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International Summer Camp on “Attempts, Failures, Trials and Errors”,

Oradea, Romania 

July 15th– 22nd, 2018

 

Organized by 2580 Association Cluj in collaboration with the University of Oradea and Zest Collective Bucharest with the financial support of AFCN – Romanian Agency for Cultural Fund.

Application deadline: 22ndof June, 2018

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

 

IDEA: Following a series of events organized in the frame of “Attempts, Failures, Trials and Errors” project, we invite you to a summer camp that will take place in Oradea (Romania) between 15th-22nd of July 2018. The topic of the summer camp is “SYSTEMIC FAILURES” and the focus will be on our attempts to design (or re-design) and to control our political, social, economic and technologic systems.

Digital technologies are today at the core of our activities, but they are mere tools/ infrastructures onto which political and economic visions are articulated. Instead of falling prey to the quasi-utopian technological determinism which positions machineries as the implicit conditions for more efficient communication and – hence- optimization of economies, we shall address the conditions and consequences of such assumptions. “Systemic failures” provide a methodological vantage point for the analysis of critical junctures between concepts and infrastructures, community of scientists and political fields, IT developers and society. We argue for a critical approach to “datafication”, for the understanding of the larger discursive contexts within which data is managed and, last but not least, we address the limits of such critical approaches with regards to more and more professionalized – hence hermetic – techno-fields. The historical insights will provide lessons about the tensions between planning and reality, but they will also reveal rhetorical models of handling new-born sciences.

The aim of this summer camp is to bring into discussion in order to further develop research projects related to different social and economic contexts. We also intend to encourage a heterogenous participation, one which will overpass the North-South and West-East European divisions.

 

ACTIVITIES: During the summer camp will take place 5 workshops:

  1. Cybernetics Models in Economy – an Eastern European perspective(lead by Tincuta Heinzel & Ioana Macrea-Toma).The imposition of the industry was made possible through the extensive use of machines in production contexts. Designed to take over certain tasks previously realized by man, the machines have enlarged their area of applications. Cybernetics have been defined as the communication between man and machine and the concept brought with it the idea of various possible interactions between multiple aspects of economy-society-arts-policies. The sciences of management were given a new twist through the mathematization of economic cycles and the development of computers was modelled after what was considered the functioning of human brain. Even the arts followed suit envisioning themselves as autonomous self-regulating structures within a broader milieu. The cybernetic imagination stimulated a dialogue between different disciplines, countries and political factions due to the common assumption of transcultural, transnational and trans-political (if one may say so) potential of communicative action based on formalization of relations. This workshop will map some of the most interesting attempts at macro-management during the Cold War which consisted in technology transfer as well as international cooperation. Through these case studies we shall address the historical fantasies of quantification and computerization as politically neutral –concepts and infrastructures. In so doing we shall also open the larger discussion on social and infrastructural compatibilities and will address the need to imagine methodologies for grasping the complexities of such exchanges. This overview will be the starting point for a series of debates related to the present models of digital economies (AI, Big Data based economies) and the way they can fail us.
  2. The Laborious History of Computing (lead by RYBN).The workshop will consist in a clinic decomposition of a complex computing process. Participants will split up a perceptron (one of theearliest neural network) in a series of small operations, and then, will undergo through the whole process to understand how a computer categorizes different classes of objects. During the process, RYBN.ORG will retrace the laborious history ofalgorithmics: from the computation factory of Gaspard de Prony to the Mechanical Turk of Amazon. In this counter-history of automation, the multiple narratives of the little hands at the heart of the process of calculation will be recalled, emphasizing the conditions of emergence of the current regime of digital labour. The whole workshop will aim to demystify the actual hype around AI and complex computing procedures, by learning and understanding the basics of digitalization and discretization. No particular skills are needed, the workshop uses only paper and pen.
  3. Illusory digitalization of life and the new forms of bio-colonialism(lead by Emmanuel Ferrand & Corina Catana). Modern biotechnologies, in their convergence with the digital paradigm, are supposed to be the new horizon of a globalized capitalism. Where the obsolete, extractive, fossil-based economy more than failed to provide us with a sustainable future, bioengineering and its new tools (CRISPR Cas9, …) are presented to us as the key point for a possible “solution”: new “green” bio fuels, a clean chemistry based on genetically modified microorganisms, plentiful supplies of food for an overcrowded and overheated planet (engineered crops, cellular agriculture, lab grown meat, …), and even a new, fabricated, bio-diversity (concept of de-extinction).This workshop will be an occasion to evaluate to what extent this story is illusory, from a scientific view point, but also from a social, political view point. Those modern techniques are certainly not free of failures. There is a specific issue here for (bio) hackers and (bio) artists, who might be sometimes too easily fascinated by the promises of science. It will be also an occasion to share our experiences of the infinite complexity of living organisms and ecosystems, by, for example, replacing our understanding of biology and agriculture in its proper historical and cultural context. Local food traditions (fermentations …) and farming techniques can be seen as low-tech biotechnological achievements of incredible social value (think for example of the patient work of generations and generations of farmers who selected crops and farming animals). This low-tech, modest approach of the living must be advocated at times when the countries formerly known as “Eastern Europe” are becoming once again the agro-industrial Eldorado / breadbasket of a globalized world.
  4. Tracking bucks in e-textiles (lead by Tincuta Heinzel). The workshop aims to introduce the participants to e-textiles and show them some of the issues they have to take care of while prototyping with e-textiles. No previous knowledge of electronics is needed. The materials will be provided by the organizers.
  5. Failing Parametrically (lead by Zoran Popovici & Ionut Patrascu).The workshop aims to familiarize the participants with the mirage of the code in parametric design. Form finding with the aid of algorithms is atwo-day workshop which will help the participants to get familiarize with Rhinoceros 3D and Grasshopper. The results will be later on discussed in order to find some pitfalls of current trends like Algorithm Aided Design and Parametricism. No prior knowledge of Rhinoceros or Grasshopper is required, just the will to spend two days understanding how algorithms shape the world around us. Note: 2 days workshop for 15 participants.
  6. Drones and Don’ts (lead by Octavian Fedorovici & Stelian Saracut). “Drone I’d Like to Fly” is the failed open-source project that team Techarus from Cluj-Napoca submitted to NASA Space Apps Challenge back in 2016. Octavian Fedorovici and Stelian Saracut, members of the team who are still enthusiastic about emergingdrone technologies, will host the workshop and talk about the challenges they had to face with their app and how drones can be hacked, custom controlled and repurposed. Note: 2 days workshop for 15 participants.

