researcher and trainer at Bouwkeet Makerspace (Rotterdam)
    • 2012-2014: coordinator of the Media Lab, Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)
    • 2011-2012: manager game development at Vrede van Utrecht, with Fourcelabs)
    • 2010-2012: project manager new media and innovation at Kunstgebouw
    • 2008-present: digital media, research and education Studio Babel (Amsterdam)
    • 2004-2010: researcher, game designer and screenwriter, VPRO (Hilversum) and Submarine Channel (Amsterdam)

    Education

    • 2015-2017: Master of Education in Arts and Design (cum laude), Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam). Thesis: Some Troubles with Making | Tentacular Pedagogy in the Age of Entanglement.
    • 2008-present :workshops in creative coding, electronics and instrument building (STEIM, Freakdays oF platform Amsterdam, Mediamatic, WORM, Media Technology Leiden)
    • 2008-present: PhD Theory Seminars Media and Performance Studies (Utrecht University); LUCAS Theory Seminars (Leiden University); Data Drive Research Seminars (University of Amsterdam)
    • 2001-2009: studied Philosophy, Cultural Analysis, Conflict Studies, Arabic Language and Culture (minor), Gender Studies, Physics, New Media at University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Humboldt Universität and
    • Freie Universität Berlin
    • 2004-2005: Media Academy VPRO Jong Talent training in Cross-Media production (Hilversum)
    • 2001: Conflict Mediation Masterclass, SCI Peace Corps, Baku, Azerbaijan
    • 2000-2004: BA Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of Non-Western societies (cum laude), University of Amsterdam

    Affiliations

    • Co-founder and secretary of Stichting Studio Yalla, Amsterdam
    • Member of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis (NICA) and Research School for Media Studies (RMeS)
    • Member of Kostgewonnen autonomous collective
    • Book club coordinator at Feminist Club Amsterdam (FCA)
    • Working group sexual orientation and gender diversity, COC Amsterdam
    • Tools for Action: civil disobedience interventions with inflatable objects (Berlin)

    Awards and nominations

    • 2017: nominated for the Willem de Kooning Research Award for Graduation Project ‘Some Troubles with Making’
    • 2011: ‘Collapsus’ (Submarine Channel/VPRO) Dutch Spin award, Interactive Award (SWSX), nominated for Digital Emmy ‘Best Digital Fiction’

    Activities (selection)

