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INTRODUCTION As part of KABK’s commitment to building a research culture, it supports two Research Groups, in which tutors spend a year developing research projects through and by means of, or adjacent to, their art and design practices. We have organized this symposium around some of the shared thematic urgencies that drive these projects and connect them to aspects of contemporary discourses. These include the pressing need to: decolonize and repair the archive with new voices and counter narratives; foreground the moving, lived body and embodied knowledge; reconstitute the (art) institution as a space of consent and performativity; and critique our increasingly operationalised image world. In monthly meetings of the Research Groups over the past year we have discussed problematics relating to the research process such as: how to calibrate the often-tense relationship between making, reading, reflecting, and writing; how to shape (and re-shape) a research question; how to meaningfully integrate research with practice and within the learning environment; and how to negotiate collaborations with students, colleagues, peers, and other publics. We want to shine a light on some of these usually hidden aspects of the research process and, to that end, the symposium seeks to identify and interrogate the methods and tools used to generate and surface new findings. We are grateful to our keynote speakers— Renée Turner, Dr. Mijke van der Drift, Joy Mariama Smith, FRAUD, and Dr. Peter Hall—for joining us today, not only to share their own research and perspectives on the social and political issues with which we are engaging, but also to reflect on the particular qualities and capacities of artand design-specific approaches to research and what they allow for. We are also grateful to you, the audience, for participating in our ongoing investigation into how the insights that arise from experimental research in the context of an art and design academy might make a significant contribution to practice, to education, and to knowledge at KABK and beyond.

…action-oriented research, alternative narratives, artistic research, collective making, conversation, counter-archiving, critical pedagogy, curating, decentralised knowledge producing, deconstructing, drawing, enactment, entangled histories, epistolary mediation, feminist perspectives, filtering, image-interrogation, informal encountering, intersectional approaches, interviewing, material performativity, material research, movement practice, narrative archiving, network mapping, nonantagonistic play, notation, participatory archiving, performing, photographing, prototyping, queer frameworks, salvaging, sculpting, soft-robotics, speculating, translating, working through consent, writing, zooming in…

Alice Twemlow Head of the Lectorate Design: Design and The Deep Future

ALICE TWEMLOW is research professor at KABK and Associate Professor in Leiden University’s Academy of Creative and Performing Arts. Twemlow’s own research focuses on design’s complex interrelations with time in the context of climate crisis, and in particular on the material manifestations and the meanings of design when it is disposed of and becomes trash. Previously, Twemlow directed the Design Curating & Writing Master at Design Academy Eindhoven and founded the Design Research MA at the School of Visual Arts, New York. She has a PhD in Design History from The Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and is the author of Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism (MIT Press, 2017).


DR. ALICE TWEMLOW Introduction


RENÉE TURNER Weaving, Knots, and Other Entanglements

10:45 – 11:00​

LAUREN ALEXANDER Nurturing Counter-Archives

11:00 – 11:15​

DR. ANDREA STULTIENS Dear Dr. Julien, A Letter About the Potential of Collective Making in Activating Archives

11:15 – 11:30


11:30 – 12:15​ COFFEE BREAK ​ (2) PERFORMING BODIES 12:15 – 12:45

​DR. MIJKE VAN DER DRIFT Moved by Many Logics: Transformative Philosophy

12:45 – 13:00

LYNDSEY HOUSDEN Out of Context: The Medical Body and the Lived Body, in Search of a New Medium

13:00 – 13:15


13:15 – 13:30​ Q&A 13:30 – 14:30




JOY MARIAMA SMITH Anti-productivity and Unrestricted Sociality

15:00 – 15:15

CARLY ROSE BEDFORD AND GABRIEL .A. MAHER Non Perfomativity and the ... ‘This is KABK’

15:15 – 15:30


15:30 – 16:15 COFFEE BREAK (4) RE-IMAGINING OPERATIONS 16:15 – 16:45

AUDREY SAMSON & FRANCISCO GALLARDO (FRAUD) Terra Analytica: The Field has Eyes, the Forest has Ears

16:45 – 17:00

RUBEN PATER Trading Futures

17:00 – 17:15


17:15 – 17:30 Q&A 17:30 18:00

DR. PETER HALL Keynote and reflections


DRINKS RECEPTION Fault Lines: Some Research Methods in Art and Design KABK Gallery 1







Histories are woven, knotted, and impossible to disentangle. This is especially true when working through the recent past with linked threads to the present. By what merit is something deemed cultural heritage, archivable, or not? With any judgment, the present casts its dice towards an imagined future, waging a bet on stakes unknown. In this talk, Renée Turner will discuss her project, “The Warp and Weft of Memory,” an online narrative archive exploring the closet of Dutch artist Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht. Having passed away in 2013 at the age of one hundred, the traces of her figure can still be sensed through the shape of her clothes, and the range of garments illustrates her fascination with travel, textiles, and her life as an artist. Moving through Gisèle’s clothing and photographic archive, Turner will reflect on the epistemology of the closet, the pitfalls of taxonomical fervour, and the complexity of entangled histories.

How can design methods such as translation, interpretation and enactment produce counter-archives, with the purpose of amplifying marginalised perspectives, left out of the historical and media narrative? Departing from this question, Alexander will reflect on artistic work produced together with Ghalia Elsrakbi under the name Foundland Collective. Their work uses existing, found historical and institutional archive material but also actively generates subjective and participatory archives particularly focussing on migration, conflict and displacement. Examples of such archive-based projects include: “The New World” (2017), a re-narration of material from the Alixa Naff Archive, Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC; “Real-time History” (2018), a reinterpretation of a selection of disputed video evidence from the Syrian Archive website; and “Groundplan Drawings” (2019), a self-initiated collection of drawings made by Syrian refugees exploring narration by memory of abandoned homes.

RENÉE TURNER is an artist and scholar based in Rotterdam whose practice engages with digital narratives, archives, and forms of interdisciplinary and collaborative enquiry. Whether working on her own or with others, her research is guided by feminist perspectives, the embodied, and the openly speculative. Writing is central to her practice. Next to her work as an artist, she is a Senior Research Lecturer at the Willem de Kooning Academy and the Piet Zwart Institute, where she continually seeks critical and committed approaches to pedagogy. She is also a supervisor in the PhDArts programme at Academy for Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University/ KABK. Previously Turner has been an artist resident at the Rijksakademie, a researcher in the Theory Department at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, a member of the collaborative multi-visual research group, De Geuzen, course director of the Master Media Design and Communication Course, and director of the Piet Zwart Institute.

counter-archiving, re-narration, enactment, participatory archiving, drawing

img “Groundplan Drawings,” Foundland Collective, The Hangar Exhibition, Amman Design Week 2019, photo credit: Yara Hindawi.

img Maher’s Groundplan Drawing, Foundland Collective, video still, 2019. LAUREN ALEXANDER is a designer, researcher and artist, and teaches in the BA Graphic Design and MA Non Linear Narrative programmes at KABK. Until 2019 she tutored in socially engaged design practice at the MA Experience Design (University of the Underground) at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. In 2009, Alexander began working with Syrian designer and artist Ghalia Elsrakbi and together they formed Foundland Collective. The duo’s work draws together disciplines of art, new media, graphic design and writing to critically reflect upon what it means to produce politically engaged storytelling from their position as nonWestern artists, working between Europe and the Middle East. Foundland Collective has exhibited and pre­sented work internationally, has been nominated for the Prix de Rome prize (2015) and Dutch Design Awards (2016) and has been awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research pro­gramme fellowship (2015 – 2016). 6

