Walter A. Anderson, “What Makes a Good Workshop,” The Journal of Educational Sociology Vol. 24, No. 5 (January, 1951), pp. 251-261.
“Curriculum Plan,” Proposals for Art Education from a Year Long Study by Fluxus artist George Maciunas, 1968-1969. The image was shown in Heike Rom's presentation.
In her talk "The Workshop as an Emancipatory Mediation Method of Resistant Practices" political activist Hanna Poddig referred to the discussion scores that are also common in Consensus Decision-making practices
"A section of Water Walk," score by John Cage
Notes by Suzanne Lacy on the ongoing civic engagement in Oakland and the Oakland Youth Policy Initiative. Image courtesy of Suzanne Lacy.
Page from "Teaching and Learning as Performings Arts" in 1979. Find a downloadable pdf of the publication on:
Fluxus artist Robert Filliou published the book "Teaching and Learning as Performings Arts" in 1979. The book is designed in a workbook manner, leaving space for annotation in the middle of the page
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Page from: Sibylle Peters, performing research: How to conduct research projects with kids and adults using Live Art strategies, (London: Live Art Development Agency, 2017),
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The workshop and conceptual framework of 'open-source parenting' was developed as part of 'Solarpunk—Who owns the Web?'—a collaborative exploration resulting in a series of intergenerational online and offline workshop formats. Partner organizations were Hackers & Designers in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Mz* Baltazar’s Laboratory in Vienna (Austria) and Prototype PGH in Pittsburgh (USA). Along with the development of a series of solar punk workshops, the aim was to engage in an active peer exchange and support each other in the process of developing context-sensitive learning formats.
Pages from Bloomcraft Agreements, Code of conduct of the Bloomcraft Building, which was founded in 2015 and is where Prototype Pittsburgh is located. One of the "Solarpunk" work sessions focussed on the partner organizations' code of conducts, in which the divergences and similarities of the different contexts of Hackers & Designers, Prototype Pittsburgh and Mz* Baltazhar's Lab were discussed.
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The “catalog of formats for digital discomfort” was catalogued by Jara Rocha, edited by: Seda Gürses and Jara Rocha. Accompaniment by: Femke Snelting, Helen Nissenbaum, Caspar Chorus, Ero Balsa. The first booklet version of this catalog was co-produced by the Obfuscation event series organizing committee, Digital Life Initiative at Cornell Tech, BEHAVE’s ERC-Consolidation Grant and the Department of Multi Actor Systems (MAS) at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at TU Delft, in February 2021. In collaboration with the Institute for Technology in the Public Interest (TITiPI), the Catalog is transforming into an editable MediaWiki form. Copyleft with a difference note to whoever encounters A catalog of formats for digital discomfort... and other ways to resist totalitarian zoomification: this is work-in-progress, please join the editing tasks! You are also invited to copy, distribute, and modify this work under the terms of the Collective Conditions for (re-)use (CC4r) license, 2020. It implies a straightforward recognition of this Catalog’s collective roots and is an invitation for multiple and diverse after lifes of the document: Downloadable pdf and wiki version of this catalog. Referenced projects and materials, each hold their own license.
Complete post script "The 3rd Workshop on Obfuscation", Post-Script workflow and lay-out by Cristina Cochior and Manetta Berends:
A basic diagram for doing consensus
Collected hand-out from a workshop for art and design educators, reactivated during H&D Algorithmic Consensus Meetup, 2021. Credits: Workshop: Angela Jerardi, 2019, Hand-out: Seeds for change
Cover of 'Communities: Journal of Cooperative Living,' July/August 1977.
Pages of 'Communities: Journal of Cooperative Living,' July/August 1977.
Flowchart of the discussion process
The “Unbound Libraries” folder arrived in 2020 at the H&D studio in Amsterdam. It was sent to us by Elodie, Martino and An of CAssociation for Arts and Media in Brussels in preparation for a one week work session. The work session “Unbound Libraries” took place online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The folder contained preparatory reading materials related to the session. It had a navigation system stapled to its front cover—an overview of the materials and a suggestion on how to approach them. It was not a fixated, bound reader but a loose collection—a repository of materials that can grow and changes over time. More information can be found on and
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Screenshot of the Unbound Libraries work session
Screenshot of the Unbound Libraries work session
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In this version of Myclines, the text corpus is based on the content from #Re-_and_Un-_Defining_Tools
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"I don’t know. Are you sure?" searches for a way of working together that actively engages with friction and appreciates differences instead of seeking the comforts of compromise and middle ground. The collection of fifteen collaborative methods is accompanied by short interviews reflecting on topics such as conflict, sharing skills and resources, and the resilience. A free pdf can be downloaded here:
Channeling performance script, H&D Summer Academy 2021, Gabriel Fontana
Character card reference
Character card reference
Character card reference
Character card reference
Character making in Ethercalc
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How-to "The Perfect Robbery" by Juli Reinartz," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Give and Take" by Social Muscle Club," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Conceptual Speed Dating" by Brian Massumi," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Bodystrike" by Feminist Health Care Research Group," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Bodystrike" by Feminist Health Care Research Group," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
Page from scanned microfiches, “Api Kartini Djakarta: Jajasan Melati,” 1959-1964, Leiden University Library, Special Collection.
Code of conduct of Mz* Baltazhar's Lab. One of the "Solarpunk" work sessions focussed on the partner organizations' code of conducts, in which the divergences and similarities of the different contexts of Hackers & Designers, Prototype Pittsburgh and Mz* Baltazhar's Lab were discussed. CoC Mz*Baltazar’s Lab
Technical drawing of the different components of the fanfare display system
Phylomon card deck (HDSA–Amsterdam edition)
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Publication collectively made by Algolit: Piero Bisello, Sarah Garcin, James Bryan Graves, Anne Laforet, Catherine Lenoble, An Mertens, bots and PJ Machine
Documentation and user manual of the workshop "ctrl-c" at HFG Karlsruhe. During the hands-on workshop participants investigated ways to take apart and reassemble remote controllers and other battery powered toys in unusal ways. By saving redundant electronics from becoming e-waste we hacked our way into the mechanics of human computer interaction and user interfaces. At the same time we learned about electronics–all the while critically reflecting on the notion of control. The toy-tools were documented by participants in the form of a user manual that explained and demonstrated the main functionalities
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam

Script annotations by Pia Louwerens, Workshop reenactment, Troef Leiden, June 2022
Workshop anecdotes, written by workshop participants, June 2022

Pod Mapping: During one of the first work sessions with H&D, Mz* Baltazar and Prototype Pittsburgh, Pernilla proposed to try the method "Pod Mapping" as developed by Mia Mingus for Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC), June 2016. Find more information about the method and the worksheet:
Sketch of workshop setup and game
Short version of the H&D Code of Conduct. One of the "Solarpunk" work sessions focussed on the partner organizations' code of conducts, in which the divergences and similarities of the different contexts of Hackers & Designers, Prototype Pittsburgh and Mz* Baltazhar's Lab were discussed.
Presentation Poster designed by Workshop Project from: "Aesthetic Programming. A Handbook of Software Studies" Winnie Soon & Geoff Cox
Documentation made in ChattyPub during HDSA2021
åbäke's Workshop assignment "A Case of Mistaken Identity," 2010
Prompt “Le Magnifique Avventure,” Yaïr Barelli, Maki Suzuki, 2012
Matthias Tarasiewicz, Sophie-Carolin Wagner, Moritz Greiner-Petter, and Felix Gerloff, Unmaking 5: Anxieties, Proceedings Transmediale (2016), 11,
Page from Workshop manual "Gestures in Transit," Gabriel Fontana, Vivien Tauchmann, 2021
Page from Workshop manual "Gestures in Transit," Gabriel Fontana, Vivien Tauchmann, 2021
Page from Workshop manual "Gestures in Transit," Gabriel Fontana, Vivien Tauchmann, 2021

First, Then… Repeat.

Workshop scripts in practice

Hackers & Designers (ed. Anja Groten)


Compress your files. Pick a story. Form a circle. Find yourself a spot on the spreadsheet. Write an anecdote. Run the script. Download the zip. Continue the thread. Install the package. Go on a stroll. Follow each other. Slowly. Like a worm. Rename the repository. Return. Close your eyes. Take turns. Repeat. Come prepared. Nothing to prepare. No prior knowledge required. Be kind. Don't assume. Scoop the mud. Pick a time. Wash your hands. Watch. Swap. Strip the wires. Connect. Take your time. Rearrange. Share the link. Go to line 42. Make a copy. Be patient.


This publication draws together self-published and unpublished workshop scripts that evolved in and around the collective ecosystem of Hackers & Designers (H&D). H&D started as a workshop-based meetup series in Amsterdam in 2013. Since then, we have been organizing workshops—sometimes self-organized, sometimes by invitation. H&D workshops are informal and usually follow a hands-on and practical approach. Attendees mostly work at the intersection of technology, design, art, and education. Alongside organizing workshops, H&D produce online and offline publications, and build open-source tools and platforms. H&D has been organizing workshops since 2013, and along the way has established social-technical affinities that are loose and stable, temporary and ongoing. We met and befriended many practitioners and sister organizations since, and got acquainted with manifold, peculiar pedagogical formats, and experimental approaches to working, learning, and being together. This publication derives from an enthusiasm for the various ways collective learning environments take shape. It grew out of a curiosity for the ways that such practices are shared across different localities, timelines, and experiences.

Situated somewhere between documentation and a call for action, the workshop scripts presented here are companions to self-organized learning situations. They articulate and materialize aspects of such practice that cannot always easily be explained through existing frameworks. Contributions to this book document and reflect on self-organized learning situations that spontaneously assemble practitioners from various domains, diffusing disciplinary boundaries and blurring distinctions between learner and teacher, user and maker, product and process, friendships and work relations. They have in common that they seek affiliations beyond predetermined domains and bring together various vocabularies and methods all at once.

Documentation is rare, always incomplete, and it is therefore difficult to reconstruct what actually happens during such temporary collective learning communities. This is a challenge that art historian Heike Roms addresses in the conversation about workshop histories and practices, which offers a wider historical scope for some of the questions addressed in this publication. In her work, Roms is interested in the history of artist initiatives that reformed art education through self-organized educational experiments in the 1960s and ‘70s in the UK, when artists and educators began to organize study-groups for teachers and students in their private homes. Such evening classes were structured around exercises, and became a kind of parallel institution. Roms suggests this was an attempt to create an equal status between the participants. Roms also points out that conducting research into such initiatives is difficult as usually they were not well documented. The emphasis of such practices was on the momentary collective experience, and not so much on what was being produced at the end, though often there were occasions where work was publicly shared. With some luck, there might be some leftover notes or printed materials, such as announcements, flyers, posters, and pamphlets that hint at the character and content of the activity. But few notes remain from the exercises. On occasion Roms found a prompt, a class outline, or a score. However, the ways in which such prompts were perceived, enacted, and iterated on is difficult to reconstruct.

This publication addresses this challenge by drawing together workshop-based practices as a form of inquiry and by paying attention to the practice of (re)writing, (re)activating, documenting, and reflecting on “workshop scripts.” This is an attempt to discuss and show how workshops and workshop scripts shape—and in turn, are shaped by—the various environments they pass through. As a collection that holds various relational and iterative documents, it therefore cannot be considered a product or example of one specific kind of practice. The practices it draws together are site, context, and time specific, never complete, always ongoing, as are their various forms of expression.

Moving through manifold contexts—from institutional to grassroots informal—H&D as a collective is constantly in the making. Along the way, we are developing “terms of transition” Lauren Berlant, “The commons: Infrastructures for troubling times,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 34, no. 3 (2016): 393–419.—socio-technical conducts that help us to navigate and “stay in touch” in uncertain times. Workshop scripts are traces of such an attempt. They are ephemeral documents that may be written by hand or take shape in open-source spreadsheets and notepads, Git repositories, Wikis, and mailing lists. These documents are brought into conversation and circulation and as such reveal something about the ways collective practices weave together a range of places, legacies, objects, and people across practices and disciplines, timelines and geographies. They are pragmatic as well as imaginative, capturing approaches, techniques, and atmospheres that evolve from within specific communities and practices, while holding together the chaosmos of collective self-organization.

For instance, the workshop script “ChattyPub,” gives instructions on how to “run” ChattyPub as a workshop and as a platform for discussion and as a publishing tool that explores a decentralized process of designing a publication and as an organizational open-source collaboration software. The script does not solely document an instantaneous workshop situation but rather explores the intersections between workshop/tool/platform/documentation/distribution. The script is pragmatic and invites others to take it on and run with it, while accounting for its entanglements within a specific socio-technical context.

As situation-specific and context-sensitive artifacts, workshop scripts take manifold shapes and roles in this publication. Some derived from the immediate or wider context of H&D and its members, some are historical examples, and some are works of fiction. They are accompanied by—or enmeshed in—anecdotes, essays, graphic novels, speculative how-tos, and reflexive conversations that both activate and situate them within the respective communities and practices. This eclectic collection of workshop scripts reflects the continued effort of building collective ties through documentation, the practice of sharing with each other, and paying attention to the details. You won’t find a precise definition of what a workshop script is. Instead you will encounter different ways that workshop scripts are understood, materialized, and put into practice across various contexts. A workshop script may be concise or expansive; it may include instructions and install manuals, code snippets, timetables, and readmes. It may also include context-specific, personal and narrative aspects.

This publication attempts to approach these scripts and the practices they involve not as products of linear or reproducible processes but as resulting from and implied in particular socio-economic, socio-technical conditions. As such, the publication resists a generalized approach to the reproduction of these scripts. When possible, the initial appearance of the scripts, their format, and layout are left intact, forgoing the impression of a blueprint. Thus, the contributions may require some commitment, some attunement, and “getting into.”

The idea for publishing these situated documents and their stories derived from both the frustration and joy of working and being together while negotiating unstable times and conditions, and paying critical attention to the fleeting nature of formats of encounter, as well as the continuous effort of staying in touch with those who we encounter. The scripts are never finished, they always require more work. In some ways this publication can be considered a scriptothek—a script collection that continues collecting. The script + othek contains bibliotheek. In the German and Dutch languages, the Bibliothek/bibliotheek is a place of careful collecting, deciphering, making available, and preserving the documents it holds and handles. Often, it is through the work and personal investment of a Bibliothekar*in that such a place and the documents it holds are activated and brought into circulation.

My approach as an editor is inspired by that of the Bibliothekar*in. Similarly, it is also through personal and to some extent subjective affinities that I collect, decipher, preserve, and circulate the stories intertwined with the documents this Scriptothek holds. It is rooted in—and energized by—a sort of distributed locality. For instance the workshop script “A Case of Mistaken Identity” by the graphic design collective Åbäke has been sitting in a pile of pedagogical documents since I received it as a workshop participant in 2010. It has been activated throughout the years, in implicit and explicit ways, and informed my personal appreciation for collective work in and outside art and design education. As you will read in the email conversation with Åbäke, my request to republish the document in this context unraveled an array of exchanges, tasks, and prompts.

Thus, besides representing or giving visibility to specific documents and practices, publishing this eclectic collection in and of itself became a generative, ongoing, and to some extent uncontrollable collective praxis. The scripts included in this collection are time stamped. They had (or will have) a moment, a place, and a people that activate them. Simultaneously, by entering this collection they also create new correlations and future outlooks. The featured documents and practices are iterative and ongoing yet not “off-the shelf,” not to be executed and re-used in any context; they each come with their own terms of transition.

Each contribution negotiated specific terms in order to enter this book—terms of activation, contextualization, adjustment, reconsideration, be it through specific licenses that were added or even by being taken out of the public domain entirely. For instance, I invited the makers of the Not For ANY licensing toolkit to contribute some of their exercises to this publication. The Not For ANY toolkit invited “collective engagement with open licenses from a (techno)feminist perspective in a playful and embodied way [...]” and included “a series of exercises to do this with.” And yet my invitation prompted the makers to take the toolkit offline. Instead, the initial page now serves as a redirect to other groups and practices who have been more intensively continuing and complicating the conversation around open licensing. Thus the editorial process set into motion new considerations about the conditions for further sharing (or not).


To assist the reader, the contributions are organized into five clusters: Setting Conditions, Prompts, How-tos, Distributed Curricula, and Active Bibliographies. While the contributions are organized according to these clusters and appear in a linear order, they are also intertwined in multiple ways, and resist a linear narrative (forward-moving progressing, improving, innovating). Thus, readers are invited to be on the look out for other, multiple, and parallel connections and navigate the contributions idiosyncratically, non-linearly, in a zigzag, from back to front.

The cluster Setting Conditions pays attention to the specificity of self-organized collective learning environments, their site and context specific vocabularies, and social-technical conduct. The aforementioned conversation between Anja Groten and Heike Roms sketches a larger (historical) context and sets the scene for the contributions that follow. The contribution “Open-Source Parenting” by Naomi Walker and Erin Gatz of Prototype Pittsburgh, takes a “first things first” approach and attends to the conditions that need to be in place before being able to create or engage in any form of learning community. In their conversation, Erin and Naomi reflect on how Black women in Pittsburgh are creating a better future for themselves and how allies can support them in this work. The “Platframe Postscript” compiled by Anja Groten and Karl Moubarak reflects on the collective process of building an online workshop environment that converges various tools and practices in a manner that sustains their “contours.” Throughout the process of imagining, building, and activating this digital infrastructure the edgy term “platframe” reminded the collaborators that this online environment they are building together consists of many parts, which do not necessarily blend together nor are they experienced as seamless. Angela Jerardi discusses consensus-decision making models and practices, contextualizes them historically and in relation to contemporary activist communities. The project “WIN WIN” by James Bryan Graves and Nienke Huitenga-Broeren concretely and imaginatively explores conditions in which less polarized online debate is possible by proposing a consensus-based algorithm that mediates controversial discussion and collective decision making. In “Re-, and Undefinining Tools,” the Feminist Search Tools (FST) workgroup reflects on the slow collective process of building, narrating, and testing an ongoing and evolving library search tool through various workshops, and meetups in various contexts and constellations. This non-conclusive process creates a condition in which various context-specific definitions of tools can be expressed, as well as criteria for the usefulness or usability of such tools. In the following contribution, Qianxun Chen sets new conditions for the FST conversation. The generative textual system “Mycelines” brings to the fore recurring terminology and formulations that evolved from this collective reflection on a tool-building process. In “fileSHA as a Protocol” André Fincato and Karl Moubarak set the conditions for an asynchronous game by repurposing mailing list software.

Within the cluster Prompts inhabit concise propositions and calls for action. Prompts can be playful provocations, invitations to reconsider, to change direction; a proposal to approach something familiar differently. The contribution “Across Distance and Difference” takes into consideration the changing economic and material realities of Mio Koijma and Hanna Müller, who formulate small assignments for each other as an attempt to structure and sustain their collaboration in times and conditions that seem to work against their efforts. Sandy Richter reflects on her experience of participating in a workshop during the H&D Summer Academy (HDSA) 2021, during which it was not immediately evident what the prompt was, who the host was, and who was the participant, or observer/listener. Through her reflection, the prompt of the workshop host Gabriel Fontana, is slowly unraveling.

The prompts of the “Relearning Food” script challenge participants to pay attention to the routes our produce takes to reach supermarkets and eventually our plates. Their prompt is to reconsider grocery habits according to our geographies and localities. In her essay “Untitling”, Siwar Kraytem substitutes short anecdotes on the subject and practice of naming with prompts to trigger a discussion on the politics of naming.

The prompts of the “Spreadsheet Routines” by Anja Groten and Karl Moubarak as well as the “Etherpad roleplay” by Juliette Lizotte both utilize playful open-source collaborative writing and editing tools, which serve as workshop sites, which weave together prompt, method, and execution into an evolving collective techno-social narrative. Susan Ploets' LARP (Live Action Roleplay) script, “Skinship,” prompts participants to explore the condition of being a collective body that inhabits, shapes and is shaped by an environment through sensory information.

The contributions collected within the cluster How-to explore the tension between the pragmatism of workshop scripts on the one hand, and the imaginative, fictional aspects at work in such documents on the other. The contribution by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert offers a generous and comprehensive backdrop to the format and role of the how-to as it is explored in art, art education, and activism. They draw on several concrete examples of how-tos such as “The perfect robbery” by Juli Reinartz and Tea Tupajic, “Give and Take” by the Social Muscle Club, “Conceptual Speed Dating” by Brian Massumi, and “Bodystrike” by the Feminist Health Care Research Group. These prompts derive from a compendium of how-tos, the publication Experimente Lernen, Techniken Tauschen edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert, and the accompanying platform Nocturne. According to Julia and Gerko, “the logic of speculative pragmatism allows us to think of techniques not as something one needs to earn, or learn to master, but as a way to put into practice speculation in the midst of an actual situation.”

Similarly, contributions such as Mz* Baltazar's “Mud-batteries” and Juliette Lizotte’s “The Button Saga” are also rooted in actual situations, imbuing their reflexive stories with practical instruction. Juliette Lizotte recounts the eventful story of creating a seemingly straightforward interactive installation. The saga includes misunderstandings, pitfalls, and detours of working collaboratively, and negotiating diverging expectations and techno-social dependencies. Stefanie Wuschitz's graphic novel tells the history of the magazine Api Kartini that evolved from the Indonesian Women's movement GERWANI. The Api Kartini zines focussed on publishing and disseminating practical knowledge for Indonesian women in the 1950s and ‘60s around health, repair, fashion, self-defense, and negotiating better work conditions, but also contain elements of storytelling and poetry, and imagine alternative futures for women in Indonesia at that time. In “Display(ing)” the fanfare collective discusses the way a workshop script can be induced in an object. Through its material affordances, the modular display system designed by Freja Kir and Lotte van de Hoef carries its own script and has been enmeshed in the ongoing and morphing collective practice of fanfare, who have been traveling with the display since 2014.

The scripts and accompanying reflections collected in the cluster Distributed Curricula address aspects of time and duration, be it through timed exercises, through expressing a certain intentionality for continuation and longer-term engagement, or by paying attention to and taking as a starting point what is already there, the prevailing collective condition. Giselle Jhunjhnuwala reflects on the workshop Phylomon that catered to making and playing a cooperative game informed by local ecosystems. It addresses questions of longevity through the cooperative game mechanisms as well as the subject of building sustainable collective ecosystems, and durable ways of co-existing on planet Earth. The conversations “Interfacial Workhout” with designer, coder, and cook Sarah Garcin takes as a starting point one particular workshop instance and its residual effects within manifold workshop situations that followed. The text and accompanying scripts in “Scripting Workshops” further contextualize the notion of the “workshop script” in the context of the collective practice of H&D and reflect on our long-term commitment to organizing short-term learning situations.

The contribution “Am I a hacker now?” by Loes Bogers and Pernilla Manjula Philip about their intergenerational Solarpunk workshop reflects on an ongoing exchange and multi-local process of developing workshop scripts in collaboration with two sister organizations Mz* Balthazar's lab and Prototype Pittsburgh. While departing from the shared goal of developing intergenerational learning formats about and around sustainable technologies, the evolving workshop scripts took shape and were reshaped according to their respective local communities.

The publishing tool “ChattyPub” evolved from and fed back into various workshop situations, of which the first one was hosted by Xin Xin and Lark VCR at the HDSA. The goal of the workshop, designing and building experimental chatrooms, sparked the idea among H&D to develop ChattyPub—a platform and tool for co-designing a publication that utilizes a chat environment. In autumn of 2021, H&D self-published the book Network Imaginaries, which was designed with ChattyPub. Among others, contributors included Lark VCR and XinXin, who wrote a contribution about their “Experimental Chat Room” workshop, featuring the various chatrooms that were built during their workshop. For this publication we reconnected with XinXin to continue our conversation about their practice as educator, artist, and activist, taking as a starting point the “Critical Coding Cookbook,” which they recently published together with Katherine Moriwaki. (See cluster 'Active Bibliographies')

The ====== wiki reflections ====== by Yasmin Khan and Jessica Wexler look to the past and toward the future, exploring the ways a janky platform—the Workshop Project Wiki (WPW) developed by H&D (André Fincato and Anja Groten)—can shape a learning community for design educators. The very condition of the platform and its unfamiliar syntax transformed the intergenerational group of workshop participants into peers. After several iterations of the FREE educators workshop, the Wiki remains the key location for publishing prompts, documenting outcomes, editing a growing glossary, and planning future workshop iterations.

Contributions gathered under the cluster Active Bibliographies put forward careful selections of resources, generous catalogs, narrated reference lists, tips and tricks. They are active bibliographies because they are rooted in a sense of urgency and propose a shift. In “Critical Coding Cookbook,” Katherine and XinXin generously share their considerations and tactics of exploring their critical coding practices in parallel, local communities—informal educational environments that are multi-generational and non-hierarchical. Drawing on several “recipes” from the “Critical Coding Cookbook” they demonstrate multiple pathways to intersectional computing. Both contributions, “ChattyPub” and “Critical Coding Cookbook,” are exemplary of the inventive ways that collective practices initiate experimental and critical learning environments outside of or in parallel to institutional environments. And furthermore, they show how such conglomerates of critical makers and educators manage to create and sustain networks of like-minded practitioners—for instance through reusing code and methods, riffing off each other, co-organizing workshops, publishing and circulating their methods, and developing tools.

Petra Eros reflects on her experience of participating in the workshop + Rad I O by Mz* Baltazar’s Lab, which was further developed and hosted during the in 2021. She connects her workshop experience and the curiosities it sparked to various other initiatives with a stake in radio-making, and took her contribution as an opportunity to strike up an exchange with Good Times Bad Times community radio, which is published as part of her contribution. The contribution by Åbäke takes as starting point an assignment of a workshop hosted by Åbäke in 2010. In their email conversation Maki Suzuki and Anja Groten re-collect their workshop experience and reflect on their evolving pedagogical practices since.

Loes Bogers curated, edited, and commented on an array of resources that take as a starting point the question: How can we resist compliance with the unsustainable status quo of digital computing and electronics? The resources she draws together are accompanied by short personal reviews followed by short prompts that translate some of the concepts proposed into simple, practical exercises. This resourceful and active list evolved along with the Solarpunk workshop development trajectory.

Lastly, the conversation between Gabriel Fontana and Anja Groten took place while sifting through a pile of workshop scripts. Encountering these workshop scripts together and explaining what they meant to unravelled reflection on the various considerations that went into the specific workshops and their scripts, their different moments of activation, as well as their iterations.

Setting conditions

Walter A. Anderson, “What Makes a Good Workshop,” The Journal of Educational Sociology Vol. 24, No. 5 (January, 1951), pp. 251-261.
“Curriculum Plan,” Proposals for Art Education from a Year Long Study by Fluxus artist George Maciunas, 1968-1969. The image was shown in Heike Rom's presentation.
In her talk "The Workshop as an Emancipatory Mediation Method of Resistant Practices" political activist Hanna Poddig referred to the discussion scores that are also common in Consensus Decision-making practices
"A section of Water Walk," score by John Cage
Notes by Suzanne Lacy on the ongoing civic engagement in Oakland and the Oakland Youth Policy Initiative. Image courtesy of Suzanne Lacy.
Page from "Teaching and Learning as Performings Arts" in 1979. Find a downloadable pdf of the publication on:
Fluxus artist Robert Filliou published the book "Teaching and Learning as Performings Arts" in 1979. The book is designed in a workbook manner, leaving space for annotation in the middle of the page
Pages from Robert Filliou Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts-3.jpg
Pages from Robert Filliou Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts-4.jpg
Pages from Robert Filliou Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts-5.jpg
Pages from Robert Filliou Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts-6.jpg
Pages from Robert Filliou Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts-7.jpg
Pages from Robert Filliou Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts-8.jpg
Page from: Sibylle Peters, performing research: How to conduct research projects with kids and adults using Live Art strategies, (London: Live Art Development Agency, 2017),
Page from: Sibylle Peters, performing research: How to conduct research projects with kids and adults using Live Art strategies, (London: Live Art Development Agency, 2017),</ref>

Workshop Histories and Practices

In conversation with Heike Roms Anja Groten: In May 2021 I participated in an online conference titled “The Workshop as Artistic-Political Format,” organized by Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin. “The Workshop: Investigations Into an Artistic-Political Format,” ICI Berlin, March 26-28, 2021, The conference drew together practitioners from various fields of interests, including choreographers, dancers, theater makers, artists, scholars, musicians, and activists who reflected on “workshop” as a format, site, and phenomenon from their own perspectives. Heike, you gave the presentation "The Changing Fate of the Workshop and the Emergence of Live Art,” which particularly resonated with me.

Heike Roms: I came to the topic of workshops because in my work I look at the emergence of performance art in the sixties and seventies. I became interested in particular in the emergence of performance art within art educational contexts, in a conceptualization of a pedagogy of performance. I've read your chapter on “Workshop Production,” Anja Groten, “Workshop Production,” Figuring Things Out Together. On the Relationship Between Design and Collective Practice (PhD Diss., Leiden University, 2022). which I really enjoyed. Some of the research you've done is helpful to me because I too have found that there's actually very little written about the workshop as a practice. That is, people have written about specific workshops so you can find material on workshops given by a particular artist. But there is little reflection on the workshop as a format, as a genre, as a site, as whatever we might call it. That surprised me, given that it's sort of ubiquitous in practice. There are books on performance laboratories, for example, and there is a connected history between the workshop and labs, the studio space, and rehearsals as a format. But there is very little on the workshop, certainly within performance studies or art history discourse, so I became intrigued by this ubiquitous form that remains largely unexamined. It's great that through the work of Kai van Eikels and the 2021 conference he co-organized there's a new kind of attention being paid to it, through your work as well. But there is not enough available about the history of the workshop to help us understand at what point this flip occurred from considering the workshop as an actual physical site to approaching the workshop as an event format. You write about this as well. The two meanings, of course, continued to exist in parallel, particularly in the context of art schools. But at what point did the workshop become an event, a time-based learning experience, as well as a site of making—a Werkstatt? I don't know how and when that occurred. My suspicion is that it was sometime around the fifties and sixties.

Announcement image to the conference “The Workshop: Investigations Into an Artistic-Political Format.”
Image of the Anna Halprin’s Dance Deck, an architectonic arrangement, and workshop site that transformed dance practice, 1951-1954, with Lawrence Halprin. The image was shown by Kai Ekels in the introduction presentation of “The Workshop: Investigations Into an Artistic-Political Format.”

AG: There is the The Journal of Educational Sociology that was published in 1951 and refers to the first organized professional education activity under the name of a workshop. It took place at Ohio State University in 1936. The Journal of Educational Sociology, Vol. 24, No. 5 (Jan1951): 249-250, I remember you were talking about the relation between the occurrence of workshops and the emergence of a certain resistance toward the steady structures of art schools in the fifties and sixties in the UK—a resistance to legitimized knowledge practices and skills. Art students wanted to rid themselves of a certain authority of disciplines or disciplined learning and instead wanted to take things into their own hands.

HR: In the specific history I looked at, which is that of Cardiff College of Art, I found that there is a confluence between the workshop and two emancipatory movements. First was the move toward the workshop as a learning format through the impetus of the Bauhaus, which in the 1960s developed a huge impact on art schools across the UK. Traditionally people weren’t really talking about workshops as sites of making in the context of art schools; the workshop was the place of the plumber or the blacksmith, while artists worked in ateliers or studios. I think that the idea of the workshop as a place of making was introduced to the art school through the Bauhaus philosophy, which was a vehicle for the emancipation of art education. All of a sudden art was being approached in the same way as other practices of making were being approached. No longer did we have the sculpture atelier or the drawing room. Now there were ceramics workshops, metal workshops, printmaking workshops but also painting workshops and sculpture workshops (or ‘2D’ and ‘3D’ workshops as they were often called at the time). This move introduced a different kind of art making.

“Curriculum Plan,” Proposals for Art Education from a Year Long Study by Fluxus artist George Maciunas, 1968-1969. The image was shown in Heike Rom's presentation.

This change that occurred in art schools in the UK in the sixties through a new approach to art education known as ‘Basic Design’ was very much driven by the reception of the Bauhaus approach and in particular Joseph Itten’s Vorkurs (preliminary course). Workshop production was seen as a new, more emancipatory form of art making. It came out of the experiences of the Second World War and the desire to give art students a different sort of experience—one that connected them to the contemporary world rather than traditional skills training and that aimed to overcome the distinction between art, craft and design. The second shift is where performance comes in in the 1960s. Teachers and students saying: We don't want all of that material making in the workshop. We want to make something that's ephemeral and that's collective and that's participatory. We don't want to be hammering away all day in the workshop. Instead we do this other thing where we get together and we make something that’s not actually about producing any objects, and we'll call that a workshop as well. That's the event-based rather than space-based concept of the workshop. In dance, people were already talking about workshops as events in the fifties. I don't know when the shift occurred from the workshop as a site toward the more ephemeral understanding of the workshop as event, how that happened, but it's interesting because what motivated the artists in the sixties that I have been looking at—and they explicitly say so in their notes—was that this move toward the ephemeral was about searching for more equitable relationships that do away with the teacher-student division. That division had been further cemented by the remains of the Bauhaus philosophy and its celebration of mastery. I think that was one of the key shifts toward this more ephemeral meaning of the workshop. It was no longer about a master passing on knowledge to their students. It became about collective making. And everybody took collective charge and responsibility for that making. The educators on whom I've done research actually say that they wanted to get away from producing objects toward collective action. But, as you say, the workshop can very easily be co-opted like so much of the sixties was. Was that the last hurrah of collectivism? Or was it actually what lay the groundwork for the entry of neoliberalism into education as we now know it?

Announcement for the Free International University
Announcement for the Antiuniversity of London, 1978

AG: I myself am wondering whether organizing workshops can generally be considered an emancipatory practice at all? Perhaps there cannot or should not be a general answer to this question. At the school where I work as an educator, some argue the educational system builds upon rather precarious labor conditions, where everyone works as a self-employed freelancer. Simultaneously, more and more workshops are being organized, which at times can clutter the education. Students are supposed to self-initiate and self-organize as well. They often resort to organizing workshops for each other. In my view, such conditions sometimes also show the limits of what can be accomplished with workshops. I think it's important to have more discussions about the workshop as a format and its implications for the learning economy. How to speak about and practice workshops in a way that still allows us to do the things we want to do, whilst also paying critical attention to the undesirable conditions it is intermingled with. How was it for you? Did the invitation to the conference lead you to take a deeper look at the phenomenon of the workshop? Or were you already busy with it?

HR: Yes, it would be fair to say it led to a deeper engagement with the notion of the workshop. I had been working on this material before and I've written about it too. But I had never really paid attention to the frequency of the word ‘workshop’ in the material I had researched until the invitation came to speak at the conference. It was then that I realized that the workshop is a really productive format to be talking about. I wrote a paper on this before in which I talked about the idea that artists and performance educators in the sixties and seventies in the UK were creating events as a kind of parallel institution. These events aimed to serve the function of an art school without replicating its hierarchical structures. This was the case in Cardiff, but also in other places in the UK such as Leeds College of Art. I was grateful that I was invited to think more about this by the conference. I looked at my examples, and it is specifically “the workshop as event” that emerged as a kind of parallel institution at the time. It wasn't really the performances these teachers and students went on to make together, but the workshop as a learning format that I think they clustered all their ideas around.

AG: I stumbled upon the conference last minute and wasn't aware of this whole community of performance artists and live arts who consider the workshop as an artistic medium. It's also interesting that the workshop, because of its ambiguity, manages to converge all these different worlds and unveil commonalities between them. For instance a policemanSebastian Voigt (Polizei Berlin), "The Training of the Berlin Police Force in the Workshop" speaking about their conflict resolution workshops, and the activist who learns about tying themselves to a tree and how to negotiate with the police while doing so Hanna Poddig, "The Workshop as an Emancipatory Mediation Method of Resistant Practices". Both speaking about the same sort of thing at the same conference from an entirely different vantage point.

In her talk "The Workshop as an Emancipatory Mediation Method of Resistant Practices" political activist Hanna Poddig referred to the discussion scores that are also common in Consensus Decision-making practices

You emphasized that a lot of the artists you researched were also educators. It was great to hear that engaged with in such an explicit manner. I don’t often hear about how the practices of artists and designers continue to evolve within particular educational environments, after they have completed their studies too. I find that many great artists and designers are also teachers and I personally don’t draw a harsh distinction between being an educator and being a designer. The practices go hand in hand. But I found that there are not many records of the teaching practices of artists and designers. Another thing from your talk that really stayed with me was your re-enactment of a workshop. You showed some pictures and I found them so interesting and also funny. In your re-enactment, you imagined through physical exercises what the workshop might have looked like. You referred to one specific artist educator, whose name I don’t recall.

HR: His name is John Gingell, and he is not particularly well known. I never met him in person, as he had already passed away by the time I became interested in his work. He had a sculptural practice, and a few of his public artworks are still on view in Cardiff, and some of this work has been exhibited in London. But really he was an educator. That was his main practice. He formed and shaped generations of art students. He was not the type of person to write manifestos, or write a lot in general, but I've been very fortunate because his family has allowed me to look at all of his materials, which are now kept in the attic of one of his daughters. He didn't leave a written philosophy of teaching or anything like that, just really random notes or little statements that he put together for the art school in order to justify what he was doing, or presentation outlines and things like that. I didn't re-enact any of his workshops because they were very sketchily documented. He was not somebody who kept a particularly developed documentation or scoring practice. If I think about my own teaching, I don't either. When I enter a classroom, I often just jot down some notes on the exercises I want to do. They're just little prompts, which aren’t accompanied with much explanation. In years to come, if somebody were to look at my teaching notes, they too wouldn’t be able to make much sense of what I was doing in the classroom. I don't think that's unusual. Anyway, I have contact with one of Gingell’s students from the late 1960s, the artist John Danvers, who also taught at the art school for a number of years in the seventies. He was very influenced by John Cage, so his own artistic practice was already very score-based. When he became a teacher his teaching practice was very well documented. He documented the exercises alongside photos of the students doing the exercises. He has quite substantive documentation on the courses he taught at Cardiff.

"A section of Water Walk," score by John Cage

Interestingly, one of his regular classes in the early 1970s for Cardiff College of Art was a workshop about the use of sounds and words, which was unusual for an art school context. I invited him in 2013 to re-enact the workshop as part of the Experimentica Festival in Cardiff. Anybody could attend, but it was mainly my friends who came [laughs]. A lot of the people who attended were theatre people, and their feedback was that Danvers’ exercises and the approach that he took spoke very much of a visual arts kind of sensibility. Even though he was working with words and sounds—which have a theatrical dimension—their purpose was much less about what theatre workshops tend to focus on, such as the interpretation of words or meaning-making. Instead, Danvers’ workshop was much more about the visual qualities of words and sounds. There was much more concern about spatiality and the sculptural qualities of words. Danvers approached his teaching practice very much as a conceptual practice, and so it was fairly easy to reconstruct what he did in his workshops. I've always been intrigued by this hidden history of pedagogy within the emergence of experimental art. We read a lot about John Cage and his teaching at the New School in New York, but I often think, what did they actually do in his classes? There are some accounts of his students about the improvisations they did with Cage, but very little. I'm intrigued to learn more. Beuys too was a teacher as well as an artist, who considered teaching his ‘greatest work of art’ and a key part of his practice. There are others, too, like Suzanne Lacy and Allan Kaprow, who both taught at CalArts. In fact, a lot of the canonical performance artists were also often teachers. Some of them, Kaprow, for instance, also wrote about education.

Notes by Suzanne Lacy on the ongoing civic engagement in Oakland and the Oakland Youth Policy Initiative. Image courtesy of Suzanne Lacy.

AG: I was also wondering about how you document workshops. As you said yourself, even though you come up with the initial class or workshop, it is to a large extent shaped in the actual encounter with the people, materials, and space itself. It is obviously not so interesting nor meaningful to just take pictures of people having a great time. So what are ways of documenting that afford a continuation of whatever is happening in these short workshop encounters, and which allow for retrospective discussion and reflection of these workshop practices? The way I document workshops is usually very messy. Our workshop archive is scattered in different places, online and as well as offline. I was wondering, sometimes we compare workshop scripts with protocols and orchestrate physical re-enactments of what a computer would do, translating something that happens in your machine into a physical space. I am not very familiar with scoring practice but what I do know makes me think of protocols or algorithms. It's not a recording or a replica of a situation, but it sort of anticipates it, sets conditions. I wonder if it could help us think about documentation as something that is not only about looking back, but in fact geared toward continuation and activation in the future.

HR: From the sixties onwards, through Happenings and Fluxus, practices of scoring actions have become a common device in visual arts. And in performance art and dance, very extensive scoring practices have emerged. The indeterminacy of the score or instruction is partly what interests artists. You give somebody a score, and it could be interpreted in a hundred different ways. That's why it is interesting to consider where the artwork is located in these practices. Is the score the artwork? Is it the realization of the score the artwork? A Fluxus score, for instance, wouldn't even tell you how many people have to carry it out. Such a score could be about the very indeterminacy of an action.

Fluxus artist Robert Filliou published the book "Teaching and Learning as Performings Arts" in 1979. The book is designed in a workbook manner, leaving space for annotation in the middle of the page

Traditionally, we think of the author of the score as the author of the work, such as in musical compositions, for example. But more recently, we are seeing much more experimentation with scoring practices, and with the relationship between the score and the event or action that it might anticipate or generate. A few years ago Hans Ulrich Obrist did a large-scale curatorial project called “do it,” “do it (2013-) curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist,” Independent Curators International, which invited artists who don't normally have a scoring practice to write their own scores or instructions. People were invited to enact these score and then upload documentation of the enactment online so that you could see the score, as well as a multitude of different kinds of documentation of the different kinds of outcomes produced by their enactments.

AG: I am trying to think through the question of how to publish something like a workshop or a workshop script. In my view it can be an interesting graphic design object because it's very unresolved, very spontaneous, it's actually not a precious object, and it’s never up to date. These criteria are significant for it to function. But how do we publish something like that in a meaningful way? For instance, pictures of workshop situations can help to contextualize something like a score or workshop script. You cannot just give the score to someone and expect them to know what they have to do and how to be excited about it. You need that activation moment and know-how too. But including snapshots of people doing things is not necessarily interesting to print in a book.

HR: It brings us back to the fact that there are different kinds of workshops and different kinds of scores. There are those that are meant to be indeterminate and generate lots of different kinds of responses. Every response is justified and equally valid. Sometimes visual documentation can therefore be too prescriptive. If you see a score and somebody enacting it, you might think, well, that's the only way to do it. It takes a little bit of your agency away. Unless you do it like the DIY “Do It” project, where you provide the documentation of multiple enactments so you encourage people to try their own response by showing them five different versions. But then there are also scores where which are much more prescriptive, and people want them to be enacted in a particular kind of way, particularly often in pedagogical contexts. Do you want the exercise to land in a particular way, because you want the students to have a particular kind of learning experience? There are different scoring practices, different ways to shape an instruction, and similarly there are different kinds of documentation practices that might be suitable. Yet, I would say that it's the “doing,” the activation and interpretation of a score, that's interesting. It's all about the finding process and the kind of rationalization and reflexivity that you go through in this process that I find exciting. It’s often just as interesting to look at how a person struggled through finding a response to a a score or instruction than the response itself.

AG: You also teach workshops for children. What are they about?

HR: I have been involved in some performance work with children through my collaboration with the artist Sibylle Peters, who runs a theater for children in Hamburg, the FundusTheater/ Forschungstheater. Sibylle calls it a “theatre of research”. Sibylle Peters, performing research: How to conduct research projects with kids and adults using Live Art strategies, (London: Live Art Development Agency, 2017), The philosophy is that research is something that brings artists, children and scholars together, as it's something that artists do, it's something that children do, and it's something that scholars do. She devises projects around different themes which are of particular interest to the children she researches with and are often driven by their desires, such as ‘I want to be rich’, which led to an examination of the nature of money and the founding of a children’s bank with its own micro-currency in Hamburg. I did several projects with Sabine, where I was invited for my knowledge of performance art history. The last project we did was, Kaputt – The Academy of Destruction at Tate Modern in 2017. Destruction is a really big subject for children, because they're often told they are destructive or have destructive behavior. We worked with children who were diagnosed with behavioral issues, who showed what was deemed destructive behavior in class, or who were really interested in watching cartoons where things get destroyed. Kids see and hear about destruction all the time, for example the destruction of the environment. When we were doing the project in London, seventy-two people had recently died in the Grenfell Tower fire as a result of negligence. “Grenfell Tower fire,” Wikipedia, last modified October 10, 2022, It was close to where the children we worked with came from, and it was very present in their minds. But there's no real outlet for children to explore their fears about destruction, but also their interests and pleasures in destructiveness and their destructive fantasies. We worked with the children on the notion of destruction for a week. We were all considered equal experts on the subject, and we all shared our expertise. The kids gave talks, for example about destruction in comics and animation. I gave a talk on destruction and art. Sybille has done lots of these kinds of projects, which I occasionally get invited to participate in and work on issues that overlap with the histories of art. Inspired by our work together, I have recently begun to research the participation of children in the history of avant-garde art, especially in the performance practices of Happenings and Fluxus.

Page from: Sibylle Peters, performing research: How to conduct research projects with kids and adults using Live Art strategies, (London: Live Art Development Agency, 2017),

What is important to Sibylle as well is this idea of the workshop as a space for equitable relationships. She takes seriously what the kids bring to the discussion. And it's always about rethinking and reshaping the adult-kid relationships. We will be working together again in September 2022 on the occasion of the opening of a new building for the Fundus Theater in Hamburg. For that event I am currently working on some research that looks at child activism in the sixties, especially the involvement of children in the American Civil Rights movement, and how that intersected with children's participation in experimental art projects at the time. How children were trained for their participation in protest or art with the help of workshops will be a major aspect of this research too.

Heike Roms is Professor in Theater and Performance at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research is interested in the history and historiography of performance art in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the context of the UK. She is currently working on a project on performance art’s pedagogical histories and the development of performance in the context of British art schools.

