Materials, Toolkits, and the Human Senses -
Strategies in Tangible Interaction Design
In the age of ubiquitous computing the physical and the digital get increasingly
intertwined. For the interaction design of technical artefacts this implies a grow-
ing attention to the human body, the physical and the materials of the interface
elements. This talk discusses strategies in interface design in the research area
of tangible, embodied and reality-based interaction and links them to current
developments in DIY (do it yourself) communities, whose open source hardware
and software toolkits play a decisive role for the prototyping of novel interaction
Over the past years, we have come witness of an arms race in Cyberspace.
Ever more nations are setting up military Cyber units formed of IT specialists
whose purpose is the protection of IT systems or the attack on systems of
"enemies". This arms race poses a threat to civil society. With the world be-
coming more networked and and digital, national borders, responsibilities and
powers have disintegrated. Any one can be opponent or enemy, anyone can be
ally or otherwise affected. As a result, it has become more difficult to confine or
fight conflicts through national action. Answers must now be found in terms of
a policy of peace and deescalation. IT security risks can be reduced through
measures such as decentralization of critical infrastructures, decreasing depen-
dencies and through general availability of defensive technology, e.g. through
transparency and free licenses.
It's a Cyborg's world? Synthetic Bodies as "Social Engineering".
Political and social codes are inscribed into incomplete bodies, prosthetic crea-
tures, cyborgs or hybrid figures. In media representation one can observe a
range form digital utopia, and monstrous dystopia respectively, up to a pro-
nounced empowerment of mankind, suspending the borders between former
socially constructed bodies through revealing their construction. Fembots,
gynoids and cyborgs tickle our imagination, be it as a phantasy of the tech-
nically perfectly endowed woman, the vision of overcoming our gender dicho-
tomy or simply as a fascinating appearance. In science fiction and film history,
representations and interpretations of human-machine hybrids have changed
alongside existing social roles. Yet one can still observe a gap between media
representations and visions and actual productions, which becomes evident in
the connection between auspicious cyborg manifestos (Haraway) and the in-
dustry's eyelash-fluttering fembots. The talk proposes to think of these figu-
rations of the (In-)complete and post-natural body with regard to their social
promises, employing codes of feminist cyborg theory, theories of the prosthetic,
of fetishism and cognitive science as well as ostensive examples from media
Since 2009 Miss Baltazar's Laboratory (MBL) tries to generate an environment in
which women and trans can share their tech skills. Recently we have started
our own space in Vienna based on the format hackerspace and equipped with
workshops to produce interactive art. MBL is focusing on specifically feminist ap-
proaches towards technology.
It seems as if there was hardly an artform in which the connection between
tool, workspace and agent is closer related as within interactive art. The ap-
plication or code generated to create a piece becomes an essential part of the
art work. There is a continuous demand for knowledge, technology and access
in order to be able to realise a concept. Therefore many artists in this field turn
to tools that run under the GNU license or other FLOSS distributing systems.
Here, the only thing that can stop the artist from getting access to a software is
her decision to make it her own or not. Mostly this decision is taken based on
her self-concept: Can I learn it? Is there someone like me who does it?
Self-empowerment becomes the main requirement for access to Open Source
Miss Baltazar`s Laboratory wants to create a space that makes the decision
easier, by giving support, offering a safe and nurturing atmosphere, by gener-
ating new self-concepts in discussions, lectures, reading groups, friendships
and most of all hands-on workshops.
This implicates new forms of social interaction and collective living. How can we
provide child-care during workshops? How do we deal with different expecta-
tions towards our aims? How about individual concerns about authorship, com-
petitive thinking, artistic careers?
Tools, space, participants inform each other and this development is consciously
supported by MBL's concept and structure. People are encouraged to take risks,
collaborate, support the DIY spirit, start their own way to build things. This way
we hope that people socialised as women can get out of isolating positions
generated by invisible censorship, precarity, self-employment or motherhood
and embrace the access open source technology can provide.
Can someone pause the counting for a second please?
Questioning the new gamified condition of our times
The social media world is a competitive world. Friends’ scores, likes’ ratings and
comments’ counts are some of the most common features in a social network
profile. Numbers matter. Not only because they offer a certain sense of self af-
firmation to the user but also because they define what to see and what to pay
attention to. Numbers reveal how social users are, how popular their sayings
are, how interesting their everyday life appears to be. Either one realizes it or
not, in the era of attention economy, success is being estimated by countings of
friends, uploads, likes and posts. But what does gamification really count?
Users’ performativity and promptness for interaction? Their skills and affective
competence? The talk will look back into Paolo Virno’s notion of virtuosity and
Michael Hardt’s notion of affective labour in order to present the role gami-
fication has come to play. At the same time, counter-mechanisms opposed to
gamification proposed by artists will also be presented, aiming to express the
role of creativity as resistance, highlighting the importance of collective action.
