Symposium & Workshop: Critical city-making: exploring design approaches for imagining smart urban futures

— for Dutch, see below —
Symposium & Workshop “Critical city-making: exploring design approaches for imagining smart urban futures”
4-5 July 2023 | Utrecht University & Amsterdam University of Applied Science
During this two-day event we explore the potential of creative methods and critical design approaches for smart urban governance questions. The event is organized as part of Utrecht University’s focus area Governing the Digital Society, by the special interest group (SIG) “Inclusion in the Datafied City”, in collaboration with partners. Day 1 consists of an expert meeting and keynote talks by four leading designers/researchers on creative practices. Day 2 consists of a hands-on critical making workshop, where interdisciplinary teams will work on a case of the smart scanning car, lead by Tessa Steenkamp (
About the event
In recent years there has been an increasing interest among academics and practitioners in methodological crossovers to address what are perceived as complex urban problems on an unprecedented scale in novel ways. A variety of designerly approaches have been advanced to criticize and speculate about ‘smart urban futures’. These approaches emphasize making as a creative and critical form of engagement and practice. How can these approaches inform humanities and social sciences research? With this event we examine some of them and assess their potential for breaking out the techno-solutionist discours that remains dominant in smart city visions.
Program (work in progress)

Day 1 – 4 July 2023: Expert session & conference in Amsterdam

9:30 – 12:00 Morning Expert session on invitation.

Afternoon Symposium

1) 13:00 – 13:45 Danielle Arets
2) 13:45 – 14:30 Letizia Chiappini
3) 15:00 – 15:45 Roy Bendor
4) 15:45 – 16:30 Emiel Rijshouwer
5) 16:30 – 1700 Tessa Steenkamp
17:00 Final thoughts & drinks!

Day 2 – 5 July 2023: Workshop Critical city-making in Utrecht

Day 2 consists of a hands-on full-day workshop for (post-)graduate students, PhDs, and others interested. We will work on a hands-on case study that deals with smart urban technology, namely the scan car. The workshop is developed and lead by Tessa Steenkamp:

More information and registration (free):
Utrecht University: Michiel de Lange (SIG “Inclusion in the Datafied City” focus area Governing the Digital Society), Nanna Verhoeff, Sigrid Merx ([urban interfaces] research group & Open Cities Platform.
Amsterdam University of Applied Science: Martijn de Waal (Civic Interaction Design lectorate) & The Centre of Expertise Creative Innovation and its SPRONG Network ‘Learning in Transitions’.
Symposium & Workshop “Critical city-making: exploring design approaches for imagining smart urban futures”
4-5 juli 2023 | Utrecht University & Amsterdam University of Applied Science
Gedurende dit tweedaagse event verkennen we de potentie van creatieve methoden en kritische designbenaderingen for vraagstukken rondom de slimme stad (smart city) en ’smart urban governance’. Het initiatief wordt mede georganiseerd vanuit het focusgebied “Governing the Digital Society” (Universiteit Utrecht), en het lectoraat Civic Interaction Design (Hogeschool van Amsterdam). Dag 1 bestaat uit een kleinschalige expert meeting en een viertal inspirerende keynote talks door toonaangevende ontwerpers/onderzoekerd met ruime ervaring op het geboied van creatieve designpraktijken. Dag 2 bestaat uit een hands-on ‘critical making’ workshop, waarbij interdisciplinaire teams samenwerken aan een concrete case rondom de smart scanning car, ontwikkeld en geleid door Tessa Steenkamp (
Over het event
In de afgelopen jaren is er een toenemende interesse van academici en creatieve professionals in methodologische kruisbestuivingen om op nieuwe manieren complexe stedelijke vraagstukken op te pakken. Een groot aantal ontwerpbenaderingen probeert op kritische en speculatieve wijze te kijken naar hoe ‘smart urban futures’ eruit zouden kunnen zien en te verkennen hoe een breder publiek hierover kan meepraten. Hierbij gaat het om maken als een kritische én creatieve praktijk van engagement. Hoe kunnen deze creatieve benaderingen het onderzoek van geesteswetenschappers en sociale wetenschappers verrijken? Met dit event onderzoeken we enkele van deze benaderingen en kijken we naar hun potentieel om uit het techno-solutionist discours te breken dat nog vaak dominant is in toekomstvisies van de slimme stad.

