Material as Experiment / 2017
A Participatory Laboratory Situation at Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

What makes a material “smart“? How do materials influence our lives? How do we work with them in order to shape our present and future? The interactive laboratory “Material as Experiment“ at “Stahlhaus" in Dessau-Törten, focused on research into materials in several disciplines. Together with Julia Wolf and Veronika Aumann of the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin, I curated and developed a three-month interactive exhibition that aimed to transfer knowledge between science, art, design and the general public through participatory design methods. Current knowledge from material sciences about so-called “smart materials“ was translated and juxtaposed as well as merged with contemporary material experiments of designers and artists. Therefore the concept of an “exhibition“ was turned into a transdisciplinary laboratory and questioned the current state of material research as well as the roles of curators and visitors.

Based on the inclusive idea that everyone is a researcher depending on their access to or their perspective on gaining knowledge, the laboratory invited the diverse actors to a discourse through experimental research methods. All participants were enabled to immerse themselves into the material research in a collaborative process as well as discussing social, political, ecological and cultural contexts. A diverse supporting programme including workshops, talks and symposia with collaborating universities and art schools like the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Zurich University of Arts and University of Art and Design Halle, scientific research institutions like the Fraunhofer Institut, Ruhr University Bochum and Technical University Freiberg, material experts like Dr. Manuel Kretzer, Mareike Gast, Reinhard Ose, Clemens Winkler, Luke Franzke, Lapatsch|Unger, Paula van Brummelen and Franziska Müller-Reißmann, Bauhaus Artists in Residency Marit Wolters and Wagehe Raufi as well as miscellaneous actors from Dessau together with international visitors brought life into the knowledge transfer.

“Material as Experiment“ was part of the transdisciplinary two-year research project “smart materials satellites“ of the smart3 network funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education. Research partners were the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin, the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU, the Technical Collections of Dresden and the SYN Foundation Halle.