Objetologías: A conversation with Jara Rocha

February 6, 2015 Akademie Schloss Solitude


What is the attraction of an algorithm? Do servers have a gender? Can a book be a disobedient object? Is it possible to understand an infrastructure as a poetics?

Sunday afternoon in the library, a conversation with Jara Rocha about Objetologías, a line of research she carries together with Josianito Llorente, Jaron Rowan and Carla Boserman. Working on the aesthetics and politics of objects and technologies, Objetologías speculates about the potential of relations between humans and non-humans. Their attempt at a post-humanist approach brings together studies of culture, science and technology, actor-network theory, new materialisms, speculative realism, futurology and affects theory. Objetologías considers the ethic, erotic, aesthetic and political agency of objects and studies their material conditions in a broad sense: scale, durability, weight, volume, attraction, dispersion. Objetologías shifts attention to ontologies rather than the social use of objects and technologies, allowing processes of individuation, co-production and articulation to be understood as basic gestures that act symmetrically in a complex web of materiality.

Tea and cake served!

Jara Rocha is a cultural mediator, developing educational programmes at Bau School of Design in Barcelona. She works with materialities of infrastructure, queering practices and links both formal and non-formal ways of researching interface cultures. With Seda Guerses, Miryam Aouragh and Femke Snelting she participates in The Darmstadt Delegation.



Sunday February 8 16:00-18:00 in the ABR Library (2nd floor), Akademie Schloss-Solitude, Stuttgart

Treating the Traité

The Traité de documentation : le livre sur le livre, théorie et pratique is an almost hypertextual book on documentation, written in the 1930’s by Paul Otlet. It has many cross-references, tables and illustrations; at times it is written in encyclopedic style, turns into a passionate manifesto, speculative fiction, and a practical manual for librarians. The pdf I have is badly OCR-ed and too heavy for reading comfortably on a digital device. So this morning I transformed the digital version into something that I can print at a copy shop.

I started with extracting the images from the pdf with the help of the imagemagick convert command:

$ mkdir spreads
$ convert Traite\ de\ documentation\ -\ Paul\ Otlet.pdf spreads/%03d.jpg

Continue reading


January 10, 2015 Akademie Schloss Solitude


Arrived. Two times three months of work ahead! On my first day, a pair of foxes (in the forest), and a screening of the docufiction Close-Up (at the Schloss). It will be wonderful.

Mixed experience

October 29, 2014 Body and software, Constant

This workshop asks how digital tools can refuse strict separations between ‘users’ and ‘developers’, both in the way they are built and how they are put to use.

Mixed experience starts from experiments by artists, designers and programmers affiliated with Constant and design caravan OSP. Our tools are sometimes built from scratch, and often combine existing packages in ways that allow actual experiences of and with software.

Rooting our work in the culture of Free, Libre and Open Source software allows us to critically interrogate how tools condition our practice but above all is an invitation to use, study, distribute and improve software. It inspires us to mix the expertise of ‘users’ and ‘developers’ and to work simultaneously on the level of code, structure and design. In order to shift our digital practices away from the pressures of meritocracy and the limits of technocentrism, we need to make tools together.

Workshop in the context of PIPES (Participatory Investgation of Public Engaging Spaces), and in collaboration with OSP (Open Source Publishing).

‘I think that conversations are the best, biggest thing that free software has to offer its users’

October 15, 2014 Constant, Free software, Lecture

In this presentation Femke introduces a book-in-the-making, an extensive collection of conversations between developers and designers involved in the wider ecosystem of Libre Graphics. Speaking to each other about tools for typography, lay-out and image processing they render a portrait of a community gradually understanding the interdependencies between software and design.

Edited in collaboration with Christoph Haag http://lafkon.net

We don’t live in this kind of world

For the seminar Public Library. Über Infrastrukturen der Wissensbildung (Public Library. About infrastructures of knowledge formation), Femke prepares a new episode of Fathers of the Internet, charting the overtures between an Internet giant, local governments and a historical archive.

