Infrastructures of Sense|Making (Autumn School, 06.-07.10.2020, Konstanz)


Contemporary modes of Teilhabe (participation) in media-infused environments unfold within material and bodily infrastructures as the ground for any form of sense|making. Infrastructures, far from being mere functional connections between entities or the conveyance of information, come to define the connective tissue between social, material, and aesthetic domains in digital cultures of the 21st century. Part and parcel of such an infrastructural shift are processes of data generation and its marketability, platform-based forms of organization of information, and knowledge, but also new relations between (mobile) interfaces, discursive frameworks, and human sense modalities where the boundaries between organic and technological spheres become more and more porous. It seems to be a critical moment to scrutinize the question whether and how human sense|making is related to, and thus collides with, the intra-sensing of various agencies and the infra-sensing of techno-material processes. Immanent to these material and processual operations are thus multiple couplings of sensing and sense|making, that is, between sensors, sensation and meaning. Instead of locating such sensuous and techno-sensory regimes and attached meaning structures in predefined places of power, such as institutions, the notion of infrastructure underlines what comes to pass as sensed or registered and the occurrence of meaning depends on dynamic processes of participation.

How such emergent forms of Teilhabe occur with and through the sensuous materialities of infrastructures in order to yield meaningful effects defines the key concern of this autumn school. We conceive of participation as a process of infrastructuring with and through sensuous realms of the human and more-than-human, in order to generate different forms of sense|making. In these relational frameworks, inclusion and exclusion often are enmeshed with infrastructure operations, data generation/discrimination, and processing involving specific time economies. Drawing on research in new sensory technologies and their networked ecologies (aiming at, and being out, of control), new platforms for sensory agencies such a hearing aids, mobile media, temporalities of delay in infrastructural data curating such as online-streaming services, and the aesthetic dimensions of techno-political activism or militant art practices lie at the heart of the multi-layered conjunction between infrastructures and sense|making.

Rather than presuming a clear divide between technological infrastructure and human user, or technical interfaces and the human body, the autumn school aims at emphasizing the affective, material, and often economically driven realities of contemporary sociotechnical systems in their capacities but also constraints for various politics of participation. We wish to engage early career researchers and postdocs from a wide range of fields, such as media studies, cultural studies, sociology, science studies, cultural anthropology, HCI, philosophy of technology, aesthetics, art theory, social movements research, and performance studies to explore the infrastructural dimensions of sense|making in their material, technological, embodied, economic, computational, affective, haptic, and operational dimensions.


Marie-Luise Angerer, Research Group “SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media”, ZeM – Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies, Christoph Brunner, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Beate Ochsner, University of Konstanz, Isabell Otto, University of Konstanz, Urs Stäheli, University of Hamburg

Chair: Michel Schreiber, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Getting Intimate: On Infrastructures of Desistence
Anja Breljak, Research Group “SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media”, ZeM – Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies

Of Spikes and Men – The ‘social orthopaedics’ of ‘unpleasant design’ and ‘hostile architecture’
Christoph Eggersglüß, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Chair: Robert Stock, University of Konstanz

The act of cutting: Multimodal inquiry on a sensing/making operation
Maxime Le Calvé, Cluster of Excellence “Matters of Activity”, Humboldt-University Berlin

Debt as total sense-cultural fact
Milan Stürmer, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Chair: Isabell Otto, University of Konstanz

Beyond access – Alternative data infrastructures
Nate Wessalowski, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Infrastructuring computation
Irina Raskin, DFG-Research Training Group “Knowledge in the Arts”, Berlin University of the Arts

Chair: Christoph Brunner, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Against settler infrastructure, Karrabing arts of staying together in difference Elizabeth Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, Australian Academy of Humanities, Corresponding Fellow, Karrabing Film Collective
Chair: Urs Stäheli, University of Hamburg

Intangible? Sensing the ‘infra’ as a question of alterity
Christian Schwinghammer, Research Group “SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media”, ZeM – Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies

Making sense in/of affective infrastructures in queer and feminist art
Magdalena Götz, Locating Media, University of Siegen