Framing and Reframing Archives


Framing and Reframing Archives

GROUNDPLAN DRAWINGS PROJECT SUMMARY “Groundplan Drawings” is an ongoing research project featuring drawings made by Syrians currently living in the diaspora and who were forced to leave their homes behind since conflict broke out in Syria in 2011. Foundland Collective (Lauren Alexander and Ghalia Elsrakbi) asked project participants to draw their house as they remember it, including memories of events inside their childhood home, as well as changes to the home which took place after the outbreak of conflict. REMAINS OF A HOME “Omar & Marwa’s Groundplan” drawing depicts an apartment in a suburb of Damascus as remembered by Omar and Marwa from their childhood. When the Syrian conflict started, the home owned by their father was uninhabited, until he decided to rent it out to a family in need. In 2012, a shootout between military forces and an unknown gang took place inside the apartment. The apartment was destroyed during the incident and men from both groups were murdered inside it. After the incident Omar returned to clean the devastated apartment. There was evidence of huge amounts of blood after the bodies were removed, and the structure of the home had been destroyed; windows were broken and all the furniture shattered. The ruins of the family’s apartment bears witness to the events that took place here in 2012. Using the writings of architectural and anthropological researchers Andrew Herscher and Yael Navaro-Yashin, I would like to share some important aspects connected to the postconflict understanding of Omar and Marwa’s home. Andrew Herscher is an expert in architectural forms of political violence particularly related to Balkan conflict. In an interview with Eyal Weisman, director of research group Forensic Architecture, he outlines the pitfalls involved in using post-conflict architectural ruins as conclusive evidence of the intentions and power dynamics of those involved in conflict.[1] To illustrate this, Herscher recalls a case he was asked to conduct research in Kosovo for the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The investigation included proving that the strategy of Slobodan Milošević involved the deliberate targeting of mosque buildings during the Serbian conflict; the ICC sought evidence to prove that Milošević’s actions were proof of religious persecution. Herscher was tasked to research the destruction of mosques and other religious buildings, which opened up many questions and doubts for him regarding the limitations of the “tribunal’s axis of interpretation” which focused on proving “authorial responsibility” or the legally liable proponent of mosque destruction rather than taking into account the “ensemble of individual,  collective and non-human forces” that are also at play within the conflict situation at large.[2] The ruins of postconflict architecture provide important clues regarding what has taken place on a specific site, but do not take into account the complex network of human and non-human influences on the situation. In the case of Omar and Marwa’s apartment, their family arranged appropriate paperwork for the renting out of their home to an approved renter, which was luckily recognized by authorities. By owning an apartment in which an anti-regime gang lived, directly implicated their family. 8

Framing and Reframing Archives

After the apartment was cleaned, the destruction of the walls and interior of the now abandoned apartment remain as proof that the event took place, but the complex network of parties involved in the determination of truth and justice surrounding the incident is dependent on who is narrating the story. Considering the afterlife of personal spaces left behind after conflict, I consulted the writings of Yael NavaroYashin’s ethnographic research in “Northern Cyprus,” a post-conflict region carved out as a separate (de facto) state since its invasion by Turkey in 1974. Many abandoned former Greek-Cypriot homes and villages in this region are still inhabited by Turkish-Cypriot families. Navaro-Yashin uses theory and anthropological research to understand the impact and affect which is experienced in personal spaces: “Cypriot houses that have been abandoned, changed hands and been appropriated by refugees provide us with another notion of the house. Here there is uneasiness between a person and his dwelling, a conflict, anxiety.”[3] Drawing on the work of philosophers such as Bruno Latour and Gaston Bachelard, Navaro-Yashin argues for an understanding of personal subjectivity that focuses not only on the experience of the individual but also takes into account the profound influence of non-human objects such as the home itself and the domestic objects within.[4] Navaro-Yashin’s description of Cypriot houses introduces many parallels to the abandonment and repossession of homes in Syria. To Navaro-Yashin the house can be considered as “a political and legal institution” charged with “politically and legally induced affect.”[5] Despite regional specificity, the remains of an abandoned home in times of conflict represent a convergence of external forces and interests imposed on a personal space. The “Groundplan Drawings” series continues to grow allowing participants to document their rich experience of a lost home through drawing. In many instances the captured memory is trapped in an undetermined moment in time. Working closely with participants to narrate drawings through storytelling and anecdotes, valuable details are exposed giving unexpected entry points with which to understand and share a layered and complex lived experience of the everyday reality of conflict. Foundland Collective aims to document and contextualize stories such as those emerging in “Groundplan Drawings” with the intention of opening up new avenues of empathy and shared experience in a manner that provides much needed alternatives to mainstream news media’s reporting on conflict. By collecting subjective and experiencebased documents, multiple narratives, perspectives and interpretations are allowed to emerge relating to personal spaces and architecture, and in so doing nurture a growing archive which may not have otherwise left a trace. [1] Andrew Herscher and Eyal Weizman, “Architecture, Violence, Evidence,” Future Anterior: Journal of Historic Preservation, History, Theory, and Criticism, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2011): 111 – 123. [2] Andrew Herscher and Eyal Weizman, “Architecture, Violence, Evidence,” Future Anterior: Journal of Historic Preservation, History, Theory, and Criticism, Vol. 8, No. 1 (2011): 119. [3] Yael Navaro-Yashin, The Make-believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity, (London: Duke University Press, 2012), 191. [4] “Topoanalysis” refers to the “the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.” Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, (New York: Penguin, 2014), 121. [5] Yael Navaro-Yashin, The Make-believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity, (London: Duke University Press, 2012), 197. 9

Framing and Reframing Archives

DR. ANDREA STULTIENS (DEAR DR. JULIEN, A LETTER ABOUT) COLLECTIVE MAKING IN ACTIVATING ARCHIVES This presentation explores “collective making” as a research method that is natural to artistic research and is particularly useful when dealing with problematic historical materials, such as the legacy of Dutch anthropologist and explorer Paul Julien (1901 – 2001). A five-day workshop that recently took place with students in KABK’s Master programs Artistic Research and Photography & Society last September serves as a case study, while the presentation takes the form of an illustrated letter addressing Dr. Paul Julien himself. The use of the epistolary form itself is here yet another layer in the constitution of the archive as a palimpsest that keeps on developing as long as it is activated. photographing, reframing, decolonizing, activating archives, collective making DR. ANDREA STULTIENS teaches in the KABK MA Photography & Society. Initially trained as a photographer and researcher, she obtained her doctoral degree in 2018 at PhDArts, Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, KABK/Leiden University, with a dissertation titled “Ebifananyi, A study of photographs in Uganda in and through an artistic practice.” Stultiens’ artistic practice deals with photographs in relation to the ways in which histories are presented. Her work, which always develops in collaborations with others, often focuses on the African continent. In recent years, she has extended her artistic practice into the curatorial realm, which has resulted in the initiation of exhibitions and presentations both in Europe and on the African continent. Besides tutoring at the KABK, Stultiens works at Minerva Art Academy in Groningen, where she  teaches and investigates the use of photography in crossdisciplinary and cross-cultural artistic practices.

REFRAMING PJU A FIRST LETTER TO PAUL JULIEN PROJECT SUMMARY What if a picture offers an unexpected window to a past that is not so easily accessible? What if your ancestor, whom you have not seen before, appears in a photograph? What can we learn from connecting particular presents to pasts documented by this particular traveller? Reframing PJU is a contribution to current discussions on the decolonization of museum collections and the development of experimental qualitative research methods. It is an attempt to contribute to nuanced understandings of African pasts and presents through engagements with photographs and film footage produced by Dutch amateur anthropologist Paul Julien (1901 – 2001). With this research, new information and contexts are added to the collection of Julien’s photographs and films in the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. This is done through collaborations with people who have a direct connection with what is shown in the footage.

img Andrea Stultiens with Paul Julien, Revised Plates from the 10th edition of Kampvuren langs de Evenaar (Amsterdam: Scheltens & Giltay), 2019


Framing and Reframing Archives


Framing and Reframing Archives

“To my porters. To you, my black helpers of many years toiling away in God’s African wilderness I dedicate this book, which probably will not be shown to you and surely you will never read.”

— Paul Julien, Eeuwige Wildernis, 5 (Eindhoven: De Pelgrim, 1949). Translation based on a film produced in the 1990s by Cor Adolfse with Paul Julien as narrator.

