Our KOBAKANT Foundations

November 4, 2017

The brainstorming discussion we’ve been having to develop our opening collection (http://www.kobakant.at/KOBA/presenting-our-opening-collection/) spawn seemingly endless tangents that lead us to new insights and then back to where we started. Sometimes we find ourselves believing that we’ve figured everything out, that our concept and approach are rock solid. Only moments later we’re back to questioning even our most basic assumptions….

Ah, yes, the creative process…. as writes Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnSMIgsPj5M

At this moment we’re at a point where things are making sense again. We’ve managed to establish some relatively stable foundations regarding our shop concept. And it is now from this stable state that I want to try and capture and organize the contents of our recent discussions somehow so that we can come back to them when things get wobbly again.

ark

The illustrations in this post are currently SUPER rough drafts and not to be taken too seriously. We plan to further develop them and will update them in future posts.

Foundations

Q: Can we sum up our project in one sentence?
A: “Our shop is an an experiment in democratizing technology with the goal of creating greater digital diversity.”

Democracy (transparency, equality, freedom, rights)
Diversity (digital diversity as in biodiversity)

We observe the world and are not happy with things the way they are.
We want to understand how the world came to be this way.
We wonder what role making/production/industry has played in this.
We dream of the world we want to live in.
We try change things and experiment in figuring out what it is that we the world to be.

** “things the way they are”
More and more things are produced and owned by fewer but bigger companies. Globalization accelerates this trend, or rather this exactly is globalization. Local and national businesses have little chance against these global international corporations. It feels like we are living in a world of the monopoly game after 5 hours of play.

** “dream of the world we want to live in”
We will not be able to come up with a single model that will solve the situation. It is proven by many science fiction utopian dystopias that there are no such killer Apps. Instead, we think that what we need is a diversity of ideas and models, and these different models to coexist and negotiate. We propose one model we imagine as a starting point for everyone to imagine their ideal models.

cycle

The shop is a platform for discussion. This discussion happens through:
– Storytelling (business-as-usual blog, social media, KOBA Katalog, the open source documentation….)
– Hosting Events (talks, panels, discussions…)
– Tailoring Technology for customers (the experience, the exchange of goods…)

Storytelling

Only so many people can experience the shop for real. How to carry the narrative out into the world?
This part is already happening through the Internet and slowly now also through our shop window, see Shop Encounters #1: http://www.kobakant.at/KOBA/shop-encounters-1/

Hosting Events

Using the shop also as a space to present and discuss, to bring together people, to involve experts and locals….
These events can be used to better inform ourselves on the topics related to what we are doing.
These events are not just for us to present ourselves/our work/our project it should also be a door through which we are able to reflect on what we’re doing. Invite critique. Ask others to evaluate if we are really “democratizing technology” and contributing to “digital diversity”.
How do we evaluate this?
We are working on this, and plan to host a series of “Shoptalk” presentations/discussion on how things are made. “Behind the scenes of production”… something like this.

Tailoring Technology

By providing the service of tailor-made-technology, we’re handing people the power to commission and challenging them to imagine. Blurring the boundary between fiction and reality.

What makes for a good discussion?

Notes from talking:
To reveal something, a truth or fact, a precious nugget/gem of knowledge/logic that you discover only through the process of discussing.
To share thoughts with somebody, so bounce these back and forth.
What to discuss?
How to start discussing?
Sense of agency…

circle

KOBAKANT

As KOBAKANT our works since 2006 have dealt with these ideas/topics:
HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT
TRANSPARENCY
EXQUISITE ELECTRONICS

E-Textile Summercamp Themes

The topics chosen for the E-Textile Summercamp themes and focus groups are also an indicator of the topics that drive our work:
SOFT & SLOW
BEYOND KITSCH >> http://etextile-summercamp.org/2014/beyond-kitsch/
GEEK-OUT
SOFTOPIA
WICKED FABRICS

Focus Group Topics (selection)

2017

LOUD & EXPRESSIVE
SOFT RESISTANCE
WICKED FUTURE?

2015

Harvesting Textile
Fictional eTextile
Subversive Techniques
Performative eTextile
DIY Culture

2015

Industrialization
Tools for Practitioners
*Geek Out*: Printing/Knitting
Go small Go wireless
Educational Toolkits
Sustainable eTextiles
Make your tech and wear/use it too?

2014

2013

Discussion: Where are we going
Discussion: Documentation

Mika/Nerding

Mika’s has a strong interest in aesthetics and using costumes and performance to create her artworks (http://nerding.at/)
, which I would say fall nicely under the description of:
NERDING
TECHNOLOGY AS A TOOL FOR PLAY
AESTHETIC EXPLORATION

Hannah/Plusea

For myself the last year’s I’ve started to organize my works in conceptual categories. This has allowed me to use my projects, some of which are quick and dirty prototypes, alongside more elaborate bodies of work to talk about their common story. The process of organizing my work this way also gave me new perspectives on what I’ve been making over the last 10 years. You can see these categories on my website (http://plusea.at/) and I will also list them bellow:
BLURRING BOUNDARIES
ANATOMY OF A PIN
A WEARABLE STUDIO PRACTICE
LIBERATING CIRCUITS
MAKE TOOLS, NOT PARTS
MAKE YOUR TECH AND WEAR IT TOO
MAKING AS A MEANS OF EXPLORING
ROOM FOR SPACE
TRACES WITH ORIGIN
COMMON GND


Other People’s Frameworks

Andy’s Digital Naturalism

http://andy.dorkfort.com/andy/digitalnatural/category/pubs/print/

Behavioral Immersion | Creating interactions between computers, people, and nature
Behavioural Immersion lookings at projects and activities that connect our senses and actions to those of wilderness creatures. For example, participants might be interested in making wearable scientific probes can map our senses to the activity of nearby ants, or birds, or fish) and

Technological Agency | Creating and documenting open, understandable, and manipulable tools
Technological Agency seeks to ensure our tools are open, understandable, and manipulable. By making our own devices together, and taking apart, or modifying existing tools, we can increase our collective ability to extend ourselves with these tools.

Open-Ended Tools | Tools promoting curiosity and exploration
Open-Ended Tools encourage creating tools for general exploration increasing chances of serendipitously stumbling across interesting new phenomena. Making simple capacitive touch sensor probes that we can connect to nearby flora, for instance, lets us openly poke and probe novel questions in the environment.

Contextual Crafting | Making devices in the wild and with natural materials. Wearable Studios!
Contextual Crafting encourages shrinking our gap between the workspace and where we employ the objects we create.



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