Performative Surfaces

7th May

1pm – 2:30pm

Through recent advancements in adaptive and responsive materials for interaction design, product design and architecture, discussion emerged about what performative surfaces might mean and could become to us. Is it the surface that performs relational actions of other material bodies? To which extent do these performances constitute surfaces in their ability to respond, memorize or permeate? By designing materials on a structural level, from micro-to macro-, or infra- to intra- structures, the information inscribed in these structures can be animated in new ecological ways, though never fully controlled. In-forming the material enables real-time processing and response as it becomes both sensor and actuator (self-sensory) for specific purposes, such as dealing with environmental issues, self-repairing or self-activating purposes. Surfaces can react to the surrounding context by transforming themselves in a way that is relevant to use, thus enabling direct interaction with the everyday world. The material becomes a medium of information and can be a transformative device for harvesting energy or monitoring environmental influences. These capabilities make performative materials and surfaces crucial agents of new embodied, sustainable, environmental design, urging us to ask what can be achieved and communicated through its practices.

Berit Greinke, Universität der Künste Berlin
As Sensors Unfold
For electronic textile crafters, an apparent lack of control and elements of surprise when working with fibres and threads are a familiar occurrence. Often, the process of making is undetermined firstly, and characterised by a dynamic process of negotiation between the textile and the crafter through multi-sensory engaging with material properties and tools. This talk explores the making, and the making sense of pleated electronic and electromagnetic textiles as complex sensing structures. Results from the research project "Folded Electronic Textiles for Wearable Technology', currently undertaken at Berlin University of the Arts and Einstein Center Digital Future will be introduced and discussed.

Manuel Kretzer, Dessau Department of Design, Hochschule Anhalt
Materiability / Breathe – Towards a Living Automotive
Materiability is about making. It is about understanding and actively learning from and about the world by physically engaging in it. By experiencing it with our hands and all our senses. Materiability is about taking action. It is about not accepting the status-quo as given but instead speculate and dream about possible alternatives. It is about sharing these dreams with others. About communicating, exchanging and collaborating. About believing in a future that is shaped by our common efforts. Materiability is about inspiration and open, unrestricted access to information. It is about testing ideas and visions. About treating challenges not as problems that need to be solved but as opportunities from which new can emerge. Materiability is a playground for probing tomorrow.
This talk will feature a number of research and student projects emerging from the above described materiability approach.
A specific focus will be on an ongoing collaboration with the German car manufacturer AUDI, investigating the future of mobility, including 3D printed car interiors, responsive surfaces and a full-scale mockup of a generatively designed and robotically produced autonomous vehicle, with embedded sensors and smart materials.

Mark Miodownik, University College London
Animate Materials

Animate materials could signal a future in which roads can self-heal, tiny robotic molecules can assemble themselves into household objects and living buildings can harvest carbon dioxide to generate power and purified water. The ability of animate materials to autonomously react to their environment could improve the sustainability of the materials we use day to day and aid the transition to a more circular economy.
These materials may be understood in relation to three principles of animacy. They are ‘active’, in that they can change their properties or perform actions, often by taking energy, material or nutrients from the environment; ‘adaptive’ in sensing changes in their environment and responding; and ‘autonomous’ in being able to initiate such a response without being controlled.

Roman Kirschner, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste
When mirrors metabolize
What kind of mirrors are capable of reflecting our contemporary civilizations characterized by challenges like resource depletion, environmental degradation, and global climate change, to name just a few? To capture such complexity, we certainly need to move away from 2-dimensional reflective surfaces and look at spatially more potent constellations. An alternative should incorporate a metabolic perspective offering a systemic view that takes into account the need for continuous extraction and transformation of energy in constant relation to the environment. Through the dynamic surfaces of spatial settings allowing for metabolic perspectives, we might discover otherwise unseen or incomprehensible links that connect us better to our planet's metabolism. But how can we develop such an environment? How can designers and artists work with existing environmental systems and improve them? In my short input I will present first steps of this journey.

Moderation: Clemens Winkler, Cluster of Excellence »Matters of Activity«, HU Berlin

Panel Speakers

Berit Greinke
Manuel Kretzer

Mark Miodownik
Roman Kirschner

Clemens Winkler (Moderation)