Groningen, March 2, 2019

Dear Dr. Julien,

More or less seven years ago I traveled to Liberia for the first time and visited some of the sites that appear on photographs you made during your first expedition through “Equatorial Africa” in 1932. My journey was a response to the preface in Eeuwige Wildernis (Eternal Wilderness,) the second of the four books in which you shared your experiences with a general audience.[1] I encountered a copy of your book on a flea market and was impressed by the beautifully printed photographs that accompany your stories. While reading its preface, that takes the form of a letter to your porters, I was disgusted and fascinated. This form could be interpreted as a sympathetic gesture to remind the reader of the book of the people who made your expeditions possible. That same gesture, however, creates a gap—if not a canyon—between that reader and “your black helpers” by emphasizing that the former is about to see and read what the latter will never be able to access. Back in the 1940s was it a given that your porters would not be given [sic] the opportunity to see nor have the ability to read your books? In the additional preface to the 1998 edition of Eternal Wilderness you mention that things changed significantly on the African continent since you set foot on it.[2] What you do not touch upon in this text, however, is that Western gazes such as yours, as well as the kind of privilege you worked with, have been unpacked and thoroughly criticized by many, both in and outside of the field of anthropology. Edward Said’s Orientalism is perhaps the most obvious example.[3] It is hard to imagine that you were unaware of this ground-breaking book and the effect it had on post-colonial discourse. I decided to engage with your photographs in order to reframe them. These engagements are based on an  understanding of photographs as outcomes of “encounters between several protagonists in which the photographer cannot a priori claim a monopoly over knowledge, authorship, ownership, and rights.”[4] What insights could other sets of knowledge then yours bring to the photograph you made in terms of aspects of African pasts and their European imaginations? Encounters with photographs can take place on different metaphorical sites that are shaped by the context generated by those looking at and thus informing it. Two of those sites that I intended to explore are those of “spectacle” and “appearance.” An encounter on a site of spectacle leads to othering,[5] which distances those observing from the observed and makes further actions on an equal ground unlikely, if not impossible.[6] A space of appearance “where I appear to others as others appear to me” leads to a non-hierarchical and humble encounter allowing new meanings to unfold.[7] I hope that my initiative will cause a shift for the site on which your photographs have mostly been encountered up to now. Your photographs afford more than the contexts they were given by you yourself, by those 12

Framing and Reframing Archives

who admire your skills as a photographer, or by those who fully dismiss your legacy because of your arguably problematic position.[8] For these affordances to unfold your photographs need to reach new audiences. Such an audience could include descendants of your porters or their neighbours. People, that is, who have an interest in and understanding of your photographs because they offer a view onto their past. While writing the dissertation that provided me with the “Dr.” title that you used so proudly and consistently in any public appearance,[9] I also made use of the epistolary format to mediate my voice.[10] A more conventional academic voice would not have allowed the use of the dialogical, perspectival and emergent properties that are embedded in letter writing.[11]It is my hope that our correspondence, in which I write letters while I am informed by working with your legacy, will allow a critical yet open position towards the relationship between the past you depicted and the present in which it is seen. I look forward to writing about the methodology and methods that I will test and develop while investigating your photographs and to sharing the insights this will lead to with you. Yours, Andrea

[1] Apart from Eeuwige Wildernis: Paul Julien, Kamvuren Langs de Evenaar (Eindhoven: De Pelgrim, 1940); Pygmeeën (Amsterdam: Scheltens & Giltay, 1953); Zonen van Cham (Amsterdam: Scheltens & Giltay, 1959). [2] Paul Julien, Eeuwige Wildernis (Antwerpen: Atlas, 1998): 9 – 10. [3] Edward Said, Orientalism, (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978). [4] Ariella Azoulay, “What is a Photograph? What is Photography?” in Philosophy of Photography, Vol. 1, No. 1, (2010, 9 – 13. [5] Lajos Brons, “Othering, an Analysis,” Transcience, A Journal of Global Studies, Vol.6, No. 1, (2015): 69 – 90. [6] Stuart Hall, “The Spectacle of the ‘Other,’” in Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, (London: Sage, 1997), 223 – 290. [7] Hannah Ahrendt, The Human Condition, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998 (second edition)), 198 – 199. [8] Paul Basu, “Museum Affordances,” accessed November 22, 2019, museum-affordances. Sonja Wijs, “Afrika in beeld gevangen: Paul Juliens zoektocht naar de oorsprong,” in Dutch Eyes, ed. Flip Bool et al (Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 2007), 316 – 319. Lex Veldhoen, “Dr. Paul Julien: Ontdekkingsreiziger, Globetrotter, Antropoloog,” in Eeuwige Wildernis, 1998. [9] Paul Julien obtained a PhD in Math and Physics in 1933, but used and abused the title during his expeditions, something that is addressed in my third letter to him on impact. Andrea Stultiens “A letter to Dr. Paul Julien. Pondering the Photographic legacy of a Dutch ‘Explorer of Africa,’” in Trigger #01 – Impact, (Antwerp/Amsterdam: FoMu/Fw-books). [10] Andrea Stultiens, “Ebifananyi, A Study of Photographs in Uganda in and through an Artistic Practice” (PhD diss., Leiden University, 2018). [11] Liz Stanley, “The Epistolarium: On Theorizing Letters and Correspondences,” Auto/Biography, Vol. 12, No. 3, (2004): 201 – 235. 13

Framing and Reframing Archives





Critical philosophy focuses on limits of reason and boundary transgressions. This structures resistance against dominating norms but retains at its heart the ideal of an untouched subject. In this talk van der Drift will explore resistance to norms alongside a multilogical understanding of forms. The feminist philosopher and activist María Lugones proposes that engagement across different norms requires non-antagonistic play and even “losing one’s logic.” Taking a cue from Lugones, van der Drift will unpack how movement and performance can support changing orders of reason. A focus on logics supports conceptualising resistance and complicity together. Subsequently, resistance and accountability become relations to various logical forms, which need to be worked through, rather than being used to protect untouchability. DR. MIJKE VAN DER DRIFT lectures at the KABK, School for New Dance Development, Amsterdam, and the Royal College of Art, London. As a researcher, van der Drift is associated with BAK, Utrecht and the University of Cambridge. Van der Drift’s research, which explores how those outside of the dominant norm find ways of relation and evaluation and how anti-colonial futures are a means to engage the present, finds form as philosophy and film. “The Logic of Loss in Bonding,” for example, uses film and philosophy to formulate a counterpoint to managerial theories of accumulation. Additionally, together with Nat Raha and Chryssy Hunter, they have been working internationally on Radical transfeminism, for instance at Pembe Hayat Kuirfest, Ankara, 2018; Schwules Museum, Berlin, 2016; and the London Conference on Critical Thought, London, 2015.

Housden’s research is grounded in the relationship between the medical body image and the lived body image. From the perspective of living with a chronic disease, the project is a response to the authoritative position of medical imaging which in allopathic medicine seeks to create a definitive marker of the disease state. The presentation will discuss the emergent research methods which were developed in collaboration with dancer Arad Inbar from ICK Amsterdam. The method analysed dialogue to generate keywords which acted as notations for inner-body movement material. The aim is to interpret the keywords through material research into soft robotics, to develop an artwork that embodies the transformational processes of the human body. soft robotics, movement, breath, dance, notation

img Generating body data @ UMC, by Lyndsey Housden. Photo credit: Marike R. van Lingen, Assistant Researcher Anatomy and Neurosciences, VUmc, 23.09.19

img Generating body knowledge, ICK Amsterdam studio, by Lyndsey Housden with Arad Inbar. Generating notation in the studio, by Lyndsey Housden, 18.09.19 LYNDSEY HOUSDEN is an artist and teacher in the Interactive/Media/Design department at KABK, and an alumna of ArtScience 2009. Her art installations respond to the human desire to move and act, inviting haptic interactions and social encounters that explore the invisible lines between people, their environment and technology. Her current research takes a new direction that combines personal experience of neurology and allopathic medicine, alongside insights gained through movement practices and yoga. Housden’s research invites us to recognise our ability to zoom in to the micro movements inside the body.


