Janneke Wesseling heads a research consortium consisting of Leiden University (Academy of Creative and Performing Arts), Hogeschool Rotterdam (Willem de Kooning Academy, Creating 010), Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam and Waag Society in Amsterdam. On 7 July 2016, the consortium received a KIEM grant of €15.000 for their project ’Critical Making as a model for art practice in the digital age’. The Creative Industry - KIEM programme of NWO (Dutch research council) aims to encourage and facilitate public-private partnerships in the domain of the Creative Industries. Senior researchers can apply for funding via KIEM on behalf of consortia of companies and researchers.


Currently, we are witnessing a major shift from art and culture to creative industries, implying a shift from a traditional paradigm of aesthetics (literally: perception) to a technology-oriented paradigm of making. New products are often developed out of a logic of makeability, with limited attention for critical reflection on their social consequences. We therefore need a new creative practice that combines the critical reflection that is central to artistic research with the technology-driven culture of making.

To this end, we propose to appropriate the concept of Critical Making. Coined by Canadian designer Matt Ratto in 2008 and laid out in a series of MIT Press books, this concept has so far been closely tied to FabLabs and artists’ media labs, while articulating a more critical position within the overall Maker movement. In our project, Critical Making will be researched and developed further in the context of critical theory and the discourse of artistic research in order to address creative practices in which art, design and technology fundamentally and practically intersect.

The ultimate objective is to develop products and services that are not only “smart” by label, but truly “smart” in respect to the critical reflection that went into their making. Therefore, our main research question is: How can the concept of Critical Making be expanded into a general approach that ties the critical methodology of artistic research, and the established concepts of artistic autonomy, together with contemporary creative-technological development?