Monday, February 1, 2016

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Friday, January 15, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] Transformative and Critical Making

At the outset, I would like to extrapolate from some points mentioned by Dr
Malina that I found extremely insightful in the shaping my thoughts around
some aspects of critical making. I find Seb Franklin's view of control
systems being an infinite continuum of socio-cultural feedback loops to be
an elegant model that does not differentiate between analog and digital
practices, modes of production and representation of information, the human
and the virtual machine, and places interfaces of contention within the
framework of embodied cognition.
I find the epochal differentiation of 'anthropocene' and 'digital' made by
Colette Tron to be different from the above view but probably best pursued
in another thread (infact 'anthropocene' as a world view proliferated on
the web collective - as discussed in a post of mine with Dr Bruno Latour
http://goo.gl/F22BjX). An interesting point raised by Colette to describe
the points of transition between 'making as self-reflection' and 'making
for merchandising' has catalyzed some parallels that I would like to draw
with respect to dynamics in the evolution of 'network society'.

It is apt to bring to light the life of an inventor and maker, one Mr Almon
Strowger, whose important contribution to communication networks was born
from the 'business of death'. For Strowger was an undertaker in Missouri,
in a town where there was yet another undertaker whose wife began to work
as a switching operator in the local telephone exchange. Every time a call
came in regarding a death of a person in need for a coffin and funeral
service, the wife routed the call to her husband, thereby putting Strowger
out of business. The hapless Strowger gained inspiration to make a
brilliant machanical contraption that could automatically switch calls
giving rise to the first automated telephone network also popularly
referred to in engineering text books as the Strowger Switch. (
http://www.google.co.in/patents/US447918) Consequently was formed in 1892,
the Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange Company at Indiana with about 75
subscribers. Strowger later sold his patents for a paltry $10,000 in 1898
to the Automatic Electric Company, a competitor of Bell System's Western
Electric. His patents were eventually acquired by Bell systems for $2.5
million in 1916, showing just how much growth and investor interest the
telephone industry had gained by then.

As automatic circuit-switched telephone networks expanded rapidly,
connecting disparate regions around the globe, the 1960s saw the birth of
the ARPANET, that later evolved to the internet as we know it today. In
contrast to mechanical circuit switching employed by telephone lines, the
internet works on packet switching, where 'soft switches' routed
information between source and destination using the physical network,
sparking a war between 'carriers' of information and their providers, which
has culminated in the debate of 'net-neutrality' as we know it even today.

It is debatable wether the 'invention' of Strowger to cater to his own
self-interest, that later revolutionized the telephone industry maybe
called 'Critical Making', nevertheless the intention of the 'instrument'
that he created, was to remove information bias and promote fair
competition within a neutral network. The making of the internet on the
other hand cannot be attributed to a single person as the free and open
source stack of the ARPANET was built by a community of chosen scientists
in 2 weeks for an 'exhibition' at the first International Conference on
Computer Communication (1972). The numerous trust-based protocols of
interaction and exchange, standards, and algorithms that keep the internet
alive are part of a free and open source stack. Yet, the very same open
stacks have been used to make closed and proprietary systems that govern a
vast amount of processes in today's networked society.

My goal here is not to pitch critical making for 'open systems' against
'closed ones' but to call for the need to situate Critical Making into the
larger framework of Intellectual Property regimes that exist in a constant
flux between being open and closed, beyond the argument of 'Property
Rights'. In developed countries this debate often weighs the rights of the
owner vs the moral rights of the user, but in developing economies the
conversation moves beyond ' permission based fair use' doctrines and
'creative commons approaches', that has often witnessed the use of content
in a way that breaks all norms in intellectual property regimes.
Furthermore, I feel there is a need to analyze differences in the notion
and perception of 'Openness' and 'Fair use' in both these regions.

Yet another meta layer associated with Critical making has been
Attribution, which can be gamed as well. On one hand 'Attribution' (self or
community driven) has taken the role of 'incentivizing' the critical maker
to produce and publish his work in the open domain, while on the other hand
there are critical makers who embrace 'anonymity' and sometimes even 'false
attribution', if the making activity bears undertones of subverting
socio-political norms.

Today's networked society is driven by a 'search engine bias', where
equitable access to the network , open access to knowledge, and the tenets
of net-neutrality have yet again come under threat. As the internet is in
the throes of renewal in 2016 with the US Department of Commerce & ICANN
pulling out of internet governance, will we see a more equitably
distributed network topology emerge across nations built on the same open
values in which the internet was made?How differently must 'Critical
Making', the publication of the Critical Making processes and the knowledge
be aligned to embrace the values of the very same open network that its
proliferation rides on? How will the makers of this medium evolve to become
transformative pallbearers of the old networks's funeral rather than take
the role of the undertaker's wife?