The workshop and conceptual framework of 'open-source parenting' was developed as part of 'Solarpunk—Who owns the Web?'—a collaborative exploration resulting in a series of intergenerational online and offline workshop formats. Partner organizations were Hackers & Designers in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Mz* Baltazar’s Laboratory in Vienna (Austria) and Prototype PGH in Pittsburgh (USA). Along with the development of a series of solar punk workshops, the aim was to engage in an active peer exchange and support each other in the process of developing context-sensitive learning formats.
The workshop and conceptual framework of 'open-source parenting' was developed as part of 'Solarpunk—Who owns the Web?'—a collaborative exploration resulting in a series of intergenerational online and offline workshop formats. Partner organizations were Hackers & Designers in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Mz* Baltazar’s Laboratory in Vienna (Austria) and Prototype PGH in Pittsburgh (USA). Along with the development of a series of solar punk workshops, the aim was to engage in an active peer exchange and support each other in the process of developing context-sensitive learning formats
Pages from Bloomcraft Agreements, Code of conduct of the Bloomcraft Building, which was founded in 2015 and is where Prototype Pittsburgh is located. One of the "Solarpunk" work sessions focussed on the partner organizations' code of conducts, in which the divergences and similarities of the different contexts of Hackers & Designers, Prototype Pittsburgh and Mz* Baltazhar's Lab were discussed.
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Open-source Parenting

Naomi Chambers and Erin Gatz

Solarpunks Intergenerational Workshops—Pittsburgh edition

In the summer of 2022, longtime friends Naomi Chambers and Erin Gatz decided to partner on a summer workshop series in our home of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Naomi was organizing a soccer program series focused on moms and aunties with a focus on Black women. Erin was in conversation with the founders of H&D in Amsterdam as well as Mz* Baltazar’s Lab in Vienna about a workshop series they were organizing around the theme of Solarpunk. The solarpunk movement can mean different things to different people but to us it meant exploring open-source technologies, providing learning opportunities to the people who are most marginalized in U.S. society, and working toward gender equity and racial justice through our community organizing projects.

We, Naomi and Erin, have been friends for the past ten years but we also have vague memories of attending the same elementary school program for “gifted” children. Once a week, these “gifted” elementary school children from across the city of Pittsburgh would get on buses and be transported to Woolslair Elementary where we would spend the day experimenting with very few rules, a lot of encouragement, and seemingly endless resources and supplies. It might have been here that we first met as eight-year-old girls from different neighborhoods, different racial backgrounds, and a common love for learning. As adults, we reunited at Woolslair Elementary completely by chance when we became robotics teachers in the afterschool program. We were instantly drawn to one another and had an incredible time teaching elementary school students the basics of computer coding, robotics assembly, and circuitry design.

Naomi teaching a lamp assemblage workshop at Prototype in 2017

Over the next few years, we partnered on several projects together including City as Our Makerspace, which was a series of workshops designed to engage Black women in conversations about healing from the effects of intergenerational poverty and trauma; financial planning; makerspace equipment training; and the basics of entrepreneurship. The vision was to equip and empower Black women with the needed skills to become their own advocates, pursue their dreams, and do so with the help of mutual aid. Around the same time as this project, we both became mothers and we currently have five children between the two of us. Our current interests center on community organizing for social justice, supporting parents and children, arts education, and open-source technology integration in learning spaces. We are committed to imagining a better future for ourselves, our kids, and future generations where sexism and racism are challenged and systemically eliminated.

One of the projects Naomi and Erin have worked on together: City as Our Makerspace in 2018, which focused on uplifting Black women through entrepreneurship and makerspace training

Toward this vision, we decided to incorporate Naomi’s soccer workshops into the solarpunk work being done in Amsterdam and Vienna, to create an international conversation about how Black women in Pittsburgh are creating a better future for themselves and how allies can support them in this work. The need for Naomi’s soccer series arose from the fact that Pittsburgh is one of the most unlivable cities for Black women in the United States. For example, Black Pittsburgh women have higher percentages of unemployment than Black women in ninety-seven percent of other peer cities (Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission Report, 2020). According to the same report, Pittsburgh refers more Black girls to police than is true for ninety-nine percent of similar cities. The sexism and racism that Black women in Pittsburgh experience on a daily basis is unparalleled compared to most other U.S. cities. This is the context in which we find ourselves and we wanted to change the narrative. About the soccer workshop series, Naomi says:

“It started as a need for me to get active and reclaim my physical strength and stamina. I was also in dire need of sisterhood with other Black mothers who I feel I shared a unique experience with and wanted to play with my friends and other community members that I felt could benefit as well.”

The main purpose of the soccer workshops was to have fun, examine how our bodies and minds felt while we played, to build goals together, and care for each other. Held over the course of several Sundays at a local soccer field in Pittsburgh, dozens of Black mothers and aunties came together under Naomi’s coaching and went through a series of exercises before playing a soccer game together. As part of the warm-up routine, Naomi had each woman write their goals in permanent marker on their soccer balls and then take turns kicking their goals into the net. It was a powerful exercise that helped women to identify their goals, work together to make them happen, and celebrate one another along the way.

Erin and Naomi screen printing soccer jerseys in summer 2022

As part of the soccer series, we created soccer jerseys in vector design software, cut the designs on a computer numerically controlled (CNC) vinyl cutter, and then adhered the vinyl sticker stencils onto screens for screen-printing. This DIY approach to screen printing is much more affordable and accessible than traditional screen printing that requires access to a dark room and photo emulsion chemicals. Together we screen printed several soccer jerseys for the moms to wear as well as several for the aunties to wear. The idea is that everybody wins because we are all supporting one another.

Soccer mommies wearing their soccer jerseys

During our conversations with organizers in Amsterdam and Vienna, we talked about pod mapping, an exercise where individuals identify the people in their lives who they can rely on for mutual aid. About the pod mapping exercise, Naomi says:

“I literally heard of pod mapping from the solarpunk meetings and it had a profound impact on me. It's something we all do in one way or another, but I never thought to formally do it on paper and take account of who/what is my support system and how do I make it count more and stand for others in a more meaningful way.”

As part of the soccer series, we challenged ourselves to connect the theme of supporting Black moms and aunties in Pittsburgh to solar punks in Amsterdam and Vienna. In other words we, Naomi and Erin, were frequently in conversation with one another about how parenting should be a community effort and how the soccer games actually serve as an approach to open-source parenting, where moms and aunties are invited to hack our social systems. By playing and discovering together, we find ways to show up for one another, discuss our dreams, and align our goals. As part of this ongoing conversation about how allies can support Black women in Pittsburgh, we decided that providing childcare during the soccer workshops would be an important part of making sure that the workshops were accessible. Erin worked with another white organizer to provide games, snacks, and activities for the children of the soccer moms during the workshops.

Mommies, aunties, and children after the soccer game

Providing childcare in any workshop setting is an important part of working toward gender and racial equity. It is also important for allies to show up and help out in whatever way makes sense for them to—whether it is with logistics, communication, or providing food. In the U.S., we live in a society where racism and sexism are entrenched in our social systems and communities. How can Black women and white women work together in ways that disrupt this harmful power dynamic? By reducing the logistical stress of creating events, allies can play an often overlooked but important role in community organizing. The next generation’s future depends on us collaborating across gender, race, and geography to make our society more justice-oriented.

Chalk drawing from one of the children at the soccer series

Naomi Chambers (Pittsburgh, 1987) is a painter and assemblage sculptor. Growing up in the 90s she enjoyed many free arts programs in the city, which, unbeknownst to her, had an immense effect on her creative growth and critical thinking across all aspects of her life. In 2018, she had her first solo exhibition, Communal Futures, at August Wilson Center: African American Cultural Center. “I want my work to fill people with love, hope, and wonder like my favorite artists do for me. It’s about the creation of possibilities... new worlds we create for ourselves not solely the one we were born to.”

Erin Gatz (New York City, 1987) is a community organizer, researcher, and non-profit founder dedicated to building gender and racial equity through technology education. She has lived and studied in Canada and the Netherlands and is currently a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, where she studies the possibilities and limitations of learning ecosystems such as the Remake Learning network and makerspaces such as Prototype PGH in creating more justice-oriented societies.

The “catalog of formats for digital discomfort” was catalogued by Jara Rocha, edited by: Seda Gürses and Jara Rocha. Accompaniment by: Femke Snelting, Helen Nissenbaum, Caspar Chorus, Ero Balsa. The first booklet version of this catalog was co-produced by the Obfuscation event series organizing committee, Digital Life Initiative at Cornell Tech, BEHAVE’s ERC-Consolidation Grant and the Department of Multi Actor Systems (MAS) at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at TU Delft, in February 2021. In collaboration with the Institute for Technology in the Public Interest (TITiPI), the Catalog is transforming into an editable MediaWiki form. Copyleft with a difference note to whoever encounters A catalog of formats for digital discomfort... and other ways to resist totalitarian zoomification: this is work-in-progress, please join the editing tasks! You are also invited to copy, distribute, and modify this work under the terms of the Collective Conditions for (re-)use (CC4r) license, 2020. It implies a straightforward recognition of this Catalog’s collective roots and is an invitation for multiple and diverse after lifes of the document: Downloadable pdf and wiki version [8] of this catalog. Referenced projects and materials, each hold their own license.
The “catalog of formats for digital discomfort” was catalogued by Jara Rocha, edited by: Seda Gürses and Jara Rocha. Accompaniment by: Femke Snelting, Helen Nissenbaum, Caspar Chorus, Ero Balsa. The first booklet version of this catalog was co-produced by the Obfuscation event series organizing committee, Digital Life Initiative at Cornell Tech, BEHAVE’s ERC-Consolidation Grant and the Department of Multi Actor Systems (MAS) at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at TU Delft, in February 2021. In collaboration with the Institute for Technology in the Public Interest (TITiPI), the Catalog is transforming into an editable MediaWiki form. Copyleft with a difference note to whoever encounters A catalog of formats for digital discomfort... and other ways to resist totalitarian zoomification: this is work-in-progress, please join the editing tasks! You are also invited to copy, distribute, and modify this work under the terms of the Collective Conditions for (re-)use (CC4r) license, 2020. It implies a straightforward recognition of this Catalog’s collective roots and is an invitation for multiple and diverse after lifes of the document: Downloadable pdf and wiki version of this catalog. Referenced projects and materials, each hold their own license.
Complete post script "The 3rd Workshop on Obfuscation", Post-Script workflow and lay-out by Cristina Cochior and Manetta Berends:

Platframe Postscript

Anja Groten and Karl Moubarak


Platframe refers to a website that was developed for the “3rd workshop on obfuscation.” It converges and “frames” pre-existing tools to facilitate online encounters and collaborative content production. It is called a plat-frame rather than a plat-form because it attempts to make coherent boundaries and relationships between the many different tools, softwares, services, frameworks, and practices it combines. This postscript is a continuation of a collaboratively written ReadMe file and evolves from the conventional format of a step-by-step manual toward a more reflective document. It reflects on how the website came into being, its different “life cycles,” our expectations for it, and the conversations it facilitated.

How to preserve a platframe?

'Reception' region of the platframe. Platframe visitors left messages on the canvas. Older messages are fading away

A platframe is an assemblage of pre-existing tools, which, when arranged in a different order, creates new sets of relations and dependencies, meaning that it never reaches a singular final form. Our platframe grew, broke, and matured, sometimes in unexpected ways. This document grapples with the challenges we encountered from documenting something that is in constant flux. We chose to structure this document by its different “life cycles.” Screenshots will help to contextualize the way the website facilitated different encounters and how it challenged those who engaged with it.

Life cycles

Our platframe has undergone various stages and states of being. Since its inception, the platframe’s configuration, features, and appearance has undergone considerable change. We refer to the different states as life cycles. Each life cycle enabled different types of encounters and demanded different intensities of interaction from those who participated in building the website. We also referred to the process of designing the platform as “choreography,” due to its spatial characteristics and dynamism, as well as its temporality.

Life cycle 0: Development

In December 2020, H&D was invited to work with the organizers of the "3rd Workshop on Obfuscation”The aim of the Workshop on Obfuscation is to foster interaction among diverse communities of research, concern and practice interested in obfuscation, [for instance] art and science of privacy protection through obfuscation in contexts where actions are monitored and analyzed by humans, organizations or information technologies.”—Jara Rocha, Seda Gürses, Ero Balsa—to conceptualize, design, and develop a digital platform that would facilitate an online workshop. Principles that were important to address were:

  • F/OSS: The extensibility and adaptability of tools and code we would use and develop.
  • Privacy and data security: Care for privacy and security of user data.
  • eSafe and welcoming online encounters: Writing a code of conduct and paying attention to chat moderation to create and sustain a safe(r) online environment that would be welcoming to all participants.
  • Collaboration across disciplines: Engaging in a collaborative and reflective making process across disciplinary boundaries and different knowledge domains that transgresses solution-driven approaches toward software development.
  • Digital Discomfort: The platframe challenged us more than the (now) habitual experience of meeting on Zoom, Teams, or Google Hangouts. As the Workshop on Obfuscation raised questions about inner workings, ethics, and socio-technological entanglements, the platframe challenged some of the conventions put forward by big tech, but also asked for more patience and endurance from participants than they were used to. In that context, Jara Rocha curated an anti-solutionist collection of formats for digital discomfort.
Map / Navigation

We worked with the concept of a large canvas, which extended in every direction and could be navigated similarly to a map. The canvas was divided into so-called regions, which were called, for example, “reception,” “study room,” “resource library,” and “exhibition space.” Different regions facilitated different content and functionalities and varied in relevancy as the platframe passed through its different life cycles.

Map view of the navigation

One of the platframe’s most distinctive functionalities was the “spatially” distributed chat, which allowed participants to leave messages anywhere on the canvas. As a result, the platframe became a “living” space; all participants could mark their presence with their messages and the traces of their cursors on the canvas. The discussion around obfuscation demanded a close inspection and consideration of networked privacy practices. Messages dropped on the platframe were assigned a duration by their authors, which would vanish once completed. As the message approached its expiration, the visibility of the message decreased, until it was deleted.

Platframe visitors left messages on the canvas of the platframe. They help each other to navigate the unfamilar digital space and the different timezones.

The moderator’s role was another important feature of the chat. To create an environment that was safe(r) and free of hostility we created a moderator login, which allowed a select group of trusted participants to erase or block access to the platframe if needed.


Technically the platframe did not use cookies. However, data submitted by participants—such as display name, position, cursor color, and messages—was sent to the H&D server and other participants. The server assigned a unique identifier (UID) to their browsers and stored it in the browser’s local storage, appearing as: “uid”: “266f429f2d4.” When a participant accessed the platframe, the server authenticated their UID against its store of users. We explored alternative methods that rely purely on peer-to-peer authentication without servers involved (see CRDTs), but this method could not guarantee that participants blocked by moderators would be permanently blocked from accessing the website again. It was always possible for participants to delete their own user profiles from the server.

Front and back: VueJS and Strapi

This platframe was built with two open-source web development frameworks: StrapiSee: for the “back-end” and VueJSSee: for the “front-end.” Strapi is a content management system that we installed and configured on the H&D server to manage all the static content on the website. It produces a framework agnostic public API that enabled us to define the so-called regions, write texts using a draft/publish system, manage the schedule, receive glossary submissions, and host the videos presented in the exhibition area. VueJS is a front-end Javascript framework with a template-oriented approach. It enabled us to design reusable (yet customizable) HTML templates to wrap the data produced in Strapi. The API created by the back-end on the server is “consumed” by the web pages created by the front-end in the browser.

Lifecycle 1: Preparation

In this life cycle, the platframe mainly facilitated the work of the study group that collected, discussed, and prepared the workshop and populated the glossary and library. The group also provided us with a moment to test and collect feedback on the platframe. A crucial moment during this process was receiving the generous feedback of artist and researcher Ren Loren Britton, who screened the platframe for accessibility. While we scheduled this feedback moment rather late in the process, we were able to implement some changes to the styling of the website, which allowed visitors to “deobfuscate” the platframe, making it easier to read and navigate. Ren furthermore provided us with many helpful resources about designing for accessibility online. We have listed a few of those here, also to serve as a reminder to ourselves that accessibility should not come as an afterthought, but hand in hand with any web development project:

  • The importance of multiple points of access: (working with description and redundancy.)
  • The work of scholar Aimi Hamraie addresses how accessibility shifts and is different for every person. What are ways to present, describe, and make accessible different parts of a website, for example by providing an alt-text and descriptions of what the website looks like?
  • Something we weren’t able to address in the short amount of time was the possibility to tab through and hit enter on the chat component of the platframe. The rest of the website is navigable with only the tab and enter buttons.
  • When implementing the live stream, we could have considered live captioning or providing a transcript after the talks.
  • While we enjoyed exploring “obfuscation” in the website design via the use of textures and the noise font (a font chosen because it is illegible to machines, specifically Optical Character Recognition software), we realized that certain conceptual and aesthetic choices made it difficult for people with low vision to access the content. To make the website more legible we implemented an option for users to increase contrast and to “strip” the CSS according to their needs. A great reference for implementing different CSS options, such as font choices to allow different points of access, is queer art collective Coven Berlin:
  • For similar reasons we decided to add the option to reduce the colors to black and white to make the chat more legible.
  • We were not able to sufficiently test the site with screen readers. For instance, it would have been important to see how the spatially distributed chat could have been displayed and read to make it more screen reader friendly.
  • Finally, we created a guided tour of the platframe, which consisted of a step-by-step tutorial with instructions on navigation and interaction:
Tools for collective organization: Ethercalc, Etherpad, Jitsi, Freenode

Much of the preparatory and organizational work for the third Workshop on Obfuscation took place online, but was not hosted by the platframe. Instead, we used other tools for internal communication, budgeting, and responsibility management. For instance, we used Jitsi to meet, discuss, and keep tabs on the different ongoing processes. Etherpad hosted on the H&D and Constant servers, was used for taking notes and drafting documents, while spreadsheets created in Ethercalc were used to coordinate and keep track of task division schedules for moderators and technical bug reports. Finally, we used Freenode (IRC) as a temporary communication back channel for the conference days.

Lifecycle 2: The Vernissage—first public encounter with platframe

At the Vernissage on May 4, 2021, the platframe had its first public encounter, with visitors able to populate the platframe’s distributed chat. In the “exhibition space,” platframe visitors watched videos by the contributors, which were interlinked with elements from the timetable and the contributors list. The video-making process was guided by Jara Rocha and Lucie de Bréchard; Lucie also led the video concept, design, and editing process.

'Exhibition' region

It was important that visitors could reach other regions easily and additional information related to the respective videos. The distributed chat and cursor visibility created a feeling of aliveness and togetherness. Visitors left messages close to the videos and engaged in conversations with each other about the content. During the Vernissage, BigBlueButton (BBB) links were distributed, allowing participants to speak face to face. In retrospect, it might have been livelier on the platframe had we had opted for only one form of interaction, instead of adding more possibilities and scattering the program across many different spaces. We initially arranged for thirteen videos to be exhibited in this region. However, throughout the process of developing the conference the number increased. Additionally, the idea to upload and exhibit “conference posters” was introduced last minute. The exhibition as a region thus expanded quite drastically and took over an unexpectedly large portion of the overall canvas. The choice to include introductory videos and explanatory posters by workshop contributors allowed participants to familiarize themselves with the conference materials. The materials didn’t have to be viewed simultaneously, but could accommodate the different time zones and availability of participants. The main incentives for this decision were to reduce time spent on video calls and to protect both the participants and servers from “liveness fatigue.” The platframe, including tools such as Etherpad and Ethercalc were hosted on a VPS provided by Greenhost in Amsterdam, which ran on wind power. Other measures taken to reduce the ecological footprint of the platframe were the shrinking of media such as videos, PDFs, and images into smaller, web-compatible files, as well as the implementation of load-balancing strategies on the server and in the browser to intentionally slow down live-communication processes when traffic increased. Nonetheless, the platframe was CPU-intensive and therefore not as accessible with lower bandwidth. During the Vernissage, the platframe’s capacity to host a high number of participants was put into question. A few days before the workshop, we proceeded to develop testBot—a script intended to choreograph a fluctuating number of visitors arriving on the platframe, interacting with it, and then leaving. Although testBot looked like a single participant on the platframe, it represented 100, 200, or even 500 active visitors. It enabled us to stress test the platframe’s performance and gauge the number of upgrades we needed to install on the server in preparation for the workshop. TestBot remained on the platframe for the entire duration of the conference for hardware performance-logging reasons.

Lifecycle 3: The workshop

The platforme’s most active moment was the day of the workshop on May 7, 2021, when around 200 participants interacted with it. The platframe served as a central source of information on the third Workshop on Obfuscation. It contained the resource library, the directory of contributors and artworks, as well as a place for participants to converse. Yet the workshop actually took place on the BBB hosted by TU Delft. Our goal was not to try to recreate features of BBB, but to embed it within the convergence of tools. The platframe was designed to function as a springboard from which participants could navigate their way to workshop sessions or take part in informal hangouts. During the course of developing the platframe, Tobias Fiebig, the maintainer of the BBB instance hosted by TU Delft, worked on extending their installation of BBB with an option to live-stream conference calls via publicly accessible RTMP streams. This extension enabled us to give access to the workshops outside of BBB and display them in real time to a larger group of viewers on the platframe. During this life cycle the platframe was at its most active. Participants spent time in between sessions gathering their cursors around posters and videos in the exhibition, discussing, and mingling. The platframe’s management, moderation, and maintenance was similar to that of a physical conference, with dedicated hosts and moderators guiding participants around the canvas, continuously documenting the sessions and taking care of the space.

Life cycle 4: The archive

New and changing requirements throughout the making process confronted us with the question of “scalability” and “adaptability” of this tool convergence. While we started off with the idea that this website would become something that served other contexts and be used by different communities for their own events, the platframe became too tailored and specific to the context of the third workshop on obfuscation. With regards to documenting and archiving this project, we are keen to develop the platframe so that it functions within other contexts as well. The full repository— as well as instructions on setting it up, hosting, and converging the different tools and layers—is available here:

Please take note of the license:

At some point, the chat will be turned off and the videos in the exhibition taken offline, marking the platframes final life cycle—at least in the context of the third workshop on obfuscation. The contributions have been collected and organized in a manner that makes them accessible for future reference. A workshop report—the postscript of which a previous version of this document is part of— was already published and distributed among workshop contributors and participantsThe 3rd Workshop on Obfuscation was organized by Ero Balsa, Seda Gürses, Helen Nissenbaum, and Jara Rocha. The Post-Script workflow and lay-out was made by Cristina Cochior, Manetta Berends. The Post-Script copy editing was done by Amy Pickles.. Some of the platframe regions may stay accessible in a different form, such as the resources collected in the library; the glossary, the references of the different sessions; notes the ReadMe; and of course, the code repository.

First published in “The 3rd Workshop on Obfuscation Post-Script”

Karl Moubarak is a designer, tool-builder and amateur software developer. He joined Hackers & Designers in 2020 after collaborating with H&D as an intern during his bachelor studies.

Anja Groten is a designer, educator and community organiser. In June 2013 Anja co-founded the initiative Hackers & Designers together with James Bryan Graves and Selby Gildemacher. Anja furthermore runs the Design Master course at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam, Master of the Rietveld Academie.

A basic diagram for doing consensus
A basic diagram for doing consensus
Collected hand-out from a workshop for art and design educators, reactivated during H&D Algorithmic Consensus Meetup, 2021. Credits: Workshop: Angela Jerardi, 2019, Hand-out: Seeds for change
Cover of 'Communities: Journal of Cooperative Living,' July/August 1977.
Pages of 'Communities: Journal of Cooperative Living,' July/August 1977.

On consensus, in two parts

Angela Jerardi
The following material was originally collected and delivered as a talk, in an effort to do two things: 1) To tell the story of one of the origins of consensus and its role in decision-making through a situated approach, and 2) To share some practical nuts and bolts learnings on how consensus can be put into practice.

Part I: A short and partial history of one genealogy of consensusThroughout my late teens and early twenties I studied at a Quaker university and became increasingly interested in the Religious Society of Friends, as it is also known. I became connected to some Quaker circles in Philadelphia, and at one point lived in a house connected to the group Movement for a New Society. It feels useful to share this here since my proximity and participation in these communities has deeply shaped me and my understanding of doing democracy.

“We are so accustomed to majority rule as a necessary part of democracy that it is difficult to imagine any democratic system working without it. It is true that it is better to count heads than to break them… but the party system has proved very far from providing the ideal democracies of people’s dreams.”This quote comes from the 1945 essay “Sociocracy: Democracy as It Might Be” by Dutch educator and pacifist Kees Boeke. While doing this research I’ve been living in Amsterdam, so it felt important to ground my study by learning about Quaker developments here in the Netherlands. Kees Boeke grew up in Alkmaar, Netherlands, in a Mennonite Dutch Reformed household but later converted to Quakerism. A passionate reformer of education, he founded a school in Bilthoven, and developed a form of critical pedagogy based on Quaker ideas and created the concept known as sociocracy, the theory that all individuals should have a role in decision making. Essay accessed at:

This quote takes us slightly astray from where I want to go, but it gets us thinking along a helpful track. For one, why is it so challenging to imagine democracy without majority rule? For many of us, the image of democracy is limited to its representational forms—someone else acting on our behalf, our direct role relegated to that of a voter, and the often entrenched non-action, bickering, and corruption endemic within systems built on political parties and coalition governments. The aim of this text is to think democracy otherwise, proposing consensus as a means for doing democracy. Consensus is understood primarily as a method for decision-making, but I want to argue that it also offers a way of organizing methods of thinking and processing in groups that can create infrastructure to develop non-hierarchical collaborations, build community, identify conflict, and gestate shared values and intentions. As community-organizer and facilitator George Lakey puts it, “Consensus is a structural attempt to get equality to happen in decision making.”Andy Cornell and Andrew Willis-Garcés, “Learning from the Movement for a New Society: An Interview with George Lakey,” AK Press, February 2, 2010,

Surely many people in many places at many times throughout history have been concerned about how to make decisions in a way that feels equal and fair for all involved. It goes without saying that there are likely many genealogies of consensus; methods for collective decision-making must have many histories.To share a couple other genealogies that I am familiar with: the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, once called the Iroquois Confederacy by the French, and the League of Five Nations by the English, is made up of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, and was founded as a way to unite the nations and create a peaceful means of decision making. The governance of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy runs on a spokes-council model. Another rich history of consensus comes from the organizing and governing principles of the Zapatistas in Mexico. One particular history of consensus that I was first exposed to in my late teenage years can be traced through a Christian religious community called Quakers. Founded in the 1650s by George Fox, the core philosophy of Quakerism lies in a devotion to peace and nonviolence, coupled with the belief that God is present in everyone, as a sacred light within each of us, thus nullifying the need for clergy to interpret God's will. This democratic belief in equal access to the divine led to a disavowal of formal ministry and set forms of worship, as well as a rejection of many prevailing Christian hierarchies. For example, even at its founding in the 17th century, women were understood to have equal access to God and could therefore minister to the public and have leadership roles in the community.

Cover of 'Communities: Journal of Cooperative Living,' July/August 1977.

As it relates to our focus here, this also deeply influenced how communities of Quakers organized themselves. In the tradition of Quaker worship, community members sit together silently until one feels moved to share an insight or message with the congregation. Quakers still use this philosophy for organizational functions too, for business meetings, and social or political initiatives. Similar to a meeting for worship, participants take turns expressing ideas, not necessarily responding directly to one another. Discussion continues until there is a sense that all participants feel agreement about what is to be done, or once all participants can at least accept the direction the decision has taken. Though this is often time consuming, Quakers are invested in consensus because within the origin of its practice is the notion that each of us contains the presence of the divine. As historian A. Paul Hare writes,

“For over 300 years, the members of the Society of Friends have been making group decisions without voting. Their method is to find a sense of the meeting, which represents a consensus of those involved. Ideally, this consensus is not simply unanimity or an opinion on which all members happen to agree, but an actual unity, a higher truth which grows from the consideration of divergent opinions and unites them all.” A. Paul Hare, “Group Decision by Consensus: Reaching Unity in the Society of Friends,” Sociological Inquiry 43, no. 1 (Jan 1973): 75,

Because of this long-standing practice, those raised within the Quaker faith were intimately familiar with this method of decision-making and increasingly brought these methods into other spheres of their lived realities. Without knowing this history, it may come as a shock that the use of consensus decision-making in most radical and leftist organizations in the U.S. and Europe today—from Occupy Wall Street to Extinction Rebellion—has roots in the beliefs and practices of the Quakers.

As mentioned above, a core tenet of Quakerism is peace, not solely passive in the sense of not engaging in violence and war, but also through actively working to engender non-violence, in a similar vein, perhaps, as other religious groups give alms or engage in community service projects. The post-war period in America was mired in violence and struggle both at home and abroad. The after-effects of the atomic bomb and the rise of nuclear power, the Vietnam War and other US imperialist incursions into East Asia, and the struggle for civil rights, Black power, and the women’s liberation movement saw a concomitant rise in televised and broadcasted violence (and its normalization) within public life in 1960s America. It was in this context that in 1966 a group of activist Quakers founded A Radical Quaker Action Group. Focused primarily on creative, direct, nonviolent campaigns, as a way of making public examples and methodologies for making peace and protesting violence, one of A Radical Quaker Action Group’s key methods was using sailing boats and the distinct legal territory and status of the ocean as a means for sharing aid. In one such action, they sent antimalarial and antibacterial drugs and bandages to Hiroshima, and in a later action they sailed with similar supplies to Vietnam. The idea behind this was to identify means of doing direct nonviolence, not symbolic actions or protests in hopes of changing state policy. For A Radical Quaker Action Group, war was viewed as an inherent aspect of the system of capitalism, and social inequality was understood as a form of violence maintained by the threat of state violence. To work for peace and equality, to abide by the Quaker testimony of peace, one must engage in social change. This was not to say, however, that they did not have creative ideas about how to enact social change. One of their key tenets was the notion of “image defeat.” In addition to the hoped-for impact of direct action, they aimed to create attention-grabbing, imaginative stories and images that would garner outsized media attention, overshadowing or even replacing news coverage sympathetic to the state and state violence. For example, when their boat the Phoenix sailed to Vietnam, it appeared on the front cover of many newspapers, supplanting the image of the U.S. making war with an image of a small group of radical Quakers sailing to Vietnam with food and supplies.

Phoenix in Hong Kong harbor, en route to North Vietnam, 1967.

A Radical Quaker Action Group eventually disbanded, but their impact reverberated both within Quaker activist circles and more broadly amongst organizations tied to the New Left. Some people involved with these earlier activities were then involved in the formation of another group, Movement for a New Society (MNS). Self-identified as a feminist, radical, non-violent organization, Movement for a New Society was active from 1971 to 1988. With chapters in about a dozen cities across the U.S. and a hub in Philadelphia, the ideas they developed connected with many other activist struggles at the time, such as feminist liberation, environmental organizing, and anti-nuke activism. At its core, the group’s ethos was about sharing knowledge with one another and connecting the internal workings of community organizing with the external goals of these campaigns, through trainings and typical activist organizing, but also by practicing unlearning and doing self-work. This manifested as an ongoing commitment to doing anti-oppression training among them and a study format they termed “macro-analysis” seminars. The purpose of these seminars was to ensure they committed to and made time for study and inquiry, not just goal-oriented aims. Through this community study structure, they could practice recognizing and undoing their own internalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism. The macro-analysis seminars and study groups were modeled on extant popular education efforts of the time, especially from the civil rights movement, feminist consciousness-raising, and the ideas of critical pedagogue Paulo Freire.

In its first pamphlet, MNS positioned its distinct understanding of community-organizing, and declared its opposition to,

“Traditional forms of organization, from [the multinational corporation] ITT to the PTA [Parent-Teacher Association]…for they exhibit the sexism and authoritarianism we seek to supplant. Our goals must be incorporated into the way we organize. Thus the movement we build must be egalitarian and non-centralized.”Andrew Cornell, Oppose and Propose: Lessons from Movement for a New Society (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2011), 24.

At its core, MNS was concerned with creating different social relations, and saw its own community as a place to practice these ideas in the here and now, while working for these changes within society as a whole. This led MNS to integrate the seemingly external efforts of political organizing with the internal growth of becoming more socially aware and empathetically attuned, as a way of living closer to and more in accord with the world they wanted to see. Practically speaking, MNS built infrastructure to facilitate livelihoods, such as housing co-ops, food co-ops, a publisher, reading rooms, and “counter-institutions” as they termed them, but this philosophy also deeply influenced how they did process, leading to the development of infrastructures for organizing people, dialogue, and decision-making. From this came structures such as affinity groups, macro-analysis seminars and spokes-councils.I understand the spokes-council governance structure as having Indigenous origins, but I don’t know the details of how MSN developed its approach to spokes-councils or where it came from. These developments and the way of thinking that fueled them exemplify the concept of “prefigurative politics,” as coined by sociologist Wini Breines, who identified a central tenet of the work of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) as the effort to “create and sustain within the lived practice of the movement, relationships and political forms that ‘prefigured’ and embodied the desired society.”Wini Breines, Community and Organization in the New Left, 1962-1968: The Great Refusal, 2nd ed. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 6.

MNS had the opportunity to promulgate many of these practices more widely because of their involvement in organizing with the Clamshell Alliance to protest the proposed Seabrook Nuclear power plant in 1977. Due to the collective organizing efforts, 1400 people were peaceably arrested, collectively refused bail, and were then able to use the time held for two weeks in large armory buildings to collectively study, organize, and train themselves, testing many of the methods MNS had elaborated. Since then (and via other routes), techniques of horizontal organizing and consensus decision-making have spread and morphed across various social movements, and more broadly through universities, socially-engaged artistic practices, and many other activist adjacent fields.

We will stop the Seabrook Nuke: join the citizen's occupation, Clamshell Alliance, 1977.

While it might feel commonplace to say, “let’s work in a horizontal way,” “let’s decide this through consensus,” or “let’s create affinity groups for organizing a multi-part project,” it feels important to trace these genealogies and the histories and contexts that brought us here. In one context, consensus is fetishized as a goal in and of itself, while in another, it is demonized due to the tepid, watered-down decisions it leads to in lieu of complete political deadlock. In analyzing the development of direct democratic structures such as Occupy and other recent social movements, commentators David Graeber and Cindy Milstein have both suggested that “[c]onsensus is both our ends and our means of struggle.” Andrew Cornell, “[c]onsensus: what it is, what it isn’t, where it comes from and where it must go”, in We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy From Occupation to Liberation, ed. by Kate Khatib, Margaret Killjoy, and Mike McGuire (Oakland: AK Press, 2012), 164. I am sympathetic to this notion, and I too want to be part of a society that is participatory, egalitarian, and self-organizing. But I think we need to understand consensus as multifaceted and complex, with both histories and contexts tied to these methodologies, worthy of attention and study, not a catch-all phrase and simple concept that can magically make direct democracy possible in and of itself.

Part II: Some ideas for doing consensus together

What is consensus?
Consensus is a collective creative problem-solving process, created through:

  • receptive, perceptive, and empathic listening
  • digestion and connecting—finding commonalities and threads between ideas and concerns (and noting differences and dissonance)
  • synthesizing and translating—voicing propositions that bring together divergent ideas, concerns, and approaches

What is consensus good for?
Movement for a New Society members saw at least three key benefits to the consensus process:

  • it helps to empower more reserved and less experienced participants, creating a more even field for all
  • it keeps in check the sometimes-competing egos in an organization or group
  • the deeply considered discussion aspect of consensus is useful in a group’s early state when it is “searching” for new ideas and building unity in the group

Some conditions needed for consensus:

  • Shared desires

The group needs to share a clear common desire or goal(s), and be willing to work together toward this. It needs to be clear what needs to be decided upon collectively and what can be left to individuals. Discuss together what our goals are and how we will get there. When conflict and differences inevitably arise, return to the common goal(s) to refocus the conversation.

  • Nurturing trust, accountability and openness

We need to be able to trust that each of us arrives with the intention of working together. We also need to nurture spaces where all voices are heard and valued. Sometimes there is much to do, long before decisions get made, just to get to a point wherein a community or group of people is ready and able to speak together in that way. This isn’t an effort that can be skipped. George Lakey uses the metaphor of a container,

“I call the kind of social order that supports safety, a ‘container.’ The metaphor of container suggests that it might be thin or thick, weak or robust. A strong container has walls thick enough to hold a group doing even turbulent work, with individuals willing to be vulnerable in order to learn.”George Lakey, Facilitating Group Learning: Strategies for Success with Adult Learners (Hoboken: Jossey-Bass, 2010), 11.

Part of accountability is also accountability to ourselves, to listen internally and openly express our desires (what we’d like to see happen), and our needs (what we must have happen in order to be able to support a decision). If everyone is able to talk openly then the group will have the information it requires to take everyone’s positions into account and come up with a solution that everyone can support. Consensus will inevitably fail if needs aren’t shared publicly or if they are ignored when voiced.

  • Commitment to practicing consensus together

Everyone needs to be willing to be present in all senses of the word. This means being deeply honest about what it is you want or don’t want, and listening empathetically to what others have to say. Everyone must be willing to shift their positions and opinions, and to notice assumptions they may have been leaning on. Further, we need to be open to alternative and unexpected solutions, and accept the “good enough.”

  • Enough time and capacity

Consensus takes effort, so it’s not wise to use it for decisions that don’t warrant such energy. Learning to work together with others in this way builds over time, but each scenario or decision deserves consideration and attention. Rushing a process is like shooting it in the foot; inevitably needs or crucial information will be missed or ignored and thus decisions taken will require reworking and revision later. Cultivate circumstances that make it feasible for your group to have time and capacity for this work. Be realistic about what’s possible with the time you all can collectively give, determine limits ahead of time, and make sure this is clearly shared with everyone. Think of concerns and needs that will pull people away from this process and collectively arrange for these needs ahead of time, such as food, rest breaks, suitable space, childcare, etc.

  • Honoring process

It’s a necessity to have a clear (and accountable) process for making decisions and to do everything possible to ensure that all those present have a shared understanding of how the process works. If specific methods, hand signals, etc. will be used, this needs to be outlined and made clear for everyone. A clear statement or outline of what is aimed for (see “Shared desires”), and information and planning for the meeting (see “Enough time and capacity”) should be voiced from the outset. Honoring the process means listening to where it takes you collectively even when it leads you to an unexpected conclusion. It also means collectively agreeing to take care of the conversation, noticing when things stray off-topic and holding collective responsibility toward guiding the process, while being mindful of the limits and capacity of all involved.

  • Being present

In consensus we all need to actively participate. We need to listen intently to what everyone has to say, while also voicing our thoughts and feelings about the matter. The process should hold space for all involved. This is possible by being present as a listener but also by being open and vulnerable to share and to speak. Being present asks that each of us proactively imagines and seeks solutions that look out for everyone involved.

Angela Jerardi is a writer and curator, arboreal feminist (killjoy) and art school permaculturalist.

Flowchart of the discussion process
Flowchart of the discussion process
Collected hand-out from a workshop for art and design educators, reactivated during H&D Algorithmic Consensus Meetup, 2021. Credits: Workshop: Angela Jerardi, 2019, Hand-out: Seeds for change


James Bryan Graves and Nienke Huitenga-Broeren

WINWIN is an interactive debate platform and immersive experience that was initiated by James Bryan Graves and Nienke Huitenga-Broeren. It’s an algorithm that builds on consensus principles and guides participants through a conversation about a polarizing societal issue. WINWIN embraces consensus over adversity, and aims to facilitate and find common ground among its participants. The concept of WINWIN was inspired by digital consensus algorithms. Participants are installed temporarily as “nodes” into a “consensus-zone-data center” where an “immersive” hood and soundscape preserve attention as well as the anonymity of a person-node.

Image from a WINWIN performance. Participants wearing heads that gives them privacy while responding to the questions on their phones. On the projection behind them the process of the discussion is visible to the audience

Participants operate individually in a group experience, in a bubble while connected. A person-node always knows the general “state of the system” (the course and status of the conversation) without knowing the details about how many other person-nodes are also participating in the system. Together—yet apart—participants dive into the nuances of their opinions. The course of the conversation evolves as a tree-branch-narrative. Participants encounter the responses of their fellow participants one by one on their mobile phones. Every time consensus is reached, WINWIN moves the participant up the branch and back to where unresolved statements await calibration. We’re fascinated by disruptive governing interventions and movements like the Occupy movement. Often, fuelled by idealism, groups get waylaid in their denouncement of the issues they collectively oppose. As such, such groups—due to the emotional investment of their participants—fail to succeed in agreeing internally on how things should be different, and how to move forward. Such groups often collapse just before their moment of breakthrough. WINWIN came into being during a conversation between Nienke and James about how algorithms might play a role in moving forward together as a society, while also being respectful of people’s differences and diverging realities. WINWIN was also conceived of as a “tool” for overcoming the dysfunctional and toxic debate styles that prevail on the Internet today. It is likely that you will never agree with a “flat Earther” on the belief that the Earth is indeed flat. But you might find a common ground in questioning the manner in which scientific information is shared or revealed to the public. On that point of agreement you could then act together and initiate a new conversation. The intention of WINWIN is to help participants dive deeper and craft the most constructive conversation possible on a strongly polarizing topic.


Screenshot of a discussion and the decision tree of WinWin

Image from a WINWIN performance. Participants wearing heads that gives them privacy while responding to the questions on their phones. On the projection behind them the process of the discussion is visible to the audience]]

Statements discussed by WINWIN participants during the H&D meetup on Algorithmic Consensus

  • “Consensus decision making is a more inclusive way of reaching agreement between all members of a group, than for instance majority models”.
  • “Consensus decision making processes can help to create a less polarized online discourse”.
  • “Consensus decision making is an inefficient way to come to an agreement in a group”.

There were three moments of consensus on the platform. Everyone agreed on:

  • “One might say all online discourse has established it is polarization. Consensus might carry potential to create more nuance.”
  • “Homogeneous groups have an easier time agreeing on issues"
  • “A homogeneous group doesn't necessarily reach consensus, and a heterogeneous group doesn't necessarily have to be at odds.”

James Bryan Graves is a software engineer, computer scientist, lecturer, and community organizer. James moved to the Netherlands in 2009 from the United States of America. He founded Hackers & Founders Amsterdam in 2011, a community of entrepreneurs and programmers which later additionally opened a non-profit community organized co-working space in the Herengracht in Amsterdam in 2014. In 2013 James furthermore started Hackers & Designers together with Anja Groten and Selby Gildemacher.

Nienke Huitenga-Broeren is an immersive designer and strategist. In her work she blends media strategy, digital concepts and immersive experiences. She is a co-founder of Hackastory, a startup fostering innovation in journalism. In 2019 she finished her first virtual reality production ROZSYPNE, an interactive VR-story about an old lady trying to persevere daily life in the Eastern-Ukrainian warzone, with the MH17-crash at her doorstep. She co-directed it with Lisa Weeda and produced it with Studio ZZZAP. In 2019 she also participated in the last Sandberg@Mediapark talent incubator where she created together with hacker James Bryan Graves WINWIN, a consensus algorithm and immersive discussion experience—for finding consensus in dealing with the tough questions we currently face worldwide.

The “Unbound Libraries” folder arrived in 2020 at the H&D studio in Amsterdam. It was sent to us by Elodie, Martino and An of Constant Association for Arts and Media in Brussels in preparation for a one week work session. The work session “Unbound Libraries” took place online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The folder contained preparatory reading materials related to the session. It had a navigation system stapled to its front cover—an overview of the materials and a suggestion on how to approach them. It was not a fixated, bound reader but a loose collection—a repository of materials that can grow and changes over time.
The “Unbound Libraries” folder arrived in 2020 at the H&D studio in Amsterdam. It was sent to us by Elodie, Martino and An of CAssociation for Arts and Media in Brussels in preparation for a one week work session. The work session “Unbound Libraries” took place online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The folder contained preparatory reading materials related to the session. It had a navigation system stapled to its front cover—an overview of the materials and a suggestion on how to approach them. It was not a fixated, bound reader but a loose collection—a repository of materials that can grow and changes over time. More information can be found on and
Unbound-libraries-reader 2.jpg
Unbound-libraries-reader 3.jpg
Screenshot of the Unbound Libraries work session
Screenshot of the Unbound Libraries work session
Screenshot sexuality.png

Re- and Un- Defining Tools

Feminist Search Tools working group

Exploring intersectional approaches to digital search tools in library catalogs

The F​eminist Search Tools ​(FST) is an ongoing artistic research project that explores different ways of engaging with digital library catalogs. The FST project studies the power structures that library search engines reproduce, and views (computational) search mechanisms through an intersectional lens to inquire how marginalized voices within libraries and archives can become more easily accessible and searchable. While the initial FST study process began within the context of the Utrecht University library, the project soon shifted to focus on the catalog of IHLIA LGBTI Heritage Collection in Amsterdam.

Silver sticker with the question "Why are the authors of the books I read so white, so male, so Eurocentric?" sticking out of the bookshelf of the IHLIA Heritage Collection

The following texts are conversations between members of the FST project. The first conversation focuses on the different motivations that informed the FST project, and includes reflections on the different modes of working together.“Doing and Undoing Relationships,” Feminist Search Tools: The follow-up conversation zooms in on the “tool aspect” of the Feminist Search Tools project, its situatedness and processual nature, and the different (mis)understandings of the term “tool.”

'Tools' refers to a digital search interface in different iterations that allows for textual search queries within digital catalogs of libraries and archives. During the collaboration, the various tool versions have taken different shapes and forms, but have never really solidified in a way that made them easily applicable to contexts other than those they were developed within.For more details, see also recorded conversation:, and Instead, we have attended to the tool-making or tool-imagining process itself, which expanded our understanding of tools (digital and otherwise) and the implications they had on specific contexts.

The composition of the FST working group has changed shape throughout its duration. While Sven Engels, Anja Groten, Annette Krauss, and Laura Pardo initiated an early iteration of the FST project, others–including Angeliki Diakrousi, Alice Strete, and Ola Hassanain–joined the process at a later stage, after we had started a new iteration of the tool the so-called “visualization tool,” during the Digital Methods summer school in 2019.See “Digital Methods summer school 2019”: Throughout the project, the group met sporadically and consulted with librarians, information specialists and other artists and researchers working with and around subjects related to libraries and librarianship.

The following conversation took place after the second iteration of the visualization tool was presented in a public setting and a funding cycle for this iteration was completed.