Performing Bodies


Performing Bodies

OUT OF CONTEXT: THE MEDICAL BODY AND THE LIVED BODY, IN SEARCH OF A NEW MEDIUM The technological lens of allopathic (Traditional Western) medicine focuses on biological mechanisms of the body, scanning for malfunctions and mutations, identifying diversions from the statistically verified, normative body data sets. This technological probe does not invite collaboration or feedback from its subject, rather it encapsulates health within a closed parameter; a disembodied biological system, devoid of a social context. Within the institutional context of the hospital, the living, sentient subject of the biomedical lens is passive, and not given the opportunity to contribute to the interpretation of their body data. The subject, now aptly labelled “patient,” consents to retain the background noise of their lived-body experience, enacting a naive position in relation to their own health. Patiently awaiting the specialist’s pronouncement of their course of action; the subject receives a pharmaceutical treatment, a hard technology[1] that has been engineered through generations of technological observations of cellular misbehaviour and biological mechanisms, isolated from the lived-body context. In this scenario I describe the disconnection of health and illness from the experience of the lived-body within contemporary clinical medicine. In this situation I am a patient, and a biomedical research subject defined by a chronic autoimmune disease, a diagnosis that also binds my body data to on-going biomedical observations and (voluntary) biobank contributions. At the same time, I am also an artist, teacher and yoga practitioner, who questions the aesthetics and power relations that are entrenched in the clinical medical setting. Here I search for an artistic agency that lies in imagination and not in prediction. I witnessed my body data being placed on a trajectory of predictions, gleaned from generations of disembodied biological subjects, which set in motion my idea to remake the connection between the livedbody and the medical-body. The scope and complexity of chronic healthcare is much broader and more complex than the reach of diagnostic tools such as the MRI imaging machine, lauded as the “tool that currently offers the most sensitive non-invasive way of imaging the brain, spinal cord, or other areas of the body.” [2] From experience with movement and dance practices and yoga, I observed that the human being also possesses an innate sensitive, non-invasive ability to imagine and harness the processes inside the body, which is exemplified during rehabilitation and healing. It is from this position that this research departs, with the aim of connecting these two worlds—to assemble knowledge and tools from dance and movement practices, together with material research from soft robotics in an attempt to explore an alternative medium to embody the complex relationships between illness and health, science and art. The process of gathering knowledge from dance and movement practices, required me to engage directly and subjectively in workshops 16

Performing Bodies

and experimentation. In this process I connected with two guides who generously shared their knowledge and insights from this visceral field. I am grateful to Ria Higler (dancer, choreographer and teacher at the School for New Dance Development) and Arad Inbar (dancer at ICK Amsterdam), for guiding this process in the dance studio, bringing me into a space of not knowing, of giving up preconceived ideas about how the body could or should move, and to be able to experience a way of being I had never encountered before. Through these experiments and workshops with Ria Higler, I entered altered states of perception, I moved with a different body to the one I had felt before, and understood in this moment that the body can morph. This was achieved by shifting attention to various physiological processes in the body and movement qualities in the environment. A crucial approach to this practice was defined by Ria Higler, who encourages students to “read and not judge” and “drop the mind in the body”.[3] This practice aims to deter rational judgement or thought, and prepare the consciousness to yield to impressions from the environment, whilst zooming into the sensitivity of internal micro-movements and forces. With Arad Inbar we developed a series of movement experiments that were initiated from the internal movement of the breath. The breath is an interesting place to start because it can be alternatively controlled by will or the subconscious, it also synchronises with the breathing rhythms of people you are close to. It can have a profound effect on health by calming the nervous system, inducing a sense of relaxation and shifting into the parasympathetic nervous system, and has been incorporated into ancient health practices including yoga. The lungs are also an organ we can easily feel and manipulate; when we breathe, we feel the capacity of our lungs from the inside. These experiments were followed by a dialogue, used to document our understanding of the internal somatic events. Through transcribing and searching for keywords, I was able to define elements of the moment which could be used as notation, as signifiers of a behaviour and taken towards the next stage of material research. These keywords or notations included: expansion, weightlessness, reconfiguration, balance and vibration, amongst others. The next stage of this research is to transfer the dance notation into the materials lab, at the Soft Robotics Lab at AMOLF, Amsterdam. The intention is to develop prototypes using soft robotic elements that encapsulate the essence of the movement qualities we defined during the experimentations in the dance studio. The intention is to move away from visual representation of the state of health, to identify terms and references relating to our wellbeing that have different qualities and substances than those defined by the mechanistic and reductionist point of view. This process informs the working methods going forward in the development of my artistic practice and research. [1] Lisa Blackman, The Body, The Key Concepts (Oxford, New York: Berg, 2008), intro. 45, RakutenKobo. [2] “Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI),” Symptoms & Diagnosis, last modified Monday 18 November 2019, Diagnosing-Tools/MRI/. [3] Ria Higler, the Alchemist Body workshop, 14 April, 2019


Performing Bodies





In their current research Van ’t Hullenaar & Vis look at the emergence and disappearance of artistic embodied knowledge and question the seemingly unstoppable, forwardpropelling forces that modernism represents, with death as its final frontier to conquer. The duo questions the relations between several artists’ untimely deaths and the effects this has had on the representations of their oeuvres within the art history canon. Gathering these deceased artists around them, like an imagined ancestral family to enter into collaboration with, Van ’t Hullenaar & Vis create artistic speculations on the awakening of a “collective body” and reflect on  contemporary ideas surrounding the agile identity of the “posthuman subject.” filtering, re-arranging, appropriating, alternative narratives

Focusing on decentralized knowledge production and collaboration as researcher practice, Smith will reflect on their own methods of research starting by locating their own positionality in the context of institutions. Leaning on text by Moten & Harney and Okun, as catalysers for framing research, Smith will discuss action-oriented research that exists outside the dominant research culture(s). By engaging with anticolonial and anti-capitalistic research praxis, via intuition, ancestral knowledge, emotional intelligence, self-care and rest, Smith will consider working in, and generating from, the margins. JOY MARIAMA SMITH is a performance, installation, and movement artist and educator. In their dance, perfomances, and installations, they create spaces in which the distinction between spectator and participant becomes blurred and visitors are encouraged to reflect on the ways in which they deal with space. Their work has been performed internationally, including at “Freedom of Movement,” Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2018; If I Can’t Dance Edition VI, Amsterdam, 2016; SoLow Festival, Philadelphia, 2015; and Ponderosa, Stolzenhagen, 2013. Smith’s practice-based research explores embodied consent, implicit consent, and explicit consent and looks at how consent culture exists (or does not) in various institutions. How to create institutions where emotional intelligence, de-centralized knowledge production, radical care, and empathy serve as frameworks for working through consent? Smith teaches at the Academy of Theatre and Dance, Amsterdam University of the Arts, the School for New Dance Development (SNDO) Amsterdam, and Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam. When Smith chooses to teach, they actively try to uphold inclusive spaces.

img Video stills from “I Was Here,” 2017 – 2019, by Van ’t Hullenaar & Vis. As an artist duo MEREL VAN ’T HULLENAAR & NIELS VIS have been teaching the IST Research Lab SOUNDSCAPE at the KABK and were previously involved as tutors for BA Graphic Design, BA Interactive/Media/Design, the Preparatory Year and have led the annual propaedeutic project week. In their work Van ’t Hullenaar & Vis investigate different forms of “survival” encountered in artworks, focusing on the material and immaterial aspects of how ideas live on. By researching the lives and works of deceased artists, who each embraced forms of modernism in their time, they question their own position as Western “modern” artists against the background of these views found in other cultures. Van ’t Hullenaar & Vis look at how historic artworks of these makers are tied to the dead-or-alive state of the artist as a persona and speculate on forms of future immortality for both artworks and their makers. Through processes of filtering, rearranging and appropriating information and images they construct alternative narrative structures in their research-based projects. With their project “The Man-Made History of Today” based on research in Brazil and Colombia, they question their own cultural globalist position as a contemporary artist duo and use this role to reflect on the malleability of cultural heritage. 18

