Rupert Neuhöfer participated in the interdisciplinary Autumn School “Frictioned Functionality. Un/Designing Un/Sustainable Matter” in October 2022. The Autumn School was organized by the Cluster of Excellence “Matters of Activity” based at HU Berlin. Established in 2019, the Cluster of Excellence convenes researchers from over 40 disciplines who pursue an interest in developing an improved understanding of materiality seeking to contribute to a new culture of materials in the digital age.
The Autumn School welcomed PhD candidates and students from varying backgrounds (from design, social sciences, natural sciences) dealing with questions around un/sustainability and the agency of different matter/materiality to ultimately ask for the design implications that emerge from this change in perspective.
Within three four-day-long workshops participants dealt with different aspects of this broad topic. Rupert participated in a workshop which focused on the natural and cultural landscape along the Teltow Canal in the Southwest of Berlin. In a first step, the intention of the workshop was to understand how our current centralized energy systems are functioning. In a second step, participants were asked to think about possible “hacks” on how to alternatively catch energy within the local landscape. This was accompanied by a design exercise in which participants were invited to sketch rather speculative micro and macro interventions as alternative ways of energy production. Within this process, productive questions emerged regarding the politics and ethics of designing for alternative energy futures (see here for a more extensive and nicely written reflection by Johanna Mehl, TU Dresden).