Austria Summer School

Report Summer School Riezlern (Austria)

Report Summer School ‘The Spatial and Sensorial Appropriation of Technology’ in Riezlern, Austria.

By Fabian de Kloe & Tim van der Heijden.

On the 20th of August we came together for a full week Summer School program in the beautiful mountain area of Riezlern, Austria to discuss the theme of ‘The Spatial and Sensorial Appropriation of Technology’. The Summer School was organized by Dr. Andreas Fickers (Maastricht University) and Prof. dr. Mikael Hård (TU Darmstadt, Germany), and guest lectures were given by Prof. dr. Petra Gehring (TU Darmstadt), Prof. dr. Josef Wiemeyer (TU Darmstadt), Dr. Carolyn Birdsall (University of Amsterdam), Dr. Andreas Fickers (Maastricht University), and Dr. Jo Wachelder (Maastricht University). The aim of the Summer School was to improve our understanding of the everyday appropriation of technology, with a specific focus on the sensory and spatial processes involved in it. Within an interdisciplinary and international setting, it provided a common platform to discuss this theme. In doing so, the participants investigated the specific role and importance of the senses in the spatial adoption of technologies in everyday environments, bringing together expertise based on the disciplinary and thematic profile of the participating graduate schools.

Each day of the week dealt with a specific sense. Tuesday was dedicated to the sense of sight, the visual perception of technology. Wednesday and Thursday were dedicated to the sense hearing; in particular the auditory perception of social space and hearing in history and radio documentary. Friday was dedicated to the sensory appropriation of touch in interactive games. Each day was divided into three parts: a morning lecture, a group discussion of one of the readings, and a hands-on activity for a multi-sensory experience of the everyday technologies discussed. In addition to discussing theme related texts, Michel Serres’ The Five Senses (2008) was read to explore and rethink the role of the senses in the ways technology is experienced by its everyday users. To encourage the participants to mobilize Serres’ phenomenology, Prof. dr. Petra Gehring gave a brief introduction of his philosophy with a specific focus on the book The Five Senses.

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