I request your feedback along with any readings that might make the above
thoughts more lucid. In my next post I would like to address the Critical
making movement through the lens of my own practice as a radio frequency
hacker and amateur radio astronomer in the intersection of the arts and
science.

Regards
Sharath Chandra Ram
(Sharathchandra Ramakrishan)
Faculty, Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology
Researcher, Centre for Internet and Society
sharath@srishti.ac.in
sharath@cis-india.org
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] critical making and theoretical ideas

Hello Yasminers,


In this posting I would like to focus on transformative
critical making mostly from a pragmatic point of view,
including the Semaphore Research Cluster?s (University of
Toronto) contribution to participatory culture. To quote
Matt Ratto our director, who is credited with coining
the term of critical making: ?Most of my own critical
making engagements have focused on navigating the complex
pathways between expression and instrumentality, choosing
not to engage directly with either art and design or
science and engineering My main interest is in new
socio-technical arrangements that trouble current
articulations between modes of engagement that we have
typically thought of as virtual and modes that we have
typically thought of as embodied.?

A major Semaphore project is a collaboration with an
Ugandan hospital to use 3-D scanning and printing to
speed the process of creating and fitting sockets for
artificial limbs. As a consequence a 3-D scan of a
Ugandan?s residual limb can be sent within seconds to
another part of the world where a prosthetist can digitally
design a replacement, sending that file back to Africa
to be printed.

Among many other projects, Gabby Resch, one of the
researchers at Semaphore organizes public basic electronics
workshops for children such as the workshop concept for
4-6 year old kids using Lego bricks to foster greater
understanding of 3D design processes.

On other continents: In South Africa, the Trinity Sessions
group based in Johannesburg is focused specifically on
social intervention, introducing alternative approaches.
The group lead by Marcus Neustetter and Steve Hobbs,
presented at this year?s Ars Electronica Festival Renaming
the City aiming to get everybody involved in the naming
process. Kitchen Budapest in Hungary currently intends to
rethink and remix the possibilities of new media in everyday
lives and to develop stronger connections between new
technologies and society. Medialab Prado is a citizen
laboratory for the production, research and dissemination
of cultural projects that explore collaborative forms
of experimentation. Prado operates on an open platform
offering multiple forms of participation

The above are some international examples from my personal
experiences. Of course there are many other networks
focusing on open source based activities such as Lab Sur Lab
a meeting and network of hacklabs, hackerspaces, biopolitical
laboratories and collectives in Latin America.

Creativity, innovation, collaboration and cross-disciplinary
practice are the elements that will form a new balance in
transformative critical making, a rapidly developing movement.
The activities at the Transformaking 2015 Summit -a key example
of bringing together international ?makers? in Yogyakarta? is
a prime source of inspiration for this discussion.




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[Yasmin_discussions] Yasmin_discussions] critical making and theoretical ideas

From Eva Bubble, Transformaking2015 Summit participant

As participant of Transformaking 2015 held in Yogyakarta, I will give
an account on our project, highlighting some basic ideas related to
the field of critical making.
As an environmental art organization, Green Root Lab participated in
Transformaking Festival with its research project about water quality
and filtration possibilities. The basic problem giving the core of the
project was the lack of drinking water or clean water in Indonesia,
where people do have their wells and can boil the water they get from
there, but in many cases this water still contains harmful metals or
even bacteria, therefore, they are forced to buy bottled water of
companies ? if they can afford it. So our main focus was health and
environment as well as the idea of a self-supporting local community
and a stand against the power of consumerism. And last but absolutely
not least: experimenting.
After reviewing the relevant literature to our idea, we decided to
experiment and build a (material) prototype for water filtration
and/or purification. We chose to use a ?traditional innovation,?
natural materials that are easily available (stones, sand, activated
carbon), bearing in mind a sustainable system. Given that none of us
are scientists or specialized in water management, it was truly an
exploration process to jointly extend our skills and knowledge on the
issue. Being a painter is mostly a lonely activity but this ?making?
process encouraged collaboration and resulted in a shared knowledge
and open design.
We had to be critical, reflective, and constantly raise questions to
ourselves. After analyzing the water samples (before and after
filtration) we were faced with what worked and what did not with the
prototype (i.e., it reduced the metals but did not filter the
bacteria). This gave curiosity and reason for further exploration, and
at our present stage, new ideas and alternative possibilities are
being investigated.
All in all, we were and are researching innovative solutions with
respect to traditional methods at a local level to offer usable,
affordable and empowering solutions for a basic problem. Also we can
conclude that our project is driven by curiosity and being eager to
learn and experiment with materials to meet our ideas.

