[ISEA2018] Panel: Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath, Laura Beloff, Julian Priest, Walter Langelaar & Steve Grey — The Dark Side of Making: Reflecting on Promises, Practices and Problems of the Last 25 Years

Panel Statement

Keywords:  Biohacking, creative practices, critical perspectives, digital media, DIY, education, hacking, Making, open culture, open networks.

The discussion of our panel of the Dark Side of Making takes up specifically the perspectives of software- and biohacking, do-ityourself (DIY) practices, education, and open networks. Members of the panel represent a range of perspectives from an international group of academics, artists, and makers, including the local South African maker scene. The recent years have seen a growing interest and increase of practices that embrace a DIY attitude and Maker Culture. But there are also controversies attached to these practices that question their legitimacy, sustainability, and intentions: How is it better to build your own electronic device instead of buying a mass-produced one? Does it really make sense to self-build the automated watering, light and temperature control system for your house plants? And why do we all repeat the same experiments in a DIY biolab, e.g. the creation of transgenic fluorescent e-coli bacteria, which will be killed after we have seen it glow under a fluorescent lamp? These and other questions reference a possibility that there exists a dark side to these practices; but what and where is it?

  • Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath is Associate Professor at the ITU, Copenhagen, and member of the Center for Computer Games Research (game.itu.dk) and the Pervasive Interaction Technology Lab (PitLab, pitlab.itu.dk). Daniel writes, composes, codes, builds, performs and plays. He is interested in artistic, analytic, explorative, critical and subversive approaches to and practices of play. Discourses he is specifically interested in, are play and materiality, play and learning, and critical play. He aims to integrate and contrast methods and practices of art, design, media studies, engineering and education. He runs the University’s monthly workshop series which is about electronics, mechanics, alchemy, interface devices and dangerous things. In his own practice, he makes interactive works which are shown at art exhibitions, academic conferences and popular events. (More info at dace.de)
  • Dr. Laura Beloff (FI/DK) is an internationally acclaimed artist and academic researcher who has been actively producing art works and exhibiting worldwide in museums, galleries and art events since the 1990’s. She has been a recipient of various grants, art residencies and awards. Her artistic and research interests include practice-based investigations into a combination of technology and biological matter, which is located in the cross section of art, technology and science. Previously, she has been Full Professor for Media Arts at the Art Academy in Oslo, Norway; and Visiting Professor at The University of Applied Arts in Vienna; and currently she is Associate Professor and Head of the PhD school at IT University of Copenhagen.  realitydisfunction.org
  • Julian Priest is a New Zealand based artist and writer who works with participatory and technological forms currently focusing on gravity. He was co-founder of early wireless free network community Consume.net in London and is a board member of the Aotearoa Digital Arts Trust. He has lectured at the Banff Centre, Whanganui School of Design, AUT University and Massey University. Recent exhibitions include: The Blue Marble, Machine Wilderness, Public Art Finalist Exhibition, Albuquerque (2012); Sink, Machine Wilderness, ISEA2012, Albuquerque (2012–13); and Local Time, Local Knowledge, Dowse, Wellington (2011–12). His interactive sound work La Scala was recently commissioned for the Chartwell Stairwell at Artspace Auckland (2014–15).
  • Walter Langelaar is Programme Director for Media Design in the School of Design Victoria University of Wellington (NZ), as well as an artist and subcultural activist from the Netherlands. His work in media arts and design questions our digitally networked cultures and infrastructure in varying dimensions through sculpture, installation, online performance and critical intervention. Walter’s work is shown in numerous venues across the European
    and international media arts scene. Walter received several awards for his personal and collaborative projects and held artist in residence and visiting scholar positions. Walter’s research is concerned with the plethora of recording devices employed in the post-Snowden spheres of networked interaction design. The recently launched SAM project (2017) aims to raise awareness as well as pose critical perspectives on AI cloud infrastructure, blockchains and social media mining while contextualising these tools in relation to contemporary Internet culture, political science and e-governance.
  • Steve Gray, natural born innovator, trained Engineer, Teacher, Artist and Entrepreneur (BSc Eng) is a dynamic voice in the world of Technology and Innovation. Founder of the MakerSpace Foundation, he is a master at demystifying technology and unpacking the human implications of our rapidly changing world. Stephen offers an entertaining and insightful look behind the Tech curtain, unveiling a picture of the future and engaging listeners from all walks of life.

Full text p. 414 – 417