Tools as “digital study objects”

Anja Groten: Considering that we all had very different encounters and experiences with the tools created throughout the project, I propose to start our conversation with an open question: What were everyone's initial expectations towards working on a digital tool, and how have these expectations been met, or perhaps changed over time?

Annette Krauss: I still remember how some of us in the Read-in became interested in the term ‘“tool,” and more specifically a “digital tool” through the question of scale. During our previous project titled Bookshelf Research,“Bookshelf Research #1,” Read-In, we spent time in small (grass-root) libraries studying the way the publications were categorized. For me, the Bookshelf Research was already a tool. By literally passing every single item of the library through our hands, one after the other, we got acquainted with the library and tried to understand the different categories—such as publishers, languages, gender of authors, materiality—as well as the book contents. For instance, we looked at the Grand Domestic Revolution Library of Casco Art Institute,Casco Art Institute, which holds around 300 books. The digital dimension of the tool became more clear when we shifted our attention to the Utrecht University library. As the library holds three million books, a contextualization counting exercise in the physical space was not possible in the same way. What has remained throughout the process is our desire to challenge the coloniality of modern knowledge production that we attempted to address with the question “Why are the authors of the books I read so white, so male, so eurocentric?”

Bookshelf Research by Read-in at the Van Abbemuseum archive (2012).

AG: You earlier referred to the Bookshelf Research as a tool. What do you mean by that? Do you regard a “tool"" as a synonym for method?

AK: I’d rather see “tool” here as a “mode of address,” or a set of search mechanisms, or maybe even principles. I think it has to do with my disbelief in the possibility of transferring methods from one context to another without causing much harm. A mode of addressFrom a slightly different but related perspective see Dagmar Bosma and Tomi Hilsee’s discussion on “mode versus method” in proposes something that a method has difficulties in attending to, namely being situated and context-specific.

Sven Engels: I think for me at some point I started equating tools with “digital tools”; in my head. This created a disconnect for me, because I felt I wasn't easily able to access what those tools actually do. At the same time, the notion of the tool as a "digital object";—an interface—also came with the question of the tool’s usability, which also brings up the question of "use for what"; and for "whom"? For instance, the expectation that a tool should also produce some form of result was put into question. Thinking about the tool as a digital study object creates room to explore these and other questions about what the tool actually does.

AG: The idea of a tool as an enhancement, that it’s supposed to make our processes easier, might have caused some confusion around the project, don't you think? Interesting and important confusions, not to mention expectations.

Laura Pardo: When we started talking about tools rather than “the tool,” my perception and expectations toward the project changed. From the beginning, when we were talking about the FST project, for instance during our first conversation with ATRIA,Atria Kennisinstituut voor Emancipatie en Vrouwengeschiedenis, we had questions like: “Is the tool going to work?” There had indeed been a certain expectation for the tool to produce a result, or a solution to a problem. The fact that we decided to make a digital tool made me especially cautious. To my understanding, digital tools tend to be binary, it’s either this or that. Everything in between gets lost. Realizing that there is not just one tool but a kind of ongoing tool-making process that includes different modes and materializations through which you can ask questions about tools—was a very important part of the process.

SE: When you talk about the things getting lost do you refer to the decisions made that factor into how a tool is made or are you referring to the conversations that are part of the tool-making process that are no longer visible?

LP: It’s both. In moments like this our conversations are so valuable and important. When you have a product—a finished search interface for example—those conversational elements can get lost. I think it is great that we bring all the conversations, pieces of audio, and images together on our project website. But when making a tool you also need to come up with solutions to problems, right?

Angeliki Diakrousi: Listening to your thoughts, I want to relate back to how the question of scale played a role for you in the beginning. When a database becomes so big that we can’t relate to it anymore as a human, it exceeds our understanding and therefore challenges our capacity to trust. I also like the idea of the conversational tool because it means the tool can be scaled down and become part of the conversation, and that it doesn't have to give a solution to a problem. In conversation with the tool we can address issues that we otherwise don't know how to solve. If we can’t solve something, how would a tool solve it? The tool is our medium in a way. I am interested in finding more of these bridges to make the tool a conversational tool.

AK: I have grappled with the role of scaling throughout the process, and have been both attracted and appalled by it. This is what I tried to point to earlier with the modes of address. The work of Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing could be interesting to think about here, when she refers to scaling as a rigid abstraction process.Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World, (Princeton University Press: Oxfordshire, 2015) Tsing criticizes science and modern knowledge production for its obsession with scalability. She describes scalability as the desire to change scale—for instance, by expanding a particular mode of research or production without being sensitive to the different contexts in which they are being applied. This has provoked much colonial violence because scalability avoids contextualization and situatedness in order to function smoothly, and therefore upholds an extractivist logic. I believe that through our conversations we are attempting to contextualize and situate the subject. Conversations ground us.

LP: Isn't our struggle with addressing gender, race, class, sexuality, and disability in our first prototypeThe first prototype is a digital interface that engages with the records of the Utrecht University Library. It experiments with a search field, in which a search term can be typed in. The search takes place within a selection of the records of the Utrecht University Library of works published between 2006 and 2016. The choice is made by the FST work group and is based on a number of MARC21 fields on which the digital catalog of the Utrecht University library is based. MARC21 (abbreviation for MAchine-Readable Cataloging) is an international standard administered by the Library of Congress; it is a set of digital formats used to describe items that are cataloged in the context of a library, such as the university library Utrecht. an example in this direction? We are working with a big database and have to find solutions for certain questions, and by choosing a specific solution many other modes are not chosen, which we know can lead to misrepresentation.

1st version of the Feminist Search Tools

Alice Strete: I remember that we were looking for the gender of the authors at the beginning of the project, and approaching it by looking at the data set of Wiki Data.The Utrecht University (UU) library could provide access to information regarding the gender of an author. We therefore decided to link our dataset to WikiData, which provides information about the gender of a person. The first version of the FST compared both dataset based on the name of an author and attributed gender of an author according to WikiData. I think I was expecting that the information would be readily available, and that we just had to find it and figure out how to use it. But then I realized I had to adapt my expectations about how to extract insights from the database, which was not obvious to me from the beginning.

SE: The biggest clash in that regard was when we tried the Gender API.If the comparison to Wikidata did not return a result, the algorithm would identify the gender of an author based on the so-called Gender API, a commercial application that assigns the binary gender categories (female/male) based on names. The Gender API is usually implemented in commercial websites in order to optimize customer experiences (female identified people see search results that are relevant for their gender category as defined by the commercial company). The Gender API brought about many issues, one of which is that it excludes non-binary gender categories. Another issue is that the Gender API is a closed-source technology. Thus, we were incapable of reconstructing exactly how the program determines and applies gender categories. The Gender API is a black box technology, made for marketing purposes. It was integrated as a “proof of concept” in the first development phase. It attributes a gender category on the basis of the frequency a name is used for a particular gender online. Not only does this lead to faulty results, but it’s a harmful way to use it when self-identification is so central to gender identification. This definitely forced us to rethink how gender could be identified in different ways and with tools that also take self-identification into consideration.

Ola Hassanain: When I joined the project, I asked questions that stemmed from my concern about the classifications we would be using and how the tool would filter certain searches. My concern was that the tool would transfer from one type of classification to another. When you look for “knowledge”—at least from my perspective—there is a degree of caution that you have to take. These general classifications are out there and even if you do not adhere to them or abide by them they are still there. I had a brief conversation with Annette about the tool having to be adjustable in a way that it could meet steadily changing requirements. To make a point, I used an example of the architectural catalog Neufert, which has become an international standardization guideline for architectural measurements. So basically, whatever you produce as an architect or designer must comply with a set of pre-defined measurements. Anyway, my question was whether the process of tool-building is eventually perpetuating the same categories and classifications that the libraries are using. The interesting thing about the Neufert catalog is that it gets updated regularly, and it is continuously regenerating. So how can a search tool respond to something that is constantly changing?

AK: I understood the Neufert catalog more as a standardization tool, with normative rules comparable to the library classifications developed by the Library of Congress. Here however, you actually stress its flexibility.

OH: The tool has to cater to the changing times. My suspicion was about whether we can have more diverse or inclusive ways of using or sourcing references and books, and what informs such a process. If we have something like the Neufert catalog already set up in the libraries, how would the tool respond to that, and how does it regenerate?

AG: When you refer to changeability and the challenge of correcting categorization systems, I have to think of the text “Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction” by Emily Drabinski, which Eva Weinmeyr and Lucie Kolb's research project on “Teaching the Radical Catalog”“Teaching the Radical Catalogue: A syllabus 2021-22”: was inspired by. Drabinski discusses practices of knowledge organization from a queer perspective and problematizes the notion that classification can ever be finally corrected. According to Drabinski there needs to be a sustained critical awareness, and ways of teaching catalogs as complex and biased texts.Emily Drabinski, "Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction," Paper 9, (New York: Brooklyn Library Faculty Publications, 2013) I remember the Unbound Library Session, organized by Constant“Unbound Libraries,” Constant,,224-.html in 2020, during which Anita and Martino—who are self-taught librarians working at the Rietveld and Sandberg library"Infrastructural Manœuvres in the Library,” Gerrit Rietveld Academie,—presented their library search tool which allowed the users of the library catalog to suggest new categories. Thus, someone searching in the library catalog can make suggestions for modifying the system itself. The librarians would then review and apply or reject the suggestions. Their idea was to organize discussions and workshops with students and teaching staff around such suggestions. It is quite exciting to think about the changeable catalog becoming dialogic in that way.

Paper Prototyping Workshop led by Anja Groten with the FST working group (2019).

AS: There is a big difference between using an existing search tool—into which you have less insight—and making something from scratch, so to speak, that integrates conversation at every step. I appreciate the possibility of paying attention to the decisions being made at different phases of the process.

SE: I wonder to what extent the idea to build something from scratch is even possible or desirable? I often feel that projects are trying to come up with something new and innovative, instead of acknowledging the work done by others before them, and embracing the practice of building on and complexifying what already exists. It's definitely a trap we've been conscious of ourselves, and that we’ve attempted to focus on, while making room for different perspectives and questions.

AK: I understand Alice’s comment more in terms of a search interface as black box. And indeed, we have built upon so many existing tools—like the Atria Women’s Thesaurus,“Vrouwenthesaurus,” Atria, the Homosaurus of IHLIA,“Homosaurus,” IHLIA, and all the references mentioned by Anja. There are loads of tools, or experiments of tooling, that we have struggled with, like the first prototype, the “Feminist Search Assistant,” the paper prototypes, and the Visualization Tools (Digital Methods summer school; FST Meet-ups; IHLIA).1st prototype, Visualization tool version 1, Visualization tool version 2, FST Wiki:, “Feminist Search Assistant”; and not to forget the meet-ups that FST organized to exchange with other practitioners See also footnote 3.

Screenshot Visualization Tool (version 1), based on the first prototype with Utrecht University library; developed in collaboration with DensityDesignDensityDesign is a ResearchLab in the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano, during the Digital Methods summer school, Amsterdam (2019).

Where does the agency lie within the tool?

LP: When it comes to the user interface, we are so used to having smooth interface designs that feel just like “magic” like the experience of filling in the search window in Google, for instanceBrian Rosenblum, "Decolonizing Libraries," It shows you the result, but we never know what is happening in the backend. I always hoped that we would do the opposite of this.

There is a lack of agency with digital tools that I don’t have with analogue tools. Like, I have a hammer; I know how it works. I am somehow much more frustrated as a user of digital tools, and I don't know how to break the distance between myself and the tool. I think we were trying to close that gap but it still felt unattainable at times.

Screenshot of FST Visualization Tool (version 2), based on the IHLIA catalog and the Homosaurus, 2020. The question of "Why are the books I read so white, so male, so Eurocentric?" is central at the top. Selected are five clusters on the top left: Race, Gender, Sexuality, Disability, and Structural Oppressions. The x-axis is composed of a selection of Homosaurus terms linked to a certain cluster. The y-axis depicts the 20 most encountered publishers in the IHLIA Heritage Collection catalog.

AG: This reminds me of a subsection in a previous conversation that I wanted to elaborate on further. It’s the section “Understanding one's own tools,”"Understanding one's own tools," in Doing and Undoing relationships, Feminist Search Tools, which is about, among other things, the implication of ownership over a tool. Even though it’s subtle, don’t our tools in a way own us too? Furthermore, when we think about tools, like software for instance,we often think about them as separate from us. There is an alleged separation between the tool builder, the tool, and the tool user. I found it so interesting how in our process—despite the friction it caused—it became clear that tools are actually not so separate from us after all. Every conversation was informed by the tool, which in turn shaped how we developed the tool. But we, as a group, were also shaped by its becoming, and we were constantly confronted by our expectations of the tool and our relationship to it.

AD: I wonder how the code could also become part of this conversation. For instance, the ways we categorized the material in the code. Thinking about the code and realizing that creating intersectionalUsing the term Feminist Search Tools is based on an understanding of feminism as intersectional. The Let’s do Diversity Report of the University of Amsterdam Diversity Commission eloquently summarizes what intersectionality is about by introducing it as “a perspective that allows us to see how various forms of discrimination cannot be seen as separate, but need to be understood in relation to each other. Being a woman influences how someone experiences being white; being LGBT and from a working-class background means one encounters different situations than a white middle-class gay man. Practicing intersectionality means that we avoid the tendency to separate the axes of difference that shape society, institutions and ourselves.” (p.10) axes practically meant that we had to move the catalog entries from their separate categories toward the same place in the dataset. Everything had to become part of one script.

To create the different axes we connected the different terms in that script. The way we categorized the code, the file, and the scripts should also be part of that conversation. Because the code is also built on binaries and structures and is written in ways that make it difficult to complexify, it’s actually difficult to find possibilities to separate catalog items from one another. We are not professional software developers. We just happen to know a bit of coding and we are learning through this process. I am sure the tool can be much more innovative in how it is structured. It also needs a deep knowledge of the initial library tool. But yeah, it was an interesting process. I would actually like to see this conversation and our learning process reflected more visibly in the tool.

AK: Which brings us back to the “conversation tool.” All these conversations and encounters are so necessary because the digital tool itself makes them so invisible in a way.

AG: But how could they become more visible? These conversations indeed became a useful “tool” for our process as they offered us committed moments of collective reflection. On the project website,See footnote 2 the conversation became quite important as a narration of the website as well as a navigation. But what happens after the conversation? The idea of releasing the digital tool still seems to be a difficult subject for us. The way we go about the release is by making the process available and hyper-contextualizing it. There have always been specific people and specific organizations that we engaged with, and to a certain extent we also depend on these people to move forward. Don’t you think there is a danger that these conversations become too self-referential? To some extent, we do publish and release the tools through these conversations and through other forms of activation such as the meet-ups, but how do we make sure that the Feminist Search Tools contribute to or feed back into the communities they were inspired by?

SE: The conversations are perhaps more in the background of the digital tool itself. If we think, for instance, of the website and the project itself, we try to bring the conversations to the foreground. It's good to keep in mind how central these questions are to the project itself.

Exploring intersectional searchSee footnote 16 as a way to move beyond identity politics

AG: In the previous conversation we clarified that we understood feminism as intersectional, that different forms of discrimination cannot be seen as separate but should be always seen in relation to each other, “avoiding the tendency to separate the axes of difference that shape society, institutions, and ourselves.”Using the term Feminist Search Tools is based on Read-in’s commitment to and understanding of feminism as intersectional. The Let’s do Diversity Report of the University of Amsterdam Diversity Commission eloquently summarizes what intersectionality is about, by introducing it as “a perspective that allows us to see how various forms of discrimination cannot be seen as separate, but need to be understood in relation to each other. Being a woman influences how someone experiences being white; being LGBT and from a working-class background means one encounters different situations than a white middle-class gay man. Practicing intersectionality means that we avoid the tendency to separate the axes of difference that shape society, institutions and ourselves.” (p.10) With the last iteration of the tool, we tried to literally intersect groups and axes of categorization, but at the same time also created new kinds of distinctions in order to make certain things legible, and others not. How are those separations, in fact feminist separations? And in what ways did the tool share our understanding of feminism?

SE: Annette and I had a conversation with Lieke Hettinga, whom we had asked for input to further explore how the x-axis terms of the visualization toolVisualization Tool focusing on the IHLIA Heritage Collection, see Image 5 related to disability, due to their expertise in disability and trans studies. Lieke questioned to what extent—when using the clusters of gender, race, sexuality, etc.—we were just reinforcing identity categories, and to what extent we were able to move beyond these categories altogether. By looking at categories individually but also trying to find connections between them, I was reminded of the underlying tension of this project, which pertained to us feeling the need to name different categories relating to identity in our question: "Why are the books I read so white, so male, so Eurocentric?,” while also desiring to move beyond them. These conversations and tensions have been an important part of the process but aren't necessarily visible in the tool as it currently exists. How can we show and make such tensions accessible to people engaging with the tool, and also have them be part of the conversation about it?

AD: I think it is important to consider the people this tool refers to in the process, involve them, but maybe not so intensively. Perhaps people don't have to understand it completely, either. It’s good that it's clear that when we say “tool” we aren’t speaking about a tool that gives solutions to problems. For me, it's important that people understand the conversational process, and that we want them to be part of it, and that they will also affect the outcome of the tool. How can a reflection on this process be opened up? How can we engage more people in this process? Maybe through workshops, or small conversations, or a broadcast?

To me this relates to feminist practice, that the tool is applied in different layers. Not only in how you make the actual tool but also in how you communicate about it, how you do things, and take care of the technical but also the social aspects.

Use value and usability

SE: I had to think of the metaphor that Ola brought up in our first conversation: the tool being a disruptive mechanism, like “throwing stones into a wheel,” which translates to how the tool exists within power structures. But at the same time I do have to admit I have a desire for the tool to actually function, which for me stems from wanting to find more queer literature. I find it very frustrating that I still cannot do so within mainstream media outlets or libraries. So, I think we should not do away with our hopes and desires for the use value of the FST. We can of course be critical about the efficiency of a tool. But at the same time, we need to understand our motivations for making it work—It’s OK that we want the tool to function and release it so that other people can engage with it as well.

OH: The desire to actually find an item in the library catalog cannot be separated from the rest of our commentary in terms of its efficiency. When a search tool is used, it creates issues while it is being used. This expectation of a useful tool and being critical of its problematics are not isolated issues. That's may be not hard to imagine, but maybe hard to articulate.

Alice: Ola, would this be an argument against the usability of such a tool?

OH: No, this is not an argument against usability but against the fact that we think it's not; that it is something separate. We shouldn’t look at its usability as something that is sort of neutral and separate, that is part of the problem. It creates and perpetuates the same issue because the tool is already something that gives analytics to the bigger body of the library. Through that patterns are formed, and the interface responds to it. So, we are caught in an enclosure of this desire that is already informed by how the knowledge is institutionalized or how that knowledge is classified. I think there has to be an awareness of that.

AD: The way that I envision it, is that it's not going to be a “beautiful” interface that is easy-going. It will show the fragments of learning that went into it.

AG: Yes, the tool also demands a certain level of care and commitment. Perhaps it should not be thought of as something that can be finished, that stands on its own, rather as something that is never resolved and needs continuous engagement, like a practice.

AK: For me it links back to a certain attitude towards tools. I don't believe that a complete understanding of a library search tool and its implications is possible. But perhaps it is possible to strive for a certain kind of literacy that supports both a questioning attitude towards tool-use, and is informed by a quest for social justice. Perhaps this way the complicities of a tool-users in the modern project of education that libraries are also embedded in can be addressed?

Members of the Feminist Search Tools working group include: Read-in (Sven Engels, Annette Krauss, Laura Pardo; and Ying Que who was involved in certain parts of the project), Hackers & Designers (Anja Groten, André Fincato, Heerko van der Kooij, and former member James Bryan Graves), Ola Hassanain, Angeliki Diakrousi, and Alice Strete.This conversational piece is based on an audio-recorded conversation held on 17 February 2021, transcribed by Anja Groten, and collectively edited by the members of the conversation.

In this version of Myclines, the text corpus is based on the content from #Re-_and_Un-_Defining_Tools. See also the animated version:

Mycelines: A Sympoetic Imagination

Qianxun Chen

A Myceline (a neologism made up of ‘mycelium’ and ‘line') is a “line” of text that grows like a mycelium. Mycelines can be generated based on a word-in-context analysis of one piece or multiple pieces of text. A shared word between two sentences has the potential to become a “node,” enabling new mycelines to grow from it. It breaks the linear, one-directional flow of the written language and demonstrates how interconnected our language is with new visual representations and evolving textual behaviors. In Staying with the Trouble Donna Haraway, "Staying with the trouble : making kin in the Chthulucene" (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), Donna J. Haraway introduced the term sympoiesis based on autopoiesis, Sympoiesis means “making-with”, or “collectively-producing systems that do not have self-defined spatial or temporal boundaries. Information and control are distributed among components. The systems are evolutionary and have the potential for surprising change.” By contrast, autopoietic systems are “self-producing” autonomous units “with self defined spatial or temporal boundaries that tend to be centrally controlled, homeostatic, and predictable.”

If we apply this way of thinking to words and text, to think about autopoietic as auto-poetics, auto-poetic can then be used to describe generative textual systems with centrally defined generative rules, while sym-poetic are for texts that are collectively produced among various dynamic components. Mycelines are created with sympoetic in mind. Here, words decide how they organize themselves spatially based on the flow of each sentence instead of following one predefined direction, allowing concepts and thoughts interact and merge in a process akin to anastomosis in fungal networks. The Code below shows the process of word in context analysis of the text “Re-, Un-, Defining Tools” by the Feminist Search Tools working group. We can see that words such as “tool”, “think”, “conversation” and “process” are mentioned the most, which make them important nodes in the generated myceline network.

Qianxun Chen is a media artist, programmer and researcher. She works at the intersection of art, technology and language, with a focus on generative poetics, the aesthetics of algorithm and digital textuality. Her works tend to bring up artistic and non-human perspectives of the world through alternative usage of technology.


Concorder = class conversationText = FileAttachment {

name: "conversation.txt"
mimeType: "text/plain"
<prototype>: FileAttachment {}


ct = await conversationText.text()

concordance = new Concorder(text, {

ignoreCase: true,
ignoreStopWords: true,
ignorePunctuation: true,
isSentenceLevel : true


cAnalysis = getAnalysis(concordance)

cAnalysis = Object {

tool: Array(67)
think: Array(18)
tools: Array(15)
conversation: Array(18)
something: Array(16)
process: Array(16)
library: Array(10)
digital: Array(14)
project: Array(13)
way: Array(12)
different: Array(9)
make: Array(11)
gender: Array(8)
part: Array(10)
through: Array(8)
search: Array(9)
find: Array(7)
catalog: Array(8)
question: Array(8)
… more


In this version of Myclines, the text corpus is based on the content from #Re-_and_Un-_Defining_ToolsSee also the animated version:
Visualzation Sally.jpg
Screenshot 2022-10-18 at 21.05.16.png
Screenshot 2022-10-18 at 21.05.16.png

fileSHA as protocol

André Fincato and Karl Moubarak

Why fileSHA


init: remove existing data and initialize new game-session

create file to keep track of chosen members

if [ ! -e ./.members ]; then

touch ./.members


rm ./.members && touch ./.members


create moderation folder where to move emails

from `<mlmmj>/<list>/moderation

if [ ! -d ./moderation ]; then

mkdir ./moderation


rm -rf ./moderation && mkdir ./moderation


delete .game-over mark

 rm -rf ./.game-over

← Caption: init. instructions to kick-off the game.

fileSHA is an email, “turn-based” game that uses mailing list software as its main playground–think of a chat program but it's happening over an email exchange. You send a message to the list’s email address and the message is automatically distributed to everyone on the list. The core activity of the game is file sharing. A random participant receives a prompt via email to share a file however they want. The next randomly selected participant receives that file (sometimes by coordinating with the previous user) and then decides how to use it as an input source for the file they have chosen to share. At this point, no one else in the list knows what’s occurring except the two randomly chosen participants.

The project was born of our shared curiosity and fascination with mailing lists and the role they play in bringing communities together. We were guided by an all-too-common frustration that many will have related to in recent years, that is the sudden and abrupt disappearance of online spaces that were supposed to host communities, and especially the “data” produced by their users over time. Be that a group of people gathered around a shared love for a musical genre, a team collaborating on the development of a coding framework, or a discussion board on space exploration, it’s not uncommon to see communities hosted on Mastodon or DiscordAnother important example is a web service like Instagram (owned by Facebook / Meta) shutting down user profiles (also popular ones) due to “infringing the Terms and Conditions agreement” accepted by the user to the provider upon signing up to the website. This results in a real problem for most sex workers — including famous porn stars — who make use of the service to reach out to their public as well as to create connections with other workers. being closed unilaterally by their moderators, or having no way to export the “sociality” (collective memory) that’s being produced by users interaction into a data format that can be re-purposed or imported into another web service. This prompted us to ask the question:
What are other ways of communicating and navigating digital infrastructure that we might have overlooked or forgotten about?

Another inspiration for the game stems from André’s endless fascination for a piece of software called git. git propelled the Linux project Linux is a software project that launched in the early 1990s. It is the most widespread operating system used in web servers and among computer enthusiasts on “desktop.” From its conception, Linux has been entirely coordinated by sharing code through emails via the Internet. to become a viable, Internet-based, multiplayer effort. git uses emails as the main format for collaborating on a project, which means: mailing lists.

Looking up examples of old mailing lists on the www we found, for instance, the cryptography archives. The cryptography archives: The mailing list dates back to 1970 (a Linux bug? There was no PGP software at the time, nor widespread email usage). Would an ongoing conversation thread be imaginable today, with the emergence of softwares such as Discord, an expressly community-oriented instant messaging platform? Does our frustration with online softwares have to do with these kinds of programs, or is to do with the composition and evolution of the HTTP protocol?HyperText Transfer Protocol is what is used to build websites and have them accessible over the Internet. If today we have broken links on the Web, is also due to specific choices taken, back in the early 1990s, when designing the way web pages should work.

We dreamt of working with email protocols and mailing lists, instead of the web and the HTTP protocol. What’s the UI offered by a mailing list? How easy is it to join one? What types of interactions can be designed in this space and what “social etiquettes” can be established, stretched, or ignored?

We decided to pick file sharing as the key activity in an email-based game as it aligns with another interest of ours: peer2peer computingExpressly: when two computers directly communicate with each other over the network without a third, usually “bigger” computer acting as intermediary. Classic example is file torrenting, but also LAN parties and self-hosted email servers are common examples.. Most p2p file-sharing software demands users to be online and at their computers at the same time, which adds an interesting requirement in the context of a non real-time technique like email: manual, human coordination. File sharing, to us, is an activity of making accessible files while simultaneously archiving them (by keeping a local copy of them on our computers). We are interested in exploring alternative methods and techniques to cloud-based file sharing or streaming software, where files continuously live online. As much as emails are easily copyable, shareable, and archivable, file sharing provides similar capabilities.

Protocol of the game

Here we have described the game in a protocolary format. While the game was originally played within email exchanges, we have tried to distill and extract most of the game’s components in such a way that it can also be played in a different format.

The original code repository with instructions can be accessed on the H&D Github page.

The game is chain-based. The more people that join, the better. Five to six players is the preferred minimum. fileSHA is an “exquisite-corpse” game, which means that the next player cannot see how the previous player altered the file being shared. A classic example of an exquisite corpse is a collective drawing game where the next player receives a sheet of paper folded by the previous person, so they cannot see what’s already been drawn on the sheet.

Furthermore we added two more elements:

  • Semi-randomness The game picks someone from the list of participants who has not already been chosen. Plus, in a computer system, “semi-randomness” is the only option anyway. of selecting the next player
  • “Secrecy” between the two players exchanging the outcome

The object of the game is file sharing, meaning that each player receives the file(s) from the previous player and morphs it with one or more files of their choosing. Each player can decide how to use the previous file(s), for instance by compacting them into one file in the form of an archive (e.g., a ZIP file), or by deleting everything and sending a new, entirely different file. Nonetheless, the code we wrote keeps a record of what each participant shares, so that the process can still be revisited during and after the game finishes. So when we use the expression “file sharing technique”, we refer to the action of a player to decide how to share their file with the next player — for instance by attaching the file to the email, or using a p2p software — as well as by including a set of instructions in the email so that the next randomly chosen player can retrieve the file and keep the game going.



TODO add check in case $LIST is empty string or not being passed
save to variable list of address from specified mlmmj-list
double trick:
the stdout result from the mlmmj command is flattened from a multiline print
to a one line of values divided by empty space *when* saved to a variable
we can wrap this value directly inside an array `R=()`, and let bash array
to split the string by empty space

ORIGINLIST=($(sudo /usr/bin/mlmmj-list -L /var/spool/mlmmj/$LIST))

loop over full member-list and create a new array with members
not found in ./members; those have been randomly chosen already
fairly dumb approach but works fine



for member in "${ORIGINLIST[@]}"; do

check if current member is NOT present in $CHOSEN (use `!`)

see <>

if ! $CHOSEN =~ $member ; then




pick a random member from the list
and append it do .members
-gt => greater than; see <>
if [ $SIZE -gt 0 ]; then


echo ${LISTADDRESS[$IDX]} >> ./.members



echo "$SIZE"


← Caption: pick-random-address. instructions to pick the next random player from the subscription list.

We also specifically tried to come up with activities during the game that would introduce extra degrees of “complexity”. For instance, the game ticks “A tick, also sometimes referred to as a jiffy, is a very small unit of time. A tick is used to determine the correct time and date on a computer.” (source We use it as a verb instead of “ticking”. at every seventy-two hours hours, and a new player is semi-randomly selected from the list. Sometimes a new player would be selected by choosing. Another example of adding complexity was to choose a file-sharing technique that required real-time coordination between participants (e.g. being online at the computer at the same time or through a certain period of time).

The two technologies that we chose for the game are partly or completely asynchronous (file sharing and emails), which helps to create friction within its linear-time framework (e.g., that the game is chain-based and moves from one player to the next).

These are the rules of the game:

Set up the game so that people who are interested in playing can join

In our case, the list remained open while the game was in play, meaning that someone could join mid-game and extend its duration by being semi-randomly chosen to be one of the next participants.

Set up a system to randomly pick the next player

We did this using computer software with a semi-random function (see the code snippet above the caption pick-random-address). Further rules can be added, for instance whether a participant joins early or later on in the process.

Set up a timer and game duration

We opted for seventy-two hours in a software asynchronous setting, which turned out to be too little time for the player to perform their tasks, these being: receive the file; add, remove and/or extend it; pick a file sharing method; share it with the next player.

Pick a way for the two selected players to exchange information privately

We did not use the main benefit of using mailing list software, which is to send to everyone in the list the same message. We also exploited email software by re-writing the email address of the new sender before manually sending the email to the next randomly chosen player, therefore breaking continuity.

Choose an exchange activity to complete during the game

The fact that file sharing can be interpreted quite widely contributed to unforeseen elements, which we thought could improve the overall strict linear-time experience (e.g., by having to deal with human-coordination between players, disk-space availability, etc.).

Kick off the game as the host

Start the chain of “exchange-activity” by setting an interesting example, e.g., pick a file and a method of sharing it that stirs up engagement.

Send updates to participants

If the time interval is longer than a few hours of gameplay, it might be a good idea to keep participants posted about what is going on while they are not actively playing. Of course, if the game takes place in one room, then this is probably not necessary.

Provide ways to ask for “help“ or to access the rules of the game at any time

One happy, unintended effect of using a mailing list software was the ability to use the feature of asking for “help/info” about the list: e.g., how to unsubscribe, or how to access previous messages. We used the info text to provide the basic rules of the game, and made status updates on which files had been shared so far. The “help” screen of a video game was the main source of inspiration for this feature.



LIST_NAME=$(basename $LIST_PATH)



read moderator email list from file and break multiline text into one line
(this is how `mailx` receives multiple recipients

MODERATORS=$(tr '\n' ' ' < "$LIST_PATH/control/owner")

GAME_OVER="game over! all subscribers have been chosen as list contributors!
"ERROR_CHAIN="An error happened; the chain order broke probably due to a mismatch in the .member list; please check!"
ERROR_NOPOST="No email has been received yet, run parse-email after a message has been posted to the list"
check if there's any email held in /moderation
we could check if $EMAIL_FN is an empty string
but it seems like eagerly asking for more troubles

MOD_N=$(ls "$LIST_PATH/moderation" | wc -l)

if [ "$MOD_N" == "0" ]; then

echo "no email held in moderation, checking subscribers list..."

CHOSEN_SIZE=$(./check-member $LIST_NAME)

if [ "$CHOSEN_SIZE" == "0" ]; then

check if game-over email was sent already
if [ -e ./.game-over ]; then

exit 1


touch ./.game-over

echo "$GAME_OVER"

echo "$GAME_OVER" | mailx -a "From: $LIST_SENDER" -s "$LIST_PREFIX Game Over"




something might have happen, eg contributor did not send email within
x-time, or other things...
move on with the next contributor, if any is left
check latest email received, which we moved to ./moderation/
send message to next chosen contributor, and pray the gods

EMAIL_FN=$(ls -t "./moderation" | head -n1)

if [ -z "$EMAIL_FN" ]; then

echo "$ERROR_NOPOST" | mailx -a "From: $LIST_SENDER" -s "$LIST_PREFIX Error: no post" $MODERATORS

exit 1



MEMBERS_LAST=$(tail -n1 .members)

pick next contributor

CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT=$(./pick-random-address $LIST_NAME)

 echo "Next contributor (1) => $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT"

`-o` is the OR operator

if [ "$CHOSEN_SIZE" == "0" -o -z "$CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT" ]; then


send email error

echo "$ERROR_CHAIN" | mailx -a "From: $LIST_SENDER" -s "$LIST_PREFIX Error"



replace `To:` address
sed -i "s/^To: .*$/To: $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT/" $EMAIL_PATH

and send email to this address
/usr/sbin/sendmail -t $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT < $EMAIL_PATH





at least one message is present in `<mlmmj>/<list>/moderation`

fetch latest submitted email filename

EMAIL_FN=$(ls -t "$LIST_PATH/moderation" | head -n1)

MEMBERS_LAST=$(tail -n1 .members)

FROM=$(sed -n 's/^From:.*<\(.*\)>$/\1/p' $EMAIL_PATH)


check if $MEMBERS_LAST is empty string (eg no contributor has been chosen yet)

if [ -z "$MEMBERS_LAST" ]; then

check if it is the first message in the chain

by checking list of chosen members



echo "CHOSEN => $CHOSEN"

check if list of chosen members equals to 1

if [ $CHOSEN_SIZE -eq 1 ]; then

mv file out of /moderation to current dir

mv $EMAIL_PATH ./moderation/.

add address from first received email to chosen list
echo "$FROM" >> ./.members
update list of file-sharing methods shared so far

./get-subject-line $LIST_PATH

pick next contributor
CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT=$(./pick-random-address $LIST_NAME)

echo "Next contributor (2) => $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT" 

replace `From:` and `To:` addresses
sed -i "s/^From: .*$/From: <$SENDER>/" "./moderation/$EMAIL_FN"

sed -i "s/^To: .*$/To: $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT/" "./moderation/$EMAIL_FN"

and send email to this address
/usr/sbin/sendmail -t $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT < "./moderation/$EMAIL_FN"


echo "something went particularly wrong, exit"
exit 1


elif [ "$MEMBERS_LAST" == "$FROM" ]; then

pick next contributor

CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT=$(./pick-random-address $LIST_NAME)

`-o` is the OR operator

if [ -z "$CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT" ]; then

echo "An error happened; the chain order broke probably due to a mismatch in the .member list; please check!"

elif [ "$CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT" == "0" ]; then

check if game-over email was sent already

if [ -e ./.game-over ]; then

exit 1


touch ./.game-over

echo "$GAME_OVER"

echo "$GAME_OVER" | mailx -a "From: $LIST_SENDER" -s "$LIST_PREFIX Game




echo "Next contributor (3) => $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT"
mv file out of /moderation to current dir

mv $EMAIL_PATH ./moderation/.

update list of file-sharing methods shared so far

./get-subject-line $LIST_PATH

replace `From:` and `To:` addresses
sed -i "s/^From: .*$/From: <$SENDER>/" "./moderation/$EMAIL_FN"
sed -i "s/^To: .*$/To: $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT/" "./moderation/$EMAIL_FN"
and send email to this address

/usr/sbin/sendmail -t $CONTRIBUTOR_NEXT < "./moderation/$EMAIL_FN"



ERROR_MISMATCH="$MEMBERS_LAST differs from $FROM. This means the user who sent the email does not match with the latest email being added to .members."


echo "$ERROR_MISMATCH" | mailx -a "From: $LIST_SENDER" -s "$LIST_PREFIX Error"



← Caption: parse-email. instructions to read an incoming email held in moderation.


We finish with a closing remark on the often critiqued set of hydraulic metaphors—for instance: “pull,” “drain,” “consume,” “push,” “dump” a stream (of data), all the way to the extreme of “the cloud,”—which is used in computer programming by “engineers”, to talk about software that recontextualizes the domain specific language:

“Geologists have uncovered one such mechanism: rivers acting as veritable hydraulic computers (or at least, sorting machines). Rivers transport rocky materials from their point of origin (a previously created mountain subject to erosion or weathering) to the place in the ocean where these materials will accumulate. In this process, pebbles of variable size, weight and shape tend to react differently to the water transporting them. […] Once the raw materials have been sorted out into more or less homogenous groupings deposited at the bottom of the sea (that is, once they have become sedimented), a second operation is necessary to transform these loose collections of pebbles into an entity of a higher scale: a sedimentary rock. This operation consists in cementing the sorted components together into a new entity with emergent properties of its own, that is, properties such as overall strength and permeability that cannot be ascribed to the sum of the individual pebbles.” Manuel De Landa, “The Geology Of Morals: A Neo-Materialist Interpretation,” WORLD INFORMATION INSTITUTE,

Designing fileSHA with mailing list software gave us the space to explore the process of file sharing. Furthermore, we realized that this game has the potential to be played for an infinite amount of time. Software architectures like those of a mailing list allow for “necroposting,” We believe there is no shame in resurrecting conversations that are six months or ten years old, because at best it’s experienced as a collective sedimentation process that belongs as much to you as it does to those who wrote about it months to a decade earlier. Computers as rivers!

Karl Moubarak's bio.

André Fincato is a designer turned programmer. André joined the coop in 2017 after taking part in HDSA 2016 and then working on the H&D wiki re-organization by building a new website. His main areas of interest are: usership, p2p systems, software production, labor politics.


"I don’t know. Are you sure?" searches for a way of working together that actively engages with friction and appreciates differences instead of seeking the comforts of compromise and middle ground. The collection of fifteen collaborative methods is accompanied by short interviews reflecting on topics such as conflict, sharing skills and resources, and the resilience. A free pdf can be downloaded here:
"I don’t know. Are you sure?" searches for a way of working together that actively engages with friction and appreciates differences instead of seeking the comforts of compromise and middle ground. The collection of fifteen collaborative methods is accompanied by short interviews reflecting on topics such as conflict, sharing skills and resources, and the resilience. A free pdf can be downloaded here:

Across Distance and Difference

Mio Kojima and Hanna Müller


To create a design framework and method for carrying out self-initiated projects and research processes collaboratively and passing them on as a set of instructions or rules:

#1 The commitment: Decide to carry out a joint project.
#2 The project: What do you want to work on? What have you always wanted to try out? What do you feel like doing?
  • Develop a sense of what your collaboration could be about and decide on which interests you would like to combine. It is not about reaching an agreement but rather about individual interests coming together on a joint project.
#3 The format: How do you want to proceed? Create time and space for the project by deciding on a format. It may help to build on and modify existing formats.
  • Examples: Start a club, conduct workshops, invent a ritual, establish a pen pal relationship, start a diary, create break dates, etc.
#4 Short reality check: Not all participants will have the same needs, capacities, and resources. Keep this in mind and integrate that awareness across all parts of your project.
  • What are the different capacities, conditions, abilities, or obstacles that shape your project? Do you have different family commitments? What are your work contexts? What are your daily rhythms? What do you wish for in a collaboration?
#5 The rules: Draft a clear framework taking different variables into consideration:
  • Time: How long should the project last? When and how often should you work on it?
    • Is there a certain rhythm, e.g., once a week/day? Are there certain times, e.g., in the evening, or certain moments, e.g., when you need a break from other commitments?
  • Space: Are there meetings? Where do they take place?
    • Do you meet in your private rooms, outside, in a café, at your workplace, over the phone, or on a video call?
  • Tasks: Define specific actions, parts, or steps to follow and create space to adapt the format individually as and when needed.
    • Consider the different capacities and needs of the participants again. Integrate a safety net and think about how your project could be harmonious and feasible even if you have to deviate from the rules.
#6 Reflection: Take time during and after the project to record your thoughts and experiences and discuss them with each other. The reflection can also be used to adjust your format.
#7 The proposition: Write down the individual steps you took in the project.
  • How did you approach the project and what were your ways of working? What decisions were important? What would you like to pass on?
  • Formulate these as propositions for action in different steps, rules, or formats.
#8 Release: Share your proposition(s) with others: friends, colleagues, family, community, the Internet, the world.

The Asynchronous Remote Reading Club

A framework for taking the time to read, discuss and share literature references with another person.

  • We agree that each person will find a time slot to read something every day. We will check-in on our personal needs and decide whether to read or not. Unlike a usual book club, we don’t have to read the same books or texts. It is up to us whether we want to focus on one book/text, create a reading list with different books/texts, or decide spontaneously what to read on the day.

  • We agree to send a voice message to each other every day.

It's up to us to decide what we talk about. We can share thoughts about the book/text or talk about our day.


  • Instead of limiting the format to books, you can also include museum visits, lectures, or workshops.
    • For a one-person club, voice messages can also be replaced by journal writing.
Voice messages in Telegram chat

Piled up books and messages

The one-week-experiment, The Asynchronous Remote Reading Club, evolved from the shared feeling that we rarely find time to do personally meaningful things, especially activities such as reading. We both love books, but since we started new jobs—Hanna as an in-house graphic designer at a museum and Mio as a freelance designer and educator—we often lack the focus or energy to engage with the books that have been piling up next to our beds and in our living rooms. To consciously make space for reading, we came up with the Asynchronous Remote Reading Club—a simple framework that had a trial run for one week in August 2020. Besides reactivating one of our passions, the experiment was aimed at sharing something together while being physically far apart. We’ve always lived in different cities, but since graduating from Karlsruhe University of Art and Design, we no longer see each other at school and have moved to cities further away than before, which resulted in us slowly losing contact. Therefore, the project was also about reconnecting and finding other ways to spend parts of our daily lives together.

The process of creating formats for specific kind of collaborations calls to mind a project we conducted in 2019. “I don’t know. Are you sure?” searched for ways of working together that actively engaged with friction as well as appreciating differences over seeking compromise. The collection of fifteen collaborative methods alongside short conversations can be downloaded via An English excerpt has been published with the title “E for Embracing Differences,” in Glossary of Undisciplined Design (United Kingdom: Spector Books, 2021)

Hanna Müller: We decided that we weren’t going to be dogmatic about our framework and that it would be OK if we couldn't find the time to read each day. We wanted to ensure that the project wouldn't turn into another item on our “to-do” list, and to be aware of our capacities and other responsibilities. How did that work out for you?

Mio Kojima: It worked really well to keep this part of the framework open, and to be flexible about how much we’d read or whether we’d stick to one book or jump from one to another. I decided to make a reading list and engage with a different book every day. Some I had started reading already a year or two ago! The project helped me to rekindle my interest in some of these books again. Additionally, planning my reading sessions as a pause from my work felt good as I often skip breaks or eat meals in front of my computer. That said, it's also essential to mention that I am self-employed and the last week has been very quiet, so I probably had more capacity and flexibility than you, right?

HM: Yes, a lot was going on that week, and I was exhausted in the evenings. Sometimes I felt the build up of pressure during the day, knowing that I had to pick up my book and tick that box before I could completely relax. The other part of our experiment was sending voice messages back and forth to share what we had read, how we made space for our experiment, or whether we had found time for reading at all. In contrast to the reading part, I was pretty surprised by how easy that felt. It helped to have a concrete framework and something specific to talk about. Usually, I don't enjoy communicating extensively via Messenger or on the phone, but now that I live in a different city to many of my friends, I depend on these means of communication.

MK: I relate to that feeling! In addition to sending voice messages to friends, I also communicate via digital means for work. Sometimes it makes me feel detached, and I am currently looking for ways to balance that more. Have you found other ways to connect across this distance?

HM: It varies a lot and depends on the other person. The nice thing about messaging is that you can also communicate through images but this still lacks the depth of interaction I long for. Every now and then I send a postcard or make a phone call, which works well with some friends; when we see each other we just pick up where we left off. Other relationships have become more complicated due to the distance, or have broken down altogether because our needs were too different. How has it been with you?

MK: During the second lockdown, in autumn 2021, I met regularly over Zoom with a friend to talk about what was on our minds. Often, it was related to our work and study situations. Sometimes we exchanged resources on specific topics, such as imposter syndrome, or concrete productivity methods like time management. Some meetings were more experimental and took shape across different formats. It was incredible how much depth our meetings went into, and how we little talked about our personal lives. Our experiment reminded me of that.

HM: How do you feel our experiment connected us?

MK: We shared something that went beyond language; parts of our everyday lives became completely intertwined. I, for example, listened to your voice note every morning while I drank my coffee. It wasn't a conscious decision to do so but it became some sort of morning ritual where you—your voice and your daily recounts—accompanied me through my own days. And because you always recorded your messages at night, I felt I was with you for a part of your evening. It felt really wonderful to connect across these different situations, times, and spaces. How was it for you?

HM: Your messages usually came at noon, while I was at work. I wanted to create time for them consciously, so I usually waited until the evening or the next morning when I had peace and focus to listen properly. It was way more relaxing than receiving the regular messages that I receive throughout my day, to which I often forget to reply. Additionally, it was great to know that I didn't necessarily have to pick up on things you had sent. I could instead use it more like a diary and stay within my experiences and reflections and also take in your thoughts without the pressure to respond to them. In general, I sensed that even though we hadn't seen each other in a long time, we had a solid foundation to build on. Did you feel the same way? If so, how did that become apparent to you? If not, where would you have liked it to be?