Performing Bodies


Queering Art & Design Pedagogies

CARLY ROSE BEDFORD & GABRIEL .A. MAHER NON-PERFORMATIVITY AND THE … ‘IT’S JUST KABK’ Maher and Bedford will discuss their research process as a case study in itself. The phrase “It’s Just KABK” is a remark frequently uttered by students meaning, “damn, this thing doesn’t work!” As such, it becomes a metaphor for frustration and carries with it a concept of “non-performativity.” The term non-performativity is a concept developed by scholar Sara Ahmed primarily to refer to institutional speech acts that do not bring into effect what they name. [1] This term is used to frame and analyse the case study in relation to dominant and formalised institutional structures, formalised research processes and informal encounters with students. The case study charts the microcosm from which the research trajectory began—as an investigation into their own pedagogic practices which centred around queer and intersectional feminist frameworks—to the macrocosmic entanglement of a school-wide phenomena they encountered during the research process. They foreground how IN_FORM_ALITY—as in, informal encounters and processes— became the most “productive” method for navigating the research trajectory. They discuss how and why the “failure of formality” prevailed in the research process and subsequently, how the “failure of formality” manifests within the structures of the institution that do not bring into effect what they name. non-performativity, IN _ FORM_ALITY, deconstruction, (self) positioning

GABRIEL .A. MAHER and CARLY ROSE BEDFORD are co-teachers in BA Interior Architecture & Furniture Design at KABK. They share a writing/pedagogical practice that entangles lived experience with theoretical research. Together they teach and hold workshops on positioning, queer methodologies, pedagogic approach and spatial/material practice as methods for critique. With a practice in Interior Architecture and Social Design, MAHER’s work centres on critical and analytical approaches to design and research and, in particular, the effects of designing on bodies and the shaping of identity. These deconstructions are articulated in a visually analytic way and materialise as critical tools for dialogue. Maher was designer-in-residence at Iaspis, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Program for practitioners in Visual and Applied Arts, Design and Architecture as part of the international program, in Stockholm. Most recently, they were nominated for the Hublot Design Prize (2018) and won the iphGenia Gender Design Award (2019). BEDFORD is a multidisciplinary artist who uses performance, sculpture, research and curation to look at sites where power is produced and naturalised under the premise of normalcy. Working with “material perfomativity,” Bedford creates nuanced propositions that enable enactment of queer thematics without always reverting to representations of the body and identity politics. They have shown works nationally and internationally at institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo (2017) and the Stedelijk Museum (2019). They have received support for their work from Australian Arts Council, Ian Potter Foundation, Amsterdam Fonds for the Kunst and the Mondriaan Fond, and recently won the MK award. [1] Sara Ahmed, “Nodding as a Non-Performative,”, accessed 20.11.2019 20

Queering Art & Design Pedagogies

NON-PERFORMATIVITY AND THE ‘IT’S JUST KABK’ Conversation between the researchers and a KABK student from graduation year who wishes to remain anonymous. Q. Can you explain what is meant by the phrase ‘It’s just KABK’? The phrase means that the school has a strong culture of survival which quickly gets to you. Trying to keep up leads to mental instability and physical harm and eventually hospitalisation. It’s basically saying, damn, this thing doesn’t work. Then going through the whole process of thinking what channels you have to go through to make it work. Or, why is it not working? Or, why is this a place where I can’t do what I’m supposed to be doing? Looping very quickly to: whatever you do, it will take at least five years to get that fixed. It’s after the honeymoon phase. Because that’s where the phrase, ‘It’s just KABK,’ really settles in. It’s the combination of the first big deadlines of school and realizing what the actual workload is and the way you’re working. That you can’t necessarily get the help you need or even have time to think of asking for help. There is a pattern of the same profile of students having these problems specifically, which are usually the students who, for cultural, geographic, socio-economic or whatever reasons, can’t find a support group very quickly, and feel they have no understanding from teachers. And then can’t really find people to relate to or the kinds of support structures required at many schools, but not this one. I was talking about it with a teacher who actually asked me—and this is an example of the need for guidance being thrust upon students, specifically from backgrounds they can’t speak of, this is not my job, but they asked me— if, through the Diversity Committee, we had made a protocol to make sure that students that are dealing with racial insensitivity and don’t talk about it, know that this behaviour isn’t normal, and it is not their fault. For example, if they are being treated negatively by a teacher or student because of their accent, that they don’t just feel more and more guilty for who they are, and for them to know this without having to necessarily speak up. Because when you do speak up, that’s when you are then quickly being instrumentalized to improve the institution like I was. Q. Can you give us an overview of the labour you have been doing on top of your studies? Oh, I don’t know how to do that! If it’s in terms of hours, I don’t know if I can count that? If it’s in terms of what succeeded and what started and failed, I don’t know, because a lot of research and projects are out there, and I don’t know if they’re actually in the works or not. But it did end up being a situation where I was telling myself that I was doing all this for my own classes and for my own projects. I actually don’t know why I didn’t fail any of those classes because I didn’t do anything for my actual course except for writing my pre-thesis, which I never completed. But this work felt more important. I spent a lot of time researching; mainly student experiences in the school, 21

Queering Art & Design Pedagogies

but also mental health and diversity in other institutions and at large, as well as some notions of Dutch policy in education and the arts. Then trying to find vocabulary as I went along, which is really hard in terms of confidence and making sure you’re not screwing up. When you’re not sure if you’re, you know, when you’re learning as you’re doing, and I didn’t know anything. ‘Learning as I’m doing’ in the sense that it was so urgent that I was doing first, and catching up with the discourse as an afterthought.

made the effort to learn and seek out on my own because I found it was expected of me. I feel better for it and more mentally sane, but I really wish it hadn’t been so hard and that someone who actually trained to do this would take over the job.

So, yeah, It’s a lot of work.

Just a lack of, I like the way the counsellor put it, lack of autonomy and relatedness. Which are two key factors of seeing institutional satisfaction. For example, you have all of these adults who are well-functioning in their lives that come here to pay for a service and then the situation is completely reversed, and they feel very infantilised. And then, yeah, it’s KABK.

Mainly, at first, I was just running around. Which I felt very guilty for but was then reassured by the chairman of ASA (Afro Student Association, independent of, but collaborating with, Leiden University) who said that it’s normal. I would go around having discussions on smoke breaks or whatever, breaks, or any occasion I could, and butting into conversations and orienting them to get information. At first it was just to see if it wasn’t just in my head, that something was really there. It took a while to really get over that feeling; this is also an aspect of the KABK ‘culture of survival.’ I had a system that students could use to anonymously share complaints or concerns about diversity in general in the school. I collected the notes and made a detailed summary of their contents and then colour-coded them to see what the main concerns were. Which were mainly concerns about the staff being diversified, the curriculum being diversified, the building being accessible and inter-student communication and relatedness. Diversity and accessibility of the building—they were big ones. There was a lot of enthusiastic responses. One was big, in all caps, that just said: ‘TOO MANY WHITES.’ After summarising, I followed up as much as possible on things that weren’t clear or on things where I saw a link. Learning about programs. I was also in touch with a former student counsellor to get more of an idea of how to professionalise this report with statistics of who went to see him, on how grants work, and on who was applying for them. Also building up reading lists and being in touch with the Unsettling initiative in Amsterdam and getting as much input as I could because I needed to know what I was talking about. And then that research I could give to the people in the committee [the KABK Diversity Committee] so that we could save time and be on the same level, which didn’t really work out. And then it’s mostly this year that I have a lot of meetings that take more time. For which I actually have to have updated research, which is a lot of regular work, even just the emails. Then making sure that in my head all of these things are separate but being taken care of simultaneously. It’s not like you do one thing and it’s fixed. For example, I’m going to receive messages about one thing and it’s going to be an ongoing conversation for several weeks. Now I have like 15 conversations going on at the same time. But I have learnt a lot and I know more about my rights now. This is a big part of it for me. If I were to elaborate: Being a minority student (whichever margin that may be) in a mostly white, male, European historical institution, often means doing the extra free labour of educating your educators to educate you. It sounds fucked up because it is. You always expect it to a certain degree and are ready to accept the challenge when the person seems willing to hear you or refuse any unnecessary hardship. When you are placed in a situation where you usually would have blocked off everyone, that’s the culture of survival. I was more or less forced into this research, as I am daily forced into over/re explaining all of colonialism and things I have 22