For a detailed schedule, please see the SCHEDULE.

TARGET GROUP: Undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, artists, designers, architects, economists, historians, technologists, biologists, philosophers, etc. interested in learning more about the ways in which digitalization has an impact on the way we cultivate, project and build, the way in which digitalization has an impact on our societies and economies.

VENUE: The summer camp will take place in the campus of the University of Oradea. Situated in North-West Romania, once part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire and completely redesigned during the communist era, Oradea is well known for its thermal waters and its Art Nouveau buildings. For more details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradea.

TRAVEL: Oradea has an airport. Other travel options are to fly to Cluj, Timisoara or Budapest (Hungary) and then take the train.

ORGANIZERS: Tincuta Heinzel – tinca@textiltronics.com;  Corina Andor – corinastus@yahoo.com; Ioana Popescu – ioana@zestcollective.ro.

MAXIMUM NUMBERS OF PARTICIPANTS: 30 persons

COSTS: Accommodation, main meals and materials for the workshops will be covered by the organizers. Participants have to arrange for their travel to Oradea and possible accommodation before or after Oradea themselves.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Applications are accepted until 22ndof June 2018. Please email a short motivation letter, a CV and a portfolio to the following email address: design@zestcollective.ro. Please specify in your letter for which of the last two workshops are you opting.

SELECTION RESULTS: 26th of June 2018.

NOTE: For the Romanian student participants, Edukube will provide the necessary documentation for the summer internships.

CALL FOR TRIALS AND FAILED WORKS, PROTOTYPES, SAMPLES & PROJECTS

NEW CALL FOR TRIALS AND FAILED WORKS, PROTOTYPES, SAMPLES & PROJECTS to be presented at SALONUL DE PROIECTE, Bucharest, February – March 2018 (following a first presentation during PIKSEL Festival, Bergen, Norway)

Project initiated by Tincuta Heinzel and Hillevi Munthe.

Deadline for submissions: 5th of February 2018.

CONTEXT
Within the realm of electronic and smart textiles there have been promising technological investigations that never quite managed to reach their potential. However, despite these disappointments, industrial and academic research, as well as artistic inquiry, continue to explore the possibilities of electronic and smart textiles.