Eva Bubla (Green Root Lab)

Keywords: consumerism, curiosity, ecology, environment, experiment,
exploration, health, local community, open, reflective, shared,
self-supporting, sustainable, water


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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] critical making and the redesigning the human

yasminers

we have just published two interesting podcasts on creative disturbance
that discuss critical making in the context of the human body:

Christina Cogdell address how modern synthetic biology treats the body
as designable- and links this to the eugenics movement

http://creativedisturbance.org/podcast/from-eugenics-to-synbio-design-eng/


By looking at the history of Eugenics and Design, Christina Cogdell
questions the cultural values we affect to biologically designed
artifacts and how humans, through that process, may become mere
products. She also takes into consideration the evolution of
technology in relation to the history of energy and the horizontal
gene transfers that occur between living organisms to balance her
'techno-pessimistic' approach.

http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14070.html

With a very different perspective Stelarc talks about his ability to fuse
himself with robotic systems and talks about the range of properties
that constitute 'aliveness"

http://creativedisturbance.org/podcast/operational-aliveness-with-stelarc-eng/

Stelarc comments the various degrees of aliveness running through his
work from his recent robotic choreography (Propel, 2015) which
combines the automated and the improvised. In reflecting upon the
NeoLife conference opening exhibition Futile Labor (I. Zurr, O. Catts,
C. Salter, D. Wards) that examined shifting perceptions of life
through motion and agency, Stelarc offers elements of response to the
very question of what minimum vocabulary of behavior or movement is
needed to generate a sense of aliveness.

http://stelarc.org/video/?videoID=20300

would be interested in comments on critical making and redesigning the
human

roger malina

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Monday, January 11, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] critical making and theoretical ideas

dear roger and yasminers,
answering to roger and continuing to evaluate the critical making issues
rereading to the philosopher Hanna Arendt : "The human condition" (1958), where she explains about the modern condition of production and making, differently
from Marx, and related to the technologies and instruments of knowledge, or for access to knowledge. Up to her, the modernity occurs when the observation
only couldn't be enough anymore, and she argues, for example, that, to go ahead in research and knowledge, there is the necessity to buid and make some
instruments : in that time, it was the telescope. Then, the technology is becoming a part of knowledge. This is the birth of techno-science.
This practice (praxis) has the goal to develop the theory (theoria), in the sciences first.
But, the making of these instruments involves a big change in the society, that is to say that the work as a production takes a new turn : the modern change.
Arendt observes that, finally, the production is becoming more and more a general economy, and the making of things, objects, for any kind of using and many
finalities, is falling into their merchandising. It's the end of the spiritual or intellectual practice, replaced by the functionnal use.
The critic of Arendt and her enterprise with this book is a question "to think what we make", in the way to develop the necessary faculties for the work of our
times and society.
I guess it is now another period to think what we make, in another context, middle, and environment : the digital one, and the anthropocene.
And to think into these paradigms about the digital technologies, and their making, goal, finality, economy, and ecology.
For a critic of the making. And a critical making.
colette Tron

----

yasminers

i thought i would mention, with respect to the discussion on critical
making that colette tron and nina czgledy started last year

I thought I would mention three books I happen to be reading that
provide some context for matt ratto's original term 'critical making'

1) Seb Franklin's " Control: Digitality as Cultural Logic"
https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/control
which sees control systems as one that are continuous along the centuries and
the evolution of technologies from language to writing to print to
analog to digital-
with key concepts such as the 18th idea of the centrifugal governor on
the steam engine
and the 2oth centuries ideas on cybernetics- this theoretical frame then
posited to provide reshaped concepts of labor, subjectivity and collectivity
( and hence a role for critical making)

2) Bernard Stiegler and Victor Petit's :Pharmacologie du Front national: suivi
du vocabulaire d'ars indistrualis
http://www.amazon.fr/Pharmacologie-Front-national-vocabulaire-indistrualis-ebook/dp/B00BU6PFQ2
Which expands on the core ideas of Ars Industrialis, which colette has
already expanded on.
Among the many key arguments are to separate 'individualisation' from
'dividualisation'
( where the unit of labor is no longer the individual worker) (eg
through the 'uberisation' or
the extremes of the 'quantified self' movement' _= Stiegler is an
ardent advocate of reshaping
through active , participative, intervention and actions.-
this'pharmacology' is detailed in this book.