Dag 1 – 4 July 2023: Expertsessie & symposium in Amsterdam

9:30 – 12:00 Expertsessie op uitnodiging


1) 13:00 – 13:45 Danielle Arets
2) 13:45 – 14:30 Letizia Chiappini
3) 15:00 – 15:45 Roy Bendor
4) 15:45 – 16:30 Emiel Rijshouwer
5) 16:30 – 1700 Tessa Steenkamp
17:00 Slotdiscussie & borrel

Dag 2 – 5 July 2023: Workshop Critical city-making in Utrecht

Dag2 bestaat uit een volle dag workshop for (post-)graduate students, PhDs, en andere geïnteresseerden, over de vraag wat een ‘critical making’ aanpak kan betekenen voor smart scanning cars in Gemeente Amsterdam. Ontwikkeld door en onder leiding van Tessa Steenkamp:

Meer informatie & registratie (gratis):
Utrecht University: Michiel de Lange (focusgebied Governing the Digital Society), Nanna Verhoeff & Sigrid Merx ([urban interfaces] research group & Open Cities Platform.
Amsterdam University of Applied Science: Martijn de Waal (Civic Interaction Design lectorate) & The Centre of Expertise Creative Innovation and its SPRONG Network ‘Learning in Transitions’.

Episode 5 of In Media Res season 2 is out now: Mirko Tobias Schäfer

Bjorn Beijnon (UvA) interviews Mirko Tobias Schäfer (UU), Associate Professor at the Department for Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University. His publications cover user participation in cultural production, datafication, politics of software design and communication in social media. In this episode, Mirko shares his experiences with the co-creation of knowledge with partners ‘in the field’. As one of the co-founders of the Utrecht Data School, Mirko evaluates how you as a researcher build relationships with stakeholders in your research, and how you make sure that your research is also impactful. What are the best ways to find partnerships with institutions and organizations? How do you find the right balance between what your partners want and what you want as a researcher? Mirko provides some tips, tricks, and many practical suggestions in this interview.

Listen to the podcast here!

NICA/RMeS Career Event for Young Researchers (in Arts, Media & Culture)

Date: 2 June 2023
Time: 14.00 – 17.00
Location: Leiden (details TBA)
Organizers: NICA’s PhD and rMA-councils, RMeS PhD-Council
Contact: Mitchell van Vuren (
Registration deadline: 26 May 2023 Register ↯

Are you preparing for a job or grant application? Wondering how to structure your CV or research statement? Or could you use some help with navigating and positioning yourself in your academic field? Join the career workshop event organized by NICA’s PhD and rMA councils, together with the RMES council on the 2nd of June 2023 in Leiden!

During this afternoon workshop, we invite PhD candidates and rMA students interested in an academic career to join us for panels on several topics:

  • Grants and applications;
  • Research valorization and publication; and
  • Best practices in academa

The goal of the event is to give junior and aspiring researchers the opportunity to gain some insight in and guidance for an academic career in the field of art, media and culture. All panels include the perspectives of at least one researcher and will cover topics such as creating a valuable CV and networking in academia.

The event starts at 14.00 and ends around 17.00. Coffee will be provided throughout the afternoon. We will end the day with a borrel in a cafe nearby. The participating speakers and location will be announced soon. You can already reserve your spot here. We are looking forward to seeing many of you in June!

RMeS Workshop | Environmental Media & More-than-Human Infrastructures

Environmental Media & More-than-Human Infrastructures
Making Sense of Sensor-Environments

21 & 22 April 2023 | Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

When: 21 & 22 April 2023
Where: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Organizers: This event is organised by Dr. Sebastian Scholz, Dr. Marek Jancovic and Dr. Jolanda Veldhuis in collaboration with Waag Futurelab, and financed by a CLUE+ Connected World grant.
For: PhD Candidates and Research master students who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool).
For ECTS:  1 ECTS (for participation, conference report and/or panel moderation)
Registration for the Workshop on Day 1: please send an email to
Registration for Symposium on Day 2: via this link
(NOTE: participation Day 1 limited / Day 2 open to anyone)

Join us for an interdisciplinary symposium on sensing practices, environmental media and more-than-human infrastructures!

With contributions by Christoph Borbach, Clemens Driessen, John Durham Peters, Ksenia Fedorova, Daniela van Geenen, Max Kanderske, Gwen Ottinger, Lisa Parks, Michelle Westerlaken and others.

Sensor-generated data – such as information about air quality – has immediate impact on our everyday lives. Micro-technologies of sensing have pervaded almost all areas of public and private life. Sensors enable and sustain so-called smart cities and smart homes, monetizing public and domestic space as data capital. Understanding how this data is being used to shape policies and how we, as a society, can take ownership of it can create a stronger connection to our environment and place us in a better position in the conversation with governments and businesses. Sensor literacy is a matter of urgent societal relevance.

On Day 1, we will conduct a collaborative workshop focused on experimenting with different ways of sensing the environment. This will be a hands-on activity: We will do outdoor field research in the Amsterdam Buitenveldert area, engage with the theme of air quality in an embodied way and work with Sodaq air quality sensors. (Spaces are limited, please register soon!) The academic symposium on Day 2 will serve as an interactive platform for exchange, dialog and learning. Leading international researchers will present their on-going projects on sensor technology, and discuss sensor cultures and justice, environmental sensing networks and emerging media infrastructures of sense-making that expand beyond the realm of human perception.