MK: When I listened to your voicemails, I imagined you sitting in your living room on one of your big sofas and looking out the window at the beautiful view of your garden. Maybe one of your cats was sitting on your lap and you would pet them while leaving your message. It activated a lot of memories for me, and it certainly made me feel close to you. However, looking back at another voicemail experiment I did half a year ago, I think it is this particular way of using technology that creates that sense of closeness. This diary-like format that you mentioned does a lot. For me, the foundation we built was most evident in the moments where we brought our ideas and thoughts together, in planning the project and in reflecting on our experiences. We know each other well in these contexts, and I think we were able to look out for each other and create a framework that would facilitate our different approaches and ideas.

HM: That's how I perceived it, too! And this intimacy resurfaced more quickly than I expected—the sense of trust and understanding that we can rely on each other. It is the feeling of having a common direction, of the other's presence in our lives even when we don't see each other in person or speak directly.

This conversation took place on August 10th 2022, the last day of the Asynchronous Remote Reading Club experiment. We met in an online document, both sitting in front of our computers in our living rooms in Berlin and Aschaffenburg. We could neither see nor hear each other but experienced the other’s presence through the characters that appeared one by one on the white digital sheet. We took turns to reply, taking the time to think and formulate, hesitate, and correct ourselves. We experienced the other’s thoughts taking on a life of their own as they materialized on the page before us.

Mio Kojima (she/her) is a German-Japanese designer, educator, and researcher. Her passion lies in playful and collaborative approaches to creating and sharing knowledge. Since 2021, Mio has been the managing editor of the queer intersectional feminist platform, and she has worked as an artistic associate at the artists-run initiative and a residency program AIR Berlin Alexanderplatz since 2022. She works as a mentor at Make Your School, teaching teenagers how to code and critically examine their school environment. 

Hanna Müller (she/her) is a communication designer with many interests. She loves to think about political and social issues and how they can be represented through different media. Hanna likes to work with images, voices, moods, and colors. Currently, she holds a position in exhibition design at a small museum near Darmstadt.

“Listening as Channeling,” performance script by Gabriel Fontanta, HDSA2021
Channeling performance script, H&D Summer Academy 2021, Gabriel Fontana

Channeling Listeners

Sandy Richter

I attended the H&D Summer Academy in 2021. Having participated in summer schools before, I am well acquainted with the sense of uncertainty that the first day of a summer school can bring. A group of people from different places is thrown together in an unfamiliar environment. There is a sense of chaos in which its order is unknown. From time to time, relations form. People you didn't know, who you just met a few hours ago, become people you see every day. An ecology unfolds from within. It is an event in which perceptions are built and dismantled simultaneously. Processes within processes.

I will write about a specific experience I had at the H&D Summer Academy. On the final evening, after we had cooked and eaten together, we went to watch a performance. We entered a large open space, which was situated inside a large warehouse, the NDSM Loods. In the space an exhibition was installed. We sat down on the floor. In front of us were two chairs, on which two people sat: Juliette Lizotte, from H&D, and Alex Harris, who I had not met before. Juliette interviewed Alex. She asked him questions and a conversation unfolded between them. I remember that the exchange was interesting, but that I could not entirely grasp all the details.

After the talk, another person appeared, Gabriel Fontana. It quickly became clear that we had been fooled. We were told that Alex, the interviewee, didn’t answer the questions himself but had repeated what Gabriel had said through a small device in his ear. This action is also known as “channeling.” The illusion it created was so powerful that I did not pick up on the performance aspect. After it was revealed to us, we asked them both questions and were invited to experience this magical way of communicating ourselves. In small groups, we took turns playing different roles: the absent speaker, present responders (channels), and interviewers. The line of communication between the absent speakers and the channels took place via mobile phones and headphones.

At one point, I became the absent speaker. I walked through the exhibition while talking on the phone, alternating between looking at the artworks and thinking about my answers. I went about it intuitively and heard my spoken words repeated on the other end of the line. I remember that hearing my words repeated by another person had a calming effect on me. It created a rhythm that flowed through me. The fact that I was in a different place made it easier for me to speak. The look in the eyes of the person I was conversing with was eliminated, our body languages shielded from view. All that mattered was the exchange of words and the freedom I had to move about in the room. Hearing my repeated words felt like affirmation. The other person echoed my perspective—our words intersected. Additionally, it gave me the opportunity to think about my chosen words again. Hearing what was said on the other end of the line caused me to reflect on whether I had communicated what I wanted. The experience caused me to think, and afterwards, questions came to my mind. Could the act of channeling help someone who struggles with speech? Could this way of communicating with and through another function as a tool for healing? Can it make the inexpressible expressible? How can we become a respectful channel for a person with whom we don’t share a language?“What is Channeling?,” CRIMSON CIRCLE, channeling. (Accessed: 26 August 2022)

It is not just that this method can offer relief to the absent speaker, it can also help the channel as well. The channel is, so to speak, an extension of the absent person. Becoming a united vessel puts the channel in a important position. The words uttered by the speaker are not simply repeated by the channel, the channel must develop a sensibility for their words, and deliver the words as the absent speaker intended. Repetition isn’t just repetition. It becomes an act of interpreting, listening, breathing, stepping back, caring, and carrying.

The delivery of another’s words might confront the channel with ideas they may not have thought of before; thoughts now verbalized, uttered from one's own mouth. Another grammar flows through their body. This merging of two distinct bodies breaks with the normative notion of an isolated body. To be a channel for an-other means to welcome “the stranger within,”Karen Barad, “On Touching—the Inhuman That Therefore I Am,” in differences: Feminist Theory 2 Out of Science, 23, 3 (Durham: Duke Press University, 2012), 206. which can confuse one’s own language and perhaps contribute to its (un)learning. It can also produce ambivalence. What if the speaker responds with something you would never say yourself? The happening itself is also ambivalent. Bodies are woven together regardless of their differences.Alain Badiou and Nicola Truong, Lob der Liebe: Alain Badiou mit Nicolas Truong, trans. Richard Steurer-Boulard (Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 2011), 35.

I believe that communicating through a channel can be fruitful if done thoughtfully. Becoming the voice for someone else is a lesson in how to listen to others. Listening includes subjectivity—and as such, differs from hearing, as Pauline Oliveros has noted. Hearing means perceiving, while listening means paying attention to what is perceived.Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening - A Composer’s Sound Practice (Bloomington: iUniverse, 4 2005), xxii By paying attention to what one hears, relations emerge and infrastructures are shaped. In a sense, the speaker is a channel, too. One needs to listen to oneself in order to speak. The words uttered might not even be the exact translation of one’s thoughts and feelings, which perhaps is anyhow an impossible act. Verbalized words are yesterday's thoughts. Through channeling, what is spoken is not final. Words and speech is situational, material and always in direct dialogue with its surroundings. When we listen to another, we recognize more than just the uttered words, but also that which is unexpressed—other words, feelings, and thoughts. It requires us to open ourselves to the unspoken, we need to become “orifices”Elvia Wilk, “This Compost: Erotics of Rot,” GRANTA, 7th July 2020, 5rot/ (Accessed: 26 August 2022) in order to let the other in. Becoming a channel changes us by gifting us with another perspective. We attune ourselves to the other.

Sandy Richter (Nuremberg, 1995) studied communication design in Hamburg. Currently she is engaging with topics of love, chaos and touch to explore how to enable healing relations to (in)visible materialities.

Reading Food

Alice Strete, Santiago Pinyol, and Luke Murphy

An exercise in tracing the journeys our food makes before it reaches our plates, with a focus on material processes, which are often concealed from us or difficult to unravel.

Duration: 2.5-3 hours

Materials needed:

  • Shopping bags
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Phones or computers with Internet access

Other things:

  • Some cash (for food)
  • One or more nearby shops

The Script:

10 minutes: Introduction

"Reading food also has important implications for how we understand different modes of spatial production. By thinking of space through our mouths (and all the ways food ends up in them) researchers, practitioners, professionals, activists, and denizens across the world have been able to make profound changes to the way we live with food and the spaces in which we live with it. Reading foods to understand space and politics can seed (pun intended) immediate, albeit often small-scale changes in our personal and collective food politics. Whether it’s by dissuading the purchase of certain products, encouraging the cultivation of others, prompting conversations about recipes, rituals, histories, and identities, or merely providing the sustenance for those conversations and others, framing space through food posits change at the tip of our tongues."Akil Scafe-Smith, “Going Banana, Becoming Plantain,” THE FUNAMBULUST, August 27, 2020,

The Reading food workshop and methodology was connected to the subject of Relearn 2021: the materialities of the everyday. In Relearn we applied materialism as a methodology to think through different topics and places, tracing and mapping the routes of items, substances, and material agencies that run through us in the everyday. We were ultimately looking to engage with modes of doing that deviate from the predominant Western tendency toistance the human from the material world.

15 minutes: Discuss and plan a meal together that can be made up of one or multiple dishes

The meal should:

  • not take more than 30 min to cook/assemble
  • be able to be enjoyed by everyone in the group
  • take into consideration the conditions of the space in which you're meeting (i.e. is there a source of heat, is there water, etc.)
30 minutes: Split the grocery list among the participants and shop for the ingredients at the closest shop/supermarket

Note: Keep the grocery list to a reasonable number of ingredients, depending on the time you want to allocate to this exercise (5-6 ingredients, and no more than 10)

While shopping:

  • take note of each ingredient you buy and write down/take a photo of its country of origin, brand and any other information available
  • ask the shop owner or an employee for information on the origin of that product if not available
30 minutes: After returning to the gathering space, the group splits into two: one half prepares the ingredients together according to your agreed upon recipe, while the other half documents each separate ingredient that was purchased, along with any information already available on the packaging (country of origin, supplier, distributor, etc)

Participants can also switch between tasks.

1 hour: Eating and Researching
  • Leave the food to rest for a few minutes
  • Split the ingredients among yourselves however you wish
  • Using your phone or computer, check for the country of origin, and note the exact location the product is sourced
  • Trace the route to your current location, going via the shop/market that provided the ingredient. Make note of other details you find along the way—shipping routes and duration, farming conditions, packaging, regional/national distribution centers, or even specific people who may have come in contact with the food along the way
  • If not enough information can be found, feel free to speculate in order to fill in the gaps
  • Serve the food and eat. During the meal, share, and discuss your findings
  • If necessary, more research can be done after the meal
45 min-1.5 hours: Mapping
  • Take paper and a few pens and share them among the participants
  • Based on your research, work together on a map of all the routes of each ingredient that has reached your table
  • After the map is done, discuss together
  • Participants can then present their findings and discuss with other groups following this exercise
  • Take a photo of the map and add it to the Anarchive of Relearn 2021 - (more info on relearn and how to contribute to the Anarchive here:

Recipes created during H&D summer academy

Vegan Bowl

All products are purchased at the Albert Heijn on MS van Riemsdijkweg 186 and cooked at Hackers & Designers.


The fruit and vegetables sold in Albert Heijn carry the GLOBAL-GAP certificate, which has a database for finding producers and products: Another certificate to look into is the SIVAF:

  • Cauliflower
  • Dates
  • Lemons
    • come from South Africa
    • Harvested April to August
    • possibly from Citrusdal, distributed by Mouton Citrus Pty Ltd
  • Almonds
    • 80% of all almonds come from California (are the AH ones from California?)
  • Cucumber
  • Grilled Paprika (jarred)
  • Avocado 2 pieces
    • packed in Zaandam
    • comes from Columbia C.I. FLP COLOMBIA S.A.S. Caldas, Chinchiná, Columbia
  • Olive oil Iliada
  • Parsley
    • comes from Netherlands
    • packed in Zaandam
  • Basmati rice
    • unknown origin - probably from India or Pakistan
  • Black pepper (drogheria)
    • "produced in Italy with imported resources" >> says packaging
    • Pepper comes from Vietnam

Crazy goat toasties with salad

  • Avocado eat ripe - one not edible - Hass
  • Cucumber
    • AH komkommer
    • Country of origin: Netherlands
    • 0.55g per piece
    • barcode: 8710400200833
    • not wrapped in plastic
  • Lemon
    • South Africa
    • Cherry tomatoes - red desire
    • mini plum tomatoes trosttomaatje
    • oorsprong Nederland E-29
    • 200g klaas 1
    • packaged by NL KCB 1027
    • black cardboard tray and plastic over it
    • Barcode: 8718907362108
    • Not for fridge
    • geen PMD
    • plastic 1
  • Meerzaden sourdough bread
    • Groningen: the factory that produces the flower
    • Baked in Amsterdam
    • Ingrediënten: wheat flour, rye flour, sunflower pits, lupine Gries
  • Feta Dodoni with PDO from Greece
    • No1 feta in Greece
    • Superior taste award - awarded by the International Taste and Quality Institute based in Brussels 2018 3 stars
    • PDO
    • Agrocert
    • Pasteurized sheep and goat milk
    • POC/683-10443.06
    • QR code that goes to
    • Epirus
    • Kostaki str 41500 Ioannina Greece
    • Fresh milk from farmers arrives every day in Ioannina, even from the most distant and isolated parts of Epirus. From there, the taste of Epirus travels through its products to 46 countries around the world.
  • Goats cheese
    • "Van Nederlandse Bodem" = "from dutch soil"
  • Lemon balm (citroenmelisse) from Zuid-Oost Amsterdam
    • plant passport number: NL479577870
    • NL-BIO-01
    • NL landbouw
    • barcode 8713024011397
  • Broccoli
  • Soy sauce
    • Made in Chiang Rai, north Thailand
    • Barcode: 871174135479
  • Vierge Sesame oil
    • not wrapped in plastic
  • Lemon
    • Produced in California
    • Barcode: 3245270000665
  • Pepper
  • Walnuts (not roasted)
    • walnuts, in general, grow mainly in France, India, and the U.S.
    • they are on the bonus: from 2.85 to 2.69
    • trees are around 30m high
    • barcode: 8718906502222
    • Notification: little children can choke in nuts
    • they are on the bonus: from 2.85 to 2,.9
    • recommended to consume in a bowl with a wine/beer + the evening can begin
  • Amandelen, pecannoten, pistachenoten, macadamianoten, walnoten:
    • Sommige noten blijken waterverslinders te zijn, terwijl ze groeien in gebiedenwaar relatief minder water beschikbaar is. Uiterlijk in 2020 zullen wij samen met onze leveranciers van eigen merk amandelen, pecannoten, pistachenoten, macadamianoten en walnoten- producten de water-gerelateerde risico’s geïnventariseerd hebben en waar nodig vervolgstappen gedefinieerd hebben.
    • Alle noten verwerkt in hoger risico landen:
    • Bovendien moeten vanaf 2020 alle noten afkomstig uit hoog risico landen (als gedefinieerd door de Business Social Compliance Initative – BSCI) een social compliance audit hebben.
    • the “okkernoot,” that's the same thing. By the way, the word walnut means “strange nut.” The Gauls got to know the nut species through the Celts, and we still use the name they gave it today.
    • Bij Albert Heijn staat er geen land van herkomst op. Maar het zou wel eens China kunnen zijn, wereldwijd de grootste producent van walnoten.”
    • Common walnut was part of the ancient Chinese flora too; 14C-dated leaf fossils and carbonized nuts found in Shandong and Hebei provinces were ca. 7,335 ± 100 years old.
  • Spinach bio/organic van biologische oorsprong
    • 200g
    • expires on 26-07-2021
    • Barcode: 8718906111097
    • packaged in plastic
    • NL-Bio-01

Fake and smoked chicken wraps

Item name - Packaging location - Brand - Country - Information number

  • Smoked chicken - Zaandam - AH - the Netherlands - ?
  • Vegetarian pulled chicken - Zaandam - AH - ? - ?
  • Black beans - (Eindhoven) - Bonduelle

ReLearn Disclaimer: The format of Relearn allowed for spontaneous and non-guided exercises that were not necessarily directed by the organizers. During Relearn, we did not strictly follow the above script. Instead, we cooked together and shared many meals, while drawing attention to conversations around the source of our ingredients and the journey they make to arrive on our plates. Below is one example or a recipe that we followed together, accompanied by photos of the meal we shared in two different locations in Rotterdam: Ook Huis and Bollenpandje. All the ingredients for the recipe were bought from the supermarket Amazing Oriental, with the exception of the vegan chorizos that are from Albert Heijn.

Vegan Tamales

FFor 20 tamales you will need:

For the dough:

  • 4 cups of pandan rice, origin: Thailand brand: Dynasty Jasmine Rice
  • 4 cloves of garlic (if you want more you can add), origin: China brand: X
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, origin: Packed in Liverpool brand: KTC Coconut Oil
  • Salt to taste, origin: Netherlands,Danish brand: Jozo

For the filling:

  • 12 tomatoes, peeled and diced, origin: Netherlands, brand: AO
  • 2 red onions chopped, origin: Netherlands, brand: AO
  • 2 or 3 bunches of green onions or long onions (approximately 1 and 1/2 cups), origin: Netherlands, brand: AO
  • 2 teaspoons cumin or to taste, origin: India, brand: TRS
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric, origin: India, brand: TRS
  • Salt to taste, origin: Netherlands,Danish brand: Jozo
  • 6 sliced ​​potatoes (approximately) I have previously cooked them with salt but not completely. origin: Netherlands, brand: AO
  • 5 carrots, sliced, origin: Netherlands, brand: AO
  • Green olives to taste, origin: Italy, brand: Castellino
  • Vegan chorizos (we used six chorizos), origin: Krupka, Czech Republic or Haifa, Israel (according to their website) brand: Garden Gourmet
  • 1 1/2 cups of previously cooked chickpeas, origin: U.S., brand: Goya
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil for the sauce, origin: Italy and Spain, brand: Sansa

For the wrapping:

  • 3 packages of frozen banana leaves, origin: Thailand, brand: City fresh

Alice Strete (1991, RO) is an artist and researcher interested in the intricate relationship between humans and the technologies they surround themselves with. Her work involves collaborative media art and publishing practices, and explores topics from women in technology to the socio-politics of food. She graduated with an MA from the Piet Zwart Institute in Media Design, Experimental Publishing, Willem de Kooning Academy.

Luke Murphy (1988, IE) is a programmer and researcher based in Rotterdam, whose interests currently revolve around peer-to-peer systems, cypherspace, low-tech constraints, DIWO approaches, counterfoil research and community organising. He is a proud member of Varia Centre for Everyday Technology.

Santiago Pinol (1982, CO) has worked for over 10 years as a founder and member of the collectives Laagencia and Carne Gallery Both of these collectives have functioned as para-institutions and critical agencies addressing neo-colonial structures in Latin America. Shifting functions as a project space and educational platform, a feel-tank, or an offshore artist-run gallery, these projects have strategically questioned their context and continually reimagined themselves in resulting temporary schools, publications, and exhibitions at art fairs, airbnbs, and partner galleries around the world. Since 2020 he has been teaching at the Autonomous Practice Department in the Willem de Kooning Academie. Relearn is a collective learning experiment with as many teachers as it has participants. It is motivated by the possibility to displace parameters of/for research, studying and learning.

Together they form a research group (Fizz club) which is experimenting with fermentation in all shapes and forms. In order to deepen the exploration of our intimate relation with the microcosmos of bacteria, they are delving into the transformative biopolitical relations that emerge from fermentation processes and metaphors. They organized Relearn 2021, a collective learning experiment with as many teachers as it has participants, motivated by the possibility to displace parameters of/for research, studying and learning


Siwar Kraytem

I. How to understand your name

When my parents found out they were pregnant with a girl, back in early 1991, they couldn’t agree on a name. My father always had one in mind, an old Arabic name, which was quite uncommon at the time. It was the name of an older family member that had always resonated with him, and a gut feeling told him it would become the name of his daughter one day. My mother, on the other hand, preferred more modern names like Karma or Sarah. As my mom would later do and advise me to do in situations of indecisiveness, she would perform a particular prayer, استخارة istikhara, which is meant to help you decide which choice will be best for you.

In Islam in general and with my family in particular, names carry a lot of significance. A child has the right to be حسن التسمية “well-named” by their parents as this will be the carrier of their personality. In Islam, it is believed that choosing a righteous name will descend blessings onto the bearer.

My mother had some ideas and so did my father. But just like many issues they could not agree on, naming their first child was one of them. تشاور (negotiations) with family members only brought more suggestions, and nothing seemed right. While my mother was in labor at the hospital, the quarrel was still unresolved. My dad paced up and down the waiting room outside, and most of our close relatives impatiently awaited my parents’ first child. It was quite significant for my father’s family as he was the only son among six sisters, making yours truly the first and long-awaited child to carry my father’s family name. Finally, a solution was proposed: a draw. My dad passed along small papers to everyone present. Each wrote a desired name, folded it twice, and placed it in his hat.

سوار Siwar was picked, the old Arabic name he always wanted.

Siwar is an ancient Arabic name, it is an encircling object or bracelet. Just recently, I met someone in Sweden, who had met many Siwars, and they told me of a new interpretation of the name: Siwar as a handcuff, turned bracelet—a somewhat liberatory and transformative meaning.

Why was my father, who had lived a huge part of his life abroad, more attached to this old Arabic name, while my mother who had lived all her life in Beirut, pulled towards a modern alternative? Perhaps she thought of me leaving the country one day—as all parents in Lebanon do—and that I would need a name that was easy to pronounce or to remember for non-Arab speakers. Etel Adnan, Lebanese writer and poet born in the 1920s, writes of growing up in Beirut in her essay ‘To Write in a Foreign Language,’ that she always heard her father say that she would travel to Germany to be a chemist one day, which became her excuse not to learn Arabic in school. It was quite easy to drop Arabic in a time when French missionaries ran many schools and enforced French as the first language. Adnan’s journey with languages feels all too relevant to my own reflections on the decision-making process of my parents.

The journey of your name began long before you came into the world. Accept that journey as part of your platonic past—perhaps you can learn something about yourself, your parents, and who you will become through it.

II. How to name a revolution

Was it better to name it the “October revolution,”, although eminently “the October revolution” is a popular nomination for the “Great October Socialist Revolution,” also known as “The Bolshevik Coup,” “Bolshevik Revolution,” “Bolshevik Uprising,” or “Red October”?

In October 2019, the concept of “naming” preoccupied my thoughts once again, this time in a more overtly political fashion due to the “protests” in Beirut. It is something I still have no conviction of a name for. Most named it ثورة (revolution), in those first few weeks when hope and momentum had overfilled our cups. Others called it “uprising” or “intifada” in Arabic, in solidarity or nostalgia to the Palestinian انتفاضة . The politicians named it حراك. (“harak” or “movement”), which seemed to undermine what it actually was, reducing it to just another “political movement” or voice, rather than the collective uprising of a people.

Ghassan Kanafani, in his famous interview with Richard Carleton, engages in a “vocabulary battle” as Carleton attempts to find politically correct terms to describe the situation between Palestine and Israel. He first calls it “war,” followed by “civil war,” then “conflict.” In retaliation to Carleton’s reductive choice of words, Kanafani tries to offer a more descriptive and comprehensive account. He interjects Carleton’s attempts with: “It’s a people fighting for their rights,” and “a liberation movement fighting for justice,” after which Carleton, stumbling over his words, calls it “whatever it best be called.”, Kanafani replies “It’s not whatever, because this is where the problem starts.” What Kanafani meant was to highlight the weight that decisions about terminology bear. He also brings to light how vocabularies affect the way a people view their own fight, how it is perceived by others, and the imminent power structures that lie therein. It is that which determines and justifies acts of violence, disobedience, and war.

So, as the previous examples suggest, naming a sensitive political event was not a new struggle, historically. And yet, how did this language propaganda stunt also downplay the impact it had, discredit it. Did it slowly eat away the “belief,”, “conviction,” and “trust” of the people who poured down to the streets to protest?

I watched as thousands flocked to the street, renewing the struggle every week with yet another issue that needed to be addressed—all relevant, all good reasons to refuel a revolution. As I struggled to name it, I resolved my dilemma by not naming it. Instead I decided to name it by descriptively recounting the mini-protests that took a new shape and a new theme every week in the heat of the moment, a “fill-in-the-blanks” revolution. For me, it was, in equal measure, an anti-capitalist revolution, a mental health revolution, a solidarity revolution, a feminist revolution, and perhaps most to the point: a linguistic revolution.


Is a revolution only allowed to be called as such when it succeeds? These negotiations of language and terminology have laid the groundwork for reflecting on language and means of collective expression. Take ownership of your own terminologies, don’t be afraid to claim the term, own it. Language only transforms when we allow it to.

III. How to un-name a collective

I distinctly remember how I exhaled when I first read the name of the program. I had been looking for a master’s program for a few years. Something about the program named Disarming Design, dedicated to “design under oppressive systems” answered the urgencies I had been busy with just a few months following the protests in Beirut in late 2019. My blood was still boiling for a cause, and the word “arm” even with that prefix made total sense. To rid Hezbollah of their arms? The Israeli army flying over Marjeaoun? Is the army going to interfere in the protests today? It was, is, and always will be an awfully mundane word in a Beiruti’s urban dictionary.

After I got accepted, I waited impatiently for the list of other students admitted, of which two were already very familiar. Another eight were also Arab names. I was confused.

I remember calling Hatem, my friend and previous boss at Studio Safar, and asking him what he thought. Would it make sense for me to leave Beirut, and join a master’s program in Amsterdam where eleven Arab designers were taking part? Why go to Amsterdam then, why not Cairo, Tangier, or Tunis? Many questions rushed through my head. In due time, I made my peace with a certain reassurance that problems always exist and the chance to discuss them openly and honestly in such a group could prove cathartic—especially further away from home.

How else could we have been brought together? Although it is true that there were other initiatives, workshops, and summer schools in the region that were some shorter some longer in duration, none were master's programs. I say this with a certain level of criticality towards institutionalized programs and the framing of academic labels.

At times, especially later into the second year, I noticed how I avoided mentioning the name whenever someone asked me about the master’s program I was doing. Having this kind of controversial name just meant it would lead to endless conversations to which I wasn’t always ready to engage. It also meant that I had to have a clear explanation of what I did on the program and how it tied with the name. It often made me resort to shorter descriptions, or more general ones. A name also carries a trace, one that is there to stay. Does it need to remain relevant or does its relevance die with the urgency that brought it forward to begin with? What happens five years from now, what will the name and the frame it created bring us? Since it's not only a personal name, but also the name of a group, does staying loyal to the name mean staying loyal to the group? Although this name brought us together, its uniqueness also inscribed a pressure of being labeled as “a collective” as opposed to colleagues within a class. There was an undeniable difficulty in making collective decisions, and whenever we got together as a group to think of alternative names, we could almost never agree. In some discussions, we questioned whether the act of “renaming” was where our energy should be spent.

Finally, after two years of deliberation, negotiation, and sometimes acceptance, we acknowledged a lineage of lengthier conversations that emerged when naming events during our time on Disarming Design—such as Diasbura Radio (Dee-yas-bura: Diaspora, with an accent) and Disclosing Discomfort, the title of an exhibition we held at Mediamatic in Amsterdam in November 2021—we finally decided to change the name, opting for the initials DD. It exposed the frustration that came with collective decision-making, the energy that had to be bounced around in order to keep coming up with new ways of coming up with suggestions, on how to make collective decisions, and finally arriving at a name, or the lack-thereof. DD mostly made sense and sometimes it didn’t: Disclosing Discomforts, Design Department, Desired Discipline, Decentralized Depictions, Developing Discrepancy, Disassembling Details, Daily Decisions, Dismantling Discourses, Doubting Data, Double Displacement, Disorganized Drama, Daring Dance, Dazzling Days, Diaspora Dialogues, Decolonising Decolonisation, Dutch Design, Dodging Dogma, Depth Dwellers, Distance Decay, Dramatic Dinosaurs, Dear Deviants, Devoted Devices, Detailed Detours, Damned Dadaism, Deployed Desires, Divine Dialects, Dirty Dicks...

Framing is just another thinking process. It allowed us to take more agency. Perhaps it’s our way of revolting against the very structures that frame us, the one that names us. In the end, the act of questioning itself is probably more worthwhile than the outcome, whether it does or doesn’t lead to a name.

Siwar Kraitem is a multi-lingual designer and researcher based between Beirut and Amsterdam. Her practice moves between graphic design and research-based, self-directed design practice where she questions ‘language’ and multilingualism in times of transformation. She co-founded the language café, a discussion and installation forum for language, semantics, and translation. She recently completed her Masters at the D.D. department (Disarming Design) of the Sandberg Instituut where she is now assistant coordinator at the Design Department.
Character card making in Ethercalc
Character card reference
Character card reference
Character card reference
Character card reference
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc
Character making in Ethercalc

Roleplaying in Etherpad

Juliette Lizotte Roleplaying in the open-source world was a meetup faciliated by Juliette from H&D, with a kick off lecture by Susan PloetzSusan Ploetz (US/DE) is an artist-researcher working with somatics, theory, writing, performance, simulation and live action role plays (larping) in different configurations. Her work deals with the overlapping spaces of soma and technos; she uses imagination, magical materiality, and protocol to induce emancipatory emotive dissonances and perceptual expansion. She explores body-centered game design and narrative-building play as co-creative world-making that develops individual agency within spontaneous, ephemeral, decentralized communities. Building forth on H&D's commitment to rethinking tools, we collectively explored alternatives scenarios for human-computer interaction. We took the perspective of the different tools to rethink our position as makers. We imagined, embodied, and enacted a new open-source tool ecology.

We asked questions such as:

  • What tool can you imagine? What are its features, quirks, and glitches?
  • How will it be used and by whom?
  • How do the tools in our emerging tool ecology relate to each other?

Using methods of character development and role-play in combination with H&D's approach to hacking and DIY, we explored open-source world-making and collaborative storytelling.

The following section is an unedited transcription of the Etherpad workshop script.


Welcome to my world <3
helloooo hiiii hey
hi yo
hii alles goed? jaaaaa
heyyi changed my color. :) HIHI ah.. text became white!


1. What is a tool? what do you associate with tools, toolness, tooling?

An extension of your cognition

things you can use to help you do stuff, i think of scirssors when i think of tools. Tooling are ways or object to help you acheive sth. acheivements that are basic or complicated dependind on the tool. i think tools should always be useful, if not then they are extra, not useless but they occupy space for no good purpose.

way of articulation

translation of ideas into form-

A conditioning device

intermediate between me and the world

Enable actions

extension of the body (body can be human and not human)

association of tools with productivity and work in relating to iindustralilzation

a tool relates to intention, perhaps? but as this tool can be turbulent.. the intention with which a tool is being created does not mean that it is used as such. many philisophers have written about tools... the hammer comes up a lot... a hammer is for hammering... blablabla.. or the debate around guns. do guns kill people? or do people kill people? clear is that certain tools afford certain tool relationships no? in the context of software ... licenses are interesting tools to create legal frameworks / agreements on use and reuse -- anyhow i think that 'tool' is also overused as a metaphor.. and can become rather unspecific... uncritical perhaps? l

playing, changing states, another bodypart, the fool, putting this together, apart and to recombine, things that make us human vs animals --i think of internet, gossip and phones

Limits & disaffordances

2. What tools do you like?


i like clumsy tools that let you do just a few things.. like this one, etherpad, or ethercalc... i like it because it doesnt assume too much in a way.. like for instance creative cloud tools are not tools anymore.. its more like a platform... convergences of tools and services that assume a kind of identification and to me trespassed what I want from a tool relationship.. adobe is a kind of exclusive membership only club... where scribus... or gimp is maybe a bit more rough but i can feel its edges.. you know what i mean?

I like the tools that make my life easier, if i didnt have a boiler for boiling, it will take longer time to boil the water.

tools for communicating and relating

custom made and mutable - modular ones - collaborative -



the unreliable narrator



cameras, gossip ?1 whats up with the gossip recurence , gestures

I like tools that help me expand my vision

Speculative tools

Machine vision

sexy tools

3. What tools do you dislike?

rigid use



excluding tools like some laws

worflow tools.. they manage collaboration to much

i like all tools i love tools

4. What open-source tools do you know?


wikimediapedia mediawiki is the tool?

blender <3







Introduce yourself as your character-tool trying to encompass as many details as you can think of! (10min)
How would you describe yourself in three words?

egg, round, glass

mushy magic tricky

horizental, squarish, spacish

shiny, round, dense

shape shifting, chaotic, opening

gourmet, well-lit,

i change your face, i allow u to be others, updated

lens, vision, time

open, moving, thinking

small, light, shiny

How would someone else describe you in three words?

mindbending scary unpredictible

spiritual, hippy, sexy

energetic, creative, focussed

challenging, emotional, wall

difficult socially, can be misenterpreted, fun

delusional, esoteric, desirable

mechanised,nonhuman, hygienic

triggering, apparent, helpful

focussed, kind, dreamer

annoying, helpfull

What do you feel conflicted, confused, excited or proud about?

i can interconnect beings & make them feel & understand like no other tool can . It can be very confusing to pp and some will reject my teachings. I'm not sure about the nature of the experience I am bringing

I am a bit broken, a broken tool, perhaps. The thing is, I should not be breakable.. like its not supposed to happen. and now I am not sure what to do... In a way, I am not even very certain on how I am supposed to be used, so the question is "Am I Really Broken?" ... its a bit of a crisis momen tto be honest. I watched "Keuringsdienst van Warde" and they talked about my kind of tool species and how there is a lot of people reselling fake tools of my kind.. so now I am wondering.. "Am I even Real???????" Or am I just some cheap reproduction?? THe fact that something chipped off my side, does not make me more confident tbh


I feel conflicted about how language would look like with out me, I feel labit of confusion whether people find my spacishness triggering/ annoying or just see it as part of me.

sometimes its hard to confront people with their walls, ideas... it's not easy so see them struggling and that not everyone is touched through the tool in a deeper sense but I am happy if I can reach someone

in everyones smartphones, you use me when u need me, what would u do if my tech disappeared, proud that u need me

I feel like im serving unpaid labour but I'm getting the needed power as well. I feed people.

there are some moral questions about the possibility of seeing back and forth on the cycle of time. the topic of responsibility emerges. curiosity about all the possibilities that are unfolding once you claim your time unreliability. How not to get seduced by the manipulative potential of this technology. On the other hand it becomes a portal to see that time is not linear but cyclical

im proud that people let me in, and im always scared to fall out - intriguing -

I'm confused by the reality I helped shape. Is it real or did i convince even myself into believing it?

Who would you be as a tool?

a word soup


face filter

A counterstory

offline cursor


Or what are you curious to explore in a tool?

I am a tool in crisis, identity crisis perhaps..

I would like to explore who decides whether or not I am useful actually? Is it only humans that get to decide? Is it important who manufactured me? Like is the way I am made significant for the ways I exist in the world and interacted with?

I would be curious to explore my own limits, concepts... that keep me stable in some way and how to find holes in them

im curious to explore the context of this tool, its position amongst where it is used, how it is used. the feelings of this tool.

how it can be shown for what it is, no more, no less.

to fly around, my belly facing files

What do you do?

I am usually just laying around honestly.. Its not a super entertaining moment of my life.. but there is potential... sometimes i am held, touched, sometimes I am charged... laying in the window. I see people looking at me at times.


i change peoples faces

I am in some places and there to be read multiple times, partly... I am a king of verbal mirror

i give space for legibility, for opennes that creates freedom,

I change, inspire, deceipt, give hope, make sense

I am able to open (up) places and people irl

are you physical, digital, do you have buttons? an interface?

I'm the interface between conscious and subconscious between individual and collective

I am physical but also digital. I do have buttons and an interface too.

im very physical

PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL, so I think i am able to expand mind and matter whohooo- are we not only (almost) the same color but the same tool as well ? haha i wanna ask what are you but maybe thats not allowed?

I can be both, whatever feels more comfortable

i'm a botton. with a very specific funtion, i live in context.

digital and an interface

offline fingerextension

I am a tool of the mind

Do you have a specific function, powers?


i create womb-awareness

woooop. yes. i am energizing, creating focus, and perhaps upholding a certain connection

to let u try who u want to look like without physically enduring it

create chaos in order and give birth to new patterns

I see here, back and forth

The power to persuade

Can you evolve, mutate?

I'm co-creating me too!!

just in meaning but not in materiality ... unless perhaps i could break even more

i evolve with each "trend"

yes I mutate in minds

yes, i am constantly changing

I alternate between arrow shape, a pointing micky mouse hand and a simple standing thin shortline

How does your tools body feel?







Are you comfortable?

Nope but warm

to watch yes, to lay on no

oh my god yes

kinda indifferent


i change so much i dont know

I'm restless

Are you in control?

I am taking contro and leave you to enjoy the show - you'll integrate later l

only through my affordances

not anymore

i hate i have so much control

I try to subvert controll of others

Where do you come from?

from distributed wisdom

i cannot remember, but there are two options i guess, in any case... i can probably say from deep down inside the earth

an augmented space

the mind

What does your past look like, describe a fond memory?

it looks like a pokemon maker

about 1500 years ago i was moved gently... that tickled a bit ... that was nice.

Where are you?

on a table

on a table

How do you relate to the world you are part of?

do you like your position?

I like it, I think its really helpful and in the right position, i also think i was designed to fit a certain embodied role

do you have ambitions?

Feeding, feeding and feeding.

not to be tossed

Hi, i'm cece, i'm an iphone X front camera that has been hacked i share everything i see with a group of people but have no agency over how they use the data.

I don't know how but I am connected to a network of other cameras so i can see beyon the physical position i am at.

Interconnections (10min)
  • Introduce yourself as your character, add to each other's line where you imagine connecting in any way.

Hello I am R.E.A.L.L.Y.

- are you

hi food 3d printer here

- hey i'll hack and share your newest recipe to ur competitor
I can help you feed a whole community
thats what they all say, but you know who can really feed communities? I heard A. Ppetite ! check them out.

hello im cece the frontal camera

you better look behin d you cece....
what are you features?
how do you relate to the people you are capturing?
Thanks for your past service and contributions to big data
can you please turn your camera on ?

hi im poem! i help to reconnect i give users... hm space.. who needs space?

hi i also escaped linear undesrtanding
that happens to me a lot
i think i need space to see
i think i give you space often

Hey here & there Im' Synastria - jumping timelines

i think we are related
you know who else is related? poem and yoni!!! but pssssst. confidential

Yonii ?

yahhhh right?!?! gives me the creeps

Fanta the facefilter here

- hey without me you work 50/50

I actually process the already existing visual data sets to generate faces and then apply filters on them. I dont even need a physical face anymore.

hello, DIsMoi here. abyss traveler

- hey fellow time traveller

mind expanding and truth seeking

anyone wants a 3d ssandwich?
yes please hyperreal
I think we have similarities

hi, i'm a.ppetit! I'm here to provide others the room they nee d

hey sorry space by accident I took your d, but I replaced it with my d, my name is a ppetit I would like to hold you, would you be okay with that?
i'm here to help. but please dont bloat me.
can we share space via icloud
how much
storage do you require?

Hi I'm Yoni and have a strong connection


with my fe male* energies-

I see you
spiraling -
its hard for me to see you without a tool
hi ive been told to check you out - what is a lady
bug ?

everyone in the physical world needs me

i thinkin less than 5mins you can prepare, eat and enjoy that dinner


ACT 1: Present (10min)

space here

hey space, you seem cool

It is very bright today and painstakingly hot the heat comes for the ground

some of us had to be put in the fridge but electricity wasn't always available

not from the sky's dust bubbles

blub ... space

the desert sighs it is thaaat hot

the order of chaos has been revealed the heat is in your mind - if yoou have one

the age of industrilization have yet to see another great tool and invention, with me, workers wil be able to work 24hrs non stop, no need for breaks or lunch time.

im used a lot in manymany minds creating random comes for the

ground associations of words

space here i make space can you see if there's electricity somewhere else? i work with the electricity of the braiiinnnzzz

anyone needs food? waaaaater please. or smoothie is also fine. does smoothie count as foot? drinkable food? i can print that for you. Bravvvvvoooo, can you print two copies of green and three copies double sided of red smoothy please? i like the taste of dusk. this sounds good i would also like one


The trains rails are converging and so do the wagon - soon the road space here will have no many starts and no multiple ends- only stars - reality check

I'm confused, I thought I was a Ppetite but its seems like there are more like me, I afraid I am loosing my purpose noooooo i can help you reconnect with your purpose how where is the time ah i only make space but maybe someone makes time? or knows where it is?

sssspace herespace headspacethats a cool app spacebar

Anyone needs food smoothies? Yes please. with a lot of ice!

space hereis this a printing error damndid you say 3d printer? someone just thought of a poem about 3d printer it goes like


yarn yarn yarn
strange hm
fingers rub
thread entangle
timmeeeeeee ah

i'm recording all of this information in case the narrators require it

space here

BATTERY WARNING.decay as a source of energyeverything is transformed into energy

scorpio kind of qualities in all of us

how are you all doing? I am overhwhelmed and in need of depthsi can make space for depth Will we fall in the spiral ? Will you join us ? oh yes i'm down!

i'm falllling I'm gazing in and zooming out graazing in the fields

i can open up new spaces and thus possibilities and new paths and basically everythings is possible and i can lead you everywherecan you be more specific? I can expand the idea but I need concrete starting points

My feet are really warm can I touch them?can you feel roots sprouting out of them?!!!!!!!can i take a photo?

LOW IN BATTERY. let's make you not need that battery it's just a construct make space for no battery Yoni will charge you here I am giving space to breathe, calm down and let imaginations come to mind


if anyone wants me to p rint them some food, let me know, i have a menue but im still working on it, perhaps you would like to add sth on the menue

whats on the menue? somethng with an egg? fried egg? omelette?


I WAS ACTUALLY A FACEFILTER BUT I FORGOT THAT AND ACTED LIKE A 3D PRINTER ALL THIS TIME- 3D PRINTER FORGIVE ME. I suppose I just wanted to be tangible. tangible is the new cool.

ACT 2:... 76 years later (10min)

I actually exist; im what used to be a hand or a foot but longer- expend on the limbs

I died and reborn 7600217527528264300865464 times.

i found a charger and 3000 bucks but we take turns sharing it, i wish we had multiple strings woah... you rich? if ur rich are we all rich? we were always richer omg!! its happening. its becoming reality!!! moneeeeeeeey for all!!!

$ $ $ $ $

still not minding my own business... messing with other peoples realities ...Face it : Realities suck, ai faces rock, real faces and filters are for boomers lets make a new face made of our faces can u do that?send me a jpg i can try to priint it, trying to be useful tool

lets be faceless again faceless human technologiss is my cousin, maybe i can introduce you two, you might be interestedis multiple faces a form of facelessness?

I might have been become a portal for following ones, maybe still warm, I have gathered relationships with the user, the users companions and some who are not there in the form as we are

i now prind 4d and 5d and 17d foods. what is your specialty? space and reconnection its still a lucrative bizness

i need space here, wheres space?foods too advanced for your senses, you cant eveen tasste them my specialty is printing food

people robots people animals people ... still making poems fake news in their minds... but they've become... hm rare

I'm stoping to look at a frozen time slice - add some melting vegan human cheesyness

but i can still make space hey but you are a poem, I thought you were space no i am a poem but i make spaceafter 76 years you still make poems about space? i dont make poem about space, i make space in the mind - peaceful fragments of beauty and truth we all need

I developed an institution excavation site for obsequies and baptism services. The funeral rites are portals to re-flesh oneself, a portal opening possibilites... diggin it! i think i could work there.. i still help with reconnection, do you hire?yes we do. please send me your natal chart. we do not select, we just pick the position due to your celestial potential i can also volunteer... i exist simultaneously in alll minds i dont really need money but it sounded nice when people though KNEW t they were rich- abundant minds

space here

76 years later and we're all still hungry buuuuuurgers!! space here too

Self destruction is sexy! Ask humanslol still sexy = scorpionic AF scorpios my favorite gender corp

Who wants a brand new Old physical body as a DAO nft? what is physical?It is that new trend.

ACT 3:... 90003 years later (10min)

blubbbb blub bubbb blub blub blaaaaahhh blahhhh blablablabla... Bla? beautiful thanks i found my voice again


assemblages mixing connecting complexities space cdxsedtrzcfhgvzhunjihubgzvfcdrtuhinj weird ecologies noting is stable everything flexible going in all directions female chaos gaia energies growingbloomingmuddling

minds have been uploaded to the universe - i co exist everywhere and everytime forever ------------- infinite space thats what she things.. tssssst blub

Where is my bopdy ? is it everywhere and nowhere?

I cant feel nomorer normal normcore no more, more , more

blubbbbbb infinite.. connexxxxxion

.......... blub beautiful


oppps i once printed some amsterdam and LILITHSpoisionapple tv and ate it and we are backin year 0 oppsie sorry not sorry everyonee, i wasted 90003 of human kind development humans are osoleteeeeeee i love this word sounds beautiful in some mouths only data

((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((I need a new fresh perspective I'm trapped in nostalgia nostalgiantarctica is a beautiful spaceX ... relax into Grimes only then can you let go and move on .. with swordsand pentacles and tentacles and cactuses and stars and claws

hey who wants a historical tour to the globes meeeee i love travelling if you take me in your pocket we can travel, i'll help take good photos, no more crooked angles sorry for last timeyeyerey whats the first stop? is it a hop in hop off tour through time?

cheer up the earth as been wiped out - Only SSsssCorpios remains - take a tour im here now, wt doess that mean?someone took over my business? or you're my pr spec I m spiriling thing out of hand and out of the mind i make space for you no worries

wait are you my intuition- im (with) you i am also with you thanks spaceit makes me think of looking deeply into each other eyes. anyone remembers that? the danger of physical time and space synchronicity

lets fall in love no more loveloooooooooove can exist i love love ive spend so much space and time with love love happens only between deep secretsi print cupcakkes in shape of love, red color of course,

look into my lens's they're sharper than my old eyes both are just the gateslove your yoni preach

Did you design therir pupils to sungaze all days

what would you like to have for dinner? love and timesame, im out of printing material, let mee order it, oh shit, they are closed bbeecaussee the new updates of corona

Recycle let it decay beautiful cycle of life

Break out of the cicle?revisit- stay out of this matter- recombine reconnectre-member

Juliette Lizotte is a world builder, a techno witch, a rave elf, an oracle... Inspired by feminist science fiction, manga, pop culture and fantasy, Juliette opens parallel worlds at 170bpm. Juliette a.k.a. jujulove is a video maker, designer, and DJ based between Amsterdam and Brussels. She is a resident on LYL radio and Kiosk Radio in Brussels, as well as an active member of Hackers & Designers in Amsterdam.

