Panel: Speculative Hardware and Fictive Materialities

Chaired by Derek Hales

Derek Hales is an architect and independent researcher currently affiliated
to the Committee for Inordinate Design.  Derek’s recent research has been on
speculative design; sonic fiction and imaginary hardware; and the
pataphysics of Gilles Deleuze’s objectile. He was a co-founder of
Huddersfield’s Digital Research Unit and has worked on artistic R&D in
abstract culture since 1995.

Jamie Brassett: Speculative Machines and Technical Mentalities

‘Beyond their instrumental functions', writes Rivka Oxman in an article
about design, creativity and innovation (2013), ‘advanced digital and
computational environments are also becoming tools for thinking design’. At
the leading edge of creativity and innovation design does not only speculate
the plausible, possible or potential, but pragmatically inserts such futures
into the present (as Whitehead says any ‘immediate existence’ (1962) must).
Using concepts mainly from Deleuze, Guattari, Spinoza and Simondon, I will
position such design speculation as pragmatic, divergent, complex and
emergent. That is, as manifesting the technical mentalities (Simondon) that
provide the milieu in which we can show what we ‘might be capable of’

Jamie Brassett is Reader in Philosophy, Design and Innovation at Central
Saint Martins – where he’s worked since 1995 – and has been Subject Leader
and MA Course Leader of Innovation Management since 2008. He is a Visiting
Professor in the Design Department of Anhalt University of Applied Sciences
(Dessau, Germany). Jamie holds Fellowships of the Royal Society of the Arts
(since 2000) and the Higher Education Academy (since 2011). He has a PhD in
Philosophy from University of Warwick (1993). Jamie has been publishing
philosophical work since 1991 and has spoken nationally and internationally
at conferences since 1989; Deleuze and Design (Edinburgh University Press)
co-edited with Betti Marenko, was published in June 2015 as part of their
‘Deleuze Connections’ Series.

Andrew Hugill: Imaginary Technologies of Music

Imaginary technologies of music are a recurring theme throughout literature,
from the anticipatory music studio of Francis Bacon's 'New Atlantis' to the
temperature controlled orchestrion of Raymond Roussel's 'Impressions of
Africa'. These are frequently the creations of imaginary composers, who have
an equally illustrious history that includes Proust's Vinteuil, Balzac's
Gambara, Powell's Hugh Moreland, and many more.

Pataphysics is the "science of imaginary solutions" (Alfred Jarry, The
Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, pataphysician). In this
presentatioin, I will examine the pataphysics of speculative hardware and
fictive materialities in the musical domain. How may such meta-meta fictions
lead us to exceptional insights?

Professor Andrew Hugill is a Composer, Musicologist, Computer Scientist,
Literary Scholar and Pataphysician. Andrew is Director of the Centre of
Creative Computing at Bath Spa University

Maya Oppenheimer: Obedience and Dramaturgical Devices

Stanley Milgram’s Obedience research is widely cited and superficially
understood as providing ‘objective’ laboratory evidence that human subjects
are willing to inflict harm on another individual if ordered to do so by a
present authority. However, by starting with a critical reading of the
interfaces of this experiment via the infamous simulated shock generator,
Milgram’s work assumes a different inflection. A deft performance piece that
relies upon the affordance of bespoke, designed devices, dramaturgical
import runs through this work as well as Milgram’s other research projects.
From obedience, conformity, to the small-world phenomenon, this paper
considers the design and agency of mechanical movements and algorithmic
elements in experiment scenarios that affect our understanding of human
subjects as social agents.

Maya Oppenheimer is a design writer, researcher and educator. Her work
focuses on the influence of tools, instruments and methodologies on
experimental outcomes in behaviour studies and design as well as pedagogy
and design criticism. She teaches at the Royal College of Art and is a
Trustee of the Design History Society.

Spencer Roberts: Algo-Mech: Algo(rhythms) and mech(animisms).

The concepts of the algorithmic and the mechanical express a set of common
processual concerns whilst cutting idiosyncratically across ideal and
material planes. As descriptors of internal and external influence, the
notions of the relational and the parametric are implicated in the genesis
and transformation of twenty first century life. What then, are the
qualities of the contemporary city symphony? Is it the algo(rhythm) and the
mech(animism) that serve primarily to sonify the everyday? This talk will
examine the contemporary interest in process-philosophical notions of
rhythm, relation and parameter in the context of making - exploring the ways
in which such ideas are reflected, refracted and contorted in both
hacktivist and institutional contexts.

Spencer Roberts is based at the University of Huddersfield, where he teaches 
art, design and animation theory. He also teaches computer programming 
and physical computing to students in the visual arts. He is interested 
in the process of writing as a mode of corporeal textual production and 
in practices of physical computing as material forms of expression. His 
thesis examined Deleuzian, process-philosophical perspectives on 
artistic-research, and contested the broadly representational character 
of an earlier design-led critique.



Panel: Speculative Hardware and Fictive Materialities by Panel: Speculative Hardware and Fictive Materialities

Derek Hales: Speculative Hardware and Fictive Materialities

Derek Hales will host and introduce this panel expanding on recent research
on speculative hardware. The panel will discuss a methodological interest in
'fictioning' design, and the consequences of imagining fictive
materialities. It develops from a philosophical interest in the speculative,
which is to say that it approaches a pataphysical realm of imaginary
solutions by pairing the notion of fictive materialities with technical
mentalities. Papers range from the philosophy of speculative mechanics to
the reconstructive archaeology of fictive materialities; from the
pataphysics of literary and imagined musical machines to the materialities
of dramaturgical devices the panel will question our obedience to the
algo(rythmic) and the mech(animist)
Appearing at:


Old Post Hall, Sheffield Institute of Arts
9:30am-5pm, 13 Nov. 2016 - share on facebook
£25 / £12.50 - get tickets

An arts-research day symposium, with talks and performances on the theme of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement, chaired by Thor Magnusson and Chris Kiefer from University of Sussex's Experimental Music Technology Lab, and taking place in the Sheffield Institute of Arts.

The £25 / £12.50 ticket prices are inclusive of all fees, and includes refreshments, lunch and free access to evening performances at the Millennium Gallery. 

We are very happy to announce that the symposium will include a keynote speech by Godfried-Willem Raes from the Logos Foundation. For details, including a draft programme, please see the symposium website hosted by the symposium chairs.

Godfried-Willem Raes

Susanne Palzer

Bird & Bee

Panel: Speculative Hardware and Fictive Materialities

Panel: Unraveling Maker Culture

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Jesus Jara Lopez

Tom Parkinson

Elise and David Plans

Giuseppe Torre

Alejandro Albornoz

Rosamaria E. Kostic Cisneros

Ellen Harlizius-Klück

Alejandra Perez Nunez

Joana Chicau