How many times a day
do we accept, without negotiating, the everyday demands inscribed in the
design of user interfaces? What rhetoric hides the apparent neutrality
of its design? How does the data we generate
through an interface transform and encode our social and intimate
/ Live Online class begins 8. May, ends 29. May
/ Every Monday, 7pm-9pm, GMT +1
/ 20 participants accepted
Most of our life transactions are mediated by interfaces. Nevertheless, far from being neutral entities, interfaces exercise a great deal of power over its users, representing one of the major anti-democratic governance entities in our society. In this program we will look into the ways interfaces are affecting us as a global society and will collectively think on ways to democratize them. Interfaces for the people!
This program seeks to critically reveal, analyze, and connect the complex
network of agents that converge on the configuration of the Graphic User
Interface (GUI). During this four week course we will creatively reveal,
deconstruct, and re-articulate the material and immaterial elements that
make up the GUI in order to reflect on its role and influence within
the social, political, economic, cultural and emotional spheres of the
The main purpose of the program is to
provide students with the theoretical background on UI design along with technical skills, such as basic HTML and CSS, to explore, develop and
test disruptive methodologies as we strive to incorporate democratic values within
Who is this course for?
This program is for artists, designers, writers, makers, coders, journalists and researchers interested in understanding, exploring, and disrupting networks and interfaces. We will also investigate the underlying intentions of user interfaces, and how UI designs demonstrate the latent political, socioeconomic, emotional, and cultural opinions of their designers from both a theoretical and hands-on perspective.
During the program we will reveal
the underlying narratives embedded in everyday interfaces,
such as Facebook and Google, in order to reveal to what extent they
sculpt and govern our realities in silent ways.
Beyond the Interface I: Internet infrastructures, Data flows & Geopolitics. During this week we will reveal the main infrastructures and actors (companies and agencies) that configure the Internet and will explore how the data is traveling across the world.
Keywords: internet backbone, data forensics, net neutrality, internet geopolitics.
Beyond the Interface II: Online surveillance and commodification of Data. In this session we will show how the data that we generate through interfaces is being tracked, harvested and commodified. We will look into the methodologies and tools used by many corporations and agencies that silently access and use the information we produce in daily basis.
Keywords: online tracking, data brokers, profiling.
Interface materiality: The environmental impact of code. During this session we will learn how code is constructing web interfaces. We will look closely to HTML and CSS and explain how this languages work. At the same time, we will look into the environmental impact of interfaces in order to understand how its footprint could be dramatically reduced through code.
Keywords: code & ideology, HTML, CSS, data & CO2, sustainability.
In the last week of the program we will discuss how graphic interface design is homogenizing behavior in a global a scale and the several consequences of this process. On the other hand we will experiment with simple disruptive methodologies to intervene the interface design of the most used websites globally in order to subvert such cultural homogenization.
Keywords: interface governance, corporative design, community design, CSS, HTML.
Joana is an artist and a researcher from Barcelona. Her work critically explores the way post-capitalist narratives affect the alphabetization of machines, humans and ecosystems. Her main research topics include Internet materiality, surveillance, online tracking, critical interfaces and language. She has lectured, performed and exhibited her work in different museums, art centers, universities, festivals and publications around the world. Furthermore she is the co-founder of the Critical Interface Politics Research Group at HANGAR [Barcelona], co-founder of The Institute for the Advancement of Popular Automatisms and member of the Scientific and Artistic Committee of the Antiatlas des Frontières. She is currently a visiting lecturer at Escola Superior d'Art de Vic [Barcelona] and Potsdam Universität.
How can artists, activists, designers and other creative minds take a stand and be heard in these days and age of ecological crisis, unfettered intolerance, and growing economic inequalities? Can their work and efforts have a significant impact on the way society thinks and functions? How much responsibility does an artist bear? Is it enough to just ’spark a debate’ and hope other people will do the rest?
/ Live Online class begins 9. May, ends 30. May
/ Every Tuesday, 7pm-9pm, GMT +1
/ 20 participants accepted
The ambition of the course is to help participants understand the mechanisms of activist art and provide an overview of the most inspiring and thought-provoking actions of politically-minded creative practioners. The sessions will also be designed to leave space for debates and reflection over contentious and ambiguous questions relevant to contemporary society.
The USS Iowa firing during target exercises near Vieques, Puerto Rico, 1984. Photo: Phan J. Alan Elliott
Each week, the first half of the course will look at a particular political, cultural, technological or ethical theme that is the source of growing concern in society. Namely: the anthropocene, the persistence of colonialism, the rise of intelligent machines, the new forms of life engineered in laboratories.
Each theme will be illustrated by artworks and public actions that have engaged successfully (and also not successfully because we can always learn from our mistakes) with the topic examined. These case studies will be mostly contemporary, with several incursions into historical precedents: anti-slavery activism in the 19th century, social upheaval in Ancient Greece, liberation struggles in the 60s and 70s, etc.
The other half of the course will explore strategies, tools, and ideas to keep in mind no matter what the topic of the week will be.
Each week, an assignment will invite participants to reflect on an ambiguous issue and to articulate an opinion based on their position or inability to take a clear position.
United Farm Workers, Boycott Non-Union Lettuce, 1970s
Who is this course for?
Politically-minded artists, designers and makers who believe that their ideas, concerns and beliefs should be heard outside of the usual white walls of cultural institutions. Activists looking for inventive strategies to get their message across. And pretty much anyone worried about the state of the world.
Lisa Ma, Joystick Factory
Part 1: From Tintin to Trump Footprints of colonialism.
Part 2: The Tools. The books, online resources, venues and other allies of socially-engaged practices.
Debate of the week.
Part 1: The Anthropocene Western ideas of ‘progress’ versus Planet Earth.
Part 2: Instrumentalization, Misinterpretation and Other Pitfalls Because sometimes the most cunning plan can go wrong.Debate of the week.
Part 1: Automation Robots ‘stealing’ our jobs and getting not only more intelligent but also possibly more creative than us.
Part 2: The Others Fashion, product design, craft and other disciplines that are critical and successfully embed struggles and political action into their making and modes of distribution.Debate of the week.
Part 1: Chimera and Bacteria GMOs and dodos. New fears and challenges raised by technologies that affect our understanding of what nature is.
Part 2: Where to Find Your Audience The subway, the supermarket, the internet, etc. Even museums and traditional cultural institutions can be hijacked successfully.
Debate of the week.
Régine Debatty is a writer, curator, critic, and founder of http://we-make-money-not-art.com/, a blog which received 2 Webby awards and recently received an honorary mention at the START Prize, a competition which acknowledges "innovative projects at the interface of science, technology and art".
Régine writes and lectures internationally about the way in which artists, hackers, and designers use technology as a medium for critical discussion. She also created A.I.L. (Artists in Laboratories), a weekly radio program about the connections between art and science for Resonance104.4fm in London (2012–14), and is the co-author of the “sprint book” New Art/Science Affinities, published by Carnegie Mellon University.