Chair: Matthias Denecke, University of Hamburg

Sensor-based navigation: Infrastructural interoperability as methodological opportunity Sam Hind, CRC Media of Cooperation, University of Siegen

Apps as new infrastructures for health? A socio-technical study of the food coach app in the making
Michele Meister, Universität St. Gallen

Chair: Jan Distelmeyer, Research Group “SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media”, ZeM – Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies

Atmospheric infrastructures of care and concern
Desiree Förster, University of Chicago

The potent afterlife of media – Infrastructures of sense|making and the ruins of anthropotechnical interfaces in digital audio workstations and streaming platforms
Matthias Drusell, University of Hamburg

Chair: Beate Ochsner, University of Konstanz

How do I feel more than myself in digital habitats?
Dimensions of sensory participation
Marie-Luise Angerer and Birgit Schneider, Research Group “SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media”, ZeM – Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies



Participation is free. Please register by writing an email to robert [.] stock at uni-konstanz [.] de by 02 October 2020.

Registered participants will get a link for joining the online workshop.

* All times are Central European Time.


Keynote Impulses

How do I feel more than myself in digital habitats?
Dimensions of Sensory Participation

Birgit Schneider and Marie-Luise Angerer will discuss three levels of sensory participation along different theses. Worlding – organic + technological sensing are the intertwining levels where a shift from a human towards a non-human perspective takes place.

Sensing under the condition of a non-human infrastructure points into 2 directions

→ environment
→ embodiment

from language to data, from interpretation to measurement, from being in the world to being with the world. Examples how sensory technology cross the boundaries of the human – as the sense-making center for a long time – can be found in the implementation of 5G as well as the use of smartphones as a therapeutical device. ‘They’ know more, they decide without us, they guide human and non-human (inter-)actions. Against this background of multiple couplings of sensing and sense|making, the most decisive implications and further strategies will be discussed.

Marie-Luise Angerer is professor of Media Studies/European Media Studies in the joint program of the University of Potsdam and the University of Applied Sciences of Potsdam. From 2000-2015, she was professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. She was member of the European Network How Matter comes to Matter (2014-2018), and of the Research Network Affective and Psychotechnology Studies (DFG 2015-2017). She is the Spokesperson of the Graduate Program Sensing: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media (funded by Volkswagen Foundation) and Acting Director of the Brandenburg Center of Media Studies (ZeM). The focus of her research is on media technology, affect and neuroscientific reformulations of the human and nonhuman agency. Her most recent publications include Feministisches Spekulieren. Genealogien, Zeitlichkeiten, Narrationen (co-editor with Naomie Gramlich, 2020) Ecology of Affect. Intensive Milieus and Contingent Encounters (2017), Desire After Affect (2014), Timing of Affect (co-editor with Bernd Bösel and Michaela Ott, 2014).

Birgit Schneider is a media and visual culture scholar. She is professor of Knowledge Cultures and Media Environments at the University of Potsdam. From 2000 to 2007 she was research associate in the project Das Technische Bild at the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik at Humboldt University. Since 2008, she has been Dilthey Fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation at the Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam. She is member of the Graduate Program Sensing: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media (funded by Volkswagen Foundation). Her research focus are scientific images, the history and present of data visualizations and in particular climate visualizations between science, aesthetics and politics. She publishes in the field of climate discourse, cultural geography, media studies and environmental humanities. She is editor of the volumes The Technical Image (Cambridge 2015) and Image Politics of Climate Change (Bielefeld 2014) and the German monographs Textiles Prozessieren (Berlin, 2007) and Klimabilder (Berlin 2018).
Against Settler Infrastructure, Karrabing Arts of Staying Together in Difference

In Emmiyengal karrabing refers to the point at which the vast saltwater tides, along the northwest coasts of the Top End of the Northern Territory, have reached their lowest and are set to return to shore. Karrakul is its linguistic cousin—the tide at its height now prepared to return to the sea (wutharr).Karrabing is also a concept and a commitment to an ancestrally present way of belonging to each other, the land, and the more-than-human beings who travel across it. Karrabing acknowledges and respects the multiplicity of languages, lands, and stories that characterize the family groups within the Karrabing Film Collective, while holding firm to the interconnecting stories, ecologies, and social relations that hold them together in their difference. This live conversation looks at Karrabing strategies of refusing the infrastructures of settler aesthetics, capitalism and historical and contemporary settler governance that spread toxic divisions and divisiveness across their lands. The live conversation will use as example Karrabing's GPS/GIS video project and their various internationally recognized film work.

