Material Practice as a Form of Critique

Julian Stubbe

pp. 30 - 46, download



The paper characterizes how material practice becomes a form of critique. Based on a comparison of two presumably distant objects, it delineates how engagement with materiality opposes established forms of knowledge production and representation. One object is a robotic hand, which is made of silicon, and the other object is a media art installation that transforms signals of the Earth’s magnetic field into a laser projection. Both objects are not part of a political paradigm; rather, they oppose the state of affairs in a technical domain and evoke thoughts of how technology could be designed differently. The paper delineates three elements of critical material practice: embodiment and imagination instead of linear progress, performance instead of formalized representation, and allegories instead of symbols. These elements stress that material engagement is not only a matter of learning and creating new forms; it also challenges established modes of technoscientific knowledge production and representation.

Keywords: critical making, reflexivity, material practice, media art, robotics.


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