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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