Modern democracy for the European Union
Post-democracy is the state wherein which much political power and many le-
gislative, including interpretative, competences are moved away from directly
elected representatives of the people, to a global level where diplomatic repre-
sentatives of representatives of governments make very detailed requirements
on how the legislation in the signatory states of the trade agreements should
look and behave. Coupled with the development of trade agreement conflict
resolution systems, such as arbitration courts to resolve disputes between the
contracting parties, which give indicating guidelines not only on how the parties
have conformed with obligations relation to gradual reduction of tariffs, but also
on the nature of legislative or administrative measures permitted in the signa-
tory states, this poses a significant democratic deficit. The writing and the inter-
pretation of law, effectively, reside outside of the parliamentary system and
much power is transferred to the executive of each nation.
Mara Verlic & Wencke Hertzsch
Perspectives on Urban Vacancies
Urban vacancies are a publically debated – even contested – topic in urban so-
cieties. Current debates evolve around associated matters like squatting, tem-
porary uses, urban renewal, inner city vitalization, neighborhood upgrading and
gentrification. In our approach urban vacancies are of interest for two reasons:
Firstly vacant space is a space of opportunities in the sense that unused space
allows for imaginations: people’s demands, ideas and hopes for usage can
emerge. Secondly – and interconnected with the first argument – there lies a
simple, yet important contradiction at heart of the topic of vacancies: people
who seek space vs vacant spaces.
From this basic starting point stem a lot of follow-up questions: Starting from
descriptive ones (Who are the people who seek space? What kinds of spaces
are empty?) to questions concerning power relations (Who is allowed to use
vacant space? How much space may a person use? Who can keep space va-
cant?) to questions about alternatives (What is the normal way to gain access
to vacancies? Who is excluded? Is there an alternative?).
The talk presents findings from a research project based at Vienna University of
Technology and IG Kultur ("Perspektive Leerstand"), which looks at urban va-
cancies from the point of view of demands for space, considering spatial, discur-
sive and legal aspects.
Biohacking and its societal ramifications
Synthetic biology is the attempt to apply engineering principles to biology. Moti-
vated by Richard Feynman’s last words „What I cannot build I do not under-
stand“, synthetic biologists want to go beyond description and analysis and
really construct living systems. Given the complexity of living systems, however,
this is no easy task. In order to reduce the complexity and make biology easier
to engineer, the development of a toolbox for the modular design of biological
systems is high on the agenda. If successful, “de-skilling” might finally unleash
the full potential of biotechnology and spark a wave of innovation, as more and
more people would have the necessary skills to engineer biology. A number of
“biohackers”, “Do-it-yourself-biologists” and “amateur biologist” have started to
take biotechnology out of the lab and into kitchens, garages and community
centres. The ramifications of this development involve economic (patents vs.
open access), socio-political (democratisation of biotech), environmental and sa-
fety issues, that will be discussed in this presentation.
What does fashion lack? "Microcontrollers
What does fashion lack? "Microcontrollers", according to Anouk Wipprecht. With
a background in Fashion Design (2000-2010), her interest lead towards com-
bining her fashion study with interaction design/user experience design. And as
she started with the integration of robotic parts in combination with Arduino's
during 2006, her interest grew towards "animating" her designs .
Microcontrollers are used to prototype before making customized circuit boards
to 'feed' the electronically -equipped dresses and instead of using ordinary
electronics like LED's, her projects are based on more 'uncontrolled' materials
like special e -foils, wearable smoke providers, and tube-systems consisting of
colored liquid. Curator of the TECHNOSENSUAL 'Where fashion meets Tech-
nology' exhibition that took place at MuseumsQuartier Wien the last 2,5
months, she will give an insight in what it takes to create 'Electronic Couture'
Asking the Girls Out? Reverse Engineering and
the (Re)Writing of Austrian Film History.
Taking an enlarged concept of “the archive” and its logic/logistics into account I
will try to use the tools of reverse engineering from an humanties point of view.
Already used heavily in literary studies these concepts also will and can work for
asking tricky, even unwelcomed questions about history and historiography:
Referring to the modelling/writing of Austrian film history I will show, with
elaborating on the specific example of female Austrian filmmaking from 1969-99,
how reverse engineering can provide crucial insights into historiographic
processes and help to create a renewed, archive-supported reading as well as
writing of film history itself.
Playing with Glass Beads
Nicole Prutschʼs work poses questions around human identity and its perception
through performance and video installation. The focus is determined by his-
torical and contemporary discoveries in biomedical science and the exponential
progress of technological possibilities that impact on society and the individual.
Through a set of interventions, Prutsch stages a series of games that play on
reality, experience and anticipation, via a scopophilic view of the human
We Are Closed
In a media-based society it is the signs and signifieds, the meanings and habits
and conventions of speaking and thinking, the images and stereotypes which
control everything. This is something I would call the cultural grammar of reality
-- and power is formed within it. Access and non-access to each and every
thing is regulated in its realm. What is OPEN and what is CLOSED is defined in
a complex process of negotiation, and we partake in it every single day. We
are not as helpless in changing the way of the world, as we might think. But
this process also has a downside: We have to be careful what we wish for. We
just might receive it.