[ISEA2023] Panel: Marie Verdeil, Rebekka Jochem, Jan Christian Schulz & Lukas Völp — Curb the Black Box: Overcoming Techno-Positive Fantasies

Panel Statement

Theme: AI – Generative Sub Theme: Symbiotic Imaginaries

Keywords: Technology, Designer’s agency, Human-Technology-Symbiosis, Design, Interactive presentation , Technological black boxes, Interface

The panel aims to explore the diverse range of symbiotic relationships technology enforces, using examples and a custom interactive black box to demystify the metaphor of “black boxes” and its design aesthetics, discussing how designers can mediate human-technology relationships and strategies for a more mutually beneficial symbiotic world.

Technology appears as the symbiotic partner in human evolution, both co-constituting and always redefining their relationships that are becoming more complex and entangled nowadays. Throughout history, this relationship was one of symbiotic power-dynamics, mediating and guiding our daily interactions within social, political, spiritual, and environmental contexts. Often glorified in techno-positive imaginaries, many technological objects intervening in our daily life and the life of other species appear as “black boxes” – sometimes mystified, inaccessible or alienating but yet omnipresent.

The panel aims to outline the spectrum and problematics of the diverse range of symbiotic relationships technology enforces – be it mutual, commensal or parasitic ones. Using a set of technology-examples, and with the help of a custom made interactive physical black box as well as speech recognition algorithm visuals mediating the conversation, the panelists seek to unpack and demystify the metaphor of the “black box” and its design aesthetics.

Revolving around the agency of designers, the panel conversation responds to the question of how human-technology relationships are being mediated through design and what kind of strategies could be followed to open up pathways of a more mutual-symbiotic world beneficially connecting humans, non-humans and technologies alike.

  • Jan Christian Schulz is a designer, interdisciplinary researcher and writer based in Germany and the Netherlands. He investigates the emergence of ecosystemic relationships through technological media and creates socio-ecological interventions, mediating a sensorial perception of environmental transformations.
  • Rebekka Jochem was born in Cologne (DE) and grew up in Germany and Slovakia. In her graduation work she studied the relationship between humans and their personal data, specifically relating to their physical bodies and movement. Adopting a xenofeminist design approach, she tries to empower individuals to take control over their digital selves.Currently, she is based in Brussels. instagram: @rebekkajochem
  • Marie Verdeil is a french designer based in the Netherlands. She recently graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, NL. Her practice is based on empirical and empathic research and often results in creating tools, methods or experiences, rather than ready-made solutions. In her work, she uses hacks and subversion in an attempt to shift our relationship with Technology. She also wonders what design can do to challenge our beliefs & habits in a finite, ecologically threatened world. She prefers to work with open-source resources, repurposed materials, energy-aware approaches and DIY techniques. Previous projects take the form of websites, objects, instruments, publications & installations among others. Recently, she collaborated with Ecume Studio, Low-Tech Magazine and Onomatopee. instagram: @marie_verdeil
  • Lukas Völp. Graphic and Social Designer from Germany https://lukasvoelp.myportfolio.com