Elizabeth A. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University in the City  of New York. She is a critical theorist and filmmaker. Her writings focus on developing a critical theory of late settler liberalism that supports an anthropology of the otherwise. Povinelli’s theoretical work has unfolded across five books, among them Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (2016) and The Cunning of Recognition (2002), numerous essays, and thirty-five years of collaboration with her Indigenous collaborators in north Australia and the Karrabing Film Collective. The Karrabing Film Collective’s productions have been shown internationally, including the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Berlinale Forum Expanded, the Sydney Biennale; MIFF, the Tate Modern, documenta-14, the Contour Biennale, and MoMA PS1.


Abstracts of Participants

Getting Intimate: On Infrastructures of Desistence

This input explores the intimacy growing out of infrastructures' everydayness in the "sensor society" (Andrejevic/Burdon 2014). By looking at historic and recent cases in health care, I will discuss the modes of closeness and distance that come with sensory equiped media and their changing relationship towards data infrastructures. The goal of my contribution is to show how "sensitive media" is tied to 'fishing' for intimacy while allowing a shift in responsibility, body-technology-relations and control.

Anja Breljak is a PhD student at the research group SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies (ZeM) in Potsdam, Germany. Anja's PhD project explores the role of affect, sensitivity & media in digital capitalism. Anja is co-editor of the volume Affekt Macht Netz. Auf dem Weg zu einer Sozialtheorie der digitalen Gesellschaft (2019) .
The Act of Cutting. Multimodal inquiry on a sensing/making operation

Cutting is one of the oldest cultural practices. It is a fundamental way for human beings to enter into correspondence with materials. With these specific gestures and tools, people alter and reshape material boundaries and intertwine different entities. Selecting these operations as a starting point opens up new perspectives, interactions and functions, whose limits and possibilities can be understood both practically and theoretically. As an anthropologist working within an interdisciplinary team, I jointly explore these entanglements of humans, materials and information with colleagues from the fields of Biology, Computer Science, Design, Media Studies, Medicine and Physics. My fieldwork is organized in three interrelated collective projects, in which I explore these new perspectives and describe the infrastructuring of new tools and practices, from the inside of their conception processes.

Maxime Le Calvé is a postdoctoral research associate at the Excellence Cluster Matters of Activity with a project about the crafting of digital matter in image-based surgery and virtual reality design. He defended his PhD in November 2018 in Social Anthropology and in Theater Studies, at EHESS Paris and Freie Universität Berlin. He holds a BA+MA in Ethnology from the University Paris Nanterre. An ethnographer at heart, Maxime has been conducting fieldwork in various contexts: electronic music venues, ateliers of visual artists, the streets of Berlin, opera houses, and surgical operations rooms. His writing is influenced by phenomenology and American pragmatism. Inspired by artists that he could observe in action, he makes use of drawings in his own scientific work. Convenor of the professional network of the anthropologists of/with the arts (ANTART), he is the co-curator of the online exhibition Field/Works, funded by the European Association of Social Anthropologists.
The potent afterlife of media – Infrastructures of sense|making and the ruins of anthropotechnical interfaces in digital audio workstations and streaming platforms