Skinship run at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo November, 2019 as a part of the art exhibition "The Shape of Things to Come". In it's original form, players play in a room of objects, to explore, some of which are soft robots (designed with Jonas Jorgensen, professor at the University of Southern Denmark's Biorobotics department). The script here is a modified version designed after the covid pandemic made playing in its original format difficult.


Susan Ploetz

Mini-larp script for TI: touching intelligenceThe workshop initially
 took place at for DAI (Dutch Art Institute) 'Staging Realities'

Skinship run at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo November, 2019 as a part of the art exhibition "The Shape of Things to Come". In it's original form, players play in a room of objects, to explore, some of which are soft robots (designed with Jonas Jorgensen, professor at the University of Southern Denmark's Biorobotics department). The script here is a modified version designed after the covid pandemic made playing in its original format difficult.


Welcome, introduction round of names/pronouns. I will introduce myself and my practice.

Structure of event:

  • Introduction
  • Warming up and workshop
  • LARP runtime
  • Debrief

Altogether we will take about 1.5/2 hours, however both the workshop and the LARP runtime could be made longer—this is up to the participants and facilitator. Debrief can take ten minutes or longer.

The setting

This world is alien to you, this world in this room. You may have been to Earth before, so you might have had other experiences on this planet, but the objects in this room are completely new. All of you have been sent here to investigate from another place. Your culture has a group consciousness and you have a distributed intelligence. You have been split up physically, but you still share information and have a group sense of meaning-making. Together you consolidate the information you have been gathering. The main method of investigating is through your senses, the most powerful being touch. Touch is how you ground all your other senses, give them foundation, and combine them to create a more complex understanding of your surroundings. Your mission is to explore what is before you and gather information—especially if you think there is intelligence here, and/or any special powers to redeem. You will also share information about how to relate with these beings/things. You will report back to the members of your group through words, which become a kind of chant, poem, or narrative matrix cloud. The words help others to understand what you are encountering. You combine all of your experiences together to create communal sense and sensing, and a generalized sense of this place.

You are sensory beings, primarily; the senses occupy most of your activities and awareness. Because you are so sensory, your language is composed of mostly words that describe qualities. The words act as matrices that hold the qualities of things, and the sensory qualities of materials and objects. These qualities are what you recognize as the object’s powers, perhaps their intelligence. Your words are also the medium through which you experiment with communicating with the things and materials around you: Will they respond in some way, in any way you can decipher or recognize? What will they say to you? And how will they do so?

We will play sensing creatures that detect intelligence/power through touch. In the workshop, we will make a simple character for ourselves, this is who we will play/embody during the LARP runtime. We will do some centering/sensory practices as a warm-up to train them to be able to sense intelligence through all of the senses (especially touch) as these sort-of alien beings. The workshop phase will give you the tools you need to play. You can ask questions during the workshop phase. If you are not quite clear on what to do, please bring it up! This is an experiment, no one here has done something quite like this before. So, relax, and invite a sense of play and exploration. There isn’t a right way or wrong way to do this. If you feel lost, just follow what others are doing, and we’ll arrive at a good place together, or take a break for a minute and then come back into the play. Breaks are super important to absorb what is happening, to listen to your fellow players, and to follow your perceptions! If you need to leave the experience/zoom call entirely (no explanation needed!), please just let me know in the chat box with a private message, so I know not to wait for you. We will take a short break at the end, and you can use this to go to the bathroom, get some water, etc. You can also jot down things about the experience you’d like to remember. After this we will debrief, which gives us a bit of time after the LARP play to share our experiences and observations. This part is totally voluntary as well.

I am happy to see you all in this part of the workshop. When we do the sensory warm-ups, you can turn your video off if that makes you more comfortable to move or explore. We can keep the cameras off for most of the workshop and LARP, but I would love to have them all on for the debrief. I will simply ask you to turn them on if necessary.


Making the characters: Driving questions and motivations

First, we will “make” our characters. You can use the workshop to get a feel for how to carry out the activities as your character might.You can experiment with different approaches.

Invite a sense of your character’s physicality in.

Whatever your being is, they have at least two limbs for sensing and touching, with the ends of the limbs being particularly sensitive and agile for this task. But there are other limbs and surfaces, too! (Note: it’s best that you don’t imagine your body too different from the one you have now, as it is a physical experience and we will be situated in our bodies). As you tune in and explore, invite yourself to be curious about what comes up.

What do you believe about sentience? Do you believe animals, plants, objects, materials can be sentient? Does your character have the same beliefs, or something different? Which sense/senses would you like to explore the most today? Touch is the most powerful sense for your people, but your character has an additional special sense in addition to this. See if that special sense comes to you now, or at any time in the workshop (or perhaps it only shows up during play!). How do you feel about touch/touching? How does your character feel different about touch/touching? Has your character been to Earth before, and if so for how long? How well do they feel they know this planet? Invite a sense of your character’s name, and enter it into the name field. We won’t be calling each other by names in this experience, but it will help to remind us that we are not our normal selves, but playing a different being.

Somatic warm-ups: Awakening the senses

In this warm-up, we will open up our senses and perceptions and start practicing how our character perceives, relates to, and takes in what is around them. In the room, I invite you to take it all in. Any part or surface in the room, from top to bottom. Take your time with each sense, and use breath and pauses to absorb the information you are gathering.

Touch the different materials and they also touch you. Explore this sensation, temperature, texture, weight. Explore the layers of what you touch, notice the qualities. There may be a vibration, a smell. Observe its texture, weight, movement, etc. Use all the senses, but remember that touch is especially important and strong for these beings. It’s where they combine most information; it surpasses all the other senses. Movement touching: How can you move the material, how does it move through space, by itself? Invite the materials into your quality of movement. Invite a sense of becoming this material through touch. Smell/taste/molecule touching: Chemical information, micro-information. What do you notice, how does it affect you? Sound touching: What sounds does it make, what sounds do you make together? Sight touching: How do the materials touch your sense of sight? What information do you gather through vision? Start to sound out loud the information you are sensing/gathering. You can use words of any language that feels right to you. Focus on the quality of what you are touching.

Take in and notice the objects that have been gathered here for today’s exploration. Are there any objects that your character is most drawn to? Are there any they are repulsed by? Or are they simply curious? We as beings are innately curious about anything that comes to us via the senses, but notice anything you might want to play on, as a character.

Group warm-up: Get synchronized as a group and find our voices in space again

We count from one to ten, with a different person saying each number out loud (can repeat numbers with less than ten people, but don’t say numbers in a row, wait a few numbers until you speak again). We close our eyes, take a breath in and out together, and one person says “one.” Feel into the time and space. Someone else says the next number. Do this until you get to ten (try in different ways, perhaps slower).

Rehearsing LARPplay

We come to the first object (which in this case is a phone – something everyone has). We take it in, put our hands on it (if you are doing this in a room with someone else, you can both put your hands on it, or pass the same object back and forth), hold it in our hands, bring our nose towards it, hold it to our ears. We explore all the qualities of this object with all our senses. As we do this, we take note of what we observe of these qualities, of the materials, of the object. These qualities hold the consciousness and intelligence of these materials. This is what we notice, this is how we find out the intelligence of what is around us. When one person names a quality out loud, we all repeat it, over and over again, experimenting with volume. We make a poem from the qualities named. Try to remember what everyone has been saying, repeat a word if you think it is an especially strong quality/power of this object.

LARP play is:

  • Encounter object.
  • Sense object as group: Observe others sensing, one names the qualities out loud, and others in the group repeat the word after. You can say the words in any language that comes to you, especially if your native language isn’t English. Experiment with sounds, types of words (adjectives, nouns).
  • We continue noticing, wording, repeating what others say. Feel free to repeat a word that someone else has said if it seems to be an especially powerful aspect of this object.
  • Once you feel you have gathered enough data on this object, you can come to rest. This will be a period of time of extended silence. As a group we will find this place together.
  • Pause to download the data on this object.
  • We will repeat the same process for each object. When we have done this for every object, we will sit in silence for a bit longer. I will signal when the experience is over.

I will guide you through the first object and if necessary I can initiate the other objects, but whoever wants to start with the next object, after a pause, is welcome to do so. Again, we will get a feel for how to do this together!

You can sit, lay, stand, or move around, as long as we all can hear you still.

Any questions?

I will start the LARP with a guided meditation to get you back into your character, and after we have explored the last object together, I will do a short guided meditation to bring you back to your “normal” player self, and back into the room. We will take a small five-minute break and then debrief. Feel free to write things you observed down before we gather again together for the debrief.


Here, a guided meditation to get back into character. You can give sound and lighting cues for start and end times, or just guide people with your words. Start taking in the room around you as your character might.

  • Encounter object.
  • Sensing object, sensing qualities, finding words for the qualities, sharing the words, repeating the words of others. Continue until there is an extended period of stillness.
  • Move onto next object.
  • Do this for however many objects you want, for as long as you want.

End play in your designated way (maybe you play a sound, turn off the lights, gently end it with your words). Guide people out of their character, and out of the LARP experience. Imagine putting this character to your side, or walking out of the character and standing in front of them, and slowly backing away. Realign yourself with the room, with more of your daily “self.” Open your eyes...

Five minute break to stretch, get water, go to the toilet, etc.

Debrief: Rundas (Rounds)

I often invite participants to write things down at first, which gives them a moment to be with themselves and their own experience before opening up to the group’s perceptions. Writing, drawing, and other responses are all great methods to try. Try this first before opening up to a group debrief and conversation.

The focus right now is on sharing your experience. You are welcome to pass if you don’t want to share. You can go in a circle or go randomly. The idea is to give each person space to share without responding to what they said. After some rounds like this, you could open it up to a back-and-forth conversation.

  1. How do you feel now, in one-three words, or one-two sentences.
  2. What did you notice/observe?
  3. Any moments you want to share?
  4. What worked well for you? What do you wish had been different?

Find other ways to digest/absorb: physical connection, walking, napping, staying with the experience for a bit, or putting it down and doing something completely different!
Be open to whatever observations, information, insights might arise over the next few days!

Susan Ploetz is an artist-researcher working with somatics, theory, writing, performance, simulation and live action role plays (larping) in different configurations.

Screenshot of the Ethercalc spreadsheet, which served as a guideline, workshop and discussion space, as well as documentation of workshop outcomes

Spreadsheet Routines

Anja Groten and Karl Moubarak “Spreadsheet Routines” or "Ethercalc hangouts" is a series of mini workshops that emerged from a shared enthusiasm for spreadsheets. The thirty minute daily sessions can be repeated for an unlimited period of time, and are intended to cultivate a sense of togetherness among people who, for example, collaborate regularly but don’t live not in close proximity. Through the exercises, participants are invited to spend time together and collectively explore the expressive and collaborative potential of spreadsheets.

As a meeting place, we propose using Ethercalc, an open-source collaborative web spreadsheet editor developed by Audrey Tang and built with SocialCalc. Similarly to Etherpad, Ethercalc allows users to edit documents simultaneously. Ethercalc is typically used for inventories, survey forms, list management, brainstorming sessions, budgets, and timetables—all of which we found essential for collaborative organizing!

Each session kicks off with a short prompt, which can be repeated, edited, and new iterations created.

Daily Ethercalc Routines 

Duration: Twenty-thirty minutes per day.

Note to facilitator(s):

  • Pick a time that suits all participants (consider different time zones).
  • Prepare the sheets beforehand and release the links to the sheets a few minutes before the agreed time every day. You can do that via email or through a shared chat room.
  • Every day, participants will open the linked spreadsheet to respond to a new prompt. The prompts can be interpreted freely. Participants are free to continue creating Ethercalc art after the thirty minutes is up. 
  • You may invite participants to create their own prompts and host their own sessions.
  • Consider sending additional updates and reminders, motivational posts, and screenshots of the outcomes and highlights.


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To introduce the practice of Ethercalc hangouts, we propose setting up a video call for the first time you meet on the spreadsheet. Facilitators can share some background information on Ethercalc, invite participants to set intentions for the daily practice, and take some questions.

  • Ethercalc is a web-based collaborative spreadsheet editor.
  • It is open-source. This means the source code of the software is visible, reusable, and extendable. Anyone can copy the code, make improvements, and develop it further.
  • Ethercalc was developed by Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s minister of digital affairs.
  • Ethercalc can be installed on any computer. You can run Ethercalc locally on your personal computer if you want to use it alone. You can host it on a local device like a Raspberry Pi if you want to collaborate with people in close proximity, or you can install it on a remote server, allowing you to collaborate with anyone in the world with an internet connection!

Ethercalc tips and tricks


  • To create an unnamed Ethercalc, go to and click "Create Spreadsheet."
  • To create a named Ethercalc, type into your address bar followed by the name of your sheet.
  • All the functions you need are in the toolbar (some are less visible than others).
  • Other people's cursors appear as cells with a blue border.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are a little bit weird:
    • CMD / CTRL + C copies values and styles
    • CMD / CTRL + V pastes values only
    • Use the toolbar to paste styles
    • CMD / CTRL + Z goes backwards in history
    • CMD / CTRL + SHIFT + Z also goes backwards in history
    • To move forward in history, use the toolbar
  • The clipboard is shared, so watch out! You might be pasting someone else's clipping.
  • The edit history is also shared, so be aware that if you “undo,” you might be undoing someone else's work.
  • If Ethercalc gets slow or stuck, refreshing the page will do the trick.

Session 1: “Connect”

The first prompt aims to help participants to familiarize themselves and learn about the quirks of its formatting and functions.

  1. Hello, good morning / afternoon / evening everyone!
  2. Say hi in a cell.
  3. We propose the analogy of weaving a carpet. Imagine this spreadsheet as our distributed loom!
  4. We prepared some carpets for you from row 30 onward. Couple up by pasting your name above a carpet.
  5. (15 min) Meet each other on the carpet and go with the flow of weaving a carpet with the different formatting options and within your cells.

*Useful tip: the clipboard is shared, so if you use the paste button, you might be pasting someone else's cells.

Session 2: “Play”

  1. Hello, good morning / afternoon / evening everyone!
  2. Say hi in a cell.
  3. (2 min) Find yourself a spot on the spreadsheet and draw an avatar in approximately 20 rows and 30 columns. Before you start, make sure to mark your drawing area. Add your coordinates and avatar names here.
  4. (10 minutes) Drawn your avatar!
  5. Name your avatar.
  6. Keep an eye out for instructions
    The Ethercalc moderators will indicate there are 5 more minutes left to draw and when the time is up.
    Once the time is up, do not touch the spreadsheet anymore. Just watch!
    Your avatars will be moved to be paired.
  7. (10 minutes or as long as you wish) Go look for your avatar and see whose company you are in. Use the cells around your avatars to chat away!

Session 3: “Cook” 

  1. Hello, good morning / afternoon / evening everyone!
  2. Say hi in a cell.
  3. (15 min) Create a drawing of your favorite dish (to be cooked from the picture at a shared meeting time).
  4. (2 min) Invent a new name for the dish (without describing it literally).
  5. (5 min) Check out the other dishes and guess some of their ingredients (write in the column next to the dish).
  6. Set a date to cook the dishes.
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Session 4: “Liquify”

  1. Hello, good morning / afternoon / evening everyone!
  2. Say hi in a cell.
  3. Liquidation is the prompt!

Challenge the fixed boundaries of the cells, rows, and columns. Get inspired by streams, ponds, rivers, creeks, sinks, the deep seas, a toilet flush. Create a liquid environment that dilutes fixed boundaries and categorization.
You are not limited to one spot on the spreadsheet.

Spreadsheet drawing

The Ethercalc Hangouts took place throughout the H&D Summer Academy 2021.


Anja Groten's bio.
Karl Moubarak's bio.

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How-to "The Perfect Robbery by Juli Reinartz," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).

How-to "The Perfect Robbery" by Juli Reinartz," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Give and Take" by Social Muscle Club," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Conceptual Speed Dating" by Brian Massumi," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Bodystrike" by Feminist Health Care Research Group," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Bodystrike" by Feminist Health Care Research Group," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).

Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques

Julia Bee and Gerko Egert

“[S]tudy is what you do with other people. It’s talking and walking around with other people, working, dancing, suffering, some irreducible convergence of all three, held under the name of speculative practice. The notion of a rehearsal – being in a kind of workshop, playing in a band, in a jam session, or old men sitting on a porch, or people working together in a factory – there are these various modes of activity.”Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons. Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions: 2013),110.

“To study” is an activity—it combines teaching and learning, two activities that are usually considered separate. In the book The Undercommons. Fugitive Planning and Black Study, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten set out to distinguish the collective activity of study from the study that takes place within educational and academic institutions. They point out that collective study happens while playing, making music, biking, discussing with friends, traveling. While teaching and learning in Western societies is deemed to take place within educational institutions, and is structured by evaluation systems, assessments, and grades, Harney and Moten show that study is by no means limited to these spaces. They argue that most study happens beyond institutional settings. Study is collective, sometimes you are a learner and sometimes a teacher, but often you are both. Teaching and learning do not just happen, they are not only emergent events, they are made possible through a series of techniques. Sometimes these techniques are visible, while often they go unnoticed. These techniques—rather than the institutions with which they are associated—are what we are interested in.

nocturne: A platform for teaching and learning

Often, we meet scholars, artists, and activists who have developed ideas and pedagogical techniques in their personal practices and in dialogue with their students and workshop participants. In order to share these techniques beyond their initial contexts—classroom, studio, workshops—we initiated nocturne,See a platform for experimental knowledge production across art, academia, and activism. It is a platform that grew from our curiosity and enthusiasm for the many experimental pedagogical formats that exist outside of dominant institutional settings. It brings together a series of techniques for experimental teaching sourced across the fields of art, performance, philosophy, theater, film, and media studies. Each contribution consists of a technique that was developed during seminars and workshops, and in studios and rehearsal spaces. The contributions include: a collaborative fabulation of a bansk robbery; the now familiar format of the reading group; writing workshops; collage; film essays; and a group performance. The platform is intended to offer an insight into the field of experimental and collaborative pedagogy. It is understood as open-source in the sense that it is an invitation to try, adapt, and further develop the techniques in other contexts. In this respect, by collecting and documenting the techniques, we are contributing to the continued circulation of knowledge that extends beyond institutional boundaries.

We focus primarily on techniques that use artistic practices not only as illustrations of theories, but that take them seriously as practical ways of thinking. As such, the techniques are connected to academic education and political activism. We are interested in the diversity of techniques and procedures at work in artistic practices and the processual knowledge they produce. These techniques include playing, dancing, creating space, montaging, collaging, writing, etc. Through reading groups, teach-ins, or collective fabulations,Gilles Deleuze, “Mediators,” in Negotiations, 1972-1990, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 121-134. they question the hierarchical order between production and reproduction, practice and theory, n research and teaching.

Through our engagement with experimental pedagogies, we build upon a long history of activity including that of Black Mountain College; the Feminist Studio Workshop; the work of artists such as Lygia Clark, Miklós Erdély, and Dóra Maurer; and educators such as Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Recent initiatives include the Performing Arts Forum in St. Erme and the SenseLab in Montréal. Most examples practice(d) outside of established institutions, while others are part of existing curriculums for art and design.Nina Paim, Corinne Gisel, and Emilia Bergmark (ed.). Taking a Line for a Walk. Assignments in Design Education. (Leipzig: Spector Books, 2019); Gerko Egert et al. Radical Pedagogies. Inflexions. A Journal for Research Creation, No. 8 (2015):; 
Beatrice Jaschke, Nora Sternfeld, and Schnittpunkte (ed.) (2012): Educational Turn. Handlungsräume der Kunst, Wien and Berlin: Turia & Kant.

These foundations are echoed in the techniques explored in nocturne. Some techniques, like the contributions by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi, were developed in the context of one of the projects, while others, like Juli Reinartz’ or Inga Zimprichs engaged with this history more indirectly.



In our first publication Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative HandbookJulia Bee and Gerko Egert (ed.), Experimente lernen, Techniken tauschen. Ein spekulatives Handlbuch (Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook) (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020). we adopt the format of a “how-to” style manual to “document” the techniques included. By mimicking the how-to of a handbook we emphasize the pragmatic approach to every technique. It is a book to use. And yet its pragmatism does not equate with a goal-oriented approach. In fact, for us, pragmatism is a form of engagement that is attuned to an actual situation but not limited to it. To avoid pragmatism becoming a means to an end, we emphasize its speculative dimension. It may seem paradoxical at first to use speculation and pragmatism simultaneously. But the logic of speculative pragmatismErin Manning and Brian Massumi. Thought in the Act: Passages in the Ecology of Experience. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014). allows us to think of techniques not as something one needs to earn or learn to master, but rather as a way to put into practice speculatively in the midst of an actual situation. Speculative how-tos, as we propose them, are open to appropriation. They are, in Brian Massumi’s words, “enabling constraints.”Brian Massumi, Brian and Joel MacKim. “Of Microperceptions and Micropolitics. An Interview with Brian Massumi,” Inflexions. A Journal for Research-Creation, 3 (2009),

A technique that straddles the line between pragmatism and speculation in a performative way is The Perfect Robbery by Juli ReinartzJuli Reinartz studied philosophy and dance in Berlin and choreography in Stockholm. Since 2012, she works as freelance choreographer. In 2012, she received a one-year residency at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Since 2019, Juli is conducting a doctoral research at Uniarts Helsinki in which she explores disorientation as a choreographic strategy. “Konturen” (2020) and “Yes Contours Time Disorientation xt”(2021) have put different performative structures into practice. “All late, all babe” will conclude the research in 2024. The task is simple: plan to rob a bank. While time and location situate the technique in the here and now, the task immediately opens up a space for collective planning fueled by the speculative energy of criminal conspiracy, making it speculative in its radical sense. It is a technique of future problem-solving rather than free-floating imagination. This combination of pragmatism and speculation is shared by many of the techniques included on nocturne. They are pragmatic because they orient an action or a collective toward processes embedded in the here and now. They are speculative because they transform this process, feeding it into new situations, and thereby changing the collective as much as the situation itself.

Pragmatic Experimentation

The techniques gathered at nocturne are not simply practice-based, but pragmatic in their philosophical sense. They take experience seriously as a starting point from which to work with theoretical concepts.John Dewey, Experience and Education (New York: Free Press, 2015); James, William. Essays in Radical Empiricism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996); Whitehead, Alfred North. The Aims of Education and other Essays (New York: Free Press, 1967). Rather than just applying thinking to experience or experience to thinking, the relation between the two realms—theory and practice, thinking and experiencing—grounds every practice. This logic of co-composition shifts teaching from an act of mediating learning content, to a form of experimentation in which content and techniques are in constant dialogue and constantly rearranged, making the very distinctions between theory and practice, and concept and experience, even harder to maintain. When we think of pedagogical techniques and the activity of teaching, we do not limit it to the explanation of existing knowledge, but think of them as situations joint together by learning and experimentation, from which topics and techniques emerge and are experimented with. We consider learning in a broad and embodied sense, focusing on the art of creating situations from which something new can emerge. This is why we turn to those spaces where art, activism, and pedagogy are intertwined.

Through her work as a teacher, bell hooks has shown us how the personal experiences of teachers and learners—inside and outside of the classroom—are key for pedagogical processes. These experiences are social and saturated by power structures. It is these power structures that must become the starting point of a political and critical reflection on education.

The questioning of existing structures generates new access to knowledge spaces, especially for those who are formally or informally excluded due to their background and biography.Pierre Bourdieu, The Inheritors: French Students and Their Relation to Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1979). Therefore, nocturne places artistic research in dialogue with classical examples of social emancipation in the fields of media, art, and cultural studies. The aim of artistic pedagogies is not the promotion of creativity as an end in itself, but the activation of emancipative and reflexive processes on the level of perception and bodily activity.

bell hooks, writing from an African-American working-class perspective, sees her teaching practice as a professor and lecturer at a university as an activity of change, liberation, and empowerment. In Teaching to Transgress,bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress. Education as the Practice to Freedom (London and New York: Routledge, 1994). the first title of her trilogy on teaching, hooks describes her encounters with those who resisted the different and radical forms of pedagogy she tried to put into practice. According to hooks, freedom and transgression can by no means be achieved by simply negating outmoded pedagogies. New techniques and new pedagogical concepts are needed to empower precisely those students (African-Americans, immigrants, women*, first-generation academics) who are all too often overlooked in existing structures. For hooks, teaching can form a technique of transformation and collectivity, “The power of the liberatory classroom is in fact the power of the learning process, the work we do to establish a community.”bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress. Education as the Practice to Freedom (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), 153. Affects such as “excitement” and “fun”hooks, Teaching to Transgress, 7. are prerequisites for learning and teaching. She calls for pedagogical techniques that focus less on teaching and more on the “atmosphere” of learning itself.hooks, Teaching to Transgress, 7. This shows how affect is not incidental, but in fact determines how habitus makes one move subconsciously away from or toward certain learning situations.Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice. (Stanford (CA): Stanford University Press, 1990). We think of terms like “excitement” as affective spaces of possibility and ways in which bodies affect other bodies and can themselves be affected.Benedictus de Spinoza, Ethics: Proved in Geometrical Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).


Learning outside of the University

In recent years, non-academic learning formats have gained traction. They connect to the radical pedagogies of the 1970s and 1980s, to feminist and Black reading circles, to empowerment and consciousness raising, and to decolonial struggles in the Americas. They reference the pedagogical and therapeutic reforms of Fernand Oury and Aïda Vasques (1969), Paulo Freire (2018), bell hooks (1994), Félix Guattari (2015), and Fernand Deligny (2013). Movements influenced by these thinkers, teachers, artists, and political activists, have invented ways of learning that aim to make social, individual, and institutional transformation and change.

Next to critical developments in pedagogy, artists of the 20th century engaged repeatedly in new and different forms of teaching and learning. For example, Alan Kaprow explored playful pedagogies in his happenings, extending activities of teaching and learning into the realm of art and feeding artistic techniques into the curriculum of schools and universities.Vesna Krstich, “The Pedagogy of Play: Fluxus, Happenings, and Curriculum Reform in the 1960s,” in C Magazin 131 (2015): 14–18. Or, in a similar manner, composer, musician, and university professor George E. Lewis, in Collaborative Improvisation as Critical Pedagogy,George E. Lewis, “Collaborative Improvisation as Critical Pedagogy.” Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art 34, (2014): 40–47. describes his artistic practice of jazz as an act of collective mediation in experimental improvisation, “In this view, improvisation becomes a critical practice as well as a means to aesthetic statement - a space where discontinuity, disruption, support, and struggle become audible pathways to new experience.”Lewis, G. E., “Collaborative Improvisation as Critical Pedagogy.” Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art 34, (2014): 46. Both of themLewis more implicitly, Kaprow explicitly in his interest in the philosophy of John Dewey. tie in with the theories of pragmatism mentioned above. Their artistic engagements placed experience at the very heart of learning. Rather than the teaching serving as a way to bestow knowledge upon students, the impact of the material learning environment became the focus of their pedagogies.

Today, at film or theater festivals, museums and galleries, both formal and informal learning takes place. Silent University, School of Commons, Training for the Future, and Black Market for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge are just a few of the many frameworks in which alternative modes of learning are being organized. In Black Market, Hannah Hurzig for example assembles teachers and learners who, in precisely-timed sessions, share, and produce knowledge through one-to-one conversations. The people she invites are experts in many regards. Hurzig is explicitly concerned with creating informal structures in which a broad spectrum of knowledge is negotiated with and circulated.

While many of these projects share references to educational intuitions by referring to themselves as schools or universities, others, like the Social Muscle ClubSocial Muscle Club is a group of international artists who have been working together in different forms since 2012 to change our usual habits of thinking and doing and 'train the social muscle'. The club was founded for everyone in the global village seeking to support each other in a society in which one often feels alone. The club began in a Berlin living room and was inspired by a documentary about a workers club in Sheffield, English which promised 'entertainment and mutual support'. As a contrast to stress and pressure to a capitalistic, competitive working world, the club offers a self-organised social net., emphasize the collective aspect of their work, while still being places of learning and sharing. Centered on a game-like structure of give and take, the Social Muscle Club developed a technique to create social relations. Its engagement with learning and training forms of collectivity makes it a key contribution to the techniques of alternative and experimental forms of pedagogy.

Most aforementioned projects resort to the workshop as a format to facilitate their pedagogical and collective engagements. The workshop—be it a collective movement session, a hackathon, or a reading group—has developed out of the need to question the institution of the university. Especially nowadays, in times of increasingly modularized university education, workshops offer a way to collectively learn outside of established institutions.Anja Groten, “Workshop,” in Making Matters, ed. Janneke Wesseling, Florian Cramer (Amsterdam: Valiz, 2022). These new sites and formats of “other knowledge”Kathrin Busch (Ed.), Anderes Wissen. Kunstformen der Theorie (Paderborn: Fink, 2016). often combine political intervention and collective organization. Many workshops establish situations that are open, while creating techniques that others can use in new and different contexts.

Technique and Institution

On March 24, 1965, teachers and students across the U.S. left their scheduled seminars to spend the entire night in so-called “teach-ins,” debating U.S. policy on the Vietnam War. It was an act of public protest but more so—as Marshal Sahlins, one of the teachers involved noted—this inter-university, nationwide debate on the Vietnam War and U.S. Cold War politics produced “a genuine intellectual experience.” Sahlins elaborates, “for many the first they ever had on campus, perhaps because for the first time both teachers and students were discussing, seriously and with respect for each other’s opinions, something both were deeply interested in understanding.”Marshall Sahlins, Culture as Practice. Selected Essays (New York: Zone, 2000). This example shows that it is impossible for the university (the school, the museum, etc.) to capture the powerful act of teaching. In fact, Sahlins’ quote shows that, when teaching leaves the institution, it becomes an “intellectual experience” and a truly collective practice. Teach-ins opened up a space for other and new pedagogical techniques to emerge, techniques that were academic as much as activist. The simple shift of time and location produced other knowledges as much as collectivity.

As this example shows, techniques are more than an institutional intervention. As much as we find techniques at work in institutions they can also challenge and work against existing and emerging institutions. Techniques can transform power relations as well as ingrained patterns of acting and thinking. Techniques can render background structures consciousKathie Sarachild, “Consciousness-Raising: A Radical Weapon.” in Feminist Revolution, ed. by Redstockings (New York: Random House, 1978), 144–50. and create communities that oppose the processes of institutionalization and/or neoliberalization in the spirit of “lifelong learning.” Techniques are neither good or bad; institutional or revolutionary. They can always be hacked and used in different ways. It is, to use Alfred North Whitehead’s phrase, a question of “style,”Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education and other Essays (New York: Free Press, 1967). how a technique is used determines its effects and impacts. In this sense, the style of experimentation can help to keep techniques in a process of continuous transformation. Changing and combining them with other techniques prevents their sedimentation into a rule or even law. It is sometimes necessary to continue a discussion beyond the timeframe of the seminar, for instance to allow an extensive debate on foreign policy, as in the case of the teach-ins.


Create access!

Teach-ins, workshops, and informal reading groups are modes of organizing learning beyond institutional frameworks, especially in countries with extremely high educational costs. Many of them aim to facilitate learning differently than universities—decolonized, democratized, and organized in solidary ways.Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999). They create new collectives of thought, experience, and imagination. But even the simple act of reading together can lead to the exclusion of others and create hierarchies among its participants. Especially in collectives working across art, academia, and activism, the use of language and the distribution of who speaks when and for how long can institute and reinforce social power relations. How, then, can we create techniques that challenge these structures? How to invent formats that do not privilege certain (often academic) knowledge, but fosters the exchange between different forms and practices of knowledge?

Sometimes a small shift in the spatial setting or a playful formalization of who talks and when can create an entirely different dynamic. Conceptual speed datingBrian Massumi is professor of communication at the University of Montreal. He specializes in the philosophy of experience, art and media theory, and political philosophy., a technique stemming from the practice of the SenseLab and shared by Brian Massumi is one such attempt. Organizing a text discussion in a flow of multiple short conversations decentralizes discussions, de-personalizes arguments, and creates new modes of collective thinking.

While such techniques to increase access often stem from contexts outside of educational institutions they can be important contributions to the techniques of schools and universities. Even in countries without tuition fees, the informal ways access is blocked to the university or to an academic career are numerous. Pierre Bourdieu has described these unconscious forms as exclusions and self-exclusions with his concept of habitus.Pierre Bourdieu, The Inheritors: French Students and Their Relation to Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1979; Pierre Bourdieu, Homo Academicus. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990.; Bourdieu, Pierre, The Logic of Practice. Stanford (CA): Stanford University.Press, 1990. Didier Eribon, in Returning to Reims,Didier Eribon, Returning to Reims, (Los Angeles CA: Semiotext(e), 2013). explored these thresholds through his own experience and made vivid how complex exclusions function in the educational system.

Every pedagogical relation and every technique must therefore ask how it addresses exclusions based on gender, race, class, and dis_ability. The techniques assembled on the platform, nocturne, aim to counter subconscious exclusions and increase access on multiple levels. When sharing these techniques between the artistic, academic, and activist field, the question of access makes it important not to simply reproduce techniques in different settings. What creates access in one situation can be exclusionary in another one. Every technique needs to be tried out and developed in context-sensitive ways.

Make situations!

We founded nocturne with an enthusiasm for learning and unlearning as critical and emancipative educational processes. In this context, we understand pedagogy primarily as a way of working with techniques to produce collective situations i.e., less autodidactic or individualistic learning. Here, we have primarily social and ecological processes in mind. Learning also means the experience of becoming different. This means not to be re-educated, but to create and encounter every new learning situation openly.

In emancipatory teaching, chaos is used in a productive way. Deleuze and GuattariGilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What Is Philosophy? (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994). describe this by proposing their concept of the refrain: Learning is a chaosmos, a “rhythm”Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 313. between chaos and its frame. This refrain causes a transformation of knowledge as much as its transforms the self of all participants, teachers, and learners. In a situation where learning takes place, the self is not individualized, it “transindividuates.”Gilbert Simondon, Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020; Muriel Combes, Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual. (Cambridge (Ma) and London: MIT Press, 2013).

To think of learning as an act of trans/individuation affirms a way of thinking through the situation and the milieu/media it creates.Isabelle Stengers, “Introductory Notes on an Ecology of Practices.” Cultural Studies Review 11, 1 (2005), 187. Trans/individuation happens through the techniques of learning, teaching, and designing.

In institutionalized higher education, pedagogy and didactics (as helpful as they can be in some cases) are often subordinated to questions of efficiency. We are urged to complete trainings in didactics to use our pedagogical methods purposefully, to give proper feedback, and to learn how to grade. While it is important to reflect on our power positions in educational contexts, we are rarely taught in these trainings about the activist teaching techniques of Black writers, workers struggle at the university, liberation pedagogies of the Americas, or the ways second-wave feminism organized learning and unlearning. With nocturne, we want to build on these traditions. How to engage critically with the knowledge and affects produced by the university and other institutions is at the heart of the technique Bodystrike by the Feminist Health Care Research Group As artistic research project the Feminist Health Care Research Group (FHCRG) develops exhibitions, workshops and publishes zines. It aims to create space in which we can share vulnerability with each other, center (access) needs and break through the competitive mode of working in the arts. FHCRG questions the internalized, ableist concept of productivity that is rewarded in the art field.. Situated in the feminist tradition of self-organized health care, the technique offers way to work with the bodily and affective knowledge often sidelined in institutionalized processes of education.

Change the logistical university!

The logistical university is, as Moten and Harney put it, a university of debt: Debt through student loans and debt through credits to be earned.Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons. Fugitive Planning and Black Study. (Wivenhoe u.a.: Minor Compositions, 2013), 61. What the students get for their debt is skill. Instead of facts, the university teaches skills that can be used elsewhere, and skills that travel and make the students travel through the market economy. This flow of skills renders the university and its students logistical. If we go back a few years, skills training did not begin as a logistical fantasy but as a critique of the accumulation of facts (as described by Paulo Freire in his “banking model“Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Bloomsbury, 2018). method) and came with the promise of increased freedom. In recent decades, this development turned into a total obliviousness of knowledge only striving towards the teaching of skills to be applied in every situation at all times. If everything is transferable and applicable, any reference to the history, situation, and emancipatory politics of a technique is lost. When we engage in technique-sharing, we are not interested cookie-cutter applications that don’t engage with the situations from which the technique originates. We call for techniques that enable collectivity, solidarity, and openness. Elke Bippus and Monica Gaspar point out that the shift from content to competence (and thus to technique) can also bear the danger of feeding experimental ways of working known from art into all realms of economic production and education. Through collaborations between academia and the arts, precarization of both fields occurs, and this is highly based on self-exploitation. Creative techniques of the arts are fed into the field of capitalist labor, rehearsing its experimental character and accelerating precarious working conditions, which renders the arts as much as labor logistical.Bojana Kunst, Artist at Work, Proximity of Art and Capitalism (Winchester: Zero, 2015). Yet a critique of neoliberalism should not be conflated with a critique of creativity and experimentation as such. We need to address the critical qualities inherent in experimental techniques. In view of this development as well as the increasing institutionalization of artistic research in the sense of its scientification, we want to ask how techniques can produce solidary and critical forms of collective working. How can we rethink creative collaboration starting from the techniques at work in a situation? How can we foster speculative practices, which go beyond use of goal-oriented techniques? We hope that the exchange of techniques of learning and unlearning can lead to a revaluation of the concept of technique in a non-utilitarian manner. Techniques de-essentialize learning and knowledge through the focus on their processual and situated nature. Sharing these techniques must include engagement with the situations from which they originated. Like Everybody’s ToolboxSee proposes for the field of performance and dance, we think of techniques and instructions as open-source. They are open to hacking, modification, and speculative adaptation. Each technique Hon the platform is an invitation to its reader to document their own experiences, and share the techniques they work with.

Gerko Egert and Julia Bee founded the platform Nocturne in 2020. A platform aiming to provide a space and time for all the practices that emerge between institutions. A time in which the production and transmission of knowledge become collective practices, in which techniques of teaching become experimental procedures, and in which art and science do not enter into exchange but have already begun to work together in new ways.


How-to "Give and Take" by Social Muscle Club," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).

Give and Take

Social Muscle Club

  • Step 1: Gather a group of people around a table; 8-10 is a good number. You can be friends or even family—it’s a great way to reconnect and refresh your relationships whenever you need it. It’s also cool if there are people there who don’t know each other, or who would never normally hang out together.
  • Step 2: Each person takes a piece of paper and writes down their name and something they would like to GIVE on it, anything at all! It can be big, small, concrete, abstract—even a performance gift!
  • Step 3: On a second piece of paper, write down your name and something you would like to RECEIVE. Use your imagination: What do you really need? Ask from the heart.
  • Step 4: Put all the pieces of paper in a bowl.
  • Step 5: Draw a piece of paper from the bowl and read it aloud. Agatha has some tips on where to go in Berlin. Anyone interested? Jared needs more time. Who can help him?
  • Step 6: Take your time to listen to one another!
  • Step 7: Keep going until you have worked with every piece of paper. Remember, not every wish has to be fulfilled.

From: “Wie den sozialen Muskel trainieren” by Social Muscle Club


How-to "Bodystrike" by Feminist Health Care Research Group," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).
How-to "Bodystrike" by Feminist Health Care Research Group," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).


Feminist Health Care Research Group

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place where you feel at ease. Prepare what you need for this exercise (pen and paper, timer). Make yourself comfortable. Breathe deeply and feel inside yourself.
  • Can you think of a physical reaction that you have learned is embarrassing / out of place in academic / artistic / institutional / school spaces, and that you should hide / be ashamed of, or discard?
  • Can you think of a specific physical reaction? Can you trace its history, how it has accompanied you, and how it has changed over time? Red marks, stuttering, diarrhea: when did they strike you? Did they bother you? Did you think about them a lot? Did you learn what helps you?
  • Can you feel today what this physical reaction was trying to tell you? Do you feel something about it today that you can accept and appreciate?
  • Do you have physical symptoms of discomfort when you are in spaces of power and normalization? What are they? What do they remind you of?
  • Try to remember a moment when you perceived this discomfort in others, such as stuttering, red spots, sweat, nervousness, shame. Try to visualize—based on this situation—what power relations were at play. If possible, try to visualize how differently the people present were affected by these power relations.
  • Try to write down associatively which things, people, feelings, expressions could be considered inappropriate in academic / university / art spaces due to these subtle and covert ways of exercising power.
  • Try to write down associatively what you miss in academic / university / art spaces, in the way that things, people, feelings, and expressions remain absent or suppressed.
  • Do you have a sense of which parts of yourself you would rather assign to a knowing and working body and which parts you keep out? Do you have a conception or an image of your “knowing body:” a posture, clothing, way of speaking that you adopt in order to better correspond with the spaces—permeated by these power relations—and to get along well in them?
  • Do you have, the other way around, an idea of the parts of you that rather form your “counter-knowing body?” What does it do, what does it communicate to you? What wishes does it have and to whom does it most likely make contact?

From: “Körperstreik” by Inga Zimprich (Feministische Gesundheitsrecherchegruppe)

How-to "Conceptual Speed Dating" by Brian Massumi," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).

Conceptual Speed Dating

Brian Massumi

  1. Choose a generative text.
  2. Choose a minor concept weaving through the generative text.
  3. Ask each person in the group to count off as a one or a two.
  4. Instruct the ones that they are “posts.”
  5. Instruct the twos that they are “flows.”
  6. Ask the posts to find a post: a spot in the room where they would like to have a conservation.
  7. Ask the flows to pair up with a post.
  8. Direct everyone to a page in the text where the minor concept occurs.
  9. Ask the participants to discuss the function of the minor concept, staying as close as possible to the text, with detailed attention to how it is constructed.
  10. Notify participants that when exactly five minutes are up they will hear a signal, and that when they hear the signal they must end their conversation immediately, even if they are in the middle of a word.
  11. When the five-minute signal sounds, ask all flows to move to the next post in a clockwise direction.
  12. Repeat eight to ten times.
  13. Bring the group back together and discuss in plenary session what was discovered about the minor concept and the text.

From: Brian Massumi, “Collective Expression. A Radical Pragmatics,” The Principle of Unrest (London: Open Humanities Press, 2017) 111-140, here: 111-112.
German version:


How-to "The Perfect Robbery" by Juli Reinartz," in Learning to Experiment, Sharing Techniques: A Speculative Handbook, edited by Julia Bee and Gerko Egert (Weimar/Berlin: Nocturne, 2020).

The perfect robbery

Juli Reinartz

Format and tools

  • 4-5 days of 5-6 hours per day
  • 10-15 participants
  • Possible as a stand alone workshop; as part of a festival; or as a seminar with students, doctoral candidates, and teachers
  • Preferably in two rooms, one of which is equipped with tables, chairs, and pencils, while
  • the other is empty and spacious
  • Plenty of coffee, water, and tea
  • 1-2 organizers, who prepare the joint process and later become part of the group
  • 3-4 additional experts to guide the mini-workshops, who do not have to take part in the planning of the robbery. They facilitate a 2 hour workshop session, answer questions, and respond to participant’s questions
  • A list of heist movies
  • A computer, a projector, and internet access
  • A chosen bank which is easy to reach and a fixed date for the robbery


The course of the workshop is self organized; the participants organize the planning themselves. However, the organizers determine some key dates in advance:
  • Day 1: Introductory round and visit the bank
  • Day 2: Mini-workshop and movie night
  • Day 3: Second mini-workshop
  • Day 4: Third mini-workshop
  • Day 5: Fourth mini-workshop (possible) and final performance

From: “Der perfekte Bankraub” by Juli Reinartz
Page from scanned microfiches, “Api Kartini Djakarta: Jajasan Melati,” 1959-1964, Leiden University Library, Special Collection.
Page from scanned microfiches, “Api Kartini Djakarta: Jajasan Melati,” 1959-1964, Leiden University Library, Special Collection.

The Indonesian Women Movement GERWANI

Stefanie Wuschitz









1 PAGE api-kartini-19-9-2022.jpg
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API Kartini page 4 .jpg

Stills from an instruction animation by Stefanie Wuschitz

[[File:mz-baltazar-coc.png|thumb| Code of conduct of Mz* Baltazhar's Lab. One of the "Solarpunk" work sessions focussed on the partner organizations' code of conducts, in which the divergences and similarities of the different contexts of Hackers & Designers, Prototype Pittsburgh and Mz* Baltazhar's Lab were discussed. CoC Mz*Baltazar’s Lab

Mud Batteries 

Solarpunks Intergenerational Workshops—Vienna edition

Olivia Jaques and Stefanie Wuschitz (Mz* Baltazar's Lab)

Olivia Jaques and Stefanie Wuschitz of Mz* Baltazar's Lab organized an open-air workshop for children and their caretakers to make mud batteries. Mud batteries are batteries that harvest electrons generated by anaerobic microbes in the mud—it’s almost as if the microbes inhale dirt to exhale electricity. During the workshop each child and their caretaker built their own mud battery. We had prepared all the necessary parts to build the mud batteries beforehand. 

To make one mud battery you need: 

  • Graphite (crayons or pens)
  • Two wires with clamps (alligator clips)
  • Two jars (we used ceramic vessels the size of large drinking glasses) 
  • Some stinky mud (leaves, branches, and stones should be removed so only fine-grained mud remains)
Animation How to make a battery from mud
Workshop participants scooping mud

To introduce the workshop we talked about electricity and its role in society, and the environment. We asked questions such as: Why do we care about the environment and why should we protect it? The kids, with our help, sieved the mud and filled it into small containers. We put one piece of graphite into each jar and attached two wires––one as anode and another as cathode. Then we waited while the microbes rearranged and aligned themselves with the electrical polarity we created. After some time had passed, we arranged all the mud batteries in a line to maximize their power and measured the total voltage. The voltage was extremely low, which prompted a conversation in which we speculated on how we could shift toward greener and more respectful forms of power consumption. The kids enjoyed playing with the mud and the caretakers enjoyed exploring alternative energy sources. Building the circuit to measure incoming voltage was a messy business, but the process felt exciting and adventurous, largely because the kids were not usually permitted to play with mud or electricity.

