Interdiciplinary Autumn School
From waste management to circular economy, eco-design or net-zero policies, materiality has become a crucial issue for technical, scientific, social and political considerations of un/sustainability. Far from being a simple task to solve, thinking through un/sustainable matter means to appreciate the conflicting implications that come along with the (co)creation of »uninhabitable landscapes« (Tsing 2016: 241). Scientists, designers, politicians, activists and social groups are increasingly grappling with the unruliness of matter as active agent (Gholami et al. 2022; Krauthausen et al. 2022) in their various attempts to ensure survival on »a damaged planet« (Tsing et al. 2017). For the way in which un/sustainability unfolds in and through matter is never universal, straightforward, or smooth, but rather co-produced by diverse and contradictory actors, interests, constraints, temporalities, and spaces. As a result, the practice-based discipline of design starts reflecting on ways of designing for and with more-than-human material networks (Escobar 2018, Wakkary 2021, Redström & Giaccardi 2021). Establishing a debate on the policies of matter, further implies considering growing social inequality, pollution, exhaustion of raw materials (Stengers 2015: 18) as well as techno-cultural practices and their paradigms (Borgmann 2009) and methods of ecological enquiry (Van Dooren 2016). Local initiatives to develop new materials and production strategies that produce much-needed novel situated knowledge are often intertwined in an uneven global circulation of meaning and data, people and resources. Moreover, in the confrontation of harmful pasts and hopeful futures, un/sustainability narratives and practices unfold in an untimely register in which crisis and resilience, catastrophe and rescue seem to collapse.
Against this background, we propose frictioned functionality as the theme of this interdisciplinary Autumn School. We aim to address the conflicted entanglement of materiality, design and un/sustainability within an interdisciplinary setting, using the complicated relations of friction and functionality as the guiding principle.
Hosted by the Cluster of Excellence »Matters of Activity. Image Space Material« at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin the Autumn School is aimed at advanced MA students and PhD students from the humanities, natural sciences and design disciplines with a strong interest in the thematic complex of materiality, design and un-sustainability. We invite participants not only to bring their different academic or professional expertise into dialogue, but also to engage in experimental strategies of collaborative designing and making.