Attending [to] Futures

On november 18 Anke Haarmann, Frieder Bohaumilitzky, Tom Bieling and Torben Koerschkes will be in Cologne for their performative lecture entitled DESIGN OF UNREST as part of the conference ATTENDING [TO] FUTURES at KISD. +
Bieling/Bohaumilitzky/Haarmann/Körschkes: DESIGN OF UNREST. 2021. Collage for project Design of Unrest for the symposium Attending [To] Futures. Questions of Politics in Design, Education, Research, Practice. The Collage includes images from Metapolitisches Hüpfen by Frieder Bohaumilitzky and a Fotoshooting by Patricia Paryz & Ricarda Fallenbacher.

Design of Unrest: Right-wing Metapolitics – Paralogy – Knowledge Spaces – Chaos

The mobilization attempts of the New Right are characterized by numerous discourse sovereignty appropriation tactics. This also applies to the re/interpretation and staging of symbolic spaces. How can the authoritarian appropriation of the right be countered by design strategies?

The starting point for the thematic discussion with and in this lecture performance is a bouncy castle. As a materialized metaphor, the bouncy castle brings together our different research perspectives in productive friction. The bouncy castle itself symbolizes the observation that the self-image of a society is increasingly negotiated on the basis of and performed in symbolic spaces. “Bouncing” in this sense can be understood as a breaking out of rigid knowledge productions, as paralogy – displaced logos. The childish bouncing undermines the adult (academic) epistemological seriousness. Insight takes off, gets out of balance and when it arrives again it easily finds itself somewhere else, offset.

The bouncy castle can also point to aspects of a chaotic space, that is, to interdependencies, the recognition of complexity and unpredictability, and in this respect also poses the question of how we move in and through such spaces. For a movement of reduction and authoritarian appropriation does not fit this diverse and complex world. The bouncy castle is an attempt to develop an understanding of places as places of knowledge, of spaces as spaces of negotiation, of things as things of meaning. What (epistemological, design, theoretical) tools do we have at our disposal? What tools can we – as designers, artists, philosophers, social scientists– make available without these in turn being rigidly fixed, predetermined?

A specially made version of Hambach Castle (which is at the same time a symbol of “German democracy” and right-wing appropriation) as a bouncy castle – for this performative lecture – presents itself as a deliberately wobbly materialized demand to bring unrest into knowledge and entrenched thought practices. +
ATTENDING [TO] FUTURES – Matters of Politics, Education, Research, Practice.

Attending [to] Futures

The design conference ATTENDING [TO] FUTURES will take place at Köln International School of Design of TH Köln (Cologne, Germany) on 18-20 November 2021, but will be transformed into an online event, if regulations with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic prohibit physical large-scale events. +
Three tracks will frame practical and theoretical positions and projects that critically examine the socio-political and ecological consequences of dominant ways of knowing, being, and doing in design and explore the possibilities of subversive practices and alternative teaching-learning scenarios. Lectures, workshops, urban walks, live performances, film screenings, and discussions invite interdisciplinary exchange among designers, activists, researchers, and educators from the fields of design, art, architecture, cultural studies, and anthropology. +
The conference ATTENDING [TO] FUTURES examines the ambivalent role and responsibility of design as world-making at a moment in which the world «is presented in crisis» (Ghosn, Jazairy). Acknowledging the ways in which design (as practices, forms of knowledge, and sets of objects) is accountable for social and environmental injustice, the conference invites critical perspectives that scrutinize unchallenged disciplinary norms and dominant ways of knowing, being, doing, and imagining in design education, research, and practice. Drawing on current de-/anti-colonial, post-humanist, queer-feminist and disability discourses, the conference attempts a political reprogramming of design in order to generate transformative perspectives on design education, research, and practice. +

Contested Histories – UNLEARNING

The first track critically revises and problematizes the eurocentric, patriarchal, colonial, environmentally untenable, and capitalist traditions in which design is embedded and calls for an «unlearning» (Gayatri Spivak) of discriminatory, exclusive, oppressive, and «defuturing» (Toni Fry) codes and design practices that came into being because of them. The aim of this track is to expose normative definitions of design, design epistemologies, and established ways of learning in order to understand ›why we design, what we design‹ (loosely based on Mary Lawhon) and to recognize how design produces inequality and subjugation. +

Radical Futures – ATTENDING [TO]

The second track considers design’s inherent demand to explore, test, and produce material-discursive configurations that do not (yet) exist (Séverine Marguin et al.) in order to imagine and constitute radically different worlds and form the basis of future design (Daniel Gethmann et al.). Through this lens, the future is addressed as a present «space of becoming» inclusive, empathetic, just, and sustainable (Bill Ashcroft). Designing the future means both attending, i.e. active participation in, and attending to, i.e. taking responsibility and care for, creative ways of living together with people, things, animals, and plants. All future-making strategies require asking whether designs of new possible worlds leave social, political, and economical power structures untouched or whether they undermine and change them. +

Critical Practices – LEADING OUT

The third track proceeds from the etymology of education: latin ›educare‹ not as ›e-ducere‹—i.e. ›leading someone to something‹—but as ›ex-ducere‹, ›leading someone out‹ of the familiar (Tim Ingold). Attention to the constitutive conditions of design requires a reckoning with a multiplicity of actors and contexts, from institutional norms and regulations, to pedagogies, curricula, materials, architectural environments, and discursive protocols. This track therefore focuses on and calls for the transformation of everything that helps bring design into being: physical and digital tools, as well as their material infrastructures and legitimating disciplinary narratives. +