Critical Making Webinar Series
Sponsored by the Washington State University College of Arts and Sciences, Roger Whitson will host a webinar series in Spring 2015 on critical making. Each of the six featured presenters from around North America will focus on a different aspect of the intersections of critical theory, speculative design, digital humanities, and media archaeology.

WHERE: Online, via WSU Blackboard Connect. Instructions will be emailed to participants.
WHEN: 10:00-11:30am PST/1:00-2:30pm EST. See individual presentations for dates.
COST: Free, but you need to sign up.


“DUST: Critical Making and Alternate-Reality Games (ARGs)”
Kari Kraus, U of Maryland

12 March 2015
The alternate reality game DUST, produced by Kraus and funded by the NSF, teaches students (13-15 years old) about STEM as well as long-term preservation and thinking. DUST focuses on the telling of biographical stories about inanimate objects, and how those objects change over time. How can the humanities inspire students to think about the future, and what is the role of critical thinking in the act of speculation?

“Media Archaeology as Practice-Based Research”
Lori Emerson, University of Colorado, Boulder
17 March 2015
Housed at the University of Colorado-Bolder, the Media Archaeology Lab is an extension of my personal research and teaching. Specifically, I’ll illustrate the connection between media poetics and media archaeology, incorporating a hands-on workshop using typewriters and other so-called “dead media.” As Bruce Sterling argues, dead media are “media that have died on the barbed wire of technological advance, that didn’t make it.” What’s the connection between these dead media, poetic expression, and current media design? Why should we care about obsolete media?
Critical Making: Where Are the Politics?”
Jentery Sayers, University of Victoria
23 March 2015
Popular maker cultures have faced significant criticism for being rather apolitical, or for demonstrating a privileged hobbyism that rarely, if ever, addresses questions of who, for whom, and under what conditions technologies are usually made. Echoing this criticism, this talk surveys several projects that blend making things with social justice issues. It then outlines how cultural criticism and maker cultures can be meaningfully combined.
“Critical Making: Rethinking the Maker Movement”
Garnet Hertz, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
26 March 2015
In the same way we have stopped taking for granted that “openness” is an intrinsically positive quality, an increasing number of voices are requesting a more critical evaluation of the maker movement – which can be described as an interest in 3D printing, open source hardware, microcontrollers like the Arduino, and hackerspaces. This talk explores how concepts like critical technical practice, electronic art, tactical media and values in design can be used to address the larger issue of why it is important to design and make technical objects in the first place.
“Critical Making Between Page and Screen”
Amaranth Borsuk, University of Washington-Bothell
7 April 2015
What is the material relationship between page and screen, the two reading surfaces we move back and forth between on a daily, even hourly basis? The recursive cycle of critical making provides opportunities for thinking through that shifting relationship, without forcing us to privilege one over the other or set them up teleologically. The process of collaborating with Brad Bouse on Between Page and Screen, a book of augmented-reality poems, has helped me think through the relationship between these two spaces by examining points of intersection between them. To facilitate conversations around materiality, the book, digital media, reading and writing in the 21st-century, I will present Between Page and Screen and offer an accessible web-based classroom tool for experimenting with AR text.
“The Commitments of Critical Making: Rocks, Paper, Screens.”
Matt Ratto, University of Toronto

9 April 2015
I explore some of the commitments associated with my own performance of critical making, using Tim Ingold’s ‘rock’ experience (from his article “Materials Against Materiality”) as a phenomenological counterpart. Participants in the webinar will be expected to carry out some material engagements and to gather a medium-size rock (about the size of an egg), a disposable Tupperware container, and some water. Topics to be addressed include my personal origins of critical making (not THE origins), related practices (critical technical practice, adversarial design, speculative computing), Ingold’s rock (an experience), speaking back to theory, ontologies of making, and the assembly and the cut (Latour and Barad).