“In 1944, Belgium universalist and documentalist Paul Otlet died a disillusioned man. In his lifetime he only partially realised The Mundaneum, an encyclopedic survey of human knowledge which would ‘progressively constitute a permanent and complete representation of the entire world‘. While Otlet is being rediscovered as “a founding father of the Internet”, Google adopted the remains of his archive in Mons. Located in a former mining area in the south of Belgium, Mons is not only home town to prime minister Elio Di Rupo, but also conveniently located next to one of Google’s largest datacenters in Europe. This lecture explores the messy entanglements of faltering local governments, dreams of accessible knowledge, and the hopeful desire for corporate patronage.”

Worksession GenderBlending

Gender Blending gathers body hackers, 3D theorists, game activists, queer designers and software feminists around the table to challenge typical digital representations of the body, bending the rules of both gender and software. Using 3D animation software Blender, medical bodyscanners and 3D-printers, we’ll experiment at the contact zones of gender and technology.

In 6 days, 3 interdisciplinary groups will develop three interconnected proposals for modelling digital bodies differently. Each thread is prepared by two or three invited guests.
Throughout the week we’ll organise discussions, small workshops and presentations for all participants. This will allow us to work through theoretical and material specifics of imagining gender (social readings and constructed imaginations) in a digital context.

We’ll use Free, Libre and Open Source software such as MakeHuman, Blender, Openscad, Freecad and PyMol. Participants bring their own laptop with Linux installed or can borrow a computer for the duration of the session (limited availability).

Participation is free; maximum 25 places available. Please write femke@constantvzw.org if you are interested in participating.

Organised by Constant, Brussels in collaboration with De Beursschouwburg, Anne Smolar and Željko Blaće; contributions by Pink Screens, Maria Ptqk, Tom Weller, ginger coons

Let’s first get things done

On division of labor and practices of delegation in times of mediated politics and politicized technologies

Be it in getting out the call for the next demonstration on some “cloud service”, or developing a progressive tech project in the name of an imagined user community, scarcity of resources and distribution of expertise makes short cuts inevitable. But do they really?
More …

Hosted by Seda Gürses, Miriyam Aouragh, Femke Snelting, Jara Rocha
4 August 2014
Worksession part of Thinking together @ Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt (DE)

making tools that punch holes into walls

Interesting discussion on whether or not cultural organisations should ‘oblige’ artists to work with free licenses (thread starts with http://nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-1406/msg00018.html):

“In the end, free culture has been an essential step and great opportunity to sync all sorts of individuals, groups and communities who would probably not have connected with each others, and maybe the recruiting loop needs now to transit towards something else more effective, maybe for instance in the area of copyright reform while at the same time keep on making tools that punches holes into walls and not just prettify them.”


Fathers of the internet

January 1, 2014 Constant, Mondotheque

Belgium universalist, pacifist and documentalist Paul Otlet was recently recognized as ‘a founding father of the Internet’ by Google evangelist Vincent Cerf. While socialist Prime Minister Elio di Rupo lured the multinational to build a gigantesque datacenter in the region with the help of subsidies and tax-cuts, Google adopted the remains of Otlet’s archive in Mons. An ongoing investigation.

Files: https://gitorious.org/fathers-of-the-internet
Notes: http://pad.constantvzw.org/p/fathers

Free Libraries for Every Soul

October 15, 2013 Memory of the world

Hacker/cyber-librarian Marcell Mars, researcher Edwin Gardner and the association for arts and media Constant invite you to a 24h hackathon where we’ll work on shapes, platforms and workflows that facilitate free access to books. Graphic designers, hackers, interface-designers, librarians, independent bookpublishers, webdevelopers and programmers … if you have skills and/or ideas related to DIY-printed matter, e-books, OCR, peer-to-peer libraries etc. please join us and contribute to a 21st century incarnation of Melvil Dewey’s dream!


Never-ending undo

August 12, 2013 Akademie Schloss Solitude

Never-ending undo is an attempt to think through specific practices of sharing and collaboration that emerge in creative digital work inspired by the culture and cult of Free Software. It explores the ethics and aesthetics of this iterative, reversible and promiscuous type of practice.

Project proposal for Schloss Solitude: /files/neverendingundo.pdf (spring and fall 2015)