Detail image from a follow-up zine workshop

Overall, we were happy with the result of the workshop, and we had an unusually high number of first-time participants. The kids were very excited and participated enthusiastically in the workshop. This gave the caretakers the opportunity to go upstairs, prepare some food, and bring it out to share with everyone. This way, the workshop became a picnic as well. The next time we run the workshop we would like to focus more attention on involving the caretakers to build something as a shared effort. It was a very nice experience, nonetheless. The workshop and picnic enabled us get to know each other as neighbors. Weeks later, kids who participated were coming up to us and saying hello when they saw me on the street. 

The following exchange is a conversation between Olivia and Stefanie in which they reflect on some of the subjects breached during the Solarpunk collaborative trajectory.

Stefanie Wuschitz: When Anja Groten and Loes Bogers asked our collective, Mz* Baltazar's Lab, to collaborate with H&D, I knew this was going to be a wonderful project! I am very inspired by the ethical approach they take on all their projects. When Mz* Baltazar's Lab met with the other nodes in the network––in Pittsburg and Amsterdam––it clicked, and in the months that followed we all got to know each other better, the initiators of the labs, and the organizers in their communities. During regular online exchange we came to learn that we were all struggling with similar issues in our work.

Olivia Jaques: Some struggles seemed to be universal, such as the struggle of trying to balance raising a kid with working as an artist. Other struggles seemed to be local and context-based, such as the issue of racism in the neighborhood. Mz* Baltazar's Lab, for example, is located in the 20th district in Vienna, Austria’s capital. The lab’s direct surroundings are buzzing with different languages and cultures. Housing here is more affordable than in other areas of Vienna. You find low income households here as well as various grassroots initiatives and artists living in the area. The kids hanging out at the playground are mostly raised bilingual. When communities stay within their bubbles, it’s more difficult to create situations of exchange. Mz* Baltazar's Lab feels quite detached from the neighborhood in some senses; but then again, it’s serves as an important home for its queer, feminist, tech/hacker/media-savvy community. We don't have to fight for gender-inclusive language or against patriarchal norms within our bubble, friction only occurs when we step outside our comfort zone. Hence, our code of conduct can be understood as an exercise, as reproductive labor. It is something that we need to co-create together, and it must grow and shift with time. 

In particular, I remember the discussions we had after the presentation on codes of conduct, in which we looked at the different codes from each lab. Seeing the variety in content really helped me to grasp the local contexts of each lab, their complexities, and their significance to each of their communities.. What do you think, Stefanie? Do you feel Hackers & Designers, Prototype, and Mz* Baltazar's Lab play different roles or perform different functions to their specific environments? 

SW: I think the artistic activities we came up with respond directly to our specific cultural contexts. It was motivating for me to see that Hackers & Designers and Prototype had already transformed their struggles into new formats. The ones that inspired me most were workshops targeted at very specific groups like “hacker moms” from minority groups. 

OJ: I remember when you asked me if I wanted to conduct the mud battery workshop with you. Back then, in March 2022, we were thinking of using the Mz* Baltazar's Lab space. It is basically a white cube with two big window displays, allowing passersby to look inside if they feel too shy to enter. Across the street a small park is squeezed in between two building blocks, a kindergarten, and a playground. It was actually a coincidence that we changed the original plan of hosting the mud workshop in the lab to a guerilla-style open-air workshop in the park. This felt like a pretty unconventional move for Mz* Baltazar's Lab, and yet at the same time it suited us well, as we both have a strong affection for community and participatory art. I do hope we can continue with this approach. For me, it is really important to think of art as a means to build bridges between different communities. The format of the mud workshop has a lot of potential in this sense. We got such a positive reaction from the kids; they were intrigued by what was happening and were very keen to participate and experiment with us. To demonstrate how electricity works, you brought a battery, wires with clamps, and a light bulb. To the kids, this may as well have been the beginnings of a magic trick! 

The setting of the workshop opened up the possibility of trying something unusual in our usual surroundings––this was very exciting for the kids. Most of them were hanging out at the playground by themselves and they approached us quite independently. The age range turned out to be quite different from what we originally had in mind; the youngest were around three years old and the oldest were around ten. Our initial intention was to organize the workshop for kindergarten children who––or so we thought––would like the idea of sifting the mud and shoveling it into jars. But as the older neighborhood children grew curious and joined in, they quickly took over the mud sifting, and with it, changed the dynamic of the workshop. With their advanced motor skills and knowledge, the older children were able to teach the younger ones; conversely this meant that the younger ones gained less hands-on-experience. The caretakers stood back, perhaps to give space to the kids, or perhaps because they were happy to get a break from parenting. 

Referring to the adults as “caregivers” is, I must confess, an optimistic statement––it comes with a certain agenda. I resonate strongly with the label myself, and view myself more generally as a parent than I do a “mom.” This must be due to my specific situation. Today, kids grow up within many different family constellations; society has to get used to it. The normative idea of a family as consisting of a mother, father, and child is only one possibility among many. How would you describe the situation in Vienna when it comes to caretaking? 

Image from mud batteries workshop

SW: Society in Austria is still quite patriarchal. It is unlikely that one would give a second thought to how caretakers could become structurally more included. Female-identified folks usually stay home with the kids, and dedicate their time entirely to care work. When the kids grow up and go to school, female caretakers go back to work in part-time positions, so that they can still pick them up from school. It is due to these part-time positions that female* citizens in Austria receive only 40 percent of the retirement that male-identified citizens receive. But of course, this is quite substantial compared to countries where there is no such thing as retirement whatsoever. 

My position is a bit different. My partner works part-time to pick up our children from school. Even though this creates less financial dependency on my partner, I still find it challenging to be both a mother and a hacker. To me, hacking is an artistic practice. It means exploring tech-related and tech-caused problems, opening the black box, and demystifying tech-solutionism. But it is hard to keep up the pace that is necessary for hacking in the chunks of time I have available.

The communities I participate in value the kind of creative and critical thinking that open-source culture encourages. They think of themselves as very open-minded. Yet many people who work at this intersection—of art, science, and activism—don't live with kids. In fact, every hacker in our community who became a mother dropped out sooner or later. This is not only disruptive for our community at large, but also for the individually, because it becomes harder to do art and hack by yourself at home.

Detail image from a follow-up zine workshop

Olivia Jaques is a Vienna-based artist and cultural worker. As her work spins around the relational, socio-political (feminist!), and the performative, most of her work is created through artistic collaborations. For 10+ years she has been working together with Marlies Surtmann. Since 2017 they have been running the Performatorium,a laboratory for practice-oriented research of and through performative means. In 2022 they were awarded the TQW Research Affiliation, and in 2023 they will continue their work within an INTRA artistic research project together with Charlotta Ruth. As part of a transdisciplinary artistic research team Jaques is currently involved in a PEEK project at the University of Applied Arts. Since 2016, Jaques has been associated with artasfoundation, a Swiss Foundation for Art in Conflict Regions, in which she explores how artistic collaboration across cultures can be achieved and what role artistic work can play in peace processes. Recently she has become part of Mz* Baltazar's Laboratory and is also part of the transdisciplinary artistic research team morphopoly, a PEEK project at the University of Applied Arts. 
Stefanie Wuschitz works at the intersection of research, art, and technology, with a particular focus on Critical Media Practices (feminist hacking, open-source technology, peer production). She graduated in 2006 with an MFA in Transmedia Arts (University of Applied Arts Vienna). In 2008, she completed her Masters at TISCH School of the Arts at New York University and became Digital Art Fellow at Umea University in Sweden. In 2009 she founded the feminist hackerspace and art collective Mz* Baltazar's Laboratory in Vienna, and in 2014 she finished her PhD on 'Feminist Hackerspaces' at the Vienna University of Technology. She held research and Post-Doc positions at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the Vienna University of Technology, Michigan University, Weizenbaum Institut, Universitaet der Kuenste Berlin, TU Berlin  (Open Science, Berliner Hochschulprogramm DiGiTal) and is currently project leader of an FWF research project on 'Feminist Hacking. Building Circuits as an Artistic Practice' affiliated to Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Her works have been exhibited in international venues such as Panke Galerie, Berlin;, ART|JOG 8, Yogyakarta; Bouillants, Vern-sur-Seiche; Austrian Cultural Forum, New York City; Fringe Festival, Taipei; and others.

Measurements buttons
Measurements buttons. For documentation of the open source media player software see:

The Button Saga

Juliette Lizotte

Once upon a time, in 2019, I began exploring non-linear narratives through the format of an immersive and transformative video installation. A year and a half later, Sisters of the Wind was born: an interactive story and installation that weaves together seven videos, a performance, a LARP (live action role play), and a publication.

The core narrative focuses on a community of people living in a world where powerful winds have destroyed most of what was before. Through new belief systems and a strong sense of togetherness, the community has developed a unique relationship to the extreme force of nature. They consider the wind to be a “sister” that holds the power of creation and destruction. They live with the wind. They move with it as it changes the world around them. They use it to carry magic and dreams.

I wrote the story so that the videos can be viewed in any order, as a-temporal fragments of the overarching narrative. Some videos include NPCs (Non-Playable Characters), which hold messages for viewers to interpret in order to steer the direction of the narrative. When the installation was first on show,W139, Amsterdam, NL, (February 2021) I personally told the story to visitors, and gave them the opportunity to make decisions as and when needed. After making their choices, I brought them to the video that corresponded with their decision. To begin the video, my lovely partner manually pressed the play button on the remote control of the media player. We would press pause at the end and the videos would be rewound to the beginning in between showings. We did this repeatedly for five days. It was a good way to test whether the format of interactive and non-linear storytelling was working. The direct interaction also helped me to feel comfortable with the performative aspect of storytelling in this way.

jujulove performing Sisters of the Wind at w139, Amsterdam, 2021

When I was invited to show the work again,Nadie Nunca Nada No, Madrid, ES (January 2022) I took the opportunity to make the work autonomous, and to automate the activation of the videos so I didn’t have to be in the gallery at all times. I wanted to do this using open-source technology as it felt important to develop a technical installation that aligned with my ethics and fit with the spirit of the work which aims stimulate knowledge sharing, collaboration, and community building. These aspects are also at the core of open-source culture. I wanted to do so using Raspberry Pi, a series of open-source computer boards, for which there are an endless range of extremely well-documented scripts. Spoiler alert: I didn’t manage! As the saga unfolds, I will tell you, dear reader, about my journey to make a seemingly simple script function in the open-source world.

My initial intention was to work with sensors that started the videos when a visitor came into close proximity with the device, however I realized that the act of pressing a button would be a lot more fun. Pressing a button gives the impression of activating something—it gives you power.

Sculpted buttons

I sculpted seven shapes from thermoplastic that could hold yellow arcade buttons. Technically my idea was simple: The videos were to be distributed spatially and activated by a button.


The script would go as follows:

  • The screen is black before the video starts.
  • If a button is pushed the corresponding video starts.
  • At the end of the video the screen turns black.
  • If a button is pushed for more than five seconds, the screen goes black again.

The last function was added in the event that someone accidentally pressed the wrong button, as well as for testing purposes, so that we wouldn’t have to sit through the whole video if an error was made. Sounds pretty simple, right?!

Sculpted buttons connected to 6 different raspberry pis

Together with M, who was interning for me at the time, I started looking into how we could make this work. The first obstacle was that there weren’t any Raspberry Pis in stock, anywhere I looked! Eventually, I managed to borrow six Pis: four from H&D and two from M and a friend. The second problem made itself apparent shortly after: all the Raspberry Pis I borrowed were different models. We had two Raspberry Pi 3B+, two Raspberry Pi 4, as well as two older ones. Furthermore, we only had one “official” Raspberry Pi charger, which turned out to be a problem too, but I wasn’t aware of this yet. After finding some resources on GitHub, we combined a few different scripts and had a piece of code that worked on the Raspberry Pi 3B+. We wired the button to the Pi, but it wouldn’t shut down when we tested it, and I wanted to be sure that it would be reliable since it had to work continuously for several days.

Additionally, because all of the Pis were different models and ran on different operating systems (OS), the code didn’t work on all of them. Eventually, M had the idea to duplicate the working SD card so the Pis would run on the same OS and software. In theory it worked, but in practice it didn’t, and I only discovered this when I started testing them. After trying to modify the code and testing again and again, I began to get desperate.

There was always something that didn’t work. For instance, the video had to be played with OMXPlayer, but this program doesn’t read images. In order to have a black screen before the video started, it had to be an image read by VLC, but VLC continuously emitted an error message when used. I tried to read the image with different programs. I tried putting a video on loop that started and ended with a black screen. But nothing fully worked, and on top of that I couldn’t connect the Pis to the Internet. Things were getting more and more complicated.

One of the many attempts at coding a script!

I asked for help from H&D and other creative coders, but time was pressing on. Everything would be fine if I could find someone to help me for just one day to finish the script and make sure everything worked on the Pis. Eventually, I found someone but they bailed on me the day I arrived in Madrid. Luckily I found someone else: F!

F came to help me the day before the show, while I finished the scenography and AV installation. I wanted F to help me finish my script but instead he made his own script from scratch, which worked great with a ten second video on his Raspberry 4B+. I found this quite annoying because I had gone through great trouble to make my script (sort of) work and I wanted to solve the puzzle, but I had to swallow my pride. If it worked with his script, we were good to go! However, when we put the script on the other Pis it did not work. Eventually, we figured out that the videos were too big for the Pis to hold. Reducing the files to 480p would have solved the issue, but there was no way I was going to do that! At two a.m. on the day before the show I had to tell F to give up because it was becoming too stressful and I was not going to show my work in low resolution. F suggested to source more Pis, which seemed impossible at such short notice and everything being out of stock. But he refused to give up and told me to hand over the files and Pis. He came back the next afternoon with a friend to continue working on it. He hadn’t slept and was on a mission to make it work. Unfortunately, they didn’t succeed. An hour before the show was due to start, J, the curator, bought media players that we used and returned after the show ended.

Eventually, we made the installation work just as it did for the previous edition. J and I executed the scripts with the remote control of the media player. I installed the buttons within the space to see how it looked. A text of the story was printed and given to people at the entrance. Occasionally they had to make a decision, and this was signified by a symbol in the printed version. They had to find the symbols that corresponded with a button at the venue in order to activate the video. When they pressed the button, we pressed play on the remote control! It was interesting to be present in this way and to observe how people were interacting with these objects.

Trying hard to debunk the pi installation at Nadie Nunca Nada No, Madrid, Spain, 2022

Another challenge I encountered was my ambitious idea to place the buttons far away from the audiovisual source. This meant that we either had to use very long HDMI cables for each channel, or use very long cables to connect each button. In retrospect, the first option was probably the best and most reliable, but I went for the second option. We bought a bunch of black one-thread cables—if you are experienced with electronics please don’t laugh!—and M soldered everything the day before the opening. Each button connected to three cables. We soldered some colored jumper wires at the end of the cables to connect and disconnect from the boards easily, but we didn't have enough of the same color so it became very confusing to remember which should go on which pin. For each button I had to look at where it started and how it was plugged in by referring to a photo I took from the first tests. Some cables were extremely long (up to five meters). When the moment came to plug in and test all the buttons, I was confronted with cable soup. It felt like unmaking infinite braids, seven times over!

Photo reminder of what color was at the end of each button's cables!

I was sad that the full set-up didn’t work, but it was still a good experience overall. The visitors didn’t care about how the technical installation was made, but I was disappointed that I didn’t manage to make it work. I told myself that the the moral of that story is that computers will not yet replace humans—or at the very least, these computers will not be programmed by me!

A few months later, I was getting ready to show an iteration of the work as part of a group show that lasted for two months.‘every moment a junction,’ Nest, The Hague, NL (May 2022) It was thus a necessity to make the buttons work. I talked with H about the different options we had. He had worked with museum media players that you could plug buttons into, which was a stable back-up plan. However, it was important to me to make the project function with Raspberry Pis. I was frustrated that I had to constantly rely on proprietary hardware. The media players had terrible interfaces and I couldn’t control much. H was excited to dive into it. He is a genius and knows how and where to look for open-source resources. Predictably, in no time he found an open-source media player software for Raspberry Pi developed by KenT2, which is available on GitHub.See: FINALLY, IT WORKED! I had to borrow two more of the same Raspberry Pis (3B+) in order to make the installation possible and we had to order some official chargers. It was important that the Raspberry Pis were fed with enough electricity (2.5A minimum is ideal). We created a four-channel installation. Three Pis ran two videos and one Pi ran one.

Heerko testing the buttons at nest, The Hague, 2022

The fairytale ends happily after all: the seven buttons were touched, pressed, pushed, and tickled by the show’s visitors! For two months the script ran on the four Pis. The soldering lasted with the exception of one button, which disconnected a week before the show ended, but lovely S managed to fix it with my guidance. Following a couple of months rest, the Pis will be put to use once again, and the button saga will continue! Overkill Festival, Enschede, NL (October 2022)

The buttons mounted on boards as part of the scenography of 'every moment a junction' by Carolin Gieszner, nest, The Hague, 2022

How to fix/replace a button!

(Instructions for S, sent on Telegram)

  1. Look for the box with the materials.
  2. Check the “broken” button and the Raspberry Pi. Take a photo of how it is plugged in and wired for the next steps. Turn off the Pi (> take away the electricity).
  3. Find the exact same button in the box. There are a few different ones. Ideally use the same one, otherwise it's OK but you'll have to find out how to wire it by finding the same button on another Pi.
  4. Unplug button from Raspberry Pi (there are two buttons per Pi except for one. So make sure you have a good photo in case you unplug the other one by mistake).
  5. Pull the button out of the board (it’s glued but it should be easy to take out).
  6. Unscrew the button from the ring within the sculpture. It might be a bit tight but not impossible. :)
  7. Screw the new button into the shape.
  8. Solder the cables like they were. You may need to make the wires accessible again. You can use a lighter to burn a bit of the plastic.
  9. Plug the button into the Pi to test if it works (turn it on again, test if the light works, if it plays the video when pressing).
  10. Unplug the wires again, pass the wires through the hole of the board and fix the button again on the board (maybe put hot glue or double side tape a little bit if needed) and plug it to the Pi again.
  11. Perhaps add a tiny bit of tape so the wires are not hanging and it’s attached to the board securely.

Juliette Lizotte's bio.

Technical drawing of the different components of the fanfare display system
Technical drawing of the different components of the fanfare display system



The display reflects a system of thoughts: what is to be organized, exposed, published, distributed, shared? Why, how, and for whom?

The display is also itself a publishing device, connecting interdisciplinary research practices across contexts, internal processes, and outputs. It is a medium of its own, a tool for thinking critically about the links between graphic design research, spatial publishing, and its various potential publics.

The panels, the beams, their holes, the nuts and bolts that thread through the holes to bring the structure together. All the essential components of a more conventional publishing medium are there. Like a book, the panels work like blank pages; by arranging the panels, the beams, their holes, the nuts and bolts, a spatial layout takes shape.

Display system installed

The fanfare display can be approached concretely as furniture (chairs, desks, shelves, hangers, stage) or constructed into spatial elements as cubes, walls, or walking directions. When constructed in the public, on fairs, or in institutions, the display allows you to claim space, frame content, and publish ideas.

The display combines visual language and material sensibility. The space created is not an empty container in which things happen, but a container and generator of happenings. Its strength comes from this modularity.

The display catalyzes the research, directs the viewer, exposes the process. It shows the structures we use, the [[#Untitling|language] we choose, the behaviors we embody, and the social interactions we engender. It shapes the experience and, ultimately, the end result.

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What makes a display? How is the display a publishing tool? How can a display design be collective? How does the display allow us to claim space?

fanfare is a platform that curates, designs and educates by providing a timely and critical reflection on design and visual communication—both online and offline. fanfare encourages awareness of new exploratory approaches on visual imagery and cross-disciplinary design methodology.

The modular fanfare display structure was created by Freja Kir and Lotte van de Hoef in the early days of fanfare (2014) as a response to a lack of a permanent address and a necessity for adaptability in scale and function.

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fanfare is a platform and design studio for cross-disciplinary collaboration and visual communication. Through an active programme, fanfare generates, explores, and curates environments for visual interactions.
Since the start in 2014, fanfare has created a unique space for experiments, explorations and collaborations in the realm of graphic design and related disciplines. Through their research and design practice, fanfare sharpens and challenges the notion of visual communication.

Distributed Curricula

Phylomon card deck (HDSA–Amsterdam edition)
Phylomon card deck (HDSA–Amsterdam edition)
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Cooperative gaming

Learning about complex eco-systems with Phylo(mon)

Giselle Jhunjhnuwala

I serve as vice president of the board for Prototype PGH. I am interested in community building and I organize a Code and Coffee group within the space. I learned about Prototype PGH through a friend and was interested in maker/hackerspaces in general. My interest was piqued because the space focuses on gender and racial equity, which is unique in Pittsburgh. One of our community agreements is “Alone we know a little; together we know a lot.” Our members write the programs and we try to encourage everyone to share what they know. It’s important to have spaces like this that are run and led by people who do not generally get the opportunities to practice these skills. The name of our space is intended to remind people that it’s OK to try and try again. This is not a space for perfection, rather a space to learn and refine. I have worked in I.T. for a decade and have mostly been self-taught. I decided to ‘“formalize” my knowledge by getting a degree in software engineering last year. I think the greatest challenges of being a programmer are not technical, but social. I question the various business models being used in the field and the ethical concerns that rise up as a result. I am particularly concerned about user data and how it is often privatized. I’ve read critiques from scholars such as Evgeny Morozov, Ruha Benjamin, Shoshana Zuboff, and Kate Crawford, to name a few. These authors investigate and question practices around ownership, labor, privacy, and the commons. This led me to the world of free and open-source software, which I have found to be more actively engaged with these questions. I enjoy reading about and exploring alternative economic and technological systems that aim to provide more equity.

In my personal life, I enjoy running free and open-source software wherever possible. I love the transparency that is baked into these systems since they allow me to learn and make modifications if I so choose. I consider myself to be a late bloomer when it comes to free and open-source technology. My interest grew from curiosity and experimentation, but I did not feel strongly about it. It was only when I learned of the broader context and social issues that surrounded it that I turned toward it more fully. Finding that internal motivator is key to reorienting oneself toward it, and that motivator is different for everyone.


I discovered the Phylo(mon) Project while exploring how other fields employ free and open-source types of licensing for their projects. This project was born out of the phrase “Kids know more about Pokemon creatures than they do about real creatures.” The aim of the game is to have real creatures and plants represented on cards. Because having knowledge of the cards is key to winning the game, kids learn about their local environment while playing it.

I have long had an interest in games and game design. I think games can teach us a lot about the world and help us to develop the skills we need to survive, especially in the context of climate change. Cooperative games in particular build the same skills that can be used to solve real life problems, empowering us through play. I loved the concept of the Phylo(mon) Project and since they license the mechanics under a Creative Commons License Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license, I was interested in morphing the game into a cooperative variant.

Workshop participants playing the game

With the help of software engineer Charlie Koch, I reworked the core card design and mechanics to create a cooperative version. To face our climate change problems, we as a species must learn to work together, understand our local ecological contexts, and figure out how that can affect the global context. Our hope in creating the free and open-source card creator is that people will be inspired by each other’s cards and decks to go out and perform the necessary actions needed to deal with negative environmental issues occurring in their communities. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to create cards for one’s community as well as make our software update instantaneously so that creators can get instant visual feedback on the cards as they are adding information to them. Our software design takes into account privacy and portability in that the entire application is run locally in the browser. People can use it to make a deck or even single cards and export the files to share with others. We initially developed the software for use in a classroom or group. The idea was to have participants create single or sets of cards and the facilitator put the deck together.

Workshop participant Karl Moubarak taking pictures of the local ecosystem to integrate into the card deck

I related the actual creation of the deck using our tool and programming methods to meaningful gamification. The concept of gamification was developed by Scott Nicholson, professor of Game Design and Development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario. It is the application of game elements to a non-game context. Most gamification focuses on extrinsic rewards such as badges, leaderboards, awards, and points. Meaningful gamification focuses on designing principles that increase one’s sense of relatedness, autonomy, and mastery. Our tool and educational workshop around Phylo tries to facilitate play (creative and unexpected use of the card-making tool), engagement, and reflection.

The workshop makes use of two different concepts: a game and a metagame. The game involves playing the deck to see how many points the player can get. The metagame involves making a deck, conversing with others about it, and sharing the decks with other communities. The game has to simplify the complex ecological systems, therefore little deep learning of the subject is possible, but it does encourage tangential learning because it leads you to ask questions about how these creatures actually function in the world. The metagame promotes deeper knowledge of the ecosystem since the maker must find a way to map these complex ecological systems onto the structure of the game. The option to share the deck with communities around the world allows users to reflect and engage with others and gives them a chance to learn how others would solve the same issues. In this way, the metagame meaningfully gamifies the learning of ecosystems.

Phylo workshop at HDSA 2021, Amsterdam node

I enjoyed the process of developing the script for the H&D Summer Academy in 2021. It pushed me to write as clearly and succinctly as I could while trying to incorporate principles of meaningful gamification. It was great to see participants from other nodes use the card tool in unexpected ways, such as inventing new species, stories, and rules. After sharing this deck, it prompted our node in Pittsburgh to reflect on our card game and how else it might be modified and iterated upon. For this iteration of the game, I think that the distributed format worked well. If the workshop had taken place in just one location, I would have probably instructed participants to make several decks with different themes, such as rewilding and bioremediation, flora and fauna, or urban issues. That way, each group would be able to focus on their topic and share the knowledge they learned with others in the same community.

License game deck and guide: CC-BY-SA
Software license: GPLv3

Giselle Jhunjhnuwala is an artist, programmer, and Outreachy alumna. Their work uses free software, and explores the intersections of art, science, and technology. Giselle’s professional experience has taken them back and forth between the US and China, giving them a unique perspective on art and technology at home and abroad.
Documentation and user manual of the workshop "ctrl-c" at HFG Karlsruhe. During the hands-on workshop participants investigated ways to take apart and reassemble remote controllers and other battery powered toys in unusal ways. By saving redundant electronics from becoming e-waste we hacked our way into the mechanics of human computer interaction and user interfaces. At the same time we learned about electronics–all the while critically reflecting on the notion of control. The toy-tools were documented by participants in the form of a user manual that explained and demonstrated the main functionalities
Publication collectively made by Algolit: Piero Bisello, Sarah Garcin, James Bryan Graves, Anne Laforet, Catherine Lenoble, An Mertens, bots and PJ Machine
Documentation and user manual of the workshop "ctrl-c" at HFG Karlsruhe. During the hands-on workshop participants investigated ways to take apart and reassemble remote controllers and other battery powered toys in unusal ways. By saving redundant electronics from becoming e-waste we hacked our way into the mechanics of human computer interaction and user interfaces. At the same time we learned about electronics–all the while critically reflecting on the notion of control. The toy-tools were documented by participants in the form of a user manual that explained and demonstrated the main functionalities


H&D in conversation with Sarah Garcin

H&D: Hi Sarah, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sarah Garcin: I'm Sarah, I have a diploma in graphic design and became interested in programming when I was at les Beaux Arts in Rennes studying design. We had some short beginners courses in programming at school, but I'm mostly self-taught. When I was younger I had tried scripting Adobe software before but I couldn't really do what I wanted, yet my interest in programming persisted. At les Beaux Arts I made my first website in one of their classes and it got me very excited. This is what I was looking for in graphic design: a change to make automatic, modular stuff and generative things. From there I started combining graphic design and coding by making websites and software. 

H&D: We first met at the H&D Summer Academy of 2017,See “Publishing Machines Workshop,” Hackers & Designers, August 4, 2017,, and ”Publishing Machines,” YouTube, September 18, 2017, when you facilitated a workshop with the PJ Machine (Publishing Jockey Machine). The ideas and tools you introduced us to with the PJ Machine branched off into many other projects, activities, and adaptations. Could you tell us a bit more about the PJ Machine project?

SG: Ok, I will start with an object description. The PJ Machine is a box with colorful arcade buttons. You plug it into a computer and open a program called PJ Machine, which is a piece of experimental software to design layouts that I made with node.js. There are many version of the PJ Machine, but it is always in beta—it’s never final. The buttons on the box allow you to manipulate the software interface, which further allows you to manipulate content, like text and images. You can move it, zoom, rotate, and mix images together; change colors, fonts, and the spacing between letters; and so on. Each button corresponds to one of these functions.

PJ machine

I started this project in 2016 when I was working with the Algolit work group at Constant in Brussels.Piero Bisello (art historian and writer), Sarah Garcin (graphic designer and programmer), James Bryan Graves (computer scientist), Anne Laforet (artist and critic), Catherine Lenoble (writer), and An Mertens (artist and writer) collaborated on the project. See “Algolit,” Constant VZW, We were at a three-day book sprint hosted at the Mad Scientist Festival in Bern, Switzerland, where we created generative texts—or algo-literature—taking Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein as a departure point. The Algolit group had come up with different scripts for IRC chat and each script was linked to a different part of the Frankenstein story. Using chatbots they generated a new, remixed version of Frankenstein. They asked me to create a tool to make a book really quickly. The idea was to create the entire thing from concept to print in three days. During our brainstorm I showed them a project I had done with Atelier des Chercheurs, another group with whom I organize projects for children.See With this group we had made an interface to replace a mouse or trackpad because we noticed that some children weren’t able to use these devices easily, so we replaced the mouse with three arcade buttons, which leveled the playing field. Now, all the kids could control the interface with the box. The Algolit people thought that was interesting so we came up with an arcade box that we could use to manipulate the layout of the Frankenstein texts. The tool allowed all the people involved in the project—not just the “designers”—to collaborate on designing the layout. Typically, when designing a book you finish the content before creating the layouts. but this tool allowed us to update the content simultaneously. We printed everything at night and produced 100 books by the end of the three days. It was quite experimental and very fun. 

The Algolit Frankenstein bot publication, designed with the PJ Machine
H&D: After this project, H&D invited you to facilitate a one-day workshop on the PJ Machine. Did any new ideas, angles, or insights emerge from sharing your project with a new group of artists and designers in this way? 

SG: Yes, it gave me the opportunity to continue working on the project and the documentation of it, and to think about it from a different angle. I hadn't really documented the software of the PJ Machine correctly before. So far, we had made only one “version” for an exhibition. For the workshop, I thought about the PJ Machine as a pedagogical object or tool that allows you to learn about CSS. So in a way I made a new version of the tool for the workshop that was more user-friendly for participants. I also wanted to ask questions such as: What does it mean to exclusively use a mouse and a keyboard? Why do we (still) do that? I'm very interested in how we interact with digital as well as physical interfaces. Since these devices were invented, we’ve barely changed the way we interact with them. We must be able to come up with alternative interfaces. I brought this question to the workshop and I was curious to see how people would respond to it with the PJ Machine software and an Arduino or Makey Makey.

H&D: The question about alternative interfaces certainly resonated with us at H&D. I remember we had a really good workshop experience. For me, the PJ Machine was an example of a software that made the Makey Makey more exciting to use, so thank you for that! And of course you provided generous documentation and resources. The Github repository provides quite comprehensive documentation, with code, context, and examples illustrating the idea of live publishing. Earlier you mentioned you wanted to document the project “correctly.” What does that mean to you?

SG: Well, I tend to be kind of messy. I want to prototype my ideas really fast,,so my code and my documentation is always pretty messy, it's all over my computer. On the other hand, though my messy self wants to continue playing and copy-pasting everywhere without annotating the code, I'm also a maniac about keeping it clean. Running a workshop gives me a good excuse to stop working and clean everything up. This is what it means to me to do it “correctly”: workshop participants need to make sense of the code too. Documentation also helps me to understand more clearly what I did; it forces me to do research and add references on the more technical aspects. It's more cerebral and less frenzied. I use the workshop and workshop preparation as a way to make sense of what I learned during the messy making process. 

H&D: So first you want to make it work, and second you want to understand why it works?

SG: Exactly. I’m happy because things are working but sometimes I have no idea why! 

H&D: I think it's great that you bring those two sides in: the messy workflow of the experimentation phase, followed by the work of tidying it up and making sense of it all. The documentation also provides participants with something they can work with on their own without having an expert looking over their shoulder. Your documentation allowed H&D to continue experimenting with the tool in other contexts and constellations. 
H&D On/&Off the Grid publication, 2018, designed with the PJ Machine software and conductive cover

We designed the On/Off the Grid publicationSee “On & Off the Grid Publication,” Hackers & Designers with the PJ Machine, and we hosted a very physical workshop with it: an "Interfacial Workout," where we made games and choreographies for bodies in space to play the software.See “Interfacial Workout,” Hackers & Designers, October 24, 2019, We also hooked up battery-powered toys such as toy guitars to “play” the layout interface in the browser.See “Workshop ctrl-c HFG Karlsruhe,” YouTube, May 24, 2018,, and “Workshop ctrl-c HFG Karlsruhe – 2,” YouTube, May 24, 2018, See also “Counter Interfaces,” Hackers & Designers, and “Control the controllers,” Hackers & Designers, So even within this small group there were so many iterations of the PJ Machine. I'm curious if you are aware of any other projects that were inspired by the PJ Machine?

Interfacial Workout workshop, POST Design symposium, Copenhagen, 2019.

SG: I was so impressed that you managed to make a book with the PJ Machine! You made something quite substantial and very beautiful with that very experimental code. I don't have any knowledge of other people making different iterations of it. People tend only to reach out when there's a problem with your code, not when everything is working! But you did incredible work with it. 

H&D: You licensed your documentation on Github under a GNU GPL v.3 licenceGNU General Public license is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the four freedoms of running, studying, sharing, and modifying the software. See, but besides code your documentation includes a contextualization of the PJ machine (references, project pictures), and as a whole reads as a proposal for how the PJ Machine could be used to challenge the conventional proprietary tool ecologies of graphic designers. I’m wondering how you feel about this open-source mentality when it goes beyond using each other's code? Do you think an open-source mentality could counter the trope of the individual star designer?

SG: I think of open-source as a way of working but also a way of thinking that you can apply to other things, like cooking. Normally you share your recipes and you do it for free. But when you study design, you are brought up with the idea of being an auteur. You are expected to create a unique signature that you protect with copyright. But you could also use the Github principle on an image, and that's actually very interesting. Somebody can perhaps ‘fork' the image, use it, and so on; one image can create many branches. I don't really mind what people do with my code. The worst -case scenario is that nobody uses it! 

H&D: When I was studying there was no notion of other proprietary tools existing at all. Everyone was really concerned with mastering media design software like Photoshop and InDesign, and becoming very efficient with it. Inviting students or workshop participants to hook-up a toy guitar to control their Adobe Photoshop application to make a layout might be a small gesture, and perhaps a silly thing to do, but in the reactions I also sensed relief and excitement about messing with these so-called “professional programs.” Why do you think it's so exciting to make interfaces strange and break with the expectation of things going smoothly?
Toy-tool, from 'Control the controller' and 'ctrl-c' workshops, HFG Karlsruhe, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Design Academy Eindhoven.

SG: Experiences with our physical interfaces are literally the same regardless of the software they are interfacing with. We use the same gestures all the time. We forget something important, which is that we are in the world. When it comes to interacting with computers, we tend to limit our world to a chair, a desk, a mouse, and a keyboard. Even if digital interfaces are different, the physical gestures are the same. When I was a kid I played a lot of video games with my brother. We had the Nintendo with the square controllers and just the “A” and “B” buttons. I was fascinated by the design of these controllers. We had two games: Super Mario 2 and Duck Hunt. For the latter, the controller functioned as a plastic gun: you hunt ducks by shooting at the TV screen! I was so fascinated by it. Then we got a Playstation, which had a few more buttons and two joysticks. But you still do all of the interaction with your thumbs. For the racing games we had a steering wheel and pedals to drive the computer. In the real world there are a lot of objects and ways to move your body, so why wouldn't you interact with those? 

Toy-tool, from 'Control the controller' and 'ctrl-c' workshops, HFG Karlsruhe, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Design Academy Eindhoven.
H&D: Learning in a way that requires your body can be such a transformative experience. Sitting behind a laptop typically just doesn't make you feel alive in the same way. That brings us to another interest you are pursuing at the moment, which doesn’t involve sitting behind the computer. You are currently exploring the world of making (and eating) food, where you address questions around food systems, ecology, sustainability, and local products. Are you already seeing any parallels between these different practices? 

SG: I always use the metaphor of recipes when I teach code, because a recipe is basically a script. You put something in, you follow a series of steps, which brings you to your result or outcome. It's like a function that you execute. But besides the analogy, to me cooking is also about sharing and approaching life in an open-source way. You share the food and the dishes, but above all it provides a place to exchange and talk about the things happening in your life. In my future I see a place where we gather to eat—some type of restaurant—that has all kinds of activities circulating it, like learning how to code and make radio shows, reading books, and publishing things. You come to eat, but stay for the radio show being made in the corner, and suddenly you find yourself talking on the radio with your mouth full of pie. 

H&D: This algorithmic open-source eatery sounds amazing. The experience of eating also offers this wonderful cyclical process of bringing you back to the physical world after spending time alone behind a computer. It’s like saying "hey, you are here, you have a body, here are some other people, let's go eat!" 

SG: Yes, and it involves a process of iteration because you can do so many versions of the same thing! I'm fascinated by that. My two favorite ingredients are potatoes and eggs; you can make an infinite number of things with each of these ingredients. You start with one idea, and in preparing it you will get so many more ideas. You share it with your friend from India and they suggest adding spinach and paneer, and it's amazing! It's sharing and pulling, pushing, forking—YEAH! Maybe I have to name my restaurant GIT, but with G-E-A-T.

H&D: But seriously, that sounds so good.
Thank you for a lovely conversation Sarah.

SG: Thank you!

Sarah Garcin designs, programs, cooks, teaches, makes radio and draws. She is interested in collaborative writing practices, knowledge sharing, pedagogy, alternative publishing systems, open-source software and wild gathering.

Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam
Worksheet for “An Automatic Workshop,” collaboration with Shailoh Philips during the H&D Summer Academy 2018, Amsterdam

Script annotations by Pia Louwerens, Workshop reenactment, Troef Leiden, June 2022
Workshop anecdotes, written by workshop participants, June 2022


Scripting Workshops

Anja Groten The term “workshop” travels through manifold contexts, crossing boundaries between art and activism, disciplines and institutions, commercial and educational contexts. At times, it appears that anything can be a workshop, and it is often assumed that the format is highly productive, where outcomes can be achieved, learned, or produced within a short amount of time. Some workshops draw inspiration from formats and methods that originate in software- and hardware development such as rapid prototyping In the context of workshops that have crossed my paths the notion of rapid prototyping broadly describes a process that leads to certain workshop outcomes. To give one example: "Yes, we will be building prototypes in one day! […] In the first half of the day we will [...] create a storyline and explore sensory aspects to incorporate in the virtual environment. The other half we will spend on building (and testing) a rapid prototype.” Border Sessions, Labs, "”Building a VR Empathy Machine” , sprints The notion of the 'sprint' occurs in the context of 'agile' or 'scrum' sprint cycles for product-oriented software-development 
Kelly Waters "All about Agile. Step 4: Sprint Planning (Tasks)", in: "How To Implement Scrum in 10 Easy Steps" (October 2007). The booksprint is another example of time-boxed high-velocity workshop production Mushon Zer-Aviv; Michael Mandiberg; Mike Linksvayer; Marta Peirano; Alan Toner; Aleksandar Erkalovic; Adam Hyde (2010). "Anatomy of the First Book Sprint". Collaborative Futures. Transmediale, Berlin: April, 2011., or hackathons A 'hackathon' (neologism of 'hacking' and 'marathon') is a time-constrained collaborative soft- and hardware development event. The aim of a hackathon is to combine different expertise of soft- and hardware development to come to a (useful, creative, or unique) product or to find solutions to a problem. Hackathons often focus on a specific topic or technology..

The workshop has become an attractive format for time-boxed collaboration that functions well within the context of the “new economy,” commercial conferences, incubator programs, and creative retreats. Taking place outside of the daily work routine, workshops ought to be fun while enhancing the participants’ CVs. At times the workshop is understood as a product in and of itself.“Are you working on projects where technology and human interaction are involved, and are you looking for a new approach? As of today, we offer a brand-new workshop concept for you and your team. In just two hours you learn how to work with the Pyramid of Technology toolbox in an active, dynamic and 100% analogue way!” 
Another example of a workshop-in-a-box “The crazy thing about Workshop Tactics. It’s now sold tens of thousands of copies all around the globe. To consultants, managers, professors and doctors. Designers, engineers, managers and CEOs. It’s trusted by folks at the BBC, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Apple, Meta, Stanford University, and Lockheed Martin. The list is endless.”–Charles Burdett, founder of Pips Decks Jonathan Courtney, The Workshopper Playbook, "Jonathan Courtney is a facilitation genius who designs and runs workshops for the coolest companies on the planet. This book contains his secret formula - so don't just stand there, read it!", quote by Jake Knapp, author of Sprint : how to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016),

Ever since our first workshop-based event under the title “Hackers & Designers” in 2013, the workshop format has played an important role for the H&D collective. Since then, it has been reinterpreted, practiced, and circulated in many ways and significantly influenced how H&D has evolved as a collective. In contrast to the workshop paradigm described above, H&D workshops are not concerned with products or productivity,to speak in neo-liberal terms. Within H&D, the aim of the workshops is not primarily to fix a presented problem. There are no imposed competitive elements, and processes of making do not necessarily result in output. On the contrary, the artifacts produced during the workshops have the characteristics of disposals rather than proposals. They are the side-products of a process.

Work the Workshop

In 2018, H&D organized the fourth edition of the H&D summer academy (HDSA). For the first time we chose not to differentiate workshop participants from workshop facilitators in our open call. People who were interested in joining HDSA had to apply by submitting a workshop proposal. Thus, they committed to facilitating a workshop as well as participating in the full duration of the two week long workshop program. No prior experience in teaching or facilitating workshops was required. As part of the preparation toward this edition of HDSA, we introduced a peer review process during which the workshop proposals were reviewed by everyone who had submitted a workshop. That way, we involved workshop facilitators in developing one another's workshop preparations and created connections among the group before HDSA actually began.

However, it transpired that the lack of specificity as to what exactly characterizes the “workshop” as a format made it hard to describe, defend, or critique the proposed workshops in a peer review process. The submitted workshop descriptions remained brief. They either reflected on the subject of the workshop or on the technicalities, but rarely did they address both, or in ways that invited suggestions and feedback on the workshop. The proposals did not incorporate descriptions of how a workshop would actually play out in a space and over a certain amount of time, and did not take the different needs and levels of expertise of the participants into consideration. This observation led me to submit a workshop proposal with Shailoh Philips, who at the time was my colleague at the research consortium “Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making.” The NWO funded research consortium ‘Bridging Art, Design and Technology through Critical Making' was later renamed 'Making Matters work group' and has organized two symposia and one publication in the period of 2017-2022. Our workshop took place at the beginning of HDSA under the title "Work the Workshop" and focused on the format of the worksop itself. 
Workshop script of later workshop iterations:

Anja Groten and Shailoh Philips behind a glass window observing how the workshop executes “itself,” “Work the Workshop,” H&D summer academy in 2018.

We formulated exercises that were meant to offer participants different perspectives on their workshop plans. The exercises were intended to serve as an invitation to view the workshop itself as a medium, something that could be externalized, tweaked, and reiterated. The first exercise, "An Automatic Workshop," was to imagine the workshop as a set of instructions, almost like an algorithm or script that could be executed without the workshop facilitators being present. We also presented this exercise as a script that was delivered without the workshop facilitators being present in the space. We prepared the script and workshop kit in such a way that it explained itself. This exercise was inspired by “THE THING,” an automatic workshop. Participant description of her experience at "The Thing": to dwell in a space where there is not a clear cut answer", 'The Thing. An Automated Workshop', concept and creation by Ant Hampton & Christophe Meierhans., last accessed March 2022. Writing up a complete workshop script that can be executed without a facilitator present is a tedious process. Aspects of the workshop that might usually be improvised needed to be scripted and explained. Unexpected outcomes had to be anticipated. However, it was also important to leave some space for interpretation and improvisation.

The second exercise asked participants to pay attention to what we called “workshop props”—materials and equipment that frequently appear in workshop settings, such as sticky notes, white boards, projectors, tables, and chairs arranged in a circle, as well as cookies and coffee. First, we asked the workshop facilitators to create an inventory of their most-used props and replace them with other self-made props in order to play out the consequences. The final exercise invited participants to physically rehearse the workshop at a high speed. Workshop facilitators had to physically move their participants' bodies around, in the way they imagined participants would take up space throughout the course of the workshop.

Workshop toolkit from “Work the Workshop,” H&D summer academy in 2022. Each prompt was clipped to a piece of paper. The prompts instructed participants on what to do with the piece of paper. The workshop was intended to be self-explanatory—to be executed like a “script” without a facilitator.

This “meta” workshop about workshops was not intended to provide a recipe or protocol for the perfect workshop. Rather than showcasing best practices, the intention for facilitating a workshop about workshops was to explore the format of the workshop itself as it has become a substantial ingredient for H&D's activities but had remained mostly unquestioned and never clearly articulated. With every new group we have become accustomed to slightly adjusting the ways in which we approach the workshop. We wanted to attend to the ways the workshop format itself can be conceptualized and designed, including unforeseen aspects. Furthermore, we wanted to facilitate an exchange regarding past workshop experiences and expectations in order to find ways of articulating similar and different incentives for facilitating and participating in workshops. As we were all facilitators as well as participants, we had a shared interest in having a discussion about how we wanted the workshops to play out, how we would support each other with feedback, and perhaps how we would take the opportunity to rethink the workshops within their specific contexts.

The way a workshop unfolds depends on many variables that are conditioned by the environment in which it takes place. It was useful to hear about the various workshop experiences and expectations of participants, in addition to articulating collective desires but also insecurities that were specific to that particular temporary group.This was a first step in making individual and collective intentions explicit and in creating a workshop atmosphere prior to and during the workshop program.

In the iterations that followed, H&D continued exploring the BYOW (Bring Your Own Workshop) format as an attempt to decentralize the curation and organization of the workshop program, and to create from the get-go an egalitarian learning environment that responds to the particular assemblage of people, tools, and environments.

