Panel: Society for the History of Technology, Singapore

From Mechanical Arts to Maker Movements: Forgotten Genealogies 

Building on exchanges with National University of Singapore (NUS) and University of Sussex colleagues led by Sally Jane Norman, a co-director of the Sussex Humanities Lab, I was invited by Dr Denisa Kera to submit an abstract for the panel “From Mechanical Arts to Maker Movements: Forgotten Genealogies of Art, Technology, and Science” at the Society for the History of Technology Conference in Singapore, hosted for the first time in Asia by NUS Tembusu College and Bruno Latour.

For our paper presentation Technologies and Performative Rebellion: Re-Creation and Subversion of Institutionalised Cultures , we examined community uses of technologies that have subverted existing power structures through performance, play and participation throughout history. These practices, we argued, have emerged in many different forms throughout history, from radical architectures at cultural events, to public spaces requisitioned for urban gatherings, to shared machine shops built by open source hackers inside art museums, to the production of non-identifiable masks to subvert facial recognition technologies.

Integrating traditional cultural practices of techne in the Heideggerian sense with contemporary examples, we considered several unexpected uses of technologies that introduced transformative new relationships between humans, machines and society – relationships with their own kinds of politics.