    • 2017-2018: Open Set (St. Joost, Netherlands, moderator, workshop)
    • 2017: Radical pedagogy in technology education, HackOn (ADM, Amsterdam)
    • 2017: keynote lecture : Onderwijsspecial FabCity, Rotterdam
    • 2017: Shared Senses for Haptic Commons, with Lancel/Maat (CASCO, Utrecht)
    • 2017: Decolonizing the museum workshop at (MuseumNext, Rotterdam) with Imara Limon and Lina Issa
    • 2017: Impact workshops for community theater production ‘Eerst Zien, dan geloven’ (Nationaal Theater, Den Haag)
    • 2017: Rest In War – photography and the afterlife of images of war (workshop and moderator (Nacht van de Filosofie, Den Haag)
    • 2017: Some Troubles with Making: Critical Tools for Futurecrafting in the Age of Entanglement, Act Otherwise Graduation presentation (MEiA, V2, Rotterdam)
    • 2017: Symposium Agents in the Anthropocene (Netherlands, moderator)
    • 2016-2017: Het Vijfde Seizoen, art workshops for psychiatric professionals
    • 2014-2016: Hacking Healthcare co-teaching (UvA, Rietveld Academy)
    • 2014-2015: Amsterdam Coordinator of 3D printing curriculum at schools, ZB45 Makerspace
    • 2013 Research Project Augmenting Masterpieces. Rijksmuseum, CIRCA (Creative Industries Research Centre Amsterdam), ASCA (Institute for Cultural Analysis). With Johanna Barnbeck (embedded researcher) & Jan
    • Hein Hoogstad (ass. Prof Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis)
    • 2013: Presentation Rijksstudio and Media Lab – Open collection and the creative commons (with Linda Volkers), Automne Numérique, French Ministry of Culture and Communication (Paris)
    • 2013-2014 Waanzien MOTI museum (Breda), war photography and image manipulation. Group exhibition.
    • 2010-2013: Interactive educational projects for Kunstgebouw, including SoundSpheres, MonsterMedia, Splatsj, Codex KIT, Hartslag (3D video mapping), Met andere ogen (UAR app).
    • 2011-2012: Cross-Media and Film workshops, Rio Content Market (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
    • Survival Kit Film and Philosophy (Arminius, Rotterdam)
    • 2009-2017: Q&A’s, IDFA, Movies that Matter Festival
    • 2009-2013: Go van Gogh, web-platform and symposium with Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam)
    • 2009: ‘Freezeframe’: video installation with live Studio 1826 soundtrack at Damoclash Festival and Helmsdale/Glasgow, with Chris Dooks.
    • 2008 – 2010 Troublemakers.nl, online platform and series of workshops and debates on feminism and art
    • 2008-2010: Writer, translator for Chronicles, Crossing Border Festival (Den Haag)
    • 2008-2009: Film, media and technology reviews, Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (Hilversum)
    • 2007: Ervaring en Armoede: Walter Benjamin kritisch herlezen (Perdu, Amsterdam)
    • 2007: Filosofie in Tijden van Oorlog, with Joost de Bloois and Tammy Castelein. (Drift Festival, Amsterdam)
    • 2004 – 2010: VPRO, Hilversum: Tegenlicht ‘Energy Risk’ (2010), ‘Wraak! ‘(2009), Tegenlicht ‘Insjallah’ (2008), ‘Het geluk van Nederland’ (2005), ‘De Kunst van Niemand’ (radio play, 17 min 2004).

    Publications

    • Phillips, Shailoh “Tools and Technology for Museum Learning” pp. 223-242. King, Brad, and Barry Lord, eds. The Manual of Museum Learning. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
    • Phillips, Shailoh “Cyberkurds and Cyberkinetics: Pilgrimage in the Age of Virtual Mobility” In: Etnofoor. Vol. 20, No.1, Pilgramage pp. 7-29, 2007
    • Phillips, Shailoh “Overal Vincent: Van Gogh en massareproductie”, p.196-200, “Echt nep: 8 historische schandalen uit de oorlogsfotografie” p. 76-82. DUF Jongerentijdschrift, ‘Waanwijs’
    • Phillips, Shailoh “Nieuwe richtingen voor nieuwe media” p. 16-17, Kunstgebouw magazine oktober #1Nieuwe Media,2011
  • Marie-José Sondeijker

    Co-founder and artistic director West Den Haag

    West presents contemporary art in the historic environment of a city palace in the heart of The Hague museum district and in a seventeenth century townhouse. The art centre focuses on the most relevant international developments in the field of visual arts. West offers artists space and opportunities to develop new work, and places it through a broad dialogue, in a social context. West is researching new critical practices spanning design and technology from within the arts.

    Projects/productions (selection)

    2017

    • Gustav Metzger: Ethics Into Aesthetics
    • Feedback #1: Marshall Mcluhan and The Arts

    2016

    • Ulf Aminde: The School Of No Return
    • Douglas Park: Post-Terminal & Ex-Ultimate
    • Without Firm Ground: Vilém Flusser And The Arts

    2015

    • Patrick Bernatchez: Lost In Time
    • Encounters
    • Et Al.: For The Common Good

    2014

    • Autonomy Exchange Archive: Paul Branca and Lisa Hayes Williams,
    • This is not Africa
    • This is Us

    2013

    • Volkspaleis
    • Reynold Reynolds
    • Club Null
    • Volkspaleis: Julian Rosenfeldt
    • Public Access & Let Us Keep Our Own Noon: David Horvitz
    • Sound Spill 2011 Let’s Make Sense: Arin Rungjang 2010 Uitburgeren
    • Baby!: Simona Denicolai & Ivo Provoost.
  • Klaas Kuitenbrouwer

    Researcher and program maker in digital culture at Het Nieuwe Instituut.