In some respects, the practice of inviting workshop hosts to write detailed outlines of their workshop, and letting others give feedback and contribute to their development prepared us for the disembodied experience of organizing, hosting, and participating in workshops from 2020 onwards. The notion of the “workshop script” evolved from a commitment toward paying critical attention to the workshop format but evolved further due to the necessity of staying connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The workshop script became a “thing held in common,” a concept and artifact that was shaped and collectively reshaped, and could be referred to while participants and facilitators were distributed across countries and timezones, and trying to continue to organize, facilitate, and participate in workshops remotely.

Within the context of H&D, the workshop script expresses a particular (not universal) relationship to the workshop format. It explicates the collective effort of staying connected, even while there are other forces at play that seem to work against that effort. By resisting one definition of “workshop,” for instance by including participants, organizers, and facilitators in questioning and redefining the particular conditions of workshops every time there is a new occasion, the workshop as such becomes less “agile,” less of a “panacea,” less adaptable to all and any context.


Publishing workshop scripts

The publication Network Imaginaries was a first attempt to publish workshop scripts. The scripts, developed by workshop hosts of the HDSA 2020 edition, were added to the publication as an appendix. By publishing the scripts in their entirety, we aimed to show the care and attention to detail that the workshop hosts put into their scripts, as well as the manifold approaches to developing collective learning formats. It was an attempt to “open-source” these thoroughly refined learning formats.

H&D generally tends toward free and open-source tools and practices. In H&D workshops, the accessibility of source code offers possibilities for using, copying, studying, and changing, thus learning from and with technical objects. In contrast to the restrictions of using, sharing, and modifying proprietary software, free and open-source principles derive from software development practices where technical objects "are made publicly and freely available." Publishing the workshop scripts was an attempt to make available not just the code that a workshop built on or produced, but also to share the learning formats and approaches, and invite readers to reuse and further iterate on those as well. Yet, what is missing in the approach we took to publishing these scripts in Network Imaginaries was a thorough contextualization of the moments in which they were activated, the particularities of the practices they evolved from, and a more explicit reflection on the ways they played out in further iterations and spin-off projects. Furthermore, we gave the scripts a coherent layout, which rendered them equal rather than showing their diverse formats, aesthetics, and media. The question of how to document, distribute, and circulate these ephemeral kinds of workshop-based practices in meaningful and context-sensitive ways, became a guiding question for the publication you now hold in your hands.

Opening up the editorial process

In May 2022 I organized two workshop series. One took place at Page Not Found in The Hague, followed by a second iteration a few weeks later at TROEF in Leiden . 
These workshops reactivated the “Workshop about Workshop” script and set into motion an open editorial research process that eventually culminated in this publication.

By means of short individual and collective—writing and reading—exercises and discussions, I invited participants to express and put into practice different forms of articulation around workshop-based practice. The workshops generated important insights and informed the process of making this publication in significant ways. That is, this publication tries to move away from a “how-to workshop” approach. It is not concerned with best workshop practices but rather takes into account that the workshop is also a fundamentally questionable format that requires critical attention. Organizing workshops responsibly requires context-specific interrogation of how and within which frameworks a workshop may be organized. This question cannot be answered in general terms. Thus, it must be revisited again and again and is perhaps most pertinently answered according to the terms and conditions of each temporary workshop group, and their particular assemblage of people, resources, tools, infrastructures, and environments. Another important question addressed during these workshops was how to self-organize formats for short-term collaborations and temporary collective learning environments, while also developing relationships that are committed and long-term. Thus, the question emerges of how to balance the flexible and fragmented quality of work and life that prevails in our freelance cultural practices. How do we avoid perpetuating the insecurities and disorientations that come with precarious cultural work, and instead work against it?

Each workshop instance took a slightly different approach and duration (between two and four hours). I reiterated similar prompts, but every time in a slightly adjusted manner and in different combinations. The initial prompts can be found in the scripts published alongside this text.

Insights and findings

All workshops in the series departed from and took into consideration the experiences of the respective group of workshop participants. Participants were designers, artists, cultural producers, educators, students—some had experience in facilitating workshops or workshop-like situations, and others had participated in workshops before but had not yet hosted one.

Kicking off the workshop series was Workshop–Werkstatt-werkplaats, which specifically focused on the tension between understanding the workshop as a place for material production and the workshop as an ambiguous yet popular format for time-boxed collaboration. To furnish and equip the workshop space, I asked the collective fanfare to borrow/rent their display system—a modular system made of wooden beams, planks, and reusable screws, which is easy to assemble and reassemble in various spatial structures. As such, the display system can accommodate many hosting situations. With it one can build seating, tables, presentation walls, and shelves.

The workshop participants were invited to collectively challenge / expand / enhance the display system together. As a warm-up, we assembled a “collective workshop vocabulary” on a large sheet of paper, asking ourselves the question how “we” the participating collectives and individuals understand workshop spaces/situations and what we require from them. We individually wrote down memories and reflections from workshops we had taken part in, from activist gatherings to professional training situations. Then we took time to read each other's experiences and read aloud those that stood out to us.

PNF hackers and designers-59.jpg

The evolving collective vocabulary served as a starting point for the next exercise: physically annotating the display system. We applied stickers on its “strong traits” and “weak spots,” while taking into consideration the workshop experiences that had been shared beforehand.

PNF hackers and designers-69.jpg

A recurring subject was that workshops can be intensive, noisy, and overwhelming. Acoustics can implicitly but quite drastically influence the experience of a workshop. Furthermore, the way seating or resting is arranged in workshops rarely takes into consideration the differing physical needs of its participants. Thus, several annotations addressed the subject of accessibility. In the second workshop series we addressed these insights by applying softer materials and cushions to the display system, which served as back rests but also improved the acoustics of the space. Furthermore, we built up the structure in a way that focused on different options for seating.


Everyone participating in the workshops had some sort of experience with workshop-like situations. As such, the personal and subjective workshop anecdotes of participants proved generative in the way they tapped into the problems and potentials of workshops. These personal tales were unleashed in different ways. I asked participants to introduce themselves by sharing how workshops have played a role in their work/life. Another recurrent prompt was to write down personal anecdotes in a timed activity (approximately fifteen minutes), which participants placed somewhere in the space that most suited the subject of the anecdote. Participants were then invited to explore the space and spot anecdotes, which were sometimes hidden or placed out of range. Then they read and further annotated them by applying stickers on the space left empty on the A4 sheet. Through the different modes and stages—vocalizing, writing, commenting, discussing—of explicating personal workshop experiences, a vast inventory of stories came into being. The method of writing and commenting on workshop anecdotes proved to be particularly generative as it drew attention to the narrative and discursive potential of the workshops. Through the constraints of time and format (A4 folded in half), participants were able to tap into their personal repository of workshop experiences and unveil humorous tales and memorable insights as much as frustrations and dilemmas.

Interestingly, throughout the different workshop iterations, participants repeatedly expressed discomfort with the neoliberal connotation of the "workshop.”. Alternative terms were proposed, such as “session,”, “meeting,” “event,” or “assembly.” Yet it was challenging to find a term that could accurately express both the ephemeral character of the workshop format and its correlation with the material workshop space—the artisan workshop. That is, the practical, hands-on approach; the emphasis on doing and making that H&D workshops strive for; along with its temporal character, all of which is reflected in both uses of the term “workshop.”

Another prompt, the “forkshop,” posed the question of how workshop-based practices can or cannot be disconnected from their initial contexts, and be continued and appropriated by others—“forked.” In a preparatory email I asked participants to bring what I called a “pedagogical document,” which could be a workshop outline, a how-to, an installation guide, a game play. I also brought a resource pile to work with myself and invited participants to pick a document that spoke to them. For one of the exercises we walked around the space with a document of our choosing in hand, reading aloud bits and pieces from the paper. The goal was to make it sound as if the fragments read out all belonged to the same script. What these documents had in common was their pragmatic and activating tone. Interesting correlations occurred while reading them aloud.

This exercise was followed up by another task which involved working in smaller groups. Participants were asked to draft a workshop proposal by reusing the prompts they had picked. The intention was to consider the ways that workshops—through their methods and approaches—inspire other workshops. It was an experiment in tracing the ways that workshops generate spin-offs, and imagining “workshop bibliographies”as a way to actively acknowledge where these practices originate, and what inspired them.

Lastly, I invited Pia Louwerens to “fork” one of the workshops that took place at Page Not Found. Pia is a performance artist, researcher, and writer who “scripts” play an important role in her practice. Pia has given performative lectures and workshops in many contexts. Within her work Pia often embeds institutional critique and reflects on the artists' role and partaking in what she calls “institutional scripts” These institutional scripts are written and unwritten protocols, rules and expectations that shape the relation between an artist and the institutions they engage with. Pia and I were colleagues at the research consortium “Making Matters,” where we also hosted workshops together. This time I was a participant in my ..... in Pia's workshop.

In preparation for the workshop Pia copied and annotated my script. We had several conversations about how to approach this takeover. Would I—the one who initially developed the script—be there? Would I be a co-host, participant, or observer? We talked a lot about the discomfort as well as pleasure we find in the awkwardness of workshops; how you realize only in the middle of a workshop that it’s not doing its job, and how you feel it by the heat rising in your body.

You may see traces of the aforementioned prompts in this publication. The takeover by Pia, for instance, was inspired by the workshop re-enactment of Heike Roms. The method of forking workshops and workshop scripts led to the cluster “Active Bibliographies,”an attempt to acknowledge and credit workshop-based practices in explicit ways, and to consider their reuse as a way of building a discourse around workshop-based practices. The anecdotal approach of reflecting and discussing workshop-based practices carries through various contributions as well. Lastly, the exercise "How Many Choices" led to the decision to publish the pedagogical documents presented here in a manner that was close to their initial appearance, rather than re-designing them for general-purpose use.

This text contains excerpts from “Workshop Production” in Anja Groten, "Figuring Things Out Together. On the Relationship Between Design and Collective Practice," PhD diss., Leiden University, 2022.

Anja Groten's bio.

Sketch of workshop setup and game
Pod Mapping: During one of the first work sessions with H&D, Mz* Baltazar and Prototype Pittsburgh, Pernilla proposed to try the method "Pod Mapping" as developed by Mia Mingus for Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC), June 2016. Find more information about the method and the worksheet: and the prompts:
Sketch of workshop setup and game
Short version of the H&D Code of Conduct. One of the "Solarpunk" work sessions focussed on the partner organizations' code of conducts, in which the divergences and similarities of the different contexts of Hackers & Designers, Prototype Pittsburgh and Mz* Baltazhar's Lab were discussed.

Am I a hacker now?

Loes Bogers and Pernilla Manjula Philip

Solarpunks Intergenerational Workshops—Amsterdam edition

"Am I a hacker how?"

Quote by Uma (11-year old participant)

As part of an international collaboration on the topic of solarpunk, H&D members Loes Bogers, Pernilla Manjula Philip, Anja Groten, and Heerko van der Kooij developed an intergenerational workshop for children and adults that imagines sustainable networking in a solarpunk manner. In this text we reflect on the workshop experiences and how they helped us to articulate our views on what solarpunk could mean within our practice.

Solarpunk beginnings

The term solarpunk was not invented by us. Solarpunk is an existing movement, aesthetic, and genre of fiction—including literature but also art, fashion and activism—that envisions a future where inhabitants of the earth have managed to find a way to live sustainably, and/or imagines how we might get there. Jay Springet compiled a nice list of references. What you notice in these texts, and the imagery associated with it, is that technology plays a role in supporting the lives of people as well as other living beings. H&D approached the concept in a very hands-on way: by carrying out practical experiments around an alternative internet— network infrastructures—that are more sustainable than our current infrastructures and the way we design and use them. Exploring no-power or low-power computing can be solarpunk, for example. Solarpunk has radical potential, it's optimistic and hopeful. For that reason it seems like a fitting genre to explore with children. Children are quite good at imagining things in a positive way and are often unafraid to tear things down. This seems fitting to the project of radical future-making: things cannot stay as they are, something's gotta give. 

Image from the scavenger hunt

Examples of solarpunk that resonate with us are the works of fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin, in particular the novel The Dispossessed (1974). The role of technology in this novel is very advanced (like quantum technologies advanced), but limited to the common good—never solely for the benefit of one (group of) individual(s). It also portrays queerness and forms of childrearing, and alternative divisions of labour, which particularly resonated with us in the context of this intergenerational project.

The designer team making the cases for the Wifi packages

The afro-futurist blockbuster Black Panther (2018) could also be seen as an example of solarpunk. It shows a way of dealing with technology in a society that is highly advanced and at the same time attuned to prevailing living eco-systems and natural resources.

Hacker team making the mini websites that were uploaded on the Wifi modules

In our shared solar punk adventure we tried to build something that could be anchored in a concrete setting within which fictional solar punk scenarios could be experience in material ways.

Scavenger Hunt (Bring Your Own Grown-up)

We developed the workshop Solarpunk Kids Scavenger Hunt (Bring Your Own Grown-up), which was held at NDSM-Kunststad in Amsterdam, and later at Page Not Found in the Hague. For this workshop we invited the participating kids to bring a grown-up they liked. In most cases—but not all— this was a parent. In the workshop, participants learnt how to program solar-powered wifi modules and played a digital scavenger hunt in public space together. To create this, we proposed that the kids would play the role of the game “designers” and the parents would play the “hackers” of the infrastructure. 

Participant assembling the Wifi package
Assembled Wifi package
  • “Turn on the wifi on your phone and see if you can find the network called ‘solarpunk-schat.’ What happens when you connect to it?”
  • “I see a website that says we have to look for a treasure that is hidden in the NDSM hangar
  • “I think I've seen those yellow pillars shown in the photo! Come!”
  • “Oh I can't see the website anymore, the signal is gone, did anyone save the pictures?”
  • “No, let's go back to the signal and look at them again!”

In the workshop, the hackers (grown-ups) learned how to program an ESP-based device so that it functioned as a small local web server which could host a small website of no more than 1 MB. The device can be powered by a battery that is charged by a small solar cell, which serves as a mobile signal sender that broadcasts the website locally—not via the WWW—from your pocket or wherever you put it in the space. Each server gives out a Wi-Fi signal with a range of 20-25 meters, so users have to be pretty close to the module in order to connect to the wifi signal, and see the small webpage the ESP is serving. While you are connected to the ESPs wifi signal, you can view the page that holds the clues you need to find the hidden treasure. We were first introduced to this method by dianaband, an artist-duo based in Seoul who used it in the Walking Signals workshop they hosted at H&D in 2019. 

  • “I found the box!”
    • “Great! What's inside?”
  • “Umm, a lot of little devices, I don't know what they are, and pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.”
    • “You found the workshop materials! With these, we will make a small, solar-powered internet, and design a scavenger hunt game for it that we play together at the end of the afternoon.”
    • “Oh cool, do we each get one?”
  • “Yes, each of you gets to hide one piece of the puzzle, and you will make a website together to provide clues about your hiding spots.”
    • “But first, let's talk a bit about the Internet. Who is willing to share how long you are up before you open your phone in the morning?”

By means of introduction, and to activate the knowledge and experiences already present in the group, we asked questions such as: Can you name any devices the Internet is made up of? Do you have an idea what a router does (that little device with the lights, that is probably in your hallway or in a closet)? Where does a website live? Let's compare our mini servers to a "data center," how is it different you think? How much power do these consume? Is it bad for the environment?

Modules notes.jpg
Workshop sets

The small DIY internet we made in the workshop helped to put into perspective the scale and vastness of the resources, materials, and infrastructure to be mined, dug, and maintained in order to create the Internet as we know it. The system was not going to be worldwide, more of a neighborhood network. What would that mean and what would it allow us to do? Is it possible to imagine that not all of the Internet has to be worldwide and running all the time? How much power is consumed by everyday infinite scrolling and streaming? Is it bad for the environment? What could a lighter, more sustainable internet look like? And would such an internet be as fun as the one we know?

  • “Can you think of a moment when you noticed that the Internet is very ‘heavy’?”  
    • “Yes, when a YouTube video loads very slowly and keeps stopping!”
  • “Ah right, yes, I get that too sometimes. What can you do to make it better?” 
    • “Well, you can change the quality but then it looks a bit ugly and it's not as fun.”
  • “Sure, if you don't have the bandwidth for it, it's not so nice to watch a heavy video. What could we do to make it lighter?” 
    • “Umm maybe we could make all the videos extra fast, so they're shorter? That could be funny.”
  • “Good idea! Maybe we can think of some more ways to make a smaller internet, and make sure it's still really fun.”

The Internet often feels like an abstract thing for most of us, even though it's everywhere, all the time. But building a kind of internet for ourselves allows us to relate to networking in a new way. It becomes less abstract and more of a material to work with/against/through, which continuously interacts with all sorts of other things. In the process of doing that, you notice that not everything is possible and there are many forces with which to negotiate. People might police the space you are working in, and ask why you are installing strange devices. There is limited memory space available on devices you can power with a solar cell, so you have to shrink your ideas somehow. There are other people who might be younger, or older, or otherwise different, so you have to adapt how you play to make sure everyone enjoys themselves and feels safe.

Web design by Uma
  • “So, designers, let's decide what our rules are so everyone has a good time. The grown-ups also have to follow them, so this is your chance.”
    • “Don't hide anything higher than your head so everyone can reach it!”
  • “Be nice and help each other!”
    • “The grown-ups have to get us ice creams!”
  • “Very good. We're ready to go hide the puzzle pieces! Make sure to pick locations that are challenging but not impossible to find. Take a few photos of where you hid the treasure.

These photos will serve as clues for the other designer/hacker duos. No snitching about your hiding spot!”

Scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunt

The treasure for this scavenger hunt was a jigsaw puzzle, but it could be anything. The first time we played the game were at NDSM Kunststad, where the H&D studio is based. NDSM was previously a ship wharf and now hosts studios for all kinds of creative people, as well as hosting regular events like a large flea market. It’s a very large space with lots of little nooks and split levels. The location plays a huge part in establishing the dynamics of making and playing the game. A good way to start is to go out and observe the surrounding area such as streets, people, shops, and sounds. Sharing ideas and thoughts in a space with people you have just met can be challenging. We found that physical activities such as exploring the area were a good way to break through these initial discomforts. 

The second workshop was hosted at the bookshop Page Not Found in the Hague. This time, the space wasn't big enough for the scavenger hunt, so we had to take it outside. And sure enough, it was raining all day. As such, part of the design process involved approaching shop owners in the neighborhood and asking them to hide our treasures and host our electronics inside their shops. Our requests were met with curiosity and enthusiasm. Some of the shopkeepers even logged into our internet with their phones, kept up with the workshop as it unfolded and found out where the clues were hidden. With these new (passive) participants, putting up our temporary light internet involved more actors and negotiation. Hosting a workshop on the streets and making contact with shopkeepers relates to the real-life Internet: Where do you put the infrastructural elements? Whose cooperation do you need? Who gets to say yes to a datacenter and what does it mean for the place where it’s built?

“Now that all of you have hidden the treasure and taken pictures of the hiding spots, let's think of clues to help the other players find your treasure. Are there interesting details that could help the players to recognize the spot? Which details do you want to give so players know where to look without making it too easy?” 

We asked the designers to provide clues in the form of text and images to help the players find the treasure during the scavenger hunt. They explained this to their hacker partner, who by this point had learned how to upload a 1MB website to the Wi-Fi device. After pairing up again and showing each other what they had done so far, each pair was asked to create a very small website that provided the clues, and upload it to a server module. In the process, the designers shared tricks and tools for dithering and compressing images, finding cool fonts, and downloading GIFs from a website. 

  • “How big is 1 Megabyte?” 
    • “Hmmm, I don't know. Not very big?” 
  • “I think a high quality photo you take with your phone is already more than 1MB?” 
    • “And videos are even bigger.”
  • “That's totally right. One minute of MP3 audio is about one MB, or one good quality picture from a website. These are often made a bit smaller before they are put on the Internet. That's called compression and there's many tools for that.” 

What are the limitations of the hardware we chose to build this DIY internet? For one, it meant that the designers could not build websites larger than 1 MB. Because file size is quite an abstract concept, it was interesting to explore how a 1 MB website compared to a website, or an hour of online gaming or YouTubing. How can you make files smaller using compression tools, and how does that relate to file sizes and file types? 

  • ”Uploading the websites is in process! Let's take a look at the other parts we need. What else is in your kit?” 
    • ”A solar panel! And a battery I think, and I don't know what this device is.”
  • ”Ok let's see how all these things need to be connected, we made some instructions to help you.” 
    • ”Which one is the minus side of the battery again?” 
  • ”The flat side!” 
    • ”The first modules are ready, let's make cardboard houses for protection that keeps it all together. You can also design it and make it look good!”

It was fun for the kids to design small boxes for the models and it buffered some of the time required for website building and hardware uploads. Some kids found this part a bit too tedious, and crafting the housing was a good hands-on alternative. It turned out that these playful box designs not only protected the devices, it also made them look a more innocent, like a friendly disguise. When we were testing the modules during the workshop development process, someone had already come up and asked what we were doing. They had become suspicious having seen two adults leaving random hardware in a shared space. 

  • “All set! One of the hosts will go and hide your modules now, so it's a surprise for everyone where the network nodes are broadcasting from.”
    • “In the meantime, we still have to tell the grown-ups about the rules we made to play the game. Who wants to explain the rules? ”
  • “I will do that!”
    • “Oh, and I see there's something about ice creams...?”

When all the servers with the clue websites were hidden, we made a list of network names to look for, and played our own adrenaline-fueled scavenger hunt. Participants had to find and connect to Wi-Fi networks on their phones to see the clues for where the treasure was hidden, and continue until the entire puzzle was complete. The workshop culminated in playing the game, which was fun and exciting to play together. And of course, there was ice cream to top it off. 

Reflection: Solarpunk futures

The workshop was developed in the context of a larger collaboration with feminist hacklab Mz* Baltazar's Lab in Vienna and feminist makerspace Prototype in Pittsburg, with whom we regularly exchanged ideas and tracked our progress. Our regular conversations helped us grow further understanding of other locations, communities and urgencies, as we developed the intergenerational solarpunk workshops connected to our respective practices. Stefanie Wuschitz from Mz* Balthazar's Lab gave a very insightful presentation about the materials involved in creating the circuitry for the ESPs, batteries, and solar charging boards we were using. It transpired that this electronic circuitry, and the batteries needed to transmit steady voltage to most computer chips, contained many toxic and/or finite resources like semi-precious metals. This discovery set us back slightly: We wanted to make a solar powered internet, but for that, we needed batteries, circuit boards, the solar panel itself, and a microcontroller. So we had to sit with that thought a bit more. 

Solarpunk is known for having a positive attitude toward the future, but at the same time it is positioned as an adherent to the systems that prevent this brighter future from being achieved—making it anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, anti-consumerist.

These critical reflections led us to zoom in on the general assumption that any problem can be fixed with more technology. Such problem-solving attitudes are preserving the status quo. A positive outlook and creative space can be found in playing and experimenting with expectations and demands that are put on the tools like network technologies. Do we really need constant internet access, and for every single thing we do? Is there a way to do more with less? Can the practice of unlearning or deactivating desires around technology show us new ways of imagining desirable futures?

For us, both the development process and the actual workshops provided critical yet thoroughly joyful opportunities to carve out a playground for sharing, rewriting and acting out techno-imaginaries for our shared future.

Do you want to host your own workshop? The complete workshop script is available here:

Loes Bogers is a jack of all trades, exploring many disciplines at once. She often gets lost in the world of technology and philosophy, but fluidly tinkers her way back with her accessible hands-on approaches to complex ideas. Loes has formal training in interactive media (MA, Goldsmiths) and media theory and cultural studies (BA, University of Amsterdam). She is an experienced facilitator and educator, and sometimes writes when she's not busy dancing or shape-shifting all things tangible. She has been a core member of Hackers & Designers since 2019 and currently works at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. Loes is based in Rotterdam.

Pernilla Manjula Philip is an Amsterdam-based Desi from Sweden who likes to make things and tell stories. She’s interested in exploring what it’s like to live in a body in the world. She wonders how tools shape norms and influence our feelings. How do institutions like the healthcare system affect confidence? Can you build your own tools to help? The artworks Pernilla likes to make often take her lived experience as a starting point, although a variety of experiences and viewpoints are central to the process.

Script from ChattyPub workshop at Page Not Found, The Hague May-June 2022


Anja Groten, Heerko van der Kooij, Karl Moubarak, and Juliette Lizotte

ChattyPub is difficult to define. It could be described as a design software, a workshop, a platform for discussion, a publishing experiment, or a tool for collective organizing. ChattyPub encompasses all these characteristics and has played an instrumental role in the way H&D's collective practice has and continues to evolve.

ChattyPub was inspired by a workshop that was facilitated by designers and educators XinXin and Lark VCR during the 2020 edition of the H&D summer academy (HDSA). 2020 was an exceptional year for H&D. Due to the global pandemic, we decided to host the intensive workshop program for the HDSA online for the first time. The program consisted of fifteen workshops that were hosted by different designers, artists, and programmers from various geographical locations.

The “Experimental Chatroom” workshop particularly resonated with H&D members for its attention to detail and commitment on the part of the workshop hosts to respond to the different needs and knowledge levels of a diverse group of participants who were distributed across the globe and across different time zones. The workshop impacted H&D in various ways. The subject of the workshop, that of designing and building experimental chat rooms, sparked the idea to co-design a publication that utilized a chat environment. This would allow for several people to participate in the design process at the same time.

In the next iteration of the HDSA in 2021, which was organized as a hybrid format on and offline and in four different locations, we started using an open-source chat platform called Zulip to streamline communication with workshop participants and co-hosts. The Zulip software combines real-time chat functions with an email thread model.

Screenshot from ChattyPub zine designed by HDSA participants Petra Eros, Deniz Kurt, Loes Bogers and Jordi de Vetten

ChattyPub is built on top of the chat platform Zulip. The publication can be designed collectively by sending messages, reacting with emoji, and writing simple CSS rules. Different CSS styles (font-families, font-sizes, font-styles, margins, text alignment, and colors) can be applied through Emoji reactions. Discussions in Zulip are organized in “Streams” and “Topics.” In ChattyPub Streams correspond to a publication and Topics represent the chapters. To add content to your publication you can go to the corresponding Stream, pick or create a topic, and write your message. Thus, ChattyPub is a website that acts as a different interface to the Zulip service. ChattyPub takes a stream from Zulip, combines messages into long-form articles, and uses a design system combining Emojis and CSS syntax to style the messages, which effectively turns the stream into a (printable) webpage.

CSS glossary, in: "Network Imaginaries," H&D, 2021
Workshop script by XinXin and Lark VCR in "Network Imaginaries," H&D, 2022.

ChattyPub was further developed in workshop iterations hosted in other contexts. In autumn of 2021, H&D self-published the book Network Imaginaries, which was designed with ChattyPub. Among others, contributors included Lark VCR and XinXin, who wrote a contribution about their “Experimental Chat Room” workshop within the various chat rooms that were built in their workshop.

The ChattyPub workshop script now exists in various versions and has been activated in various workshops. For instance, it has taken shape as a walk-in style workshop at GfZK Leipzig in August 2021, followed by a work session during the symposium Open* – Tools for Collective Organizing” in Amsterdam, November 2021, and another iteration of the walk-in workshop has been tried on the occasion of the workshop sequel "Figuring Things Out Together" at Page Not Found in The Hague, June 2022.

ChattyPub at Page Not Found, The Hague, 2022

In August 2022, H&D was invited by Jatiwangi art Factory to host a two-day walk-in workshop at documenta fifteen on the occasion of the launch of the book Making Matters. A Vocabulary of Collective Arts together with Elaine W. Ho (Display Distribute) and Florian Cramer.

ChattyPub workshop at Documenta Fifteen

The ChattyPub workshop invited passersby and visitors to documenta fifteen to join the publishing process at any moment. Participants could join ChattyPub with their own devices (computers/tablets/phones) or use one of the computers available at the location. We installed two thermal printers on which zines could be printed out instantly. The workshop accommodated different levels of engagement. Participants could get involved in every aspect of the publishing workflow—writing content, designing the publication with ChattyPub, coding the CSS styles that determine the design—or choose to focus on just one part. Our prompt: Add a term to the growing vocabulary of collective material practices (the subtitle of the Making Matters book). The simplicity of the prompt along with the offering of a concrete tool that could be learned together sparked fruitful conversations, both verbally and in writing.

Across the two days, a several meter long publication came into being. In addition to serving as a publishing tool and workshop, ChattyPub became a discussion platform that facilitated conversations about the controversies of the fifteenth edition of documenta.

Traces of the different workshops and publications that were produced can be found on the growing archive of ChattyPub publications.

Installation Manual

Credits & References ChattyPub has been explored and challenged during various workshops and open work sessions, opening up its making process, its possibilities, and its limitations.

With thanks to Xin Xin and Lark VCR whose Experimental Chat Room workshop has inspired ChattyPub. Creative Industries Fund NL which has supported H&D's activities since 2015. HDSA Workshop participants who used and tested ChattyPub for the first time. GFZK Leipzig, Bergen Art Book Fair, Page Not Found, and Jatiwangi art Factory who let us host ChattyPub workshops. The maker of the open-source fonts: Authentic, Companion, Anthony, Literata.

Anja Groten's bio.

Heerko van der Kooij is a creative technologist/web developer/artist and many more. During his workshops with Hackers & Designers he teaches hands-on approach to technology and DIY electronics.
Anja Groten's bio.
Juliette Lizotte's bio.
Karl Moubarak's bio.

ChattPub Zine produced during a 2-day workshop at documenta fifteen in Kassel
Presentation Poster designed by Workshop Project

wiki reflections

Workshop Project

Found Spaces: Incubating Under The Radar

Hello. We are Workshop Project. We formed in 2013 as a place to imagine what a pedagogical graphic design practice could be. We are for:

  • The uncolonial: the marginal, unstructured, seemingly infertile found spaces in which our professional practice resides
  • The noncanon: the texts/ voices / ideas inscribed in culture that emerge from inside, outside, beneath and all around
  • Mapping the multi-, the poly-, the inter-, the proto-, the tele-, the trans-, the ne plus ultra
  • The heterodoxy: the network, the infinite surface that conceals passages and wormholes that transit to unforeseen places
  • We are here to share some reflections with you about the Workshop Project Wiki and the ideas it embodies. The Wiki is for:
  • The authority of participation
  • The dismantling of traditional hierarchies
  • The aesthetics of access
  • The heterodoxy

When we talk about a wiki, we are referring to free and open-source software that offers a central place for decentralized online collaboration. Wikis are open, extensible, customizable, and free of charge. There are many iterations of wiki software. MediaWiki is one of them with its most popular application being Wikipedia. The Workshop Project Wiki (WPW) uses DokuWiki—a wiki software that doesn't require a database. To edit and style content, wiki's use a specific syntax—wiki mark-up—which is comparable to mark-down. It is possible to create many articles/pages and add a diverse range of media. The WPW converges the DokuWiki software and the online collaborative real-time editor Etherpad. Each wiki article comes with a parallel Etherpad. The WPW embodies a non-static and flat hierarchy. Its authority comes from participation and constant change rather than concrete answers or solutions. It is process-based, expansive, and always being built and refined. It is always in a state of becoming.

When we talk about Workshop Project, we are referring to our search for a way to channel our love of critical design pedagogy into a form of professional design practice. Our practice has been built in pockets of found time between working our day jobs (mid-career teaching and administration) and raising small humans, in hardcore mom mode. These stolen pockets of time are to us similar to the suburban “found spaces” used by Gen X skateboarders when the skateparks closed—pools, drainage ditches, and culverts—“places not intended for skateboarding but nonetheless appropriated by skateboarders, and often on a temporary or semi-illegal basis.”Iain Borden, “Skateboarding and Public Space” in Skateboard Studies, eds. Konstantin Butz and Christian Peters (London: Koenig Books, 2018), 19. A desire for inquiry-based, purpose-driven work pushed us out of mainstream professional design practice and into improvised and found spaces that were void of clients, vetted infrastructures, and all their rules. We continue to operate Workshop Project from a web of found spaces, with a network of collaborators, using janky platforms like the wikis, Mozilla Hubs, and other open-source alternatives to corporate platforms that offer a freestyle space for becoming.

Extolling the Virtues of Janky Technology

There is something about the cultural sidelining of middle-aged women—moms—that resonates with the marginal position of janky technology: functional and plain, post-ironic, never quite relevant, but incubating under the radar. Janky platforms of all types (open-source anything, wikis in particular) are kinda-sorta functional, fussy, kooky, idiosyncratic by design. They resist commodification and branding because of their “inefficiency”. To some extent wikis are unresolved and unyielding, and as a result they never become anything easily consumable. They require attention, practice, and a certain commitment to process. Wiki's allow opportunity and time for becoming without an intended purpose or application. As such, they are as subversive as they are conventional. They are free.


It seems appropriate that as mid-career educators, we should be extolling the virtues of janky technology. We watch with fatigue and ambivalence as New! Effective! Collaborative! Professional! technologies continue to roll by. Corporate technology has extended its stranglehold from graphic design practice to graphic design education. The structures and aesthetics programmed into Adobe Creative Suite fuel a tasteful visual homogeneity that allows it to dominate both professional standards and non-professional needs. Whether amateur or professional, everything that is made with these tools becomes part of an all-encompassing corporate branding campaign fueled by the commodification of “creativity.” As a discipline, we designers have internalized the aesthetics of our tools. In our younger days, these observations would have been followed by an anti-capitalist screed and a cry for resistance, a rejection of the corporate pigs. But today the anti-corporate tirades of our youth have been tempered by living through the absorption of the outside, the anti-, the counter- into the all-encompassing present.

As southern Californian (SoCal) Gen Xers we identify as the mall rats of design education. Our relationship to commerce and aesthetics was shaped by a megalopolis that offers a simultaneous experience of the urban and suburban. Strip malls. Pink box donut shops. Latchkey kids. Beaches. Housing developments too generic to gentrify. We browse discount stores and try on a platform shoe while backing away slowly from d-school. Open-source platforms speak to us because they don't cost much and because they are free. They aren’t aspirational or optimized. They are spaces of potential—where airwalking inside the industry of design education can happen. And our practice is invested in cultivating found spaces for like-minded educators to shred.


Nested in the margins of our days, the alchemical combination of ideology and material realities that formed Workshop Project also produced a number of outcomes, the most significant of which is the FREE Design Educators Workshop. If our initial focus was to incubate a pedagogical graphic design practice by writing it into being, FREE was built with the same methodology. The workshop is free of charge, eliminating financial barriers to participation wherever possible. It is publicized by word of mouth and funded by cobbling together multiple small institutional sources. The aesthetics of the workshop are directly connected to the context of their production: doing more with less with little regard for the conventions of corporate and academic design conferences. During the workshop, colleagues from different institutions gather to discuss and respond to a prompt about the future-now of design education, whose outcome is undetermined. We operate on platforms that are free and accessible to all, whether in person or remote. We occupy vacant institutional spaces—the culverts and empty pools of design education—thanks to the resourcefulness of friends and colleagues. We thrive on the inefficiency of the educational institution, whose spaces lie dormant in summer.

The Alchemy of Found Spaces

In 2018, as we began to materialize the first FREE workshop, it became clear that our financial and philosophical positions aligned with those of other practices and initiatives who have found spaces of resistance inside the global industry of design education.

Then we met Anja Groten and André Fincato who are part of the Amsterdam-based collective H&D.H&D self-organizes educational activities at the intersection of technology, design, art, and education with a focus on hands-on learning and collaboration between practitioners from the different fields. Along with organizing workshops people involved with H&D produce on and offline publications and build open-source tools and platforms. We found kindred spirits in Anja and André, who contributed the powerful tool of the Workshop Project Wiki to our practice. We reached out to Anja knowing that she would be in residence at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles during FREE. We were curious about the possibility of collaborating on a website for the workshop, because everything needs a website. Anja introduced us to André and a found space opened up before us.

André and Anja brought their interests and agenda to the project. They had been developing a wiki as the backend for the Hackers & Designers website. After reading the prompt, they proposed a wiki as the website structure and a potential tool for the workshop. The site would be built with the integration of an etherpad, an open-source tool for collaborative writing. Unlike a wiki page, an etherpad can support simultaneous writing and editing by multiple users in real time. We understood the site’s various capabilities, but did not know how or if it would be used by the participants in an in-person context. We had some vague ideas about archiving work in process and making our efforts shareable with other educators. However, we did not anticipate the impact of the wiki’s two distinguishing characteristics: user editing via wiki mark-up language and simultaneous writing. With the introduction of the wiki, our expectations and assumptions about web-based tools began to unravel, and we could see new ways of working together. The Workshop Project Wiki shepherded collaboration amongst intergenerational colleagues with different levels of professional and technical expertise. Small teams of design educators were asked to produce outcomes of design education based on a speculative prompt. Work sessions were long and intensive. In order to edit pages on the wiki, all participants were required to use wiki mark-up language.


This distinct but familiar mark-up language became a common, accessible, non-intuitive technical language that participants (and hosts!) had to learn together, hunched over their laptops and looking over each other's shoulders. It was easy, but it took time. No one arrived knowing how to do it. The wiki was an equalizer, a hierarchy neutralizer. It transformed the participants into peers in the found space and time of the workshop. It was the technical equivalent of a dialect that mirrored a feeling of commonality amongst a small group of educators and students at different moments in their careers. It became a tool for experimenting with the craft of design pedagogy and investigating specific aspects of contemporary visual culture and their repercussions for design education.

The wiki also changed how we understood in-person collaboration. Because of the etherpad’s capability for simultaneous writing, the wiki played a critical role in sharing work and ideas in real time among multiple groups. It allowed for a kind of simultaneous viewing and commentary that, in physical space, would result in cacophony. Users were able to straddle the digital realm of discourse and the physical world of production.

Found Space is Process

The wiki, as a structure, privileges the group and that which is shared over the needs of an individual user. It requires users to learn its language, which becomes a commonly held lexicon. As with any other language, wiki mark-up carries with it an embedded set of priorities. Its approach to efficiency is reflected in a reduced palette of tools and options. There’s a lot you can do, but also a lot you can’t do, particularly if you’re a graphic designer accustomed to crafting intricate visual hierarchies and systems. Its visual language is equally reductive, but as the result of efficiency in coding and file size, not a stylistic choice. It favors a type of optimization that is eschewed by mainstream conventions of UI/UX design. It is designed to be economical, and shared among groups who have varying access to equipment and bandwidth. It is meant to be nimble and malleable, with aesthetics linked to the nature of its content.

The wiki is a powerful yet blunt instrument. Its formal limitations stimulate a return to inquiry and building content. It held the FREE workshop participants in process, resisting any outcomes that appeared “finished.” However, in return, it provided something concrete to gather around that structured and grounded big, abstract ideas. Participants came to the workshop with nothing and left with nothing. The “thing” that is made is the time together, the practicing and rehearsing of our craft as educators. The wiki is the empty pool, the place where the meta comes to the concrete to play.

This resistance to the protocol or the nomenclature of academic peer review, writing, conference participation, and public validation is at the heart of found spaces whose nature is reflection and iteration and process. Both the workshop and the wiki are not about outcomes, career advancement, or productivity in an academic or commercial sense. The wiki is not so simply the document of time spent making space on the inside for the educators themselves. Eventual refinement and development of ideas—if it happens—happens outside the wiki, in other spaces and platforms. The found space is a non-outcome in itself.


What do we do in the Shadows

We didn’t plan for a non-outcome. Just the opposite in fact. We wanted to legitimize our shadow practice, publish our work on a website, and be recognized by our peers for it. But the Workshop Project Wiki isn’t optimized for major, commercial search engines and, to some extent, resists distribution. As a context-specific artifact, it is pretty undecipherable to the general design education community (laughing). Because it is always editable by many individuals, its structure has grown in ways that are inconsistent and content-specific. Deciphering the pathways through the content requires an investment. Every time we sign in to it, we have to relearn it. It is all or nothing at all. The wiki breaks a lot. It goes dormant. It doesn’t summarize. It stops when the workshop is over. It’s skate or die. It is essential to being present at the workshop and then immediately unnecessary when the workshop is over.

This resistance to distribution and commodification drives us back to the ideas and the thinking. It’s our way of staying under the radar, in process and focused on an inquiry into our craft as educators. Doing something! with janky technology! Together! is a proto-antidote to the energy vampiric (but professional!) Zoom, Miro, and Milanote that defined design education during the pandemic and now define collaboration at large.

Found space is meant to be shared space. It is unbranded, non-proprietary, unstructured; it is free. On a practical level the wiki and its janky cousins function as something to gather around, a campfire, something to login to, something that precedes and marks the beginning of shared reflection. Their clunkiness, their simplicity are comforting foils to our previsualized, optimized, and shared visual culture.

Workshop Project is Yasmin Khan and Jessica Wexler, design educators and practitioners with over two decades of combined experience teaching, designing curricula and coordinating faculty within diverse public, private and for-profit institutions. Yasmin is Co-Director, Program in Graphic Design at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Jessica is the Chairperson of Undergraduate Communications Design at Pratt Institute in New York.

Active bibliographies

Examples of generated Kolams. Image credit: Lavannya Suressh from: "Aesthetic Programming. A Handbook of Software Studies" Winnie Soon & Geoff Cox

Critical Coding Cookbook

In conversation with Katherine Moriwaki and Xin Xin Anja Groten: Xin, together with Lark, you hosted a workshop called "Experimental Chatrooms" during the H&D summer academy in 2020. I remember we, the H&D crew, were all very excited and energized by the workshop, and it inspired us to start using a chat platform, Zulip, as a design tool for our next publication.
I also recall being impressed by the way you and Lark had prepared the workshop, almost like a "choose your own adventure” game, with a workshop script that contained multiple pathways! It was developed in a way that created an inspiring and welcoming learning environment for all participants regardless of their geolocation, time zone, or experience with coding. You also introduced participants to the concept of building consensual tech, which prompted H&D to provide a Code of Conduct for the summer academy. Now that I’ve had the privilege to read the “Critical Coding Cookbook,” looking back to that workshop it seems to me that your work as an educator and facilitator expands the usual requirements and formal boundaries of learning institutions. The “Critical Coding Cookbook” itself is an example of that. I am curious, what inspired you to become educators? What inspired you to create learning communities beyond or parallel to educational institutions? How has your practice evolved inside and outside of institutionalized learning?

Critical Coding Cookbook homepage.

Xin Xin: Growing up in Taiwan, a geopolitically contentious island that endured colonization by several different states, I have always had the tendency to question institutional knowledge. I have a vivid memory as an elementary school student in the 90s, when our teacher asked us to question the history printed on textbooks. As I grew older, I learned that there is a continuous debate on the official history of Taiwan, each version shaped by different political actors in accordance with their own agenda. I have found many parallels in the way U.S. and German history is presented at the institutional level. My elementary school teacher told us that we needed to become independent thinkers by doing our own research, and in a way I’ve continued to pursue that spirit of self-education up to this day. Aside from a few inspirational memories inside the classroom, overall I struggled greatly at school. Rules were often given without explanation, followed by disciplinary practices that drove me further away from education. Upon completing my undergraduate degree, I, like many others in their early twenties, aspired to address systemic injustice through a large-scale, top-down approach. It wasn’t until I had worked in the film industry for six years that I came to realize I’d much rather make small but meaningful changes from the bottom-up, in alliance with my peers. This realization led me to graduate school to pursue a terminal degree that qualified me to teach. For my day job I work in higher education. It is how I make a living and it frees me to do pro bono work such as the “Critical Coding Cookbook.” I am acutely aware of the way higher-eds in the U.S. co-opt faculty research and play the murky game of representational politics while continuing to practice corporate logic. This means I have to be very intentional about everything I do, who I do it with, and how I do it. For instance, I’d much rather volunteer my time helping local communities than fixing institutional problems. In an institutional context, I remind myself that I’m here to put most of my energy toward working with the students. I believe in direct engagements over bureaucratic maneuverings.

Katherine Moriwaki: I’ll be totally honest, I think becoming an educator in a formal setting, within the context of higher education, was entirely by chance. I did not aspire to have my current career path nor did I actively consider being an educator as a possible profession. If anything, I felt quite estranged from formal learning environments when I was younger. I always flourished while in pursuit of my own interests, removed from the rubric of formal schooling. My introduction to computers and technology was through a small community computer center in the area I grew up, where people taught each other through member-led workshops and interest driven self-education. Up until that point I did not consider myself a “technical” person, but the community, which was multi-generational and non-hierarchical, opened up new possibilities and competencies I hadn’t been aware of. I guess that was a formative experience for me. Many of my projects, which take the format of workshops and learning experiences, have sought to create that kind of “third place,” the kind of space where even for a few hours, people can exchange ideas, have a good time, and build relationships. In an extractive capitalist society, opportunities to engage with others in ways that are non-transactional nor consumption-driven present vital ways in which to embody and model alternative systems of value. In an American context, this is increasingly challenging to maintain in light of the ongoing corporatization of higher education. Still, I am thankful for the dynamic learning community that manages to thrive at my current institution. That will always remain a privilege.

AG: The “Critical Coding Cookbook” takes an intersectional feminist approach to teaching and learning. Can you explain how you relate intersectional feminism to the practice of coding as well as learning with and about coding? Why is it important to you?

XX: Intersectional feminism is both a theory and a practice, originally coined in 1989 by UCLA law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to address the institutional sexism and racism she had observed in courtrooms. Specifically, she pointed out how, in the face of law, narratives of Black women were reductively framed within the confinements of racism or sexism, resulting in the dismissal of the compounded and exacerbating reality of being both Black and women at the same time. To counter this compartmentalization, Crenshaw called for individuals to be considered through their intersected identities, including but not limited to race, gender, class, sex, nationality, and abilities, as a vehicle to better articulate the overlapping systems of oppression they experience on a daily basis. As educators working within institutions that are founded on western-European tradition—which often inherits a narrow, exclusionary, and hierarchical relation to knowledge that historically benefits the dominant demographics in the society—an intersectional feminist approach breaks out of the gridlock of a standardized, market-driven computer science curriculum by using alternate histories and techniques as our starting point. The “Critical Coding Cookbook” recipes demonstrate multiple paths to intersectional computing. For instance, in Esolangs: Deprogramming the Language Divide, Echo Theohar describes the “linguistic inequality in computer programming” and searches for possible ways to disturb the dominance of English in computer programming. In Kolam in Code, Lavannya Suressh traces the procedural logic of pulli kolam, a folk practice originated in South India, and proposes the possibility of building the algorithm into a 4-bit computer. In A School for Vernacular Algorithms, Tegan Bristow worked with a group of students in Johannesburg, South Africa to consider pre-colonial technology such as beadwork, palm/grass weaving, and lyrical practices from a mathematical and algorithmic perspective.

