Fault Lines, a one-day symposium organised by the KABK Lectorate Design, explored the interstitial positioning and generative potential of design research as the borders of disciplines shift. It also presented an array of research projects that map and interpret the traces of design’s complicity in climate change.

Symposium details


Friday 14 December 2018 10:00-20:00


Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK)

How does contemporary design research inhabit the fissures between disciplinary realms and negotiate the discontinuities between them?

Are there particular qualities and capacities of design-specific tools and methods and what do they allow for?

How can the insights that arise from experimental research inquiries make a significant contribution to design practice, to education and to knowledge?

This symposium presented research activity by members of the KABK teaching community with a particular emphasis on practice-led research that uses design either as its subject matter or means for investigation.

It featured some of the projects developed through the current KABK Research Group alongside contributions from invited keynote speakers. The symposium identified approaches, methods and tools with broader application for the growing design research culture at KABK and beyond.

See brochure here.

Featuring members of the KABK Research Group 2018:

The Dark Side of Light

Bacon investigates the relationship between the mark-making activity of drawing and the extractive one of mining, and how an understanding of this relationship might contribute to the development of a non-exploitative and imaginative artistic practice capable of responding to the environmental crisis.

reDesigning Affect Space

This public research trajectory involves partners in Berlin, Madrid and Rotterdam to develop a more diversified design agenda for the context of Affect Space—the intermingling of (mobile) technology, affect and public space—which transcends current security and safety-driven initiatives and overly technology-centric "smart city" discourses.

Digital Pollution

Using online tools including Google Earth and Google Maps in combination with site immersion and visual analysis, Schrader’s project seeks to understand more fully what happens when the resources needed to create, share and store our daily output of 2,5 quintillion bytes of so-called virtual data encroach on the physical environment.

Making ‘Design’ Weird Again

An exploration into how fiction can be used as a strategy and research method to disrupt design history canons in order to expose issues of eurocentricity, exoticism, whiteness and/or appropriation.

Geographies of Power

In this project, Weber appropriates satellite imagery to trace the military drone as a key vector between militarized space, the social organization of territory and the mediating role of photography.

With additional presentations by KABK staff members:

Lauren Alexander will discuss some of Foundland Collective’s recent video, lecture and object-based projects, which revive archival material as a way to uncover marginalised narratives of Arab-American identity. Foundland Collective uses design research methods to experiment with how historical narratives can be connected with our contemporary social-political context.

Drawing from collaborative processes of designing technology, this talk intends to problematise the workshop. The workshop is a popular framework for cultural production, bringing together groups of people from different fields in order to (co-)produce knowledge. Situated between work and leisure, workshops are usually organised in the context of extracurricular activities such as symposia, incubator programs and innovation labs. Buzzwords surrounding the workshop phenomenon, such as ‘rapid prototyping’ or ‘agility’, promote high-velocity technological development and imply that the workshop is a highly productive format. By looking closely at concrete examples of workshops, this talk examines their capabilities and limitations when creating critical as well as constructive conditions for designing technology.

Using the concept of conductivity as a lens, Füsun Türetken has explored a range of instances where conflict and capital can be read through matter, more precisely metal. These range from mining, rare earth metals, the alchemic desire of the world of finance towards the visual culture of production and the digital alchemy of product design itself. Türetken will discuss some aspects of her artistic research practice and show a film titled ‘Alchemic Desire’, that explores the parallels between the practice of trading metals at the world’s biggest physical metals exchange, the London Metal Exchange (LME), and the practice of alchemy.

With keynote lectures by invited guests:

Marjanne van Helvert will deliver a lecture/performance on design manifestos, speculative writing and the predictive power of historic futurities as part of her ongoing research into writing and thinking design.

Anab Jain will discuss some of the complexities involved in working with the future. From climate change and growing inequality to the emergence of artificial intelligence and the future of work, Jain and her team at Superflux explore some of the biggest challenges of our times and investigate the potential and unintended consequences of these challenges. Jain will show examples of her studio’s attempts to create tangible, provocative experiences for transporting people directly into possible future worlds and discuss these and other strategies for encouraging the public to look critically at the present as a way to claim control of our shared futures.

RUSSIAN-STYLE INFLUENCE CAMPAIGNING: Genres, Spread, Strategy, Detection
Richard Rogers and colleagues develop tools for the capture and study of Web data. The tools form the infrastructure of the Digital Methods Initiative, which specialises in repurposing online devices (and methods of the medium) for research that goes beyond the study of online culture only. Rogers studies, and makes use of, the adjudicative or "recommender" cultures of the Web that help to determine the reputation of information as well as organizations. This presentation concerns the Russification of influence campaigning online, marking a shift from how Facebook (and other social media) are studied, from a platform for the presentation of self and the mobilisation of social causes to a menacing, disinformation machine.

Planetary Media is a research-based artistic and critical inquiry that investigates how environmental systems operate as a vast information network composed of technical as well as natural sensors that are registering and transmitting the signals of pollution and climate change. Susan Schuppli will present this research, which seeks to coalesce disparate—and oftentimes imperceptible—data sources across a wide range of spatial scales that, when taken together, create a more comprehensive picture of our current ecological condition.

Programme with video links

Hosted and moderated by Alice Twemlow, Design Lector at the KABK and Associate Professor at Leiden University’s Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA).

10:15–10:45 Keynote — Anab Jain: Other Worlds Are Possible

10:45–11:00 Q&A with Alice Twemlow

11:00–11:15 Anja Groten: Problematising the ‘Workshop’

11:15–11:30Eric Kluitenberg: reDesigning Affect Space

11:30–11:45 Moderated discussion with Alice Twemlow

11:45–12:00 Coffee Break

12:00–12:30 Keynote—Marjanne van Helvert: Design as a Manifesto

12:30–12:45 Rosa te Velde: Making Design Weird Again

12:45–13:00 Lauren Alexander: Archival Time Travel

13:00–13:30 Moderated discussion with Alice Twemlow

13:30–14:45 Lunch Break

14:45–15:15 Keynote—Richard Rogers: Russian-style Influence Campaigning: Genres, Spread, Strategy, Detection

15:15–15:30 Donald Weber: Geographies of Power

15:30–15:45 Niels Schrader: Digital Pollution

15:45–16:15 Moderated discussion with Alice Twemlow

16:15–16:30 Coffee Break

16:30–17:00 Keynote: Susan Schuppli: Planetary Media

17:00–17:15 Füsun Türetken: On the Most Powerful Catalyst on The Planet

17:15–17:30 Rachel Bacon: Explore, Sample, Dig, Depleteand Repeat: Undermining Value

17:30–18:00 Moderated discussion with Alice Twemlow

18:00–18:30 Closing remarks: Alice Twemlow and Miriam Bestebreurtje

18:30–19:30 Drinks Reception