    • Since 2012 Researcher and program manager at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.
    • Since 2006 Teacher Media and interaction theory at DOGTime department Gerrit Rietveld Academy.
    • 2011 – 2012 Headmaster Games and Interaction Design, HKU, Utrecht.
    • 2009 – 2012 Program manager at Virtueel Platform
    • 1999 – 2008 Manager workshop program Mediamatic
    • 1989 – 1999 Art practice in radio, interactive media, -games, -performance, development of independent cultural projects and programs

    Education

    • 1984 – 1989 Study Contemporary History, University of Utrecht

    Advisory boards

    • Since 2017 member editorial board of ROBOT LOVE
    • Since 2014 board member Stichting PIPs:Lab, Amsterdam
    • Since 2013 board member Stichting Kulter, Amsterdam
    • 2004 – 2008 board member Bodies Anonymous
    • Various jury memberships

    Selection of recent projects

    • Garden of Machines
    • Fellowship program at Het Nieuwe Instituut
    • 51 Sprints
    • DATAstudio Eindhoven
    • Bot Club and other Thursday Night Live series at Het Nieuwe Instituut

    Publications

    • Felix Hess, Witteveen & Bos publicatie
    • E-volver on Driessen & Verstappen
    • Social RFID, Open!
    • Open Culture and various other Virtueel Platform publications
    • Architecture of Interaction, with Yvonne Dröger, Lino Hellings
    • SDFWP with Tabo Goudzwaard, André Schaminee
  • Janneke Wesseling

    Prof. Dr. Art historian, art theorist, art critic. Main applicant of Critical Making Project, chair of consortium. Main task: supervision of two Critical Making PhD projects.

    Work

    • 2016 – present: Professor in Practice and Theory of Research in the Visual Arts, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University, The Netherlands
    • 2008 – present: Director of PhDArts, international doctorate programme in visual art and design, Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University, The Netherlands
    • 2007 – present: Reader and Head of the Lectorate Art Theory & Practice at the University of the Arts, The Hague, The Netherlands
    • 1982 – present: Art critic at the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad

    Education

    • 2013 Dr.Phil in Art History, Leiden University, Leiden.
    • 1982 M.A. in Art History, Leiden University, Leiden
    • 1973-1982 studied Art History, Free University Amsterdam (B.A. 1977) and Leiden University, Leiden

    Recent Publications (selection)

    • The Perfect Spectator. The experience of the art work and reception-aesthetics. Thesis: 2017, Valiz, Amsterdam
    • Of Sponge, Stone and the Intertwinement with the Here and Now. Inaugural Lecture. 2016, Valiz, Amsterdam
    • See it Again, Say it Again. The Artist as Researcher. Ed. Janneke Wesseling. 2011, Valiz, Amsterdam.

    Recent lectures (selection)

    • Inaugural Lecture ‘Of sponge, stone and the intertwinement with the here and now. A methodology of artistic research.’ 19 September 2016, Leiden University
    • ‘Interdisciplinarity and artistic research: where is the “inter” located?’. At international expert meeting ‘Practising interdisciplinarity? States of the Art’, Swiss Institute. Rome, 10 and 1 ocotber 2016
    • ‘Art criticisim and reception esthetics’, in lecture series Art Now, Witte de With, Rotterdam 11 november 2015, De Appel, Amsterdam, 12 november 2015
    • 2012 – ‘Artistic Research: Research and Performativity’, lecture in “Real World” session of Artquest, Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, October 18.
    • 2012 – ‘The Artist as Researcher’, Ruby Tuesday Lecture in Schunck, Heerlen, January 17
    • 2011 – ‘The artist as researcher’, International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York, November 5
    • 2011 – ‘Towards a reception aesthetics of contemporary art’, Dutch Association of Aesthetics Annual Conference, Ghent, Belgium, May 27/28
    • 2011 – ‘How do artists think?’ , at the conference Beauty and Science, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, March 11
  • Anja Groten

    Designer and PhD researcher.