In this contribution, I will take Shane Densons (2017) notion of the anthropotechnical interface seriously and probe it for its potential to inform a theory of infrastructures of sense|making in the age of computer networks. In a first step, I will situate Densons concept in a wider (but necessarily vestigial) philosophical discourse between Kants and Foucaults theories of sense|making. As I will argue, Denson manages to come up with a concept of insfrastructural sense|making by simultaneously taking and not taking the subject into account, thereby turning interfaces into composites (Serres) that cross and intermingle the borders between media and subjects. Second, I will connect Densons concept with Nigel Thrifts (2008) idea of the potent afterlife of things. Media infrastructures are things, albeit things, as archaeology shows, that often lose their meaning and the knowledge about their functioning in operations and practices of sense|making. These things remain as constitutive ruins or rubble of sense|making infrastructures (Gordillo 2014). Third, with this in mind I will turn to the anthropotechnical interfaces of streaming platforms like Spotify and digital audio workstations like ProTools. The design of and research into HCI has abandoned the difficult interfaces of early computers, e.g. punchcards, in hope of a more palpable but ‚illusionary‘ theater of HCI designs (Kay 1984). HCI turns both, the anthropotechnical interfaces of non-computerised media, e.g. mixtapes or the equipment of music recording studios, and those of early computers, into ruins and rubble, only to reimburse the former in a hyper-aestheticised, remixed and dramatised way as its HCI theatre. I will therefore argue that HCI design does not operate solely on the rational calculus of their users, not on what is often termed ‚the digital‘ and not on melancholic analogue nostalgia. Recent HCI designs operate on visceral affects and aesthetics by materially and temporally undoing, intermingling, producing and exploiting the potentials of the afterlife of media things – they operate on something like a skeumorph (Hayles 1999), but on way more than just decoration. By concluding my argument, I will speculate on what this might mean for power relations.

Matthias Drusell is a research associate in the project “Media Cultures of Streaming. Temporality, Infrastructures, Evaluation”. Here, he inquires into the temporal and powerful cultural implications and intricacies of streaming platforms and recommender systems. Matthias is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Hamburg. He studied sociology in Hamburg, where he also received his MA. In his MA thesis, he analyzed cultural inscriptions and the power of algorithms in digital systems. To do so, he completed an e-learning course on machine learning algorithms. His disstertation deals with transformations, developments and re/arrangements of power relations in the age of networked computer systems and algorithms. His research interests include: Cultural Sociology, New Materialism, Media Sociology, Science and Technology Studies, Poststructuralism, Sociology of Time.
Of Spikes and Men – the ‘technosocial orthopaedics’ of ‘unpleasant design’ and ‘hostile architecture’

Focusing on material infrastructures in the name of the ‘defensive city’ my paper deals with security management through environmental design: subtle devices and crowd control technologies which do not only facilitate the flows of daily life, but affect behaviour and filter diversity. POPS, privately owned public spaces, try to ban ‘loitering’, ensure safety and maintain ‘order’ through lists of ‘forbidden activities’. Accordingly, they also limit opportunities of participation and the visibility of already marginalised, ‘undesired’ groups. Their ‘terms of use’ aim at ‘unwanted’ recreational habits and common body techniques. Spiked ledges and railings discourage sitting, bright lights nudge movement. Correspondingly, these ‘silent agents’ or ‘anti-homeless devices’ make ‘subjects’ addressable and serve as gatekeepers implementing policies by proxy. How do places perform political work? What happens if acts of forced ‘infrastructural inversion’ (Bowker/Star) become a method of research? Simply put, how do sensitive human bodies ‘register’ such instances?

Christoph Eggersglüß studied European Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and Media Culture in Bremen, Gothenburg and Weimar. He has been a researcher at the IKKM/Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, member of the “Forschungsgruppe Verräumlichung und Kulturtechniken” (Erfurt/Gotha/Weimar) and doctoral fellow of the DFG Research Training Group “Mediale Historiographien”. Among others, he participated in the Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies, the IFK_Sommerakademie and the “Anthropocene Curriculum: The Technosphere Issue“ (HKW/MPIWG). Investigating changing modes of policing built environments, his research on the long history of street furniture, semi-public spaces and ‘security by design’ benefited greatly from several stays at the archives of the AA and RIBA in London. Christoph’s dissertation focuses on the history and theory of common bollards and planters, i.e. the technopolitics of life between buildings. Working on the intersection of documentary media, S&TS and architecture, his publications and projects explore mundane infrastructures, tinkering and various forms of field recording.
Making sense in/of affective infrastructures in queer and feminist art

