School of machines, making & make–believe

Facts and Fictions in the Age of Data

How can we create meaningful experiences using data to explore the facts and fictions of our modern-day lives? How can a thoughtful and more personal exploration of data visualisation and storytelling provide us new ways of understanding the world around us and ourselves? In this four-week program we'll take a hands-on approach to exploring these questions and more in a variety of conceptual, digital, and physical formats.

  • / 2 November - 27 November 2015

  • / four weeks, full-time in Berlin, Germany

  • / Based in ACUD MACHT NEU Kunsthaus

  • / Only 10-15 participants accepted

  • / Deadline to apply: 20 September

  • / For pricing info, see FAQ


Instructors previous work:

Benefits and what you will learn:

  • - Exploring concepts: What is data? Why is data important?

  • - Data-collection in the physical world

  • - Developing creative concepts

  • - Finding data: data sources and formats, research techniques

  • - Getting data: data gathering, scraping, using APIs

  • - Processing data: cleaning and formatting

  • - Exploring data: asking the right questions, identifying relationships, finding stories, using visualisation tools

  • - Storytelling: presenting insights, using data creatively

  • - Data ethics: responsibility, honesty, transparency

  • - Collaborating with designers + developers

  • - Exploring bringing data into the physical realm with lasercutters and 3D printing

  • - Final show exhibiting our work

We offer a unique opportunity:
the freedom of being a beginner and the inspiration of great minds. Here we encourage you to indulge your curiosity with the guidance of experts. We're looking for students who are willing to take advantage of this special opportunity presented to them and jump into the unknown.

Instructor Conference Talks


  • Stefanie Posavec

    Stefanie Posavec works as a designer with a focus on data-related design, with work ranging from data visualization and information design to commissioned data art for a variety of clients. Her work has been exhibited internationally at major galleries including at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), the Victoria & Albert Museum, Southbank Centre, and Somerset House (London).

    Currently she is in the midst of a year-long drawing project with Giorgia Lupi (based in NY) called Dear Data, where each week they get to know each other better by gathering and drawing data on a postcard to send to the other.

  • Miriam Quick

    Miriam Quick is a UK-based researcher specialising in data visualisation and information design. Her work has been published by, BBC and WIRED UK, among others.

    She has experience across the creative and commercial worlds and has collaborated with designers and developers on everything from static infographics to interactives, animations, installations and wearable data objects.

    She regularly collaborates with Stefanie Posavec as part of a researcher-designer team and together they have produced an array of data art pieces including an installation at London's South Bank Centre in 2015.

  • Maral

    Maral is a German designer with Iranian roots, living and working from London. If she’s not designing projects herself, she’s organizing them; With a huge passion to bring the international data design community closer together to encourage conversations about projects and problems, she’s recently joined the Visualized team.

    She believes that design has the potential to make relevant and important topics accessible. That’s why in the past few years her interest in human rights related stories and her involvement as a designer in this field grew significantly. Before joining Visualized she was Small Media’s Creative Manager, running an interdisciplinary, international team of creatives who work on Human Rights related projects.

Fabricating Empathy

How can we create meaningful experiences using technology to explore the very, very distant corners of the universe? How can speculative exploration of outer space provide new ways of understanding ourselves? In this four-week program, we'll journey to explore possible future scenarios, crafting artefacts destined to capture, manufacture, and re-enact human emotions in space.

  • / 31 August - 27 September 2015

  • / four weeks, full-time in Berlin, Germany

  • / Based in ACUD Macht Neu Kunsthaus and FabLab Berlin facilities

  • / Only 6-10 participants accepted

  • / Deadline to apply: August 9

  • / For pricing info, see FAQ

The aim for this program is to enable a hands-on approach and creative exploration of digital fabrication, electronics and sensors.

This program is part of an on-going investigation and research project by London-based artists Andrew Friend and Sitraka Rakotoniaina called Very, Very Far Away which is set to be realised in April 2016.

Fabricating Empathy will emphasise the learning and use of digital fabrication and processes to examine how technologically mediated interactions can produce emotional and empathetic responses and how they could be repurposed to experience distant and even fictional territories.

Instructors previous work:

Benefits and what you will learn:

  • - Work shown during London Design Week**

  • - Prototyping as iterative design and development process

  • - Design, development and fabrication of physical mechanisms

  • - Integration of multiple materials and media to create interactive objects

  • - CAD design for fabrication: use of Rhino to develop 3D models suitable for manufacture with 3D printers, CNC machines, and laser-cutters

  • - Digital fabrication tooling, e.g. 3D printing moulds, jigs, etc.

  • - Basic programming using Arduino - motors, steppers, servos, sensors, LED strips, etc.

  • - Use and integration of traditional manufacturing processes alongside new technologies in creation of new objects/components.