Examples of generated Kolams. Image credit: Lavannya Suressh
Philisiwe Dube, curriculum lead of the School of Vernacular Algorithms 2021.Image Credit: Tegan Bristow. Photo Credit: Zivanai Matangi.

Although intersectional feminism is often used as a pedagogical tool to amplify marginalized histories and ways of knowing that live under constant threat of colonial and capitalist erasure, it is important to keep in mind that this tool is also good for addressing systems of privilege—a white woman in the U.S. may experience sexism but not the baggage of racism in her everyday life. It would be a mistake for an intersectional feminist to focus on oppressive narratives without integrated, comprehensive reflections on what it means to hold privilege.

AG: In its conceptual framing—as a collection of recipes—“Critical Coding Cookbook” aligns well with the common thread of this publication. The commonality of all the contributions is that they somehow relate to some sort of “pedagogical document.” Pedagogical documents can be workshop scripts, installation manuals, how-tos, scores, or gameplays. On the one hand these documents propose a pragmatic approach. They are generous and generative, inviting other people to take a recipe, run with it, and make it their own. On the other hand it is perhaps too simple to expect such a document to be functional or meaningful in the same way in every context. Each of the documents emerged from a specific context, due to specific and sometimes peculiar practices. Could you reflect on your analogy of the “recipe” and the editorial framework of a cookbook? What possibilities and challenges did you encounter while using this format?

XX: From the get go, we envisioned “Critical Coding Cookbook” as a repository for the learning community both inside and outside of institutional contexts. The question that follows then was what type of relationship do we want to propose between learners and the medium in which they study? We thought recipes might be a good analogy; the format feels more welcoming than traditional academic textbooks or open-source documents. Recipes are instructions to be re-performed and are wonderfully kitschy and welcoming. They are meant to help someone make food for themselves or others—a gesture that directly impacts our sense of pleasure and well-being without layers of intellectual abstraction. They exist in parallel with the notion of oral history and are meant to be passed down and shared with their intended community. Over the last three years, Katherine and I have developed and taught Critical Computation at the New School with a number of faculty members.. This course introduces programming concepts through an intersectional feminist lens, thereby situating the act of computing in a social-historical context. We unpack discriminatory practices embedded in pervasive technology by integrating readings such as Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Umoja Noble, Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin, Blockchain Chicken Farm by Xiaowei Wang, and “Crip Technoscience Manifesto” by Aimi Hamraie and Kelly Fritsch. Although some of these texts are published by academic presses, we really appreciate the accessible language in which they are written, and the readership they can reach through this choice of language. When it comes to expressive, critical, and community-centric ways of working with technology, we think that an intersectional approach replaces the canon by instigating a world of plurality. Recipes made sense as concise documents that can be modified and revised in practice. Of course, recipes often carry a one-sided instructional quality and may be misinterpreted as strictly utilitarian. To counter this, we intentionally chose not to provide any standardizations or examples in our open call. As a result, we received multiple entries that troubled the notion of repeatability—for example, How to code human bodies for devouring and mutual enlightenment by Mario Guzman and terra firma by Sara Rivera.

The work-in-progress open-source index. Image credit: Sara Rivera.

AG: You worked with an open call for contributions. Can you elaborate on the process of compiling the book? Were there any surprises or contributions you did not anticipate? What were your criteria for making your selection?

KM: One of the benefits we found of an open call format was the unpredictability of submissions. We wanted to encourage the broadest range of contributions possible, and an open call was the least restrictive pathway to achieve that. As for the criteria for selection, it was important to us that the submissions reflected an intersectional perspective on computation. We were actively seeking work from practitioners who were questioning the epistemological framing of programming, researching alternative histories, and forging culturally situated pathways through this field.

XX: I was pleasantly surprised by the number of contributions that emphasized the virtue of uncertainty. How to contribute to open source software by sharing uncertainty by Evelyn Masso encourages new contributors of p5.js to turn uncertainty and vulnerability into a strength. Failing to CODE by Becca Rose connects ideas in The Queer Art of Failure by Jack Halberstam with computer education. These are lovely reminders of the fragility of human creation and the meaning of remaining humble with ourselves as well as others.

Image credit: Becca Rose

AG: I understand the recipe as it is interpreted in your publication also as a format that gives space to processes rather than products. Through the recipe you trouble the status of the precious and undisputed art piece—something that functions as a self-contained object. The recipe could be seen as counter to that, it emphasizes the process of coding and the sharing of such a process, which makes it harder to distinguish. You also speak about messy histories of computation. Can you elaborate on the notion of a messy practice or history of coding? What does that mean to you?

KM: Typically in histories of computation the narrative presented is sequential, logical, and the result of an inevitable progression. The story moves from one great innovation to the next, each development presented as an improvement on what has come before. There may be disruptions to this forward movement, but these are seen in the context of a trajectory of optimization. We are left to assume that what was left behind, fixed in a historicized frame, was done so because the “better” ideas or inventions superseded the rest. In these traditional histories the protagonists are clearly identifiable, homogenous, and driven by their vision for an objective betterment of humanity “for all.” In reality, however, the actual passage of events rarely conforms to this structure, which is undergirded by capitalist and eugenicist ideologies. For example, in her book Broadband, Clare L. Evans profiled computer scientist Wendy Hall, who developed a specialized linkbase, “Microcosm,” which would automatically and dynamically update hyperlinks, creating a “messy” web of collaborative connections. This is in contrast to the embedded hyperlinking that became standard, wherein individual web pages, as a singular authority, contained only outward links, which could be rendered with time potentially “dead” or obsolete. This represents two epistemological frames: one of inherent interdependence and collaboration, and another of rugged individualism and solitary enterprise. Likewise, in Black Radical Translation, Shayna Robinson embraces Black cultural traditions not as a means of optimization, but rather as a complication and challenge to reimagine technological visions rendered through the frames of whiteness.

CREATE TABLE love (instance TEXT,
height INTERGER,
provocation TEXT
temporality TIME);
WHERE instance LIKE impediments
OR instance LIKE trouble
OR instance LIKE doubt;
SELECT value
FROM love
ORDER BY height DSC;
SELECT COUNT provocation
FROM love
FROM love
WHERE temporality IS NULL;

Caption: SQL Translation of June Jordan’s Black English Translation of Shakespeare’s 116th Sonnet Shayna Robinson, 2021

A “messy” practice and a “messy” history acknowledges the entanglement of interlocking systems of oppression in shaping historical record, attenuating the visibility of some people at the expense of others. Messiness acknowledges multiple timelines, multiple narratives, and multiple perspectives, which may sit in tension with each other, and may pose complicated and contentious questions about power and privilege. In practice, this means thinking critically about the knowledge and labor we value. It means questioning the epistemological framing of the rational and scientific, and opening spaces for intuitive, folk, and embodied understandings of computational concepts. It might mean asking ourselves what values and ideology are packed into what we think of as “good” code, or how we pedagogically approach programming organized around hierarchical “best practice.” It also means acknowledging the multiple ways in which knowledge and practice is exchanged, and recipes are an apt conceptual model for sharing, attribution, and growth within informal networks.

AG: You are considering making a printed version of the publication. This doesn’t seem like an obvious choice seeing as the subject matter deals with computer programming. In your opinion, what is the benefit of a physical book over a digital publication, particularly for a book about coding?

KM: I think that different media have affordances that allow for diverse ways of contemplating ideas. Books are objectively concrete in a way that embodies and materializes knowledge, which we then perceive in a specific way. From a philosophical standpoint, moving to a physical medium like a book aligns us with an approach that focuses on providing multiple entry points to the content, much in the same way that web accessibility was an essential component of the website design. If the intention is to reach an audience that is not solely confined to people who already identify with computer programming and/or computational technology, then a book serves as an enduring container for information, one that provides a physicality that is familiar and inviting to potential readers from a variety of backgrounds.

Katherine Moriwaki is an Assistant Professor of Media Design in the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons School of Design in New York City. She teaches core classes in the M.F.A. Design + Technology Program where students engage a broad range of creative methodologies to realize new possibilities in interactive media. Working within a broad range of areas, Katherine’s work spans disciplines and communities of practice.

Xin Xin is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and organizer currently making socially-engaged software that explores the possibilities of reshaping language and power relations. Through mediating, subverting, and innovating modes of social interaction in the digital space, Xin invites participants to relate to one another and experience togetherness in new and unfamiliar ways.

The zine 'PubRadioPub' was edited and designed by Loes, Deniz, Jordi, Petra, and Selby on the last day of the Hackers and Designers Summer Academy 2021
Typeface in use: Anthony
Documentation made in ChattyPub during HDSA2021

Did video kill the radio (star)?

Petra Eros

I recall a time when I was sitting in my grandma’s kitchen. I often found myself beside a weird looking, dark, crackling object. Mostly, it gave voice to middle-aged men who talked only about boring stuff. The jingles helped me to keep track of time, because they played at the exact same time every day. Perhaps the most notorious “jingle” I heard emitted from the object was the Hungarian hymn that would start playing at the stroke of midnight, marking the end of one day and the start of a new one.

Fast forward to 2021, after having received several opportunities to participate in radio-making projects, it dawns on me that radio has much more potential than the weird looking object that crackled in my grandma’s kitchen.

+Rad I/O

“The digitization of the aether brings an unexpected taste. Lastly, it may allow the loss of anonymous radio listening. One of the last bastions of the anonymous, low-cost, low-tech media consumption. The digital aether is – in its interchangeability – only a channel for data transfer.”

Mz* Baltazar’s Lab


The +Rad I/O workshop organized by Mz* Baltazar’s Lab was one of my personal highlights during the H&D Summer Academy in 2021. We were tasked with building a small FM-Transmitter From a technical viewpoint, radio is a rather simple technology that signals and communicates through electromagnetic waves ranging between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). Any radio setup therefore has two essential parts: the transmitter and the receiver. The task of the transmitter is to take in any audible input and encode it in a transmittable format, the sine wave. On the other end, the receiver does the exact opposite: it receives and decodes the original information from the sine wave and makes it audible for the receiver. Both the transmitter and receiver use antennas to radiate and capture the signal. on pre-produced platinas. It was very hacky, super hands-on.

During my bachelor studies, I was weirdly attracted to anything that had something to do with DIY electronics and “hacking.” I would come up with grandiose ideas and submerge myself in figuring out their technicalities. These projects provided me with much more than just technical knowledge; if you ask anyone who has ever worked with Arduino, things more often than not stop working or simply never become fully functional. Somehow Murphy’s law is exponentially applied: anything that can happen will happen, and it is most likely to happen right before your semester presentation. Arduino teaches you how to be resilient and humble. You are most likely to be working beyond your comfort zone, which forces you to think outside the box and come up with alternative solutions while troubleshooting.

To me, the hands-on aspect of working with hardware is similar to cultivating an electronic Zen garden. I have found refuge in sharply-defined goals, following step-by-step instructions, and interpreting circuit diagrams. But while the format, the details of its final execution, the presentation, and oftentimes even the primary concept were destined to be modified, the hardware itself offers a controlled environment to be inventive.

The thousand faces of radio

After we secured the final bits of loose pieces onto the platinum with a soldering iron and hijacked a radio signal with our own audible input from the jack plug, we discussed how to frame radio as a medium in today’s digitally-dominant media landscape.

For this publication, I approached the voices behind the Good Times Bad Times community radio to share their insights on this matter.

Do you think the definition of radio (making) is changing now that it is having a revival and entering the digital age of wireless Internet?

The core definition of radio-making never really changed, rather it has just found a new home. The thing that is constantly shifting is who and how people can access this media. When a technology is “made obsolete” its definition changes or rather its true value is revealed again. We appreciate vinyl for its slowness and for its physicality because that is what we lost. Radio has gone through a few of these value-shifts that the Internet itself will be able to relate. Radio changed the way we think about the world. It became a medium with so much hope, representing so much freedom, breaking through borders both physically and metaphorically only to be restrained and put in a commodifiable box by regulations. From a magical invention to being used as a military device, from pirate radios to stiff state broadcasts. But it is strange to talk about the Internet and radio as completely separate entities, the Internet could be considered the brainchild of radio.

Radio-making in the age of the Internet has managed to keep that pirate spirit alive by finding itself a little corner of the Internet to call home. It may be a new world but it knows its way around, their DNA is the same. Good Times Bad Times is using the Internet as a way of embracing that local pirate radio-making spirit along with many other local Internet radio stations.

Inevitably, locality is an aspect of radio making, but in the case of Internet radios, these can be listened to from anywhere by anyone. When it comes to addressing local matters and global issues, where do you stand?

Whilst it is somewhat true that the Internet radio’s signal stretches further than FM/AM signals did, these signals were still used to transgress borders and give people access to information across continents. A recent example is the BBC restarting their shortwave broadcasts in order to broadcast information to Ukrainian radios when Russia began their invasion of the country. Radio has always been a global medium and Internet radio is no different. 

However, local radio stations often offer glimpses of their localities to those who might not have access to it. Whether it’s local news, weather reports, the accent of the host, or even advertising for local businesses, radio can capture many aspects of locality.

At Good Times Bad Times, whilst we have always been streaming to people anywhere with access to the Internet, we have used the radio as a tool to focus on the locality of Rotterdam. The studio that we broadcast from is connected to the internet but it's grounded in a place and surrounded by a community. The connection to both the local and the global is one of the powerful aspects of radio, but where we have found real pleasure and potential in radio making is in the building, supporting, and exploring of the communities around us.

By today, a large percentage of our mainstream (social) media content consumption comes from an endless stream of short-form videos. Can the radio be a competitive medium for fostering counterculture and freedom of expression, when not only its technology is considered obsolete, but the format itself is too challenging for our attention spans?

As mentioned before, in obsolescence value can also re-emerge. We’ve seen more and more Internet radio stations pop up, and on a more mainstream level the rise of podcast shows, that there actually is a significant demand for long-form audio-based media even if—or perhaps because—our attention spans are being challenged. Amidst the stream of snappy disconnected algorithmic bits and pieces coming at us at random, we might crave for something that unfolds at a slower pace and in a form that doesn’t require us to stare at a screen. Even more so than a podcast, radio fosters a sense of intimacy due to its live and unedited nature, both on the production and consumption of a broadcast. So all in all, we believe radio is still a powerful emancipative tool for counterculture and expression at large. Although it’s maybe hard for radio to compete with regularly checked feeds of bite-sized visual content, it offers a more intimate, durational, and situated alternative, which is by definition important—especially when you speak about counterculture.

Good Times Bad Times (Jack Bardwell, Benjamin Earl, and Kirsten Spruit)

Paper Radio Instructions

Parts needed

  • 2x 2N3904 NPN Transistors (or BC547 or BC548)
  • 2x 100 nF ceramic capacitor
  • 1x 10 nF ceramic capacitor
  • 1x 4 pF ceramic capacitor
  • 1x 4-40 pF variable capacitor
  • 1x 50 cm #gauge insulated solid wire
  • 1x jack cable
  • 3x 10k ohm resistor
  • 1x 1k ohm resistor
  • 1x 100 ohm resistor
  • 1x 100k ohm resistor
  • 1x 1M ohm resistor
  • a large bolt to make a coil from the solid wire
  • 6 mm wide copper tape
  • 1x 9V battery
  • 1x 9V battery clip

Tools needed

  • Soldering iron + tin
  • Multimeter
  • Clippers
  • Scissors
  • An FM radio to receive your station
  • Small screwdriver that fits the variable capacitor


  1. Recreate the circuit with copper tape (see layout image for reference)
  2. Where you have to overlap tape, make soldering joint to connect the tape parts
  3. Check your connections with a multimeter
  4. Cut the jack cable in half, identify the stereo signals and solder them together, identify the – (negative) or GND cable and keep it separated.
  5. Make an antenna from a ~40cm solid core wire
  6. Make a coil by wrapping it around a bolt 7-8 times
  7. Bend the legs of the components so they reach the right copper traces and solder them to the circuit (see layout image for reference)
  8. Check connections again
  9. Hook up to the battery and a sound source with the jack cable
  10. Tune your FM radio and try to find your station!
  11. If you cannot find it straight away, tune the variable capacitor bit by bit with a little screwdriver, checking the whole FM bandwidth throughout
  12. Think of interesting projects to do with your short range radio station


  • Play with the length of the antenna wire to find the best results
  • Try different coils (the tightness, number of windings and thickness/gauge of the wire all influence the output)
  • Some components have polarity, which means the right leg needs to be in the right place in the circuit for it to work. These are the battery clip (red to + [positive] and black to – [negative]), the jack cables (black to - and the other two are sound signals) and the transistor. Identify the legs of the transistors by laying the flat side facing up; the left leg is the collector (C).

List of online community radio stations in the Netherlands

  • jajajaneeneenee, location: Amsterdam, website:, community/archive
  • pub, location: Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam, website:, school community/publication
  • radio noord, location: Amsterdam Noord, website:, community
  • salto, location: Amsterdam, website:, community
  • radio tempo não pára, location: Amsterdam Noord, website:
    • Radio Tempo Não Pára (Portuguese for Time Does Not Stop) is an independent online radio station based inside the iconic decommissioned NDSM shipyard in the North of Amsterdam
  • operator radio, location: Rotterdam, website:, community
  • o, o, radio, location: The Hague, website:, community
  • mushroom radio, location: KABK, The Hague, website:, school community
  • elevator radio, location: DAE, Eindhoven, website:, school community
  • stranded fm, location: Utrecht, website:
    • UNCONVENTIONAL ONLINE RADIO Internet radio-platform Stranded FM desires for a Utrecht that is more radical, experimental and connected. We push local musical talent, amplify voices and give space to sincere cultural initiatives.
åbäke's Workshop assignment "A Case of Mistaken Identity," 2010
åbäke's Workshop assignment "A Case of Mistaken Identity," 2010
Prompt “Le Magnifique Avventure,” Yaïr Barelli, Maki Suzuki, 2012

A case of mistaken identity

An Exchange Between Maki Suzuki and Anja Groten

In August 2022, I, Anja Groten, reached out to Maki Suzuki, a member of the collective åbäke, with the request to republish an assignment I had received from him and Kajsa Ståhl at the workshop "A Case of Mistaken Identity,” held at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam, 2010. I have kept this document with me ever since. My request sparked the following conversation.
Anja Groten: Twelve years ago, in 2010, we met at a workshop in Amsterdam. I recently reached out to you with a remnant from that encounter, an A4 workshop assignment that you handed out to a group of design students at the Sandberg Design Department. I’ve kept this paper with me, stacked in a pile of pedagogical documents consisting of how-tos, scores, assignments, gameplays, and installation manuals. This pile is an important resource for me and it holds all kinds of stories. I would like to open up the story box of this one particular workshop assignment with you. So, to begin: Do you still host workshops? What do you think about the ambiguous format of the “workshop,” and its role and function for art and design education as well as for collective practices, such as H&D and åbäke?
Maki Suzuki: Kajsa has stepped back from teaching for now but I have kept up this practice. After teaching for seven years at RCA, another seven at HEAD Geneva, and five at Open School East, I finally realized that the week-long workshop is my favorite format. As to your question about its role in art and design education, I think it depends; the workshop can be anything from a confusingly vague system to a brilliant flux of energy in a diverse curriculum. Some schools possibly have too many workshops, while others have too few. I think it is always complementary to have the curriculum of regular teachers setting up year-long programs offering longer term support for student's study trajectories. I have lost patience and fire on this and prefer the sprint-like workshop with its near immediate deadline to fuel a positive boost. The workshop you mentioned is key in my practice of workshops, which we started being invited to host almost immediately after graduating from RCA, meaning that we were then not much older than the students we met in those early years. Until 2012, our workshop briefs were written contextually to what we thought we knew of the hosting school, or the parameters we were made aware of. For instance, in Valence, we knew the school was close to a fascinating architectural oddity—Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval—so we made sure to include a bicycle trip to the place. At Jan Van Eyck, the workshop took place on labor day, so we proposed a reflection on the concept of the “three-eight” (eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, eight hours of leisure). In St Etienne, we knew there would be a large group of eighty students, so we proposed a workshop about power structures, uniforms, and democratic decisions.
AG: This question of workshop momentum is really interesting. Workshops as temporal collectives can create momentum, and disrupt routines and conventional ways of doing and making. But I also recognize what you said about workshop fatigue. I like that you speak in terms of thresholds. Speaking as someone who regularly hosts/participates in workshops there is a moment when there are too many workshops, or the workshops become too long. And there are definitely moments that I feel too exhausted to host and join them as well. I seldom do full-week workshops. This happens perhaps once a year, when three or four of us from H&D get a chance to hang out in an unusual place together for a full week without distraction, which is difficult to arrange with the fullness of our day-to-day schedules. So while we might be invited with the intent to distract people from their daily routines, for us, an external invitation to host a workshop is actually a way to sustain some form of continuity. During such workshops we often build on something that someone from the collective has experimented with in past workshops—perhaps an experimental publishing tool, or a Wi-Fi module that can be hacked and repurposed, or a battery-powered toy that can become a drawing tool. Often these technical experiments and prompts have been pieced together by a set of people from the collective and are then picked up by another group and continued. Existing documentation is tweaked and improved, while being grounded in the respective workshop environment. Working in this way, asynchronously and in a decentralized manner, is also a way of strengthening collective ties.
MS: Yaïr and I are interested in how the supposed distraction of how, for example, someone performing a text that was written on a roundabout and surrounded by cars, can have consequences for a student studying jewellery, and how those methods can be translated from one field to another.
MS: In 2012, I was invited to do a week-long workshop to which I invited choreographer artist Yaïr Barelli to participate in something we named “Le Magnifique Avventure.” We decided to extend the workshop hours to last the full week—including nights—from Monday morning to Friday evening. The driving force was guided by the individual wishes of the participants, and realized collectively. The first edition involved a whole group of students and two tutors walking around Leman lake in the Alps. One student suggested we repeat this every year, and we have done so ever since, for ten years running, with different institutions and self-initiated contexts.
AG: Yes! I read the script in the book Taking a Line for a Walk (eds. Nina Paim and Emilia Bergmark). Such a good brief! It also makes me think of the ways in which you situate workshops, as you say, in a location, community, or according to the vibe of a group. It requires quite an open mind as well as generosity, a sincere interest in the specific context and that you—as the workshop host—are also a guest in that context. Scripting a workshop does not really work with such an approach. I’d imagine it requires being in the moment.
I assume your approach also only works with active participation. There is no possibility to engage at 50% as a participant. It requires commitment from all sides, as you said. Have there been instances when this was not working?
MS: Absolutely, it’s not for everyone. In the first edition we didn’t need to specify this as our workshop was one option out of seventeen that the students could choose from. We are now very careful to mention that this cannot be a mandatory workshop. That being said, I am typing this while having breakfast in a hotel in Pristina after an intense week-long workshop with graphic design students of EKA Tallinn. It was mandatory for the first years and an option for the second years. Everyone came. We organized a road trip from Estonia to Kosovo where we were granted a slot in the lecture program of REDO. The aim of the trip itself was to generate content for a performance that took place yesterday, accompanied by a publication, which was printed on the road; merchandise; and other texts and songs. We became a circus, a band. It’s still fresh but I recall there being a human pyramid, songs played on the guitar, belly dancing on stage. I love that these people were brave enough to perform just after Laurenz Brunner. Performing is unusual in the practice and study of graphic design and discomfort is an element I welcome in these contexts. Failure is essential to work through.
An art school is by definition a paradoxical educational context. Am I wrong to think that during our studies we are gradually learning not to do what we are being taught, and instead bloom into a practice that questions the very foundations of our education, as well as the courage to find one’s voice?
AG: If so, in what contexts do you host workshops, how frequently, and what do you like about hosting workshops?
MS: The invitations first came from graphic design courses, which is also where we started out from. As our practices evolved and opened up to collaborations, invitations started to arrive from design colleges (graphic, product, architecture), art colleges, and dance institutions. The intensity of the week-long workshop and the full commitment it demands, both intellectually and physically, would make one workshop per year enough, but the frequency depends on the invitations. At this very moment, I'm preparing for a few workshops all taking place in the next few months, which is a bit much.
AG: My second question derives from the document itself. I was wondering about this format—or the graphic design genre—of the workshop prompt: its material, aesthetic, and pedagogical qualities. You designed this document in a very particular way. I am curious to hear about the considerations you took while making it. What makes a good workshop assignment sheet in your view, in form as well as content? What is its role and function in a workshop and/or the preparation for the workshop?
MS: We used to enjoy designing the briefs as the form can never stray too far away from the question of content. They might be hints or red herrings. They also direct, but the reality is that the real experimentation comes from a process that one cannot foresee and therefore is not necessarily contained in the design itself.
AG: Related to the previous question, I’m curious to know how you usually design a workshop. What considerations go into its planning? How much is predefined? How much of it is open?
MS: The workshops I am interested in hosting don't have an agenda on techniques or skills needed. My role has become about listening to what the students want and making sure they approach it in a radical way.
AG: Yet I feel you propose quite a distinct approach, a way of doing workshops and encountering new people. Perhaps it’s an approach that resists container definitions such as “technique,” or “method.”. But I think this role of “active listener” should not be underestimated, especially in the field of design and design education, which is perhaps more often about building up strong egos and individual signatures. This more responsive or mutualistic approach to designing / facilitating / planning is much needed.
MS: Yes. Listening comes first. Listening to what an individual wants. Our role is often to push them further in the direction they chose. Sometimes it is revealed that they took the wrong direction, but this is also fine because changing one’s mind can provoke new thoughts and produce strong results.
Can one be radical in a moderate or mild way?
With regards to skills or techniques, my points of reference are instilled in my practice. I am not very good at anything but I am happy to perform, dance, or make a piece of furniture, though I hope no one commissions me to design a bridge. I rely almost always on collaborations and by finding people whose skills are highly superior to my own. The results always come from this interaction. However, during a workshop we don’t have the time to find someone else and therefore look within the group. The workshop I mentioned previously included a semi-pro gymnast and a guitar player.
A more important reason for not organizing skill-based workshops is due to the fact that I want to participate and learn things myself, which is easier when I am not expected to impart knowledge about something I already know.
AG: What makes a good and what makes a bad workshop? What are your thoughts on workshop results?
MS: In the past, I would have said the immediate satisfaction or a new learning would be the reward of a good workshop, but I am no longer sure about this. It seems to me that the commitment and excitement itself is its own reward. If one is bored or not curious, then the workshop is bad. This goes for the tutors, too. As for workshop results, I am always up for producing something or having an output. Objects, performances, and doing something public is exciting but I also follow what the students choose, and on many occasions they decide it’s not relevant to share the results with others. In 2020, during the lockdowns, we decided to write a book during the workshop that ran across fifty-two Fridays. This may be the most concrete result of this series of workshops.
AG: Thank you for this. What you said about excitement and curiosity also from the side of the tutors reminds me of the work of bell hooks who wrote about the wellbeing of the teacher, and their process of self-actualization. For me, this usually happens when I get to explore new and unknown things together with students, workshop participants, or collaborators. Curiosity also means not-knowing everything before you propose it in a class or workshop, which keeps you alert and receptive to different viewpoints. When I was a student, I always found it most inspiring when tutors were figuring something out in front of the class, like openly thinking through things, or fixing a bug in code. These were the moments I felt really connected and could actively participate in the learning experience.

AG: Hosting or guesting? As a workshop host I enter an environment like an external force, intervening in their daily routine, and then leaving. Often, I am not there when things begin to resonate, when the content of the workshop takes effect in someone’s work, their thinking, and their evolving practice. Do you have any stories, examples, or tactics of how you deal with building longer-term connections? How do you stay in touch with workshop participants? Or perhaps it’s not important to you?

MS: I have been teaching for twenty-two years, ever since I graduated, which means the likelihood of meeting my former students is rather high because the western art and design world is small. There is opportunity for feedback in those encounters, and occasionally I receive a heart-warming email like your own. I am quite good at keeping in contact with ex-students, because we have probably shared a meaningful experience together, something that Le Magnifique Avventure has often engendered.
AG: Yes, and it is often only in retrospect that a workshop starts to resonate with its participants, the memory and residual effects of this shared moment. In the case of your workshop at Sandberg, we obviously had a good time. It was productive and fun and interesting. But afterwards, too, it was frequently referred to by students, and it has continued to shape up, influencing everyone’s projects and learning situations.
While studying in art and design schools, students are approached as individuals—rather than as a collective. They are assessed as individuals, receive individual student numbers, individual key cards, work on individual research projects, write individual theses. The A4 handout "A Case of Mistaken Identity" reminds me of this powerful moment of being given permission to approach and apply myself actively in the work of others, and simultaneously being able to hand over the burden of my individual project. How do you feel about the role of collective practices within the history of design and design education? What inspired and enabled you to work collectively within a field that is still rather occupied with individual signature / authorship / iconographies?
MS: I am part of a collective and have been since I graduated. However, you will have noticed I no longer use the collective "we" as the four of us who make up åbäke mostly work independently (we live in London, Stockholm, and Copenhagen). Ten years ago, we were part of a group show in which we explored the different collectives we were or had been involved with.“The Inventory of Aliases” was a residency at Somerset House during which we had moved our entire studio for a couple of weeks to the gallery and changed the setting and activities every day according to the different collectives we participated in (this was fourteen at the time). Today I enjoy being part of temporary collectives, those that last sometimes for no longer than a week-long period, while others have lasted years. Ultimately, I feel this is true of each project and includes all participants such as curators, producers, printers, advisors, designers, anyone met during the research, etc.
AG: It is an important nuance to make, to problematize the “we” when speaking about collective practices. I definitely fall into the trap of assuming a “we” sometimes, especially when I fail to explain how the collectives I work with operate. Often people have the desire to “start a collective,” which, in my experience, never works. The collectives I work with all evolved organically, they weren’t started with the intention of becoming anything. And they are also quite unique in their ways of organizing, forms of expressions, and conducts. I feel that the “we” somehow flattens those nuances, particularly due to the fact that all of us are involved with multiple collectives, organizations, and collaborations. I also feel that collectives are quite permeable, receptive, and vulnerable to the context they evolve in. As I understand the way åbäke is organized, it is perhaps comparable to how we organize H&D. You are a distributed assembly of people and practices and as such quite flexible toward new conditions. We did not anticipate for H&D to go on for such a long time, but I think because nobody worries too much about it continuing and nobody fully depends on it, H&D can in fact continue.
MS: [Laughs] What you are describing is brilliant. Not caring about continuing as a collective will probably be the reason you will. Taking it too seriously could be the reason for breaking up. Also, it is fine to finish collaborations.
AG: Do you have any other workshop scripts you'd like to share?
AG: Thank you, thank you! I was wondering about the collaboration with Yaïr Barelli on "Le Magnifique Avventure.” It was your first collaboration together, right? You had not worked together in that way before? I am asking because I feel that organizing a workshop together is a nice way to get to know each other and to start collaborating. Did your collaboration continue afterwards?
MS: Yes, it was a nice way to get to know each other after we had collaborated as part of a group show. The first workshop was so strong that we decided to do it once a year for ten years. Ten years have since passed, so we extended it so that we do it once a year until we both die. This year we will do two, one in Zürich and one in Poitiers, both at art schools.
AG: Why do you spell it "avventure," with the double vv?
MS: The title comes from two movies: Le Magnifique and L’Avventura.
MS: Now, two questions: What is the difference between a tutor and a student? How does one keep the privilege of being a student?
AG: I actually brought your questions to my class last week and asked my students about it. We are just starting this course which considers the classroom as material to work with, to iterate, test out, and challenge. Students are organizing collective learning situations throughout the year. The class will be about the things they want to learn about, so they will play the roles of teacher and student at the same time. It was their first class so we first had to understand what the difference is between tutor, mentor, lecturer, professor. Everyone comes from entirely different learning environments and has different understandings of how studying takes place.
In the context of Sandberg, we don't really have tenure professor style teaching positions. We are all broke freelancers [laughs]. So it was good to clarify this to students from Germany, for instance, where professors have lifetime positions.
I think we could all agree that as a “teacher” you want to be in a position of a learner as well. You want to figure something out through your class. It makes you curious as a teacher and open to other perspectives. Yet there is also a difference between being a student and being a teacher. In our case, we discussed that we want to consider the position of the teacher as a facilitator, as the one mediating the process, and of taking care of the time and space we share. I definitely recognize what you said earlier, about actively listening to students and supporting them in what they want to do. I would add that I’d like them to be able to develop a critical attitude toward their own and other’s work, as well as their positions as makers. I’d like them to achieve a level of comfort together where everyone can pose uncomfortable questions, and self-critically reflect, ask questions, and problematize their work and positionally without giving up, and without losing joy and self-confidence. I think the privilege of a student-mindset is that you are never self-satisfied; you always aim to do better.
How to keep the privilege of being a student? Obviously it helps to be curious, ask questions, and always stay in the mindset of wanting to learn new things and challenge yourself by entering new environments, trying new tools, languages, dance moves, you name it. I like to learn in company, in the presence of others. It gives me energy and joy. It keeps me sharp. I like to learn new things not to become better, but to keep an open mind and be comfortable in the position of not-knowing something.
MS: Thanks Anja.
AG: Thank you, Maki!
Maki Suzuki (FR) is the co-founder of Åbäke, a transdisciplinary graphic design collective founded in 2000 with Patrick Lacey (UK), Benjamin Reichen (FR), Kajsa Ståhl (SE) in London, England.
Prompt “Le Magnifique Avventure,” Yaïr Barelli, Maki Suzuki, 2012
Matthias Tarasiewicz, Sophie-Carolin Wagner, Moritz Greiner-Petter, and Felix Gerloff, Unmaking 5: Anxieties, Proceedings Transmediale (2016), 11,
Matthias Tarasiewicz, Sophie-Carolin Wagner, Moritz Greiner-Petter, and Felix Gerloff, Unmaking 5: Anxieties, Proceedings Transmediale (2016), 11,

Solarpunk Postscript

An incomplete collection of resources and prompts curated, edited, and commented on by Loes Bogers

There is no cloud, just other people's computers. Virtual reality is as real as the hot air blowing from a server farm. While the effects of the global climate crisis are becoming increasingly visible, in both media representations and our everyday experiences, efforts to change course and radically remake the ways we create our own surroundings and the infrastructures we depend on are slow, too slow. 

Computing is and has always been material in essence, but, for many of us, our relationship to computing has become obscured from view. How can we resist compliance with the unsustainable status quo of digital computing and electronics? What tactics could help us to engage in a more sustainable approach to computing? What thinking models and approaches could help us to curb the extractionism, colonialism, and solutionism associated with contemporary digital systems design?

By carefully selecting and bringing together different resources from the fields of literature, movies, academia, design, the arts, and computing, this compilation hopes to offer and inspire possible outlooks for (more) sustainable and equitable computing practices.

A digital version of the first iteration of this list will be shared on Github. It is the start of an evolving list that can grow with time. Readers are invited to contribute task suggestions (of circa 300 words each) to the compilation.

Some shared tasks: 

  1. Deconstructing “expertise”
  2. Untoolkit
  3. Peel your eyes for ambiguity and amplify greyness
  4. Apply lightness, liberally


Deconstructing “expertise”

Specialist knowledge of computing is primarily relegated to the fields of engineering and computer science. From early conceptions of mechanical general purpose calculators to wartime computing embodied by the ENIAC, computing is often told as a story of (Western) scientists. Understanding the ways that "experts" are socially and culturally produced within a field can help to demystify the exclusionary mechanisms that define the insides and outsides of any discipline. Carolyn Marvin traces the rise of the electrical professional in the early 20th century, and points out that unlike civil engineers and mechanical engineers, this new group of professionals lacked the almost aristocratic veneer provided to the former professional groups, whose practitioners stemmed from the higher strata in society. Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 10. Electrical engineering journals were more popular in tone and quoted from lay press as well as academic sources. In doing so, they catered to foremen, designers, and entrepreneurs in the field, not just to scientists and engineers. Over the course of the 20th century, electrical engineering was able to re-establish itself as a prestigious discipline at the level of other fields of engineering and science. Marvyn traces the development of its “textual communities” to articulate how any claims to electrical expertise were gate-kept through textual processes, such as jokes targeted at rural, female, colored people.Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New, 17. Marvyn’s discourse analysis still offers a compelling read, and her methods can be useful tools to help deconstruct today's computing expertise. 

Proto-computing practices do not just exist in Western scientific histories, but can also be identified in what might also be called “craft practices.” Matti Tedre and Ron Eglash define what they call “ethno-computational practices” as those practices that (formally or informally) include: 

  1. data structures: models and ways of organizing and representing information;
  2. algorithms: ways of manipulating organized information in a systematic way; 
  3. physical and linguistic realizations of such structures and algorithms in the form of tools, games, art or other. Matt Tedre and Ron Eglash, “Ethnocomputing,” Software Studies: A Lexicon (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008), 93.

Through this lens they are able to identify and acknowledge alternative ways of knowing computing, such as Inca Quipu, Ashanti board and pebble games, and the intentional design of fractal geometry in African architecture and hair braiding practices. Sadie Plant's feminist manifesto Zeros + Ones weaves together histories that connect women to the development of computing, and in doing so highlights sensory ways of knowing that stem from textile production. Sadie Plant, Zeroes and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture (New York: Doubleday, 1997). Visiting unchecked narratives can help to open up space for more ways of knowing, and undo some of the unquestioned disciplinary boundaries that have been put in place and solidified over time. 

Prompt: Meet your friend from another discipline. Swap your work computers. Open each other's email clients and pick an unanswered email. Draft a response. What can you gather from each other's methods of knowing and not knowing? 



To do list:

  1. Plug in your computer
  2. Turn it on 
  3. Open a browser
  4. Search for a piece of code on Google
  5. Run it
  6. You're a hacker!
Matthias Tarasiewicz, Sophie-Carolin Wagner, Moritz Greiner-Petter, and Felix Gerloff,Unmaking: 5 Anxieties, Proceedings Transmediale (2016), 11,

You might be thinking: Haven't we already demystified computers in so many ways? I can open an Instructable Instructables, to set up my own server in 12 easy steps,“Set Up Your Very Own Web Server!,” Instructables, or find a blog describing how to solar power my Arduino project with a Sparkfun charging board.“Using Arduino with Parts and Sensors – Solar Powered Arduino (Part 1),”Device Plus, March 1, 2016, Maybe from there we can open another line of inquiry and experimentation. In your set up, which elements are in fact pre-designed toolkits that you depend on and could unpack further? The Arduino in your hand feels like a singular, cohesive object. Take any of the following tools to highlight its modularity and connectedness to other infrastructures, social rules, and systems. A loupe brings into view the shapes of the teeny tiny components on your chip, and sometimes even a number or factory code. What is it? What does it do? What shapes, sizes, and formats does it come in and what unspoken rules are behind those shapes and sizes? What materials are involved in making it and where do they come from? How do these relate to the software environment you use to make the chip read and do things? How is the software interface connected to text files in the deep folder structure of your computer? Where does the software refer to something tangible you can find with your loupe, and why? What is the relationship between the abstract representations offered in a component's datasheet and the physical object in your hand? Unpacking any computer will bring out an infinite number of relations up for interrogating, interrupting, and intervening. By virtue of seeing and feeling the relationships you are offered opportunities to change the engagement. An insightful example of a process of making an “untoolkit” is described in "Microcontrollers as material" by David Mellis et al., at MIT Medialab (2013). David A. Mellis et al., “Microcontrollers as Material: Crafting Circuits with Paper, Conductive Ink, Electronic Components, and an "Untoolkit,” Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (February 2013), 83-90,
The field of wearable computing and soft circuitry offers a wealth of examples that imagine other ways of relating to computing. In the process of trying to make hardware softer to the touch, practitioners have sought out alternative materials and modes of connecting those materials. Hannah Perner-Wilson's Kit-Of-No-Parts: Recipes for Materially Diverse, Functionally Transparent and Expressive Electronics opens up further exploration and material investigation of electronics, instead of the straightforward replication implicit in most electronics design. Hannah Perner-Wilson, A Kit-of-No-Parts: Recipes for Materially Diverse, Functionally Transparent and Expressive Electronics, 2011, Irene Posch and Ebru Kurbak's handcrafted and functional Embroidered Computer explores the history of mechanical relays, which dominated computing before the invention of semiconductors such as transistors, and make a compelling weaving of historic embroidery knowledge and 8-bit computers.Irene Posch and Ebru Kurbak, The Embroidered Computer, More broadly oriented and more recent, is the research project Feminist Hacking: Building Circuits as Artistic Practice by Stefanie Wuschitz, Patrícia Reis, and Taguhi Torosyan.Stefanie Wuschitz, Patrícia Reis, and Taguhi Torosyan, “Feminist Hacking: Building Circuits as an Artistic Practice,” Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, This project looks into ethical and ecological issues connected to computing hardware, such as mining semi-precious materials in developing countries, and aims to ground media art-making in fair practices of hardware production. Engaging with computing as a fundamentally material practice offers the possibility to rethink the terms of engagement between different materials, histories, and systems. 

Prompt: Meet up with a bunch of friends with different skills and knowledge. Open up a broken computer or other device and explore what's inside, try to identify some of the elements and components you find. Can you zoom in further or is this the smallest possible element you can identify? Pick one each (or work together if you prefer), and research how and where it is made, what it is made of, and where the source material can be found in the world. Is there a way to make a functional element from scratch from alternative materials? Document the process and share it with each other. 

Peel your eyes for ambiguity and amplify grayness

Computing is a form of mediation between beings and materials, brought about by means of abstractions and numbers. These systems of abstractions we live with and by are designed to disappear into the background of our daily rhythms. This is a result of deliberate design and intentional engineering acts, justified by arguments that speak for intuitive interaction, efficiency, and usability. Questions such as “Is this technology bad?” are only of limited use. Google's code of conduct might mention "Don't be evil," but this is an empty phrase. Nobody would disagree with such a statement. As Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey convincingly argue, Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey, Evil Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012). this phrase implies that even if people involved are good, systems can still do evil, they incite and provoke, twist and bend, leak and manage. It's the infuriating reality of well intended but naïve creations, with unintended consequences on top.

To parse the complexity of our socio-technical world and undo occlusions in these systems, Matt Ratto and Garnet Hertz suggest a number of strategies under the term “critical making.”Matt Ratto and Garnet Hertz, “Critical Making and Interdisciplinary Learning: Making as a Bridge Between Art, Science, Engineering, and Social Interventions,” The Critical Makers Reader: (Un)Learning Technology, eds. Loes Bogers and Letizia Chiappini (Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2019), 25. Firstly: identify metaphors and assumptions that guide and shape a discipline (see also Deconstructing Expertise), such as efficiency, convenience, and pervasive connectivity. Secondly: recognize what these values and metaphors exclude or marginalize. How can we see what is meant to be invisible? Keep your eyes peeled for blandness and ambiguity—or grayness—and amplify it. Scrutinize what is bland and unexciting, "Grayness is a quality that is easily overlooked, and that is what gives it its great attraction, an unremarkableness that can be of inestimable value in background operations." Fuller and Goffey, Evil Media, 11. In 2013, artist duo YoHa invited fifty-one artists to choose a gray object and describe its exclusionary power. From ASCII character set to Zero-hour-contracts, the texts shown as part of the Evil Media Distribution Centre highlight a wide range of directive objects forming the background of contemporary society. “Evil Media Distribution Centre,” YoHa, 2013, The texts in this collaborative work are somewhat similar to the third and last move, of making found occlusions legible. This might be in textual form, or occlusions might be inverted by bringing the exclusion to the center, and then building and deploying an object that embodies this reversal. A notable example is the project SeatSale by Steve Mann: a physical chair that highlights the way digital rights management (DRM) systems create artificial scarcity. Such software allocates "seats" to limit the use of a software license, which took the shape of a mechanical chair with spikes in the seat that can be lowered and lifted depending on the amount of "seats" occupied on the license. Steve Mann, “Maktivism: Authentic Making for Technology in the Service of Humanity,” DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media, eds. Matt Ratto and Megan Boler (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014), 40. Whether textual or object-based: amplify the grayness of systems to render their evil doings in legible form.

Prompt: Locate a resource that claims to explain an aspect of computing. A title like “How Computers Really Work” or any other indication of authoritative helpfulness is great to look for. Pick an aspect of computing that seems excessively boring, and articulate what written and unwritten rules are at play to make the subsystem function. Imagine and describe, visualize, or build a scenario where you introduce another interpretative layer into that system. Remember that computer things "work" by means of excluding ambiguity. 

Apply lightness, liberally

Conceptual inversions turned material are helpful for probing, building, and sharing collective thinking and practice around sustainable and equitable computing. Now consider the possibility of collective dreaming. Let’s suppose we identify capitalism, authoritarianism, consumerism, and other -isms as the systems that stand in our way, but the tools we have to hack away at them are largely created by and through those systems. What we have is the ability to practice collective dreaming, and rehearsing the rituals that nurture optimism in relation to those dreamings. Can we dream up scenarios and parallel worlds in stories, music, dance, and games?

We cannot take things or people with us that we encounter in our dreams. But our baggage may include the songs, gestures, and daily rituals we experience there. In our actual lives, we can practice accessing that feeling of lightness that dreaming affords. Our horizons might be clouded by smog and toxic fumes, but our collective internal compass can remain calibrated. Can we imagine radical futures without sentimental nostalgia for pre-technological days?

This next, and for now final, prompt is borrowed from Matthew Fuller’s Media Ecologies.

Prompt: "Accumulate information, techniques, spread them about, stay with a situation long enough to understand its permutations. Find a conjunction of forces, behaviors, technologies, information systems, stretch it, make it open up and swell so that each of the means by which it senses and acts in the world become a landscape that can be explored and built in. Speed it up and slow it down so that its characteristic movements can be recognized at a glance. Lead it through a hall of mirrors until it loses a sense of its own proper border, begins to leak or creates a new zone." Matthew Fuller, Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007),106.

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Loes Boger's bio.