By manifesting concepts from queer and feminist theories through inter- and intra-actions with mobile digital media and by inviting participants to join in, queer/feminist artistic practices establish what could be described as “affective infrastructures” (Berlant 2016: 414). Analyzing the use of smartphones as an artistic medium, the article focusses on the interrelations between digital, mobile and affective infrastructuring, and examines sense|making practices, as “queering” and “straightening” (Ahmed 2006; Strick 2012) as well as “material-discursive practices” and “open-ended practices” (Barad 2007: 170). Drawing on queer and feminist theories and conceptualizing artistic, digital infrastructures as relational, processual and performative, the article considers feminism, digital culture and participation as closely interlinked via questions regarding access, affordances and affects. Therefore, understanding gender relations in their intertwinement with technologies and social structures (Wajcman 1991: 25) as well as digital and affective infrastructures, calls for a critical take on forms of infrastructuring via interfaces or “interfacing” (Otto 2018) as well as on sense making and sensing in queer/feminist artistic communities in-corporating smartphone practices on screen and beyond.

Since October 2017, Magdalena Götz is a PhD researcher at the postgraduate program Locating Media at the University of Siegen. She studied Literature-Art-Media and British and American Studies at the University of Konstanz as well as Museum and Exhibition with a focus on Art and Media Studies at the University of Oldenburg. As a curator, art mediator, editor, and project manager, she worked, among others, at the following institutions: Ars Electronica, Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Art Museum Celle. Recent Publications are “Feminist Dissent. Taking Sid/tes In Making ‘Purple Noise’”, in: Taking Sides – Theories, Practices, and Cultures of Participation in Dissent (forthcoming) and “Postdigital – post-partizipativ? Diskurse und Praktiken der Teilhabe in der aktuellen Medienkunst am Beispiel von Nadja Buttendorfs #HotPhones – high-tech self-care“, in: Postdigital Landscapes. Kunst und Medienbildung in der digital vernetzten Welt, onlineZeitschrift Kunst Medien Bildung (2019).
Atmospheric infrastructures of care and concern

Feelings, emotions, affects – where do these states begin and end, how do they relate us to others? How can atmospheric infrastructures intensify and express the affectability of non-human entities we are sharing an atmosphere with?
I will present immersive artworks and media environments that heighten our sensitivity for the interrelations with our environments. I will show examples in which the atmosphere of a place becomes infrastructural itself, linking different materialities and bodies on levels that cannot be sensed immediately. I understand atmospheric media literally as those components making up the atmosphere – the air we breathe, the elements it is composed of. In exploring the use of air in different contexts, I will argue for the potential of atmospheric infrastructures to intensify and express interrelationships with the environment and ask speculatively, how an aesthetic experience of these relationships might impact where we direct our concern, what we care for, and how.

Desiree is currently a PostDoc at UChicago’s Cinema and Media Department. Before, she graduated from the Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam with her thesis “Aesthetic Experience of Metabolic Processes”. Taking on the perspective of process philosophy and media-aesthetics, she investigates the impacts of pre-reflective experiences on human subjectivity.
Sensor-based navigation: Infrastructural interoperability as methodological opportunity

Sensor-based – and increasingly autonomous – modes of navigation pose new challenges to the study of navigation both (a) as a so-called ‘cooperative’ practice and (b) in respect to their underlying infrastructural requirements. This paper will outline the methodological implications inherent in the rise of sensor-based navigation, and provide a possible agenda for scholars wishing to explore them. Firstly, I consider how vehicles are becoming ‘mobile, spatial media’ (Alvarez Leon 2019), enabling new forms of communication, interaction, and integration. Secondly, I argue that the ‘platformization’ (Helmond 2015) of connected and autonomous vehicles as mobile, spatial media is driving new methodological opportunities. Then lastly, I consider two possible approaches to studying these infrastructural transformations: from the ‘vertical interoperability’ of sensor devices, object-recognition software and physical vehicle components; to the ‘horizontal interoperability’ of sensor data pushed into parallel and/or external systems and services such as vehicle manufacturer cloud networks, traffic management infrastructures, law enforcement or rental companies.

