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YEAH, BUT IS IT TECHNOLOGY? Yes of Course!
Lecture Series at the Institute for Art and Architecture, WS 2023/24
Curated by Michelle Howard, Adam Hudec, Veronika Miskovicova and Eva Sommeregger.
In collaboration with the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague.
YEAH, BUT IS IT TECHNOLOGY? Yes of Course! asks what direction would technology have taken if skills that are normally attributed to women and other anomalies were given the attention they deserve, and proposes that by embracing the practical application of lines and threads we can build a richer and more sustainable future. Scientists now accept that humankind’s first tool was not a weapon but a carrier bag, that humans tended toward sociable collectives rather than submission to hierarchy, that whole social systems were adopted or discarded according to need. These facts are now recognised because evidence long existing has been reevaluated in less biased ways. The evidence was not difficult to find, it was just ignored. Patriarchal biases have labelled one practice technology and the other craft. Both are dependent on the practical application of knowledge, yet one attracts prestige, income, and a taste of progress while the other is deemed pretty but also pretty useless. Could an embracing of ignored technologies lead to a regenerative practice that drives environmental and societal progress? Of course it could!
The Loaf and the Laptop
Timothy Ingold, one of the most renowned voices in cntemporary anthropology, and Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. In his recent work, he links the themes of environmental perception and skilled practice, replacing traditional models of genetic and cultural transmission, with a relational approach focusing on the growth of embodied skills of perception and action within social and environmental contexts of human development. This has taken him to examining the use of lines in culture, and the relationship between anthropology, architecture, art and design. Writing within the anthropological realm of phenomenology, Ingold explores the human as an organism which 'feels' its way through the world that "is itself in motion"; constantly creating and being changed by spaces and places as they are encountered.
Through a reconsideration of toolmaking and speech as criteria of human distinctiveness, Ingold became interested in the connection, in human evolution, between language and technology. With Kathleen Gibson, he organised an international conference on this theme in 1990, and the resulting volume, edited by Gibson and Ingold (Tools, language and cognition in human evolution), was published in 1993. Since then, Ingold has sought ways of bringing together the anthropologies of technology and art, leading to his current view of the centrality of skilled practice.
Textiles, Technology and Design 3000 years ago
Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Karina Grömer is the director of the Department of Prehistory, Natural History Museum Vienna. As an archaeologist, she studies the material culture of the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age in Central Europe, including theoretical aspects like identity, innovation and creativity, functional design theory, visual coding, design concepts, sociological and semiotic studies. Her focus research embraces textile analysis, research on textile tools and reconstruction of prehistoric costume.
The cultural and historical importance of textile technology, especially of spinning and weaving, can hardly be overstated. Textile crafts not only produced essential goods for everyday use, most notably clothing, but also utilitarian objects as well as representative and luxury items. Even after wear and tear, the ‘resource textile’ – produced with a great amount of time and effort – was handled thoughtfully.
The Arc: Design and Construction
Defit Wijaya, Senior Architect at IBUKU talks about the Arc. It was completed for the world renowned Green School in Bali, Indonesia in 2021. The Green School in Bali is known for its finely tuned programme that follows children from early years through to secondary education, infused with a focus on creativity, the arts and ecological responsibility.
The first building of its kind ever made, the Arc at Green School is whimsical but sturdy, beautifully undulating as well as light and dynamic – almost like the bamboo version of a boat's billowing sails in the wind. The roof is thin and balanced, and feels organic and close to nature. It is created from a series of intersecting 14m-tall bamboo arches spanning 19m, interconnected by anticlastic Gridshells that derive their strength from curving in two opposite directions. The masterful designs were refined in collaboration with German carpentry specialist Jörg Stamm and structural engineers Atelier One. The Arc operates like the ribs of a mammal's chest, stabilised by tensile membranes analogous to tendons and muscles between ribs. Biologically, these highly tensile microscopic tendons transfer forces from bone to bone. In The Arc, bamboo splits transfer forces from arch to arch.
Yeah, but is it Economy?
"I am an economist who writes, researches and teaches on public policy with an emphasis on economic and environmental interactions. Over 30 years, I have worked on a range of subject areas and topics from the economic impacts and control of acidic deposition through atmospheric and plant science relating to urban pollution impacts on agriculture to the economics and ethics of human induced climate change and the plural values related to biodiversity. This has also involved moving away from mainstream environmental and resource economics, looking at links with natural sciences, understanding applied ethics, exploring models of democracy and public participation in political science, and linking with social psychology to develop models of human behaviour and motivation. In turn this has led me to question the foundations of accepted knowledge in both the natural and social sciences. As a result I have been exploring a philosophy of science that combines and accepts realism, sociology of science, critical analysis and deconstructs the fact-value dichotomy." (Clive Spash)
Folke Köbberling deals with the urban environment and its transience as a reflection of general social processes. In spatial and sculptural site-specific interventions, she addresses issues about public space, grassroots participation and self-organization, the market economy, mobility, housing, sustainability, and resource scarcity, all of which have inherent potential for social conflict.
In view of a raw wool price of 12 cents per kilogram, the lovely idea of the sheep as a cuddly clothing producer proves to be a romantic rapture. Rather, in view of the fact that sheep's wool today increasingly has to be disposed of as hazardous waste, the animals are "looking for jobs". Köbberling offers various concepts for this, such as using the wool as technologies for constructions.
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