The goal of the symposium is to reconsider what it means to ‘think ecologically’ and critically interrogate sensing technology and its onto-epistemological challenges, but also to collaboratively generate constructive ways of conceptualizing sensors: Does sensing technology have any viable tactical potential for commoning? Can it foster and contribute to sustainable (media) practices? Can we reclaim sensors to build new – socially, culturally and environmentally equitable – futures? What open tools are needed to realize those futures, and how can they be developed quickly, cheaply and accessibly? How can we generate productive aesthetic approaches to and new uses of environmental media and sensing technology?


NICA-RMeS Workshop | Computational writing and publishing

— © Image: Geoff Cox and Winnie Soon —

Computational writing and publishing — Workshop with Geoff Cox and Winnie Soon

Date: 21 April 2023, 13:00-18:00
Location: Utrecht University (Grote Zaal/MCW Lab, Kromme Nieuwegracht 20)
Contact: Dr. David Gauthier (
Credits: 1 ECTS
Registration via NICA – Website now open
Deadline for registration:
14 April 2023

The procedural qualities of both writing and coding lend themselves to the sharing of resources, collective actions, and social exchange through the use of experimental publishing tools such as wiki-to-print and git repositories. This points to conceiving a publication (such as a book) as a dynamic computational object that is open for re-versioning. Given these possibilities with computation, and despite the trend towards open access, it seems odd that relatively little has changed in academic publishing and scholars still seek to distribute their work through journals even when more accessible and sustainable forms are available. Similarly, workflows tend to follow a model that remains relatively unchanged since industrialism. The presentation explores these concerns through some of our recent projects, including the co-authored book Aesthetic Programming (2020). Our examples examine a parallel between writing and coding, attempting to open up the aesthetic and political potential of publishing as a cultural practice in which books can be coded, written, read and published as dynamic networked objects, not fixed in terms of attribution or commodity form or specific determination.

During the workshop we will engage with publishing software from the Varia collective.

The workshop also coincides with the International Conference on Live Coding (ICLC) which presents live coding concerts in Utrecht.


Geoff Cox is Professor of Art and Computational Culture at London South Bank University, co-Director of CSNI and co-Director of MA Curating Art and Public Programmes. He has a research interest in software studies and contemporary aesthetics. With Jacob Lund, he is co-editor of The Contemporary Condition book series published by Sternberg Press (since 2016), and with Joasia Krysa, co-editor of the open access DATA browser book series published by Open Humanities Press (since 2018, earlier with Autonomedia). With Christian Ulrik Andersen, he co-runs a yearly workshop/publication in collaboration with transmediale festival for art and digital culture in Berlin (since 2012), and is co-editor of the associated open access online journal APRJA, hosted by the Royal Danish Library. He has published widely, most often in collaboration, including: with Alex McLean, Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression (MIT Press, 2013); with Jacob Lund, The Contemporary Condition: Introductory Thoughts on Contemporaneity and Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2016); with Winnie Soon, Aesthetic Programming: A Handbook of Software Studies (Open Humanities Press, 2020); with Mitra Azar and Leonardo Impett, the co-edited special issue Ways of Machine SeeingAI & Society (Springer-Nature, 2021), which relates to an ongoing collaborative research on computer vision (with, amongst others, colleagues at University of Cambridge and The Photographers’ Gallery) and visual literacy (with Institute of Education and The Turing Institute). The multi-authored book Live Coding: A User’s Manual, with Alan Blackwell, Emma Cocker, Thor Magnusson and Alex McLean, was published by MIT Press late 2022.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Dr. Winnie Soon is Course Leader/Senior Lecturer at the Creative Computing Institute, University of the Arts London. They have over 10 years of experience in academic research, teaching and leadership. Soon is the co-PI of the research project Digital Activism (with Christian Ulrik Andersen) as part of SHAPE – Shaping Digital Democracy research centre funded by Aarhus University and the co-research lead, British Digital Art, British Art Network. Soon’s research and practice intersects with art and technology in the areas of Software Studies and Computational Cultures, engaging with topics like queer code and coding otherwise, digital censorship, minor technology and computational publishing to understand the potential and implications of technology in a wider cultural and societal context. They are the co-initiator of the art community Code & Share [ ], which brings code, diversity and art together. They are the co-author of “Aesthetic Programming: A Handbook of Software Studies” (with Geoff Cox) and “Fix My Code” (with Cornelia Sollfrank). Recent contributions to publications include “Execution” in Posthuman Glossary (with Critical Software Thing), “Throbber : Executing Micro-temporal Streams” in Computational Culture Journal and “API practices and paradigms” in First Monday (with Eric Snodgrass). They are actively providing and maintaining two ongoing software art projects: generator (w/ Cornelia Sollfrank and Gerrit Ché Boelz) and Queer Motto API (w/ Helen Pritchard & Cristina Cochior). Since 2022, Soon is the co-editor of the Software Studies Book Series, together with Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Jichen Zhu, at the MIT Press, focusing on software as a site of societal and technical power.