Sam Hind is a Research Associate in Media of Cooperation SFB1187 at the University of Siegen. He is co-editor of Time for Mapping: Cartographic Temporalities (Manchester University Press, 2018) and co-author of Playful Mapping in the Digital Age (Institute for Network Cultures, 2016). He has published in Political Geography, Mobilities, New Media & Society and Technikgeschichte. As part of SFB1187, he is involved in the ‘Navigation in Online/Offline Spaces’ project, exploring the significance of ‘sensor-based navigation’ in autonomous vehicles. He was previously based in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick, UK.
Apps as new infrastructures for health?
A socio-technical study of the food coach app in the making

In my project I would like to focus on digital health platforms and the automated form of the representation of health. These technologies are becoming increasingly popular today. I am currently looking into a conceptual framework for ethnographically studying a new mobile phone app in the making, which would give me insights into the enactment of participation in the platform infrastructure, also considering Noortje Marres’ approach of “Material Participation”. The food coach app compiles a comprehensive nutrition panel based on digital purchasing data. One goal is to try and formulate a concept how to explore the termination (or non-participation) of the application. Located in Science and Technology Studies and with an infrastructural lens I would like to look at digital health platforms, choosing the example of self-tracking as a practice. At the momentary stage of my Ph.D. Program I am still developing my conceptual framework defining my exact research question and therefore not yet presenting results.

Michele Meister is a PhD student in “Organization Studies and Cultural Theory” at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Working with Tanja Schneider at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, she is mainly interested in Science and Technology Studies (STS). She holds an MA in “Management, Organization Studies and Cultural Theory” (University of St. Gallen, 2019) and did her BA in Social Sciences from the University of Zurich (2016).
Infrastructuring computation

In this contribution, I will juxtapose different cases of computational practices that deal with the issue of how to ‘automate’ the generation of data/information—thus, with the installation of a specific mode of sense making to be carried out by algorithmic driven, networked devices. Shifting the focus from the mere operability of algorithmic computation towards its infrastructuring, draws attention to the relationality of computation as well as the notion that the relationships that constitute computation have to be made, maintained and modified. In approaching computation by asking how it is enacted by material and discursive infrastructures, it becomes evident how those computing practices partake in the production and management of ‘data’ that are more-than-numbers. Against this background, I want to reflect upon the tension between the embedding of a ‘reliability’ into the realms of algorithmic mediatechnology through computation and the multiple configurations of computation that are enacted.

Currently, Irina Raskin works on her dissertation under the working title “Media-Ecologies of Sensing or When Machines Learn to Remember” at the DFG Research Training Group “Knowledge in the Arts” at the Berlin University of Arts. Within this context, she co-organized the lecture series “Tuning into Worlds. More-than-Human Aesthetics in the Arts”, the conference “sharing/learning. methods of the collective in art, theory and activism” and the workshop “Caring and Investigating – Parrhesic Knowledge Practices in Arts and Journalism”. Following her studies in Media and Cultural Studies (BA) and Media Culture Analysis (MA) at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, she contributed to various exhibition and publication projects as a curator, curatorial assistant, art mediator and author, working together with Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Kunstmuseen Krefeld and Museum Abteilberg Mönchengladbach.
Intangible? Sensing the ‘infra’ as a question of alterity

Today, sense-making is increasingly a matter of worlds beyond human sense(s). Indeed, as it is widely affirmed, sensing and sense are to be expanded to other spectra of reality, if not taken as processes of a most general ‹infra› (matter, life…). Of course, this is also a technological matter, as networked sensors, e.g., have shown existence as traversed by multifaceted otherness. Technologies have made the fine structures of the everyday, bodies and the material world more palpable, not least for projects that aim at a shift from a Self-conscious humane to a posthuman intimacy in the depths of relationality. However, it is still unclear what is implied by such a conceptual reach for alterity in light of newly emerging visions of technological capture: How to leave space for a moment of the intangible when it is not only in theory that alterity is now approached in a more tangible way?