3) Peter Sloterdijk's " You must change your life"
http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Sloterdijk/e/B001JORRDE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Which provides a very rich context for rethinking about the current
social and philosophical
movements and particularly ( as also discussed by Steigler) the re
appearance of the appeal
of mass movements based on religious ideologies- Sloterdijk argues
that ' we must change our
lives" in an optimistic appeal to transformational actions:
"In truth, philosophy is the mode of thought shaped by the most
radical form of prejudice: the passion of being-in-the-world. With the
sole exception of specialists in the field, virtually everyone senses
that anything which offers less than this passion play remains
philosophically trivial. Cultural anthropologists suggest the
appealing term 'deep play' for the comprehensively absorbing
preoccupations of human beings. From the perspective of a theory of
the practising life we would add: the deep plays are those which are
moved by the heights."

Critical Making , can then be seen as individual and group practices
which are cumulatively transformative-
in a continuum with the theoretical basis for 'open' systems and
higher order cybernetics=
at this time of strange return to medieval battles around religious
ideologies, these
three authors are wonderfully optimistic and convinced that we can go
beyond the agenda defined for us, to an agenda
where by understanding the systems of control ( not in a foucautlian
sense) we can intervene and leap frog over the return
to old obscurantisms

as you can gather i share this optimism- and happy new year and look
forward to 'making" a saner world

i look forward to hearing from yasminers what other framing
theoretical and philosophical ideas are relevant

roger malina

___________________________________________________________
Mode, hifi, maison,… J'achète malin. Je compare les prix avec Voila.fr http://shopping.voila.fr/

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] yasmin this week

yasminers

Am pleased to hand the moderation baton to Monica
Bello over at CERN ! There has been a wonderful growth
of the number of artists in science labs residencies- I append at the
end of this email the FEAT call deadline jan 31

We are still having our critical making discussion on the YASMIN
discussion list-please contribute- and if anyone would like to moderate
a yasmin discussion on a topic they are involved in=please contact
one of the YASMIN moderators

--
Roger F Malina

[Yasmin: Fwd: STARTS: call for residencies in FET-FEAT project
.
yasminers
some good news for the art science community
the feat announcement below brought to our attention by ralph dum

We aim to open up new avenues of collaboration for artists and
scientists and to appropriately support projects through mentoring,
advice and finance. Five excellent applicants will be selected to work
for up to nine months with a total budget – of €18000 each – within
the context and research of FET;

deadlilne jan 31

roger


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <Ralph.Dum@ec.europa.eu>


Dear All

There is a call out from a EC (FET) funded project:

The call is on artist residencies in a technology/science context:

See http://featart.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/FEAT_residency_regulations.pdf

(deadline end of Jan.)

This is in line with the ideas of STARTS.

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/ict-art-starts-platform

Best Ralph

roger adds; here are the details
1. Introduction We are pleased to announce an open call for artists to
develop new work through in-depth collaborations, embedded within
research groups involved with European Union supported Future Emerging
Technologies (FET) projects through the FEAT Residency programme. The
aim of the programme is to widen public awareness and debate around
radically new technologies and to produce an artwork or body of
artwork for exhibition at significant venues. We aim to open up new
avenues of collaboration for artists and scientists and to
appropriately support projects through mentoring, advice and finance.
Five excellent applicants will be selected to work for up to nine
months with a total budget – of €18000 each – within the context and
research of FET; this may include travel costs, materials, fabrication
and artists fees. Residents will be expected to work in close
collaboration with a FET project and be in close contact with them
throughout the project included visiting and spending time with the
researchers as necessary and appropriate (to be negotiated on a
case-by-case basis) to develop concept ideas and complete an artwork
or body of artwork that responds to or extends the FET research.
Residents and collaborators will be expected to attend and participate
in a series of (at least two) workshops to present and discuss work in
progress and to ensure cross-topic and cross-project fertilization.
The FEAT Residency programme is part of the European Union Horizon
2020 supported project FEAT – Future Emerging Art and Technology, and
is a collaboration between eutema (Vienna), Waag Society (Amsterdam)
and Youris (Brussels), working with artist/curator Anna Dumitriu. The
FEAT Residency programme calls for artists with an excellent track
record of collaborative art practice and an interest in radically new
technologies in fields such as biotechnology, computing, big data,
robotics, nanotechnology, renewable fuels, or neuroscience, to enter
into collaborations with newly started FET projects in order to work
across disciplines investigating new terrains of creative expression
and artistic research. A list with descriptions of potential FET
project examples that artists may work with will be published on the
website www.feat-art.eu FEAT invites artists with an interest in these
fields to send a motivation letter, CV and a portfolio of relevant
work (PDF not exceeding 15 MB all together) to
applications@feat-art.eu. Applicants are encouraged to inform
themselves of the latest rewarded FET projects to be found here.
Please be sure to read all information about the call, deadlines and
requirements detailed here before submitting an application. 2.
Deadline The deadline for applications is January 31st 2016.

________________________

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