    Investigating the possibilities of frictional encounters as part of design practice, Anja Groten designs collective moments of critical making, aimed at discussion, confrontation and contingency. Her design practice evolves around the cross-section of digital and physical media, design and art education and community organization. Groten works on (self-)commissions and besides tutors at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam, and the Design Academy Eindhoven. In 2013 she co-founded the initiative Hackers & Designers, attempting to break down the barriers between the two fields by enforcing a common vocabulary through education, hacks and collaboration.

    anjagroten.com
    hackersanddesigners.nl

    Work

    • since 2016: Tutor, Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam, Master of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie
    • 2017-2018: Tutor, Design Academy Eindhoven
    • 2013-2017: Tutor, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam
    • since 2013: Founding member of Hackers & Designers

    Education

    • since 2017: Doctoral studies, PhDArts, Leiden University Academy of Creative and Performing Arts and the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague
    • 2011: MDes, Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam, Master of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie
    • 2008: Diplom Kommunikationsdesign, Niederrhein University of Applied Science, Krefeld

    Workshops (selection)

    • 2017: “Emoji Babble. Coding with Emojis,” Hunan Normal University Changsha and CAFA Beijing (China)
    • 2017: “We/Me,” MAKE!, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam (Netherlands)
    • 2016: “The Momentary Zine,” FORMS Festival, Toronto (Canada)
    • 2016: “Encounters & Publishing,” cross-disciplinary workshop, Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam, De Punt, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
    • 2016: “Publish & Destroy,” Sandberg Instituut, De Punt, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
    • 2015: “The Momentary Zine,” Libre Graphics Meeting, University of Westminster, London (UK)
    • 2013: “Our Autonomous Life?,” with Casco Office for Art Design and Theory, City of Women Festival, Ljubljana (Slovenia)

    Scholarships & residencies

    • 2018: if then / what now? Interdisciplinary artist in Residence. Lava Lab,  Twins Ink, Amsterdam
    • 2017: Visiting artist, FREE. Design educators conference, Otis College of Arts and Design, Los Angeles
    • 2016: Travel scholarship, Traveling Dialogue, Creative Industries Funds NL
    • 2013: Artist in residence, MilesKm, Rood Noot, Utrecht
    • 2010: Designer in residence, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles
    • 2010-2011: DAAD Stipendium, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst
  • The Fabulous School of Octopy

    Researcher: Shailoh Phillips

    The Fabulous School of Octopy: Tentacular Tactics for Pushing the Boundaries of Criticality
    Under the shapeshifting guise of the Fabulous School of Octopy, this research trajectory operates within, between, and alongside a network of institutions, materializing as a tentacular nomadic school. With a meshwork and suction cups to stake critical commons, the Fabulous School of Octopy attaches to a specific context, while staying connected a dynamic interconnected field of ecological, political and social issues.

    This is a quest for an expanded repertoire of critical modes and tools, exploring ‘criticality’ as a more-than-human phenomenon. How to operate critically, when we are stuck inside the systems of exploitation and exclusion we are trying to critique? Can we even really say that we ‘make’ things, when we are all made of the same stuff — moles, stars, 3D printers, humans, bots, storms — circulating in ‘hybrid ecologies’ (Marenko, Morton)? Let us start by recognizing: there has never been such a thing as ‘DIY’ — only ever doing-together, co-creating with forces already at play both within and surrounding us. Connecting, disconnecting, transforming: we are investigating different modalities of criticality that open up possibility for action, that is, supporting alternative infrastructures, changing the conditions of production, dismantling toxic colonial legacies and reconfiguring fields of power and modes of exchange. The activities in this school include stress tests with materials, interspecies pedagogy, developing and testing critical tools, circuit hacking, curriculum bending, power mapping, rapidly melting prototyping, and (inflatable) interactive public interventions.