Queering Art & Design Pedagogies

Q. What were some of the things that you felt were important issues in the school?

Q. Do you feel represented by the staff? We say all the time, we feel represented by the cleaners. That’s about it. Not everyone’s in the same bag, but in terms of cultural background and socio-economic background representation. Yeah. Just the cleaners. Q. Do you feel represented by the reference material? What would your ideal be? Yeah. Also, no not at all. In my own curriculum, we mostly felt it in referenced artists and the style of feedback. For example, now, especially with my projects and thesis, they don’t give me as much feedback or sources as they may do with other people. Which is fine but it’s just always this thing of not following up with the extra effort. Which shouldn’t be an extra effort, of seeing who I could go to to get those sources. For example, just saying, ‘OK, we don’t have the solution, but let’s look together to make one.’ Q. And what kind of reference material do you usually see? If you just look at the names of all the lectures, it’s the same people from the same places doing more or less the same thing. I’m just saying, that the options should be of a varied enough range that you can find out what your style is and start looking deeper into that. Q. And what question would you like to pose to the school? When are the new hires? Q. And then when you see one of the new hires coming in? What would be your ideal? Anyone who’s not white, hetero, Dutch, cis-male for starters. And then someone who’s not of a function that already exists in the school. I could elaborate. Invite me to your board meetings. I can elaborate on budget. There is no problem about that. I could find you where the pay comes from.


Queering Art & Design Pedagogies





FRAUD will examine the inscriptive operations of contemporary forms of rationality such as risk analysis, (environmental) impact assessment, value engineering, or yield prediction. Referring to the burgeoning “necro-economy” of violent rationalist disposition (Weizman 2011, 8 – 9); the negentropic supply chain translating “wildly diverse forms of work and nature” into commensurate capital, on the part of both state and corporate bodies (Tsing 2017, 43); and, in particular, Elizabeth Dodd’s proposition in which history is a series of environmental assessments, or a record of damages (2018, no page), how can we understand the forms of rationality that are mobilised in processes of domination and salvage accumulation? FRAUD will materially situate and differentiate several modes of analytics through art-led enquiry, installations and performances, outlining the notion of salvaging as methodology to apprehend the affective modes of power embedded in analytics across the domains of border management and environmental finance.

When politicians tell us that alternatives to capitalism do not exist, the act of imagining different and preferred futures can have radical potential. This was the thought behind speculative design, which has established itself within design in the last two decades. The imaginative power of alternative futures has not escaped the attention of the large tech companies, however, and many have gladly adopted its methods as new territories for capitalist growth. Future scenarios made by designers are now developed, consumed and traded as part of speculative financial expansion itself. Speculative design can serve as a kind of escape hatch for designers, jumping towards criticality while ignoring the realities of the climate crisis and mass extinction. How did speculative design go from being critical toward consumerism to being fully part of it? How can we redirect the radical potential of speculative design toward developing ethical alternative futures instead of serving financial growth? network mapping, image analysis, text analysis, interviewing

img Unbekannter Stecher (Niederländisch), Das Feld hat Augen, der Wald hat Ohren, 1546, Holzschnitt, koloriert FRAUD (AUDREY SAMSON & FRANCISCO GALLARDO) is a UK-based métis duo of artist/researchers working within the domain of critical technical practice, and currently resident at the Somerset House Studios. FRAUD develops modes of art-led enquiry that examine the inscriptive operations of extractive, analytic and financial systems, with a view to revealing how technology shapes society and structures of power. Samson (b. Canada) is joint head of the Digital Arts Computing BSc and a lecturer in Critical Studies in the Art Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. The duo has been awarded the State of Lower Saxony — HBK Braunschweig Fellowship (2019 – 20), the King’s College Cultural Institute Grant (2018), and has been commissioned by the Cockayne Foundation (2018). Gallardo (b. Spain) recently completed a PhD at the School of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, was awarded the Wellcome Trust People Awards (2016) and is the author of Talking Dirty: Tongue First! Recipes from the Mouth of the Thames (London: Arts Catalyst, 2016). FRAUDs recent work includes: “Carbon Derivatives” that has been presented at the Salon Suisse (the 57th Venice Biennale), the Whitechapel Gallery (2018) and Somerset House (2018); “Shrimping Under Working Conditions” that was shown at Kunsthall Trondheim (2017) and the Empire Remains Shop in London (2016); and “Goodnight Sweetheart / the Right to Happiness” which was exhibited at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju (2019), and has been featured in “Behind the Smart World,” Radio Canada, and Asia Art Pacific.


Re-imagining Operations

img “The Future Energy Lab,” Superflux, 2017. Commissioned by UAE Ministry of Energy and the Prime Minister’s Office. Image: Superflux

img “Blockchain Banking Engineer,” 2030. Advertisement for MiSK Global Forum by AKQA London, January, 2018. Image: AKQA RUBEN PATER is a tutor in the BA Graphic Design and the MA Non Linear Narrative at the KABK. Under the name Untold Stories, Pater creates visual narratives that aim to support solidarity, justice and equality. Pater finds himself being a designer at a time when design is the last thing the world needs. Until more ethical approaches present themselves, he designs, writes, and teaches. He is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Re-imagining Operations

TRADING FUTURES Two decades ago, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby introduced the term “speculative design.” Designers have used speculation as an approach since the late 1960s, but only in the last decade has the emergence of speculative design MA and BA programs, summer schools, and conferences been so pronounced. Speculation is now commonly used in design schools and practices, particularly in Western Europe and the US. A lot has been written on the methods and practices of speculative design, but what remains largely unexplored is why speculative design appeared when it did and what power structures lie underneath. In order to understand why, this research explores the relation between speculative design and speculative finance. A relation that turns out not to be merely a coincidence of terminology, but a chronological story of the relation between design and economy. THE FINANCIAL IMAGINARY The beginning of speculative finance can be traced back to 1971 with the decoupling of the US dollar from the gold standard. From that point onward the world economy was effectively based on speculation rather than on physical material value. In 1980 the speculative part of the economy was only 1.2 times as big as all actual goods and services produced; by 2000 it was more than three times as big. As a result, in 2008 this financial bubble threw the world economy into crisis. More than a decade after the financial crash the speculative economy has not been reigned in; rather it is even bigger than it was before the crash. One of the speculative financial instruments that led to the crisis is the derivative. Derivative trading, or futures trading, places a bet on the future value of a commodity or stock. Futures or derivatives are then traded as commodities themselves. With no more geographical territories to colonize and no more bodies to exploit, capitalism has started to colonize the future. The advantage of the future is that it is not limited by any rules. It can generate unlimited wealth and reach infinite expansion. In comparison the present feels boring, cumbersome and slow. It cannot compete with the future, because it is bound to scarce resources and physical commodities produced and consumed by labouring bodies. NETWORKS OF DESIGN FICTION If speculation has become the new logic of capitalism, what does that mean for speculative design? Initially speculative design could be seen at galleries and museums, made without clients and outside of mass-production. In 1999 Anthony Dunne proposed a kind of design that can only exist outside a commercial context and indeed operates as a critique of it. He wrote that, “the challenge is to blur the boundaries between the real and the fictional, so that the visionary becomes more real and the real is seen as just one limited possibility, a product of ideology maintained through the uncritical design of a surfeit of consumer goods.” The idea being that only a more critical and speculative design could transform consumerism through its “trickle down” effect. But the economy was already moving away from mass-produced consumer products. Immaterial commodities are the main output of the economy today; fictions, narratives, ideas, algorithms. The future scenarios that 26

