Thuistezien 256 — 05.05.2021

Critical Making 2019
Public discussion

In May 2019, West Den Haag hosted the first of two symposia under the name ‘Making Matters’ where artists, makers, students, activists, theorists, designers, humans and non-humans were invited to think about making practices. The aim of the symposium was to bridge art, design, and technology through an investigation of how the concept of critical making can be adopted in relation to artistic research. Speakers from the above mentioned fields were invited to give talks which reflected on practices - in general as well as their own - and theoretical subjects related to critical making. Along with, and corresponding to this, four workshops were given during the symposium which were created and organized by speakers invited for the symposium and in which all participants were invited to engage.

In her diffracted practice as a junior embedded artistic researcher, Pia Louwerens’ research into artistic subjectivity questions and challenges the ownership and authorship. Her workshop ‘Becoming / an embedded artistic researcher / From I to we / excavating reality together / at work’ aimed to invite participants to join her practice and, in that sense, learn to become embedded together. As a result, the participants started to dwell on the personal pronouns used to define authorship and ownership. They worked on reconstructing the ‘I’ and, as a result, they all became ‘I’, self declared parasites or ‘guests’ embodying the position of Pia. Beginning to think collectively was also a method used in Ramon Amaro’s workshop ‘Self/Being/Technology as Method’ but the starting point differed.

Starting from the feeling and concept of the word ‘angst’, participants were asked to connect to the word individually by isolating themselves. Later, they would reunite in small groups to try and connect with each others’ connection to angst. This process made them become aware of their individual and self-generating processes which, in a sense can be regarded as critical methods in themselves. In the workshop ‘Walking Signals’ created by the initiative Hackers and Designers together with interdisciplinary artist duo dianaband’s, the discovering and acknowledgement of a critical making method also happened meanwhile the workshop took place. All participants were invited to share a story on a local internet signal, consisting of a graphic GIF and a connected sound piece. Unexpectedly, the creation of the sound became anecdotal and shaped the critical element in the creation of the shared hotspots by opening up for a discussion of sounds we take for granted on our devices. The notion of the unexpected was likewise at stake in Thalia Hoffman’s workshop ‘Make me food’ in which the participants were asked to bring food. After sharing their stories about their chosen food, they were asked to divide into groups of duos in which they would feed each other the food. Here, it became evident that food, although being one of the most conventional forms of making, is usually not taken into consideration. Additionally, the concept of feeding became a communicational exchange but where contact is through eyes and touch, making it sensorial instead of verbal.

In the video above, the workshop participants share their outcome and their experiences with the workshops. These workshops proved to be an exemplification of what the symposium aimed towards. By creating a dialogue between critical making, artistic research, and various material practices, each of the workshops were experiments of critical making in which the outcome couldn’t be predicted.

Text: Rosa Zangenberg