    Ideas for collaboration and participation in Critical Making sessions with the Fabulous School of Octopy are most welcome. Contact: shailoh@studiobabel.nl.

  • The (Im)possibilities of Friction

    Researcher: Anja Groten

    The starting point of the (sub-)project ‘The (Im)possibilities of Friction’ is the question: can oppositional forces and encounters of resistance in the context of design and engineering processes be productive, and if so, what could be a possible outcome? Could the results of friction be used strategically, and be considered design?

    This research problematizes frictional co-creative processes by drawing parallels with cultural, philosophical and political theories of agonism, dissidence and disobedience. By means of hands-on cross-disciplinary workshops and by producing and highlighting frictional experiences – by breaking open and appropriating software, hardware, and networks, i.e. through actual encounters with the technologies proposed – this inquiry aims to reframe the discourse about what is often described by tech-optimists as innovation.

  • The basics about Critical Making

    Getting started on this website might seem a little overwhelming. If you are new to the discussions on Critical Making, this would be a good place to start.

    About this Critical Making Consortium

    In 2016, a group of people from a university, an art school, a cultural platform, arts and technology lab, and modern art gallery in the Netherlands (see partners) applied for funding for this project, because they are interested in how the field of arts and technology is shifting and wondering what to do about it. Together, this group of partners seeks to help bridge the gaps between arts, technology and design in the context of the Netherlands. This research project questions some of the current developments and offers a context for practice-based researchers to keep on developing and investigating the potenial of Critical Making.

    1. What is Critical Making?

    Critical in the sense of figuring out what is going on, analyzing beyond face value and challenging oppressive power structures (taken from “Critical Theory”). And making as in building things, especially using new technology (coming from DIY Maker Culture). Critical thinking + Making =  Critical Making.

    2. Why “Critical Making”?

    The rise of the Internet and digital network technology has changed so much — and not only for people working with technology, also for artists and designers. There used to be ‘disciplines’ like painting, sculupture, photography, animation, etc. But nowadays, the entire field of arts, crafts, design and technology is impacted by the availability of digital tools, such as computers, 3D printers and cameras. Now there are artists making all kinds of work that just doesn’t seem to fit into boxes.

    Image result for is it a bird is it a plane superman

     

    We can think of a bunch of artists that don’t necessarily fit into the boxes of traditional disciplines (or fit many of them at the same time).

    Check out these examples:

    Jonas Staal: When you build a parliament for non-state parliament in the Kurdish region of Rojava, Is it ‘real’ politics or is it just an artistic performance? (hint: the answer is both).

    Paglen / Appelbaum: A Tor server in a gallery: is it art or is it technology? (hint: the answer is both)

    Jeanne van Heeswijk: neighbourhood studios in Rotterdam: is it art or activism? (hint: the answer is both)

    Image result for Jeanne van Heeswijk

    Hotglue: DIY web publishing: is it a tool or a design? (hint: the answer is both)

    Image result for hotglue web design

    Is it Art? Is it Design? Is it Technology?

    Overall, none of these projects exactly fits the categories of ‘art’ design’ or ‘technology’, so what are they, ‘both’, ‘neither’ or something in-between? None of the above, and some of each at the same time? These are just a couple of examples, but if you look around, the boundaries between disciplines are blurry for a lot of artists, designers, researchers and engineers. Nevertheless, the field is still full of ‘old’ institutions and labels, which simply doesn’t match the interdisciplinary nature of many projects that are a kind of hybrid. What they actually do is mix and match from different disciplines. The situation might seem quite confusing, because it marks a shift from old ways of operating and we don’t really have better ways of describing it yet. But it is also exciting, as it also means that there are many new combinations of media and powerful tools that can be used in different ways.