Re-imagining Operations

speculative design produces have proven valuable to large corporations. Oil company Saudi Aramco and the United Arab Emirates petro-state commission speculative designers to imagine post-energy futures. Tech companies like Google, Facebook, Samsung, and Uber all use speculative design. These worlds are not separate but are increasingly merging. A mapping of design networks shows that many designers trained at the Royal College of Art in London, Strelka in Moscow, Parsons in New York, Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, and the Design Academy Eindhoven, often end up consulting or working for these large multinationals. THE FUTURE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN What commercial uses does speculative design have? Besides generating cheap PR, speculative scenarios can make certain business decisions by multinationals seem inevitable. A speculative scenario for KLM imagines a future where the ground crew and the aircraft work together as augmented reality, like in the movie Iron Man. This scenario is used as a company visionary document to justify the mass lay-offs that are expected due to automation in the sector. An insurance to enable future downsizing. Even speculative design that imagines critical and dystopian futures can end up creating economic value in the same way that science fiction movies do. Fredric Jameson famously said that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism,” but he also says that “if we cannot stave off the end, then we are compelled to imagine it over and over, in endless permutations.” Dystopian and anti-capitalist futures can “perform out anticapitalism for us,” as Mark Fisher explains: “The fantasy being that Western consumerism, far from being intrinsically implicated in systemic global inequalities, could itself solve them. All we have to do is buy the right products.” Imagined futures generate value, regardless of whether or not they are realized. ARE ETHICAL SPECULATIVE WORLDS POSSIBLE? Faced with the dilemma of an impending environmental crisis, it is logical that young designers use speculation as a way to avoid the complexity of design’s involvement in the current production cycle and its complicity with the climate crisis. The central argument is here that designers are still trained to produce new products or brands, whether sustainable or not, or speculative or not. It is this tendency of always thinking in new marketable end products which design must resist. The trickle-down effects of speculative design have not curbed the climate crisis; but have instead brought more post-scarcity fantasies for the 1% that provide no agency for the challenges the world is facing right here, right now. That is a shame, because speculation is too valuable a tool to be used only for maximizing stockholder value. Speculative design can play a role in the responsible imagining of future societies that create less design and less products, and put more emphasis on fixing, mending, and social organisation—futures which are built on contemporary notions of solidarity, justice, and equality. They might not look as sexy and not as flawless as the futures we are used to seeing. But at least they will be futures for the many, not only for the few.


Re-imagining Operations

MARTHE PRINS FALSE COLOURS In the lecture hall a blue felt tip scratches indexes into a whiteboard. Producing content for social feeds where anthroposophic sense-making innovates nostalgic pop. Somewhere on the borders of Europe, fierce men pose in lush landscapes. Captured by high-tech surveillance on a selfie stick. How do these odd occurrences inform interests of language between (non)human performer and user? Frontex is the governing agency responsible for the management of border control in the Schengen Area. In their ongoing research, the artist-duo Confusion of Tongues analyses the photographs submitted by Frontex staff for the agency’s photo competition, annually exhibited during the European Border and Coast Guard Day. By exploring the competition entries’ relation to the broad range of operational images produced by the agency as a whole, the duo questions the role of aesthetics in Schengen Area border surveillance. For this presentation, the artists focus on one competition entry in particular: a photograph allegedly rendered from a thermographic dataset that seems to have lost its operative nature through its reappearance in the representational context of The European Day for Border Guards Exhibition in 2014. text-based performances, workshops, imageinterrogation, critical, cross-disciplinary experimentation

img Frontex employees gathering during the European Border and Coast Guard Day Photo Exhibition 2017. Cropped.

img European Border and Coast Guard Day 2017. Flir Systems stand, promoting the Nano UAV Black Hornet drone. Cropped. MARTHE PRINS teaches the KABK elective PlayLab in BA Graphic Design (with Roosje Klap and Job Wouters,) is a tutor in Art Philosophy in the Preparatory Year at the KABK and, in Visual Research in the Practicum Artium talent program (Graphic Design) of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, KABK/Leiden University. Together with BENEDIKT WEISHAUPT, she founded Confusion of Tongues in 2018. Confusion of Tongues studies the language and image production of Western neoliberal protagonists, seeking to shift the course of its validation, in a place where images constitute reality. Their collaborative practice mediates research through performance, exhibition and didactics. 28

Re-imagining Operations

FALSE COLOURS: AESTHETIC FUNCTIONS IN IMAGE OPERATIONS AT THE EUROPEAN BORDERS PROJECT SUMMARY The ongoing research “False Colours”, initiated by Benedikt Weishaupt and Marthe Prins (Confusion of Tongues,) investigates the pressing issue of the role of aesthetics in image-operations taking place at the European borders. Over the last year, the duo has conducted workshops (one together with Susan Schuppli,) lectures, and activated documents by means of text-based performance and readings, working together with actors in the process. With the aim of opening up the discourse and developing new narratives around the aesthetic functions of operational images—particularly those situated within the optical infrastructure and border surveillance of the European Union—Confusion of Tongues will further develop this research and a second performance in collaboration with Common Room (BXL/NYC,) a platform for research architecture, and scientist Dennis Pohl, who wrote his dissertation on the aesthetics of EU infrastructure. As such, the research aims to build a constructive vocabulary through critical, cross-disciplinary experimentation, that makes the issue—which is now primarily technical—a social one. FALSE COLOURS: AESTHETIC FUNCTIONS IN IMAGE OPERATIONS AT THE EUROPEAN BORDERS “Amid the panicked shouting from the water and the smell of petrol from the sinking dinghy, the noise of an approaching engine briefly raises hope. Dozens of people fighting for their lives in the Mediterranean use their remaining energy to wave frantically for help. Nearly 2,000 miles away in the Polish capital, Warsaw, a drone operator watches their final moments via a live transmission. There is no ship to answer the SOS, just an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the European border and coast guard agency, Frontex. This is not a scene from some nightmarish future on Europe’s maritime borders, but a hypothetical which illustrates a present-day probability. Frontex, which is based in Warsaw, is part of a £95 m investment by the EU in unmanned aerial vehicles, The Observer has learned.”[1] THE EUROPEAN BORDER AND COAST GUARD DAY PHOTO COMPETITION During the past year we have investigated the images produced through a photo-competition organized by Frontex. A selection of the images is exhibited annually during the European Border and Coast Guard Day, a day that “celebrates the world of public services and private industry.”[2] Frontex, recently rebranded as The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is the agency held responsible by the European Union for the management of border controls in the Schengen Area. 29

Re-imagining Operations

Our research question, then, was to investigate whether this image archive could shed light on the role of aesthetics in the technical image production of Frontex, as the European Border and Coast Guard Day not only exhibits and rewards the photographic efforts of its border guards but, above all, is a trade fair showcasing global industry leaders in cutting-edge surveillance technologies. All of which are instrumental in the production of images that help transform Europe’s internal borders into the promises of “transparent” membranes that promote seamless travel. Historically, the very act of photographing geographical borders isn’t one of pure creative expression, but one closely related to Western colonial mapping practices, carried out during state-organised geological expeditions by avant-garde frontiers.[3] This makes this archive relevant for exploring the role of the image in both erection and erasure of Europe’s borders. Nonetheless, it is through our research question that we shifted focus from the controversial archive as a whole— the competition is in its 9th edition and has accumulated many photographs—to a particular selection. Identifying the filters for this selection was difficult: either these images are a product of some kind of artistic engagement of a border guard and representative of her work as such, or they are rather instruments, crucial in the performance of this work and could, therefore, be assigned to the technical image-production of the agency. The image “In My Element,” is an example: Is the event visible in the picture captured through supervising surveillance technology mounted in the corner of the room? Did a border guard stand on a chair in order to mimic its automated gaze? OPERATIONAL IMAGES This difference in the nature of the submitted photographs— the former seemingly retrospective, the latter perhaps more prospective—situates the research within a relatively new discourse in media theory and media arts, one that is concerned with the so-called “operational image.” Operational images—a concept first introduced by the artist Harun Farocki—do not depict, represent, entertain or inform but, rather, they track, navigate, activate, oversee, control, detect and identify. Operational images are instruments that perform tasks and carry out functions as part of an operation. They are, so to say, performative, or working images. [4] Often, operational images engage in acts of distancing from concrete experience, changing the proximityrelation between event and its initiator: in military operations targets are liquidated from a great distance, a city’s sewer infrastructure is checked without getting one’s hands dirty and in hospitals operations are performed without cutting into human flesh.[5] According to Jussi Parrika, who is embarking on a research project devoted to operational images, they are typically made by coupling cameras or sensors “with some type of image processing software, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, autonomous cars, industrial and home robots, medical imaging, industrial scanners and CCTVs and/or geographic information systems.” [6]