Following the first phase, during which electronic devices were attached to fabrics and jewelry, came a new stage—one that integrated electronic components into textile structures. As a result, the dream of a flexible computer could soon materialize. The next step that is being considered is the development of new reactive materials.

Rather than presenting this endeavor as “the next big thing,” our investigation seeks to understand the various stages of its development, exploring the paths of how and why they occurred, as well as when they did.

Every development has its price. Failure has always been part of the creative process, as a learning experience. “Those who do not fail are those who didn’t try,” or “An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field” (1) are just some of the expressions used to describe the sinuous ways of bringing something new to life. In many fields, recording glitches and keeping a catalogue of failures are part of the research process.

In our research we can also have a lot of trials and errors, attempts to improve what we have already done. These benchmarks are not always in the spotlight, but taking a look at the process itself says a lot about artists, designers, technologists thought processes. Test-benches are a form of thinking through and with the materials, a form of playing around, of advancing by small steps.

But failures and trials have their drive not only in the technical constraints. In the age of “fast prototyping,” “publish or perish” and “start-up competitions,” our project is also an attempt to reflect on the present technological boom and innovation obsolescence, encouraging an ecological perspective which will take into consideration the whole cycle of conception, consumption, ageing, and degradation of technology. By doing so, the present project wants to put into a new light technically overstepped products and failed prototypes, rejected wearables and e-textiles projects, and to launch a debate about the “fast” design and scientific practices that define our present.

An interdisciplinary field, electronic textiles and wearables are also the ground for a series of interdisciplinary clashes between textiles and electronics, between software and hardware, between open source and commercial platforms. These clashes are producing inspiring work, but some encounters are also the source of frustration and irritation.

This collection of attempts, failures, trials and errors it is not intended to praise the failures, nor to minimize the successes of wearables and e-textiles. By questioning the idea of failure and success, the project will put emphasis on art’s capacity to critically and, at the same time, poetically and self-ironically address contemporary challenges and concerns. In a sort of forensic processes and significance tests, the present project calls for technical trials and errors, failed prototypes, and rejected art and design works in order to put into a new light the potential of e-textiles and wearables. Our intention is to show the richness of the processes, of what has been already done in the electronic and smart textiles domain and to bring into the discussions ethical, ecological and sustainability issues of wearables and e-textiles. The focus will be on the distance between ideals and constraints, between concepts and realization.

CALL FOR TRIALS AND FAILED WORKS, PROTOTYPES, SAMPLES & PROJECTS
Having as starting point the electronic and reactive textiles (but not limited to them), we expect visual documentations (photos, videos), samples, technical documentations and testimonies of:

  • failed and rejected product development attempts,
  • trials and errors products and prototypes,
  • overstepped products and prototypes,
  • non-working art works and prototypes,
  • rejected scientific papers and projects,
  • code and protocol bugs,
  • encountered ethical issues.

The authors are asked not only to send a documentation of their un-successful or short life projects, but also to offer a reflective perspective on their attempts and the afterlife of their projectsThe applications are to be submitted on-line, by completing the forms available on our website. You will be asked to offer details about the dates of the projects, a short description, drawings, technical diagram, codes, photos and videos of your art works, products and prototypes, a reflexive note on your attempts, details about the projects pre- and after-life.

The project’s website will present an exhaustive account on the received projects, while the curated part of the exhibition will offer a thematically structured version of them. The curators will reserve the right to invite some of the submissions to be exhibited in a physical form during the Piksel festival. Unfortunately no fees can be payed, the only costs that the organisers can cover are those related to the shipping of the invited works. The submissions will be made under creative commons licences and will be available for open consultation. A series of conferences, performance sessions and workshops will give a critical perspective on the project’s main findings.

The project is supported by the Norwegian Art Council, the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts and AFCN – Romanian Agency for the Cultural Fund.

IMPORTANT DATES
Deadline for submissions: 5th of February 2018.
Exhibition: 21 of February – 1st of April 2018.

(1) BOHR, Nils. As quoted by Edward Teller, in Dr. Edward Teller’s Magnificent Obsession by Robert Coughlan, in LIFE magazine (6 September 1954), p. 62 via Wikiquote.

 

Website: www.trials-and-errors.com/call