After studying Political Science with the focus on Political Theory at the Free University Berlin, Christian Schwinghammer is currently a PhD Student at the Research Group SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media at the Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies (ZeM) in Potsdam.  In his doctoral project, he discusses the ethico-political potential of relationality and connectedness in light of questions of alterity. He is especially interested in ontological perspectives, their current conjuncture and their relations to today's technologies and sciences as well as media theoretical and media aesthetic debates under changed technological conditions.
Debt as total sense-cultural fact

In developing his project of a General Ecology (2017), Erich Hörl has spoken of ‘total sense-cultural facts.’ By tracing this concept back to Marcel Mauss’ ‘total social fact’ and its subsequent expansion into sense-cultural facts through Hörl’s reading of Jean-Luc Nancy and Edmund Husserl, this paper argues that it can become a crucial concept for describing our contemporary techno-ecological infrastructures from a media-theoretical point of view.

Based on those theoretical considerations, the proposed paper will proceed by arguing that today’s infrastructural, media-technological condition requires us to be attentive to the question of debt as sense-cultural fact. This brings together two largely separate discussions: the emergent literature on ecology/environmentality/relationality (see among others the authors collected in Hörl/Burton, 2017) on the one hand, and the literature on debt as both, current capital-form and mode of post-crisis subjectivity on the other (i.e. Cooper, 2007; Durand, 2014; Lazzarato, 2012, 2015; McClanahan, 2016; Stimilli, 2017, 2019).

Milan Stürmer is a research associate at the DFG-project Media and Participation where he works in the subproject “Elements of a Critical Theory of Media and Participation” focusing on the economic elements of participation. Having studied Film Studies and Media and Cultural Studies followed by a MA in Kulturwissenschaften, he is currently pursuing his PhD at the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media at Leuphana University, Lüneburg, with the working title “Debt as Relation – The Transformation of the Capital-Form in the Context of the History of Rationality.” His research interests include the history of economics, anthropology, general ecology, media theory and the philosophy of technology. Recent publications include the review „Medienökologien fürs Anthropozän“ [Media Ecology for the Anthropocene], Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 14 (2017, with Isabell Schrickel) as well as the translation of Timothy Morton: „Dunkle Ökologie. Für eine Logik zukünftiger Koexistenz“, in: Internationales Jahrbuch für Medienphilosophie 4 (2018).
Beyond access – Alternative data infrastructures

What are alternative data infrastructures (doing)? And how do municipal and feminist projects seize the potential of data-based technologies in their technopolitical approaches towards participation? Questioning the logic of access as a means to connect two formally separate things the input aims to examine (data) infrastructures as material, discursive and more-than human conditions – conditions not only for connection but for the enabling of a Becoming-With (data).

Nate wessalowski is a phd student at leuphana university lüneburg currently working at the research unit “Media and Participation. Between Demand and Entitlement” in the project “Participatory Critique as Transforming and Transversal With”. Their research focus are alternative data practices and technopolitics in the context of the spanish municipalist movement and beyond. Nate studied cultural studies both at the university of Hildesheim and Lüneburg where they finished their master in 2019 with a thesis about the DECODE project (

Reading List

 Povinelli, Elizabeth A. (2016): Geontologies. A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press, Chapter 6 Downloading the Dreaming.

Christen, Kim; Cooney, Chris: Digital Dynamics Across Cultures. Vectors Journal. 

Povinelli, Elizabeth A.; Cho, Peter: Digital Futures – Editor’s Introduction. Vectors Journal.

Organizing Team

Marie-Luise Angerer (Potsdam), Christoph Brunner (Lüneburg), Mathias Denecke (Hamburg), Anne Ganzert (Konstanz), Beate Ochsner (Konstanz), Isabell Otto (Konstanz), Christian Schwinghammer (Potsdam), Robert Stock (Konstanz)


Poster, Video and Flyer: Marius Förster,

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