    3. The Creative Industry, Critical Making and Artistic Research

    At the moment in the Nethterlands, much funding for digital and cross-media art forms is being transferred to funding the ‘Creative Industry’. The only problem with this is that it ends up being more about profit and less about critical challenges to power structures. Without some critical adjustments, valuable kinds of research and collaborative art and design projects will be forced to enter the ‘industry’ logic (buying and selling as the main driver) instead of caring about social or artistic values. It might make more sense to think of a better name. Our current favourite is ‘Critical Making’. Matt Ratto and Garnet Hertz (both from Canada) made up this term, combining two kinds of activities that are often separated: making and thinking.

    Can Critical Making provide a viable alternative to the Creative Industry, providing a new umbrella term for cross-disciplinary artistic research? At the same time, a new field is being emerging called Artistic Research, where artists are accepted to masters and PhD programs to do practice-based work at a doctorate level, also combining making with critical reflection and analysis. Can the new trends of ‘artistic research’ and ‘critical making’ work together to generate alternative ways of making and sharing projects? So not only do we get a mix of artists, designers, activism, technology (and more), we also get rid of the strange idea that thinking and making were separate in the first place. We can do both at the same time. Who ever thought that it was a good idea to keep all the good ideas separate from the skills to build things anyhow? A lot of people are actually trying to bridge this gap, and this project would like to help figure out how to do that in the context of Dutch arts, technology and education institutions.

    4. Where does Critical Making take place?

    The term ‘Critical Making’ was invented by Matt Ratto and further developed by Garnet Hertz. Both of them are Canadian. For Matt Ratto, the term comes from media literacy, combining hands-on tinkering as a tool for deeper understanding. For Garnet Hertz, the term also is useful for furthering the field of interdisciplinary arts and design, while also challenging major issues in society. For both of them it refers to  design practices that critically engage with technology. This includes Open Source, and different ways of working and owning the rights to your work. Rethinking authorship and ownership are not limited to the Maker Movement, and can quite well travel to other domains beyond Makerspaces.

    For this project, we are taking Critical Making to the context of contemporary arts and design. Here we see that technology is seeping into practices and there is a need for more ‘critical’ approaches. On the other hand, there is an existing wealth of critical resources critical to tap into, especially in the arts field that would be especially relevant for Critical Making. Why reinvent the wheel from scratch, when the parts are already available to continue bulding with?

    5. Why an arts perspective on Critical Making?

    Critical Making might just be the answer to a problem that’s been around for a while. Specifically, we come from the perspective of artistic research, where there is also a combination of thinking and making, of theory and practice. What can happen when we try and bridge artistic research and critical making, that is, working between arts, design and engineering in the context of the Netherlands? What does this mean for how institutions operate, how we teach, how we apply for funding, what the critical potential is for the field? Some people think that art is more critical than design. So can we update the “critique” in Critical Making by connecting it to fine arts? And what can the field of arts learn from Critical Making, such as working with Open Source software?

    6. Where our project aims to make a difference

    • Can Critical Making become more critical, that is, actually challenge and reshape power structures?
    • What is the role of aesthetics (how we perceive things) in Critical Making?
    • Can Critical Making escape the dangers of the Creative Industry?

    Shailoh Phillips – Paraphrase of the Critical Making Position Paper, 2018

    Co-edited with …

     

    Context of this version:

    In january 2018 Shailoh Phillips taught a course for 1st and 2nd year students at WdKA on Critical Tools. Reading the Critical Making Position Paper on this website with the group, she realised that it is full of jargon and practically illegible to them. The above text is an informal paraphrase of the Position Paper (link), not only putting the general gist into words that can be understood at an undergraduate level in art schools, but also relating the topics and issues to their frame of reference. Hopefully this simplified version will also be useful to make this project more accessible to people who hear of it for the first time, coming from many different backgrounds.

