Susan Jackson, ‘Militarization 2.0: Methodology on militarized corporations and their (gendered) social media presence’

Susan Jackson (senior lecturer in international relations at the Department of Global Political Studies) presented on the Militarization 2.0 project, a four-year grant funded by Vetenskapsrådet. The project studies social media in International Relations.

Susan focuses on developing methodology for using social media as a tool in researching the presence of miltary-related subjects and discourses taking place online, particularly across social media platforms. Susan strongly believes that social media can fuuntion as a fruitful way of doing research. For the project, she put together an international team of experts from the UK, Sweden and Germany who come from diverse fields such as military video games and popular culture, and private military and security companies. The project brings the researchers together to conceptualize new ways of using social media as a research tool. So far, as Susan mentioned, social media have been mainly used as tools in researching political unrest, such as in the case of Egypt or Turkey. She argues that her approach differs by concentrating more on everyday life dimension of debates carried on across social media platforms, yet with a particular focus on these touching upon militarization and their interlinkage. Moreover her team will use gender studies lens as a primary analytical tool, since as she argues, militarization can not be studied without the gender perspective. Continue reading

Erliza Lopez Pedersen, new ComDev PhD introduction

Erliza Lopez Pedersen

Erliza Lopez Pedersen, the new PhD candidate in Communication for Development introduced her research around transnationalism, cultural citizenship and the media, with a focus on the Filipino diaspora in the five Nordic countries and Spain. A full recording of the seminar can be watched on this link. Pedersen also recently did an interview about her research which has been posted on the ComDev portal.

Peyman Vahabzadeh & Gregor Noll, ‘THIN(G)KING Heidegger BEYOND PHILOSOPHY’

thingking heidegger

As outlined in the notice for the seminar, these discussions aimed to look at Heidegger’s “fraught” relationship to the discipline of philosophy: “This fraying can be traced through two of his most provocative concepts: the idea that THINKING as an activity is concealed in the present age and that THINGS are made to retreat in the face of mere stuff. Bringing THINGS and THINKING back from their forced exile is one way of working on Heidegger’s legacy.”

Berndt Clavier opened the seminar by describing an ongoing momentum in Heidegger studies that has seen his work being increasingly picked up on by disciplines nominally outside of philosophy. How much of the most interesting writing on Heidegger is currently happening in these non-philosophical spaces. Heidegger’s “thing thinking” is bound to take one outside of philosophy. Indeed, the very question of being that took Heidegger into philosophy was what eventually took him out of it as a result of his emphasis on practices of being. Clavier pointed to Heidegger’s ‘Origin of the work of art’ essay as a key point of reference for the seminar, with its highlighting of the predicative disposition of language that constructs a seeing subject and passive object, and all of the subsequent entailments of such an arrangement in which every thing is made to substantiate the subject, as can be seen in the array of conventional representational apparatuses and their theatre of anthropormorphisms. Clavier then opened the floor to Vahabzadeh, pointing out that the social sciences carry a memory of these objectifications as they occur and thus are more well-placed than philosophy to use Heideggerian thought.
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Luca Simeone, ‘An ethnographic analysis of the organizational approaches of three academic labs’

Senseable City Lab

Entrance door at the old lab. Photo by Jennifer Dunnam

Luca Simeone (, PhD in Interaction Design, with a focus on design management and design anthropology, presented on the results of ethnographic investigations conducted over a 3-year period (2011-2014). As the abstract for the seminar explained, “This 50% dissertation presents a compilation of 4 papers that investigate three academic labs – MEDEA at Malmö University, MIT SENSEable City Lab and metaLAB (at) Harvard – that use design to foster collaboration with multiple stakeholders (industry, government, NGOs, citizens, …). More specifically – using concepts such as ‘multi-sited’ from anthropology, ‘boundary organization’ from organizational studies and ‘strategic ambiguity’ from organisational communication – this study adopts different interpretive perspectives to describe the organizational approaches of the three labs and how they use design as way to set up and sustain collaboration with multiple stakeholders.”

In giving an overview of each of the four papers, Simeone drew out several key findings and potential topics for discussion. These included

  • orientation and interplay: in what ways organisational components influence and get influenced by the design-based collaborative dimension of the labs
  • open versus curated forms of opening production in the “hackathon” setting
  • strategic ambiguity as management practice: paradoxical horizontal (small, independent teams) and vertical (hierarchical) structures of a lab like the SENSEable City Lab, ambiguity in engagement roles and communication
  • multi-sited design activities: questions of what happens where in multi-sited, geographically distributed design environments
  • whether to pursue a monograph or compilation dissertation format

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Ola Ståhl & Terje Östling, ‘23,500t’

Ståhl and Östling presented a 45 minute performance of their artist book, “23,500” (Malmö: Publication Studio, 2013). As described in their statement for the seminar, the book engages with “the interstitial space between architecture, materiality and gentrification. Drawing upon a substantial archive of photographs and texts, the concertina publication consists of a 12m long print documenting the Sheffield housing estate Park Hill – a massive, council-owned, Brutalist structure currently being privatised and therefore undergoing massive refurbishment. The image on one side of the print is a collage of photographs that together make up the entirety of the facade of the complex. The opposite side of the print contains a series of text collages weaving together descriptive text, archival material and references to architectural theory. The covers of the publication are cast in concrete, the same material used to construct the frame of the housing complex itself.”