  • - Experience with different materials, e.g. plastics, metals, rubbers, timber, etc.

  • - Presentation and communication of ideas to a wide international audience in both London and Berlin

  • - Final exhibit in Berlin

**This program will culminate with a Berlin - London public livestream event where students will have the opportunity to showcase, demo, and discuss their projects, learnings and challenges met over the course of the program. Our partner team at SPACE Studios in London will imagine scenarios, contexts and worlds materialised through video and performances in their own two-day plugin workshop based on our work here in Berlin. The event will be an evening conference, as part of the London Design Festival. In addition, there will be a final exhibit of our work here in Berlin.

For our Fabricating Empathy program we would love to find people exited about making. People who are ready to dream up new ideas of things yet unseen and who are ready to learn the skills to make these ideas come to life. Our topics are fabrication, empathy, and outer space, afterall. It's safe to say we encourage you to dream big!

Weekly Schedule Breakdown

I. Speculative design concepts, prototyping, beginning 3D modelling, training (laser cutter, 3D printing)

II. Developing design concepts, 3D modelling, beginning electronics / arduino / sensors, materials, training (CNC)

III. Continuation of week two, working towards final projects

IV. Development and fabrication of final protoypes, some prototypes taken to London, first livestream meeting about projects with Space Studios London, final show Berlin, livestream show during London Design Week


  • Sitraka Rakotoniaina

    Born in Madagascar and raised in Paris, Sitraka currently lives and works in London. He is an Artist and Designer whose body of works ranges from fictional science experiments to speculative objects and devices. His work explores our relation to science and technology, encompassing cultural and social implications, as well as the beliefs and values intrinsic to their development. With a focus on the possibility of transforming individual sensory experiences, Sitraka often uses the human body as vehicle to trigger people’s imagination.

    He ‘crafts’ narratives through the conception and fabrication of objects and uses their ‘aesthetic’ qualities and theatricality as the foundations enabling a physical form of storytelling. Sitraka studied Industrial Design and Graphic Design/Multimedia in Paris, and graduated from the Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art. He has worked as an independent Interaction Designer since 2006 and is currently represented by Nexus Interactive Arts as a Director on their roster.

    His work has been shown internationally including venues such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Venice Architecture Biennale, Saint-Etienne design Biennial, the Art Center College of Design. And recognised through awards and publications including D&AD, we-make-money-not-art, Axis Magazine, See Yourself Sensing by Madeline Schwartzman, Design and Violence by the MoMA, etc.

  • Andrew Friend

    Andrew Friend is an artist and designer who’s work explores experience, and the relationship between people, landscape, and their desires. He is interested in the extraordinary, fantastic and desirable (or indeed undesirable) experiences and outcomes that may result from these interactions. His work spans a range of media, through narrative and drawings to large scale physical objects designed to promote, facilitate, and question these experiences, examining relationships between the known and unknown, the real and imagined in the individual quest to harness the sublime.

    Andrew holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art, London and is currently Associate Lecturer in the department of Spatial Practices, Central St Martins, University of the Arts London, and department of design, Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Programs provide

  • Hands-on intensive and guided learning
  • Fun atmosphere + safe space for experimentation
  • Collaborative working
  • Introduction to art practice
  • Mixed group: skills, cultures, backgrounds
  • Free time with your peers to explore and play w/ technology
  • Informal opportunities to speak to and learn from guests
  • Exposure to tight-knit digital art community
  • Ongoing opportunities once program has ended


  • Talented instructors from around the world
  • International participants
  • Weekly Guest artists talks
  • Community exploration field trips
  • Final group show to exhibit your work
  • Autumn in Berlin!


  • Brent Dixon

    The School of Machines is a playground, bootcamp, community center, and lucid dream in equal parts. The mix of giving students, brilliant instructors with giant hearts, and visionary and thoughtful leadership made this exactly the art/tech education experience I've been trying to find for a long time.

  • Thomas O'Reilly

    It was only after doing the school of MA that I saw how far from ‘now’ my undergraduate in product design was. As an independent school it seemed uncensored in its ability to offer a plethora of practical skills and thinking. For me, it was a shortcut to the future.

  • James Kneafsey

    School of MA does for coders what Josh Homme's Desert Sessions does for musicians. It reminds us why we started in the first place.

  • Orlagh O'Brien

    Learning with a bunch of creative and skilled misfits couldn't have been more fun. The school took us from zero to sixty in one month, starting at the basics and ending with a public show of collaborative work. I understand the world of digital art in a deeper and practical way now. I'm proud to have been so immersed in Berlin culture with such a productive outcome.

  • Diogo Queirós

    I learnt so many things that cannot be summarized in a paragraph. But most importantly I learnt to appreciate art, how to use it as medium to change the way people think, inspire others and as a way to express yourself. Also how technology can assist us to express the artistic and creative views of a non-artist like me.