UdK Berlin Rundgang 2021

Politics of Machines

Florian Conradi Michelle Christensen

Interdisciplinary Studio Class / Summer Semester 2021

In a state of ontological crisis, all boundaries between human and machine, nature and culture, and the organic and inorganic have been severely blurred. These are times of curious contrivances, novel natures, inescapable automation and posthuman performances – where human and nonhuman find themselves being entwined, meshed and muddled into new unwitting entanglements. But from biased machine-learning to surveillance capitalism and digital colonisation – what power-structures are implicitly and covertly being embedded into these technologies? When are we still at the centre of the social algorithm, and when do we become extensions of the extensions that we built? Do we have to raise a discussion about political systems of things – about ‘ubiquitous capitalism’, ‘algorithmic aristocracy’ or ‘object-mediated democracy’?

As a collaborative TU/UdK project, this studio class discussed ethical, social and political implications of technology with a focus on ‘automation’ versus ‘autonomy’. Critical perspectives on the politics of machines were practiced and formulated, discovering novel phenomena and shadowing the material regimes of power that we ourselves live within – hindering and compromising personal devices and thus conducts, in order to uncover latent power structures embedded in everyday life. Furthermore, drawing on the approaches of research-through-design and critical making, possibilities and provocations were prototyped, integrating critical thinking and designing. Works developed during this interdisciplinary studio class were exhibited during the POM BLN 2021 conference ‘Politics of the Machines – Rogue Research’, which took place at the Designtransfer and the Berlin Open Lab in September 2021 (berlin.pomconference.org).

Students: Ulrike Rausch, Berkay Soykan, Florian Porada, Pablo Torres, Andreas Greiler Basaldua, Johanna Westermann, Emily Schuri, Genya Crossman, Dylan Everingham, Conrad Schloer, Amenallah Slama, Tim Belau, Marisa Nest

Lecturers: Florian Conradi and Michelle Christensen (TU Berlin/ECDF, UdK Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute)

Works from Ulrike Rausch, Berkay Soykan, Florian Porada, Pablo Torres and Andreas Greiler Basaldua exhibited online in the context of the UdK Berlin Rundgang 2021.