    Please contact us if you have questions at <contact info>

  • Key literature references

    — Abel, Bas van, Lucas Evers et al., Open Design Now. Why design cannot remain exclusive, Amsterdam: BIS Publishers, 2011.
    — Barness, Jessica, and Amy Papaelias, ‘Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities’. In Visible Language 49.3 (2015), 5.
    — Biggs, Michael, and Henrik Karlsson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, London [etc.]: Routledge, 2011.
    — Biggs, Michael, ‘Learning from Experience: approaches to the experiential component of practice-based research’. In Enquist, Henrik L. U., and Henrik Mark Karlsson (eds.), Forskning, Reflektion, Utveckling, Stockholm: Vetenskapsrådet, 2004, 6-21.
    — Bippus, Elke (ed.), Kunst des Forschens: Praxis eines ästhetischen Denkens, Berlin: Diaphanes, 2009.
    — Boler, Megan, and Matt Ratto, DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014.
    — Borgdorff, Henk, The Conflict of the Faculties. Perspectives on Artistic Research and Academia, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2012.
    — –Carter, Paul, Material Thinking: The Theory and Practice of Creative Research, Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishings, 2005.
    — Cramer, Florian, Anti-Media: Ephemera on Speculative Arts, Rotterdam: NAi010, 2013.
    — Da Costa, Beatriz, and Kavita Philip, Tactical biopolitics: art, activism, and technoscience, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.
    — Dormer, Peter, The Art of the Maker. Skill and its Meaning in Art, Craft and Design, London: Thames & Hudson, 1994.
    — Dorst, Kees, Frame Innovation. Create New Thinking by Design, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015.
    — Drucker, Johanna, Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.
    — Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby, Speculative Everything. Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013.
    — Frayling, Christopher, ‘Research in Art and Design’. In Royal College of Art Research Papers 1.1 (1993/4), 1-5.
    — Hertz, Garnet, Critical Making, United States: Telharmonium, 2012.
    — Ratto, Matt, Kirk Jalbert, and Sara Wylie (eds.), Critical Making Special Forum Issue 30.2 (March 2014).
    — Ratto, Matt, ‘Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life’. In The Information Society 27.4 (2011), 252-260.
    — Schatzki, Theodor R., Karin Knorr Cetina, and Eike von Savigny (eds.), The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory, London [etc.]: Routledge, 2001.
    — Schön, Donald, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, New York: Basic Books, 1983.
    — Somerson, Rosanne, and Ma. Alessandra L. Hermano, The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
    — Wesseling, Janneke, Of Sponge, Stone and the Intertwinement with the Here and Now. A Methodology of Artistic Research, Amsterdam: Valiz, 2016.
    — Wesseling, Janneke, See it Again, Say it Again. The Artist as Researcher, Amsterdam: Valiz, 2014.
    — Zijlmans, Kitty, Robert Zwijnenberg, and Krien Clevis (eds.), CO-OPs. Exploring New Territories in Art and Science, Amsterdam: De Buitenkant, 2007.

  • Related initiatives

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    PhDArts, international doctorate programme in visual art and design at Leiden University, is a collaboration between Leiden University Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) and the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. PhDArts offers a high-level research environment and supervision for artists and designers who are in the vanguard of their field and who aim at obtaining the doctoral degree in artistic research. PhDArts, and the aforementioned collaboration, are unique in The Netherlands. PhDArts has gained wide international recognition for the high level of its research and of the training programme that it offers to artists and designers.

  • Creating 010

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  • Waag Society

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  • Het Nieuwe Instituut

    Het Nieuwe Instituut consists of three pillars: a museum for architecture, design and digital culture; an expertise center for creative industries; and the national archive for architecture. Through its activities Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to increase the appreciation of the cultural and social significance of architecture, design and digital culture and to strengthen the interaction between these disciplines. In a period characterised by radical change, Het Nieuwe Instituut wants to moderate, stimulate and facilitate debate about architecture, design and digital culture through research and a public programme. The broadening and deepening of the public’s appreciation is a fundamental starting point.