Re-imagining Operations

PREDICTIVE NATURE Though the concept is fairly new and its definition in development, it is helpful to consult the work of Vilém Flusser (by whom Farocki was influenced.),[7] because of the predictive practice of risk analysis, that becomes increasingly important in the management of European border controls. [8] Flusser emphasises the predictive qualities of these type of images and describes the difference between what he calls “traditional” and “technical” images as the difference between “observations of objects” and “computations of concepts.” The former can be seen as a depiction or a reflection and the latter as a model or projection: “a technical image is a blindly realised possibility, something invisible that has blindly become visible […] the basis of which is the calculation of probability.”[9] PROSTHETIC/PROSPECTIVE EYES On 15 December 2015 the European Union adopted “an important set of measures to manage the EU’s external borders and protect the Schengen area without internal borders.”[10] One of such measures is the RoBorder project that “aims at developing and demonstrating a fullyfunctional autonomous border surveillance system with unmanned mobile robots including aerial, water surface, underwater and ground vehicles which will incorporate multimodal sensors as part of an interoperable network.” [11] Image-operations are central to this “network-centric” variant of law enforcement; as long as humans are involved, visualisation technologies are conditional for these smarter, more flexible forms of security.[12] In the case of RoBorder, a variety of unmanned vehicles employ optical, infrared and thermal cameras combined with radio frequency sensors to engage in risk analysis by autonomously scanning for “threads” along the border, based on information provided by human operators.[13] This technology—which will become integrated in Frontex’ satellite reconnaissance surveillance system called Eurosur—proposes not only to be a prosthetic extension of the human eye, but a complete replacement of it. Do the images operating such a system protect walls or erect them? And, can these calculations and computations take into account contextual elements outside of the image?[14] [1] Daniel Howden et al., “Once migrants on Mediterranean were saved by naval patrols. Now they have to watch as drones fly over,” The Guardian, August 4, 2019 [2] “Home: EBCG Day,” European Border and Coast Guard Day, accessed December 12, 2018, [3] Brian Holmes, “Visiting the Planetarium, Images of the Black World,” Continental Drift, 2011 [4] Volker Pantenburg, “Working Images: Harun Farocki and the Operational Image,” in Image Operations: Visual Media and Political Conflict, ed. Jens Eder, Charlotte Klonk (Manchester University Press, 2016), 49 [5] Volker Pantenburg, “Working Images: Harun Farocki and the Operational Image,” in Image Operations: Visual Media and Political Conflict, ed. Jens Eder, Charlotte Klonk (Manchester University Press, 2016), 56


Re-imagining Operations

[6] “FAMU: Operational Images,” Film and TV School Academy of Performing Arts Prague, last modified November 30, 2018. aktualne-resene-vyzkumne-projekty-na-famu/ operational-images [7] Farocki draws from Flusser’s notion of “technoimages” and Barthes’ notion of “operational language.” [8] “Statewatch: News 2017,” Frontex Draft Programming Document 2019 – 2020, Council of the European Union, February 7, 2017, 30. 2017/feb/eu-frontex-work-programme-2018 – 20.pdf [9] Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images, trans. Nancy Ann Roth (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), 51, 18, 42. Ironically, he theorizes the technical image as “one without walls:” for the technical image, in contrast to the traditional image, there is no wall, there is just projection. [10] “European Commission: Migration and Home Affairs: Securing EU borders,” European Commission, last modified December 15, 2015 securing-eu-borders_en [11] “Roborder: Home,” Roborder, accessed August 25, 2019, The project funding is for 90% covered by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 740593. [12] Timothy Lenoir, Luke Caldwell, “Image Operations: refracting control from virtual reality to the digital battlefield,” in Image Operations: Visual Media and Political Conflict, ed. Jens Eder, Charlotte Klonk (Manchester University Press, 2016), 89. They talk about “Network Centric Warfare,” a term used to rebrand the US army in 1993, by Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowsky and John Garstka. [13] Zach Campbell, “Swarms of Drones, Piloted by Artificial Intelligence, May Soon Patrol Europe’s Borders,” The Intercept, May 11, 2019. [14] Volker Pantenburg, “Working Images: Harun Farocki and the Operational Image,” in Image Operations: Visual Media and Political Conflict, ed. Jens Eder, Charlotte Klonk (Manchester University Press, 2016), 53. Pantenburg refers to both Claus Pias and Tom Holert in that the “operational approach to the image is based on purely formal criteria, devoid of historical or social contextualization.”

CLOSING KEYNOTE AND REFLECTIONS Dr Peter Hall is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader, BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. His research focuses on mapping and visualization as critical and participatory practices. He is currently co-writing a critical guide to data visualization (Bloomsbury Academic 2020) and is researching alternative approaches to visualizing risk and security with the creative securities group at Royal Holloway University of London. Dr Hall was previously Programme Director of BA Design and Design Futures at Griffith University Queensland College of Art in Australia (2012– 15), Senior Lecturer in Design at the University of Texas at Austin, USA (2007– 2012), and Lecturer in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art, USA (2000– 2007). His recent essays appear in The Routledge Companion to Criticality in Art, Architecture, and Design (Routledge 2018), Encountering Things: Design and Theories of Things (Bloomsbury Academic 2017) and Design in the Borderlands (Routledge 2014). His books include Else/Where: Mapping— New Cartographies of Networks and Territories (edited with Janet Abrams, University of Minnesota 2006) and Sagmeister: Made you Look (Booth-Clibborn Editions 2001). He is cofounder of DesignInquiry, a non-profit educational organization devoted to researching design issues in intensive team-based gatherings, based in Maine, USA.

img “In My Element.” Author: Corinne Lavernhe. Photograph submitted to the European Border and Coast Guard Day in 2017.


Re-imagining Operations




Invited Speakers, 2019

Each year the Royal Academy of Art The Hague (KABK) makes provision for a selected group of its tutors and staff to work on self-defined research projects in the context of a Research Group and a Teaching Tools Research Group. The nature of these projects varies, from research driven by and through one’s own artistic or design practice to historical or theoretical research; from material or technological research to academic research in preparation for a PhDtrajectory. In monthly meetings, we discuss participants’ progress and questions related to methods for research and analysis, theoretical concepts, and modes of dissemination. The year concludes with a symposium where participants of the Research Groups share the outcomes of their projects with the KABK community of colleagues and students, as well as invited external speaker/respondents.




BIANCA MEILOF Communication and Production



LIZZY KOK Project Manager Events SIMCHA VAN HELDEN Communication and Production


KABK RESEARCH GROUP PARTICIPANTS, 2019 LAUREN ALEXANDER tutor, BA Graphic Design and MA Non-Linear Narrative THOMAS BUXO tutor, BA Graphic Design LYNDSEY HOUSDEN tutor, BA Interactive/Media/Design

GÖKAY ATABEK Technical assistance

CARLY ROSE BEDFORD and GABRIEL .A. MAHER tutors, BA Interior Architecture & Furniture Design

FRANS TEN BOSCH Deputy Head Housing and Facilities

RUBEN PATER tutor, BA Graphic Design and MA Non-Linear Narrative MICHIEL PIJPE tutor, BA and MA ArtScience

And special thanks to all of our students and colleagues! MARTHE PRINS tutor, BA Graphic Design Typefaces SUISSE INT’L SUISSE WORKS Paper

DR. ANDREA STULTIENS tutor, MA Photography & Society NIELS VIS tutor, IST

BIOTOP 80 & 160 GSM Printing & Binding PETER PRINT

THE LECTORATE DESIGN The Lectorate Design, headed by Dr. Alice Twemlow, aims to nurture a robust design-focused research culture within the KABK and via the channels that connect KABK and Leiden University. Launched in September 2017, the lectorate is centred on a research project titled Design and the Deep Future, which explores the relationship between design and geological time.

Profile for  Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK)

FAULT LINES: KABK Research Symposium 2019  

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