For the seminar four Kodak Carousel slide projectors were used to project a black and white mosaic style panorama of Park Hill estate, which Östling slowly cycled through while Ståhl read from the text of the book. Much of the reading focused on giving granular descriptions of the estate, with an emphasis given to the edifice itself, the fractal qualities of its hard angles and rough surfaces as well as its occasional patches of washing, graffiti or leftover rubbish, traces of inhabitants within what is currently a largely derelict space. The cycling of slides from right to left was such that one was taken on a “walk” around the entire facade of Park Hill, finishing at the end of the performance back at the first slide and starting point of this verbal and visual tour.

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David Cuartielles & Tony Olsson, ‘The digital artisan’

History and frameworks for the labs

David began the seminar with an introduction to the background of his work at K3 and Malmö University. When David arrived in 2000 he wanted to look at how the Interaction Design program could refresh its focus on prototyping with physical materials. One emphasis became to teach and encourage the Interaction Design students to build the tools if they didn’t already exist. The need for easy to work with circuit boards became one clear need in many of the projects and this experience of working with the students fed into the further development of the Arduino project, which David was directly involved with as one of its founders.

Further lessons learned in these early labs included:

1) the need for setting interesting goals that would act as drivers for pushing students beyond their expectations of what was possible,
2) pushing students to exhibit in public,
3) the need for better documentation processes of the work produced,
4) the need for constraints that enable the students to work more directly with specific concepts,
5) the need for objects to be able to connect to other objects. Building on these needs, the lab was professionalised in such a way that the now standard model of fast prototyping with interesting and critically-oriented design briefs that challenge students to think beyond straightforward functionalities was born. Continue reading

Susan Kozel, ‘Somatic Materiailsm: some implications for archiving’

Photo: Jeannette Ginslov. Dance: Wubkje Kuindersma.

Photo: Jeannette Ginslov. Dance: Wubkje Kuindersma.

Susan presented work in progress relating to the ongoing Living Archives project. Susan and other members of the Living Archives team had just recently returned from two presentations of their work. The first was a presentation by Susan on the topic “Performing Memory” at the LARM Audio Research Archive Conference on Digital Archives, Audiovisual Media, and Cultural Memory at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The second, AffeXity: Passages & Tunnels, was a socially enacted performance involving mobile phones, augmented reality and dance given at the Re-New Digital Arts Festival 2013, also in Copenhagen. Key themes in both the presentation and the performance are those of affect, bodies, performance, materiality and archiving, which Susan discussed further in this seminar.

What is an archive?
One issue which the Living Archives is working with is the question of “What is an archive?” Susan referred to Jacques Derrida’s addressing of this question in his book Archive Fever, the way in which definitions of archives can be understood as being policed by numerous actors and institutions in relation to any given subject matter. Archiving and the digitisation of archives has become a very hot topic across a range of fields both in academia and within society in general. The need to try to take stock of the current situation and ask why it is that our culture appears to experience a sort of crisis of memory at this particular moment? The Living Archives team is currently focused on approaching such issues not so much from the standard launching point of simply providing a digitisation solution for analogue material, but rather by exploring a variety of different archives and archiving practices, with one common theme being a focus on possible participatory modalities that both digital and other methods can enact with any given archive/archiving practice. The frameworks that open data movements provide have also been of particular interest to the group. Continue reading

Linda Hilfling & Jacek Smolicki, new K3 PhD candidates

Linda Hilfling presentation
Linda Hilfling, the new K3 PhD candidate in Interaction Design, has for several years been a practicing artist and discussed several of her past projects. This included Misspelling Generator, a browser extension that works with the spellchecking functionality in Google Search to suggest alternative spellings of words that might help users to get to otherwise censored search results. For example, in the case of someone searching for “Tiananmen Square” within China, the iconic and most searched for images of the protests on the square would be withheld from any user carrying out this search within China. With the browser extension installed, however, the user will be prompted with misspellings of Tiananmen Square – replacing Google’s default “Did you mean” prompt with a “Have you tried” message that offers several misspellings that will get around the censored search results that a correctly spelled search request would yield. One might call this a kind of “accidental activism.”

Linda Hilfling, fjernstyring /// remote control

Linda Hilfling, fjernstyring /// remote control

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