The Critical Media Lab Basel is a collective and community of researchers and practitioners working at the intersections of design, media arts, technology and their histories. The Lab is an integral part of the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM) at FHNW Academy of Art and Design, and provides discursive, community and physical support and infrastructures for substantive practice-research, scholarly exchange and experimental pedagogies.
We draw on the diversity of backgrounds in anthropology, sociology, cultural and media studies, political science, engineering, design and the arts. We are proponents of historically and critically informed experimental practices, merging the potentials of academic research, design and the arts, in the context of the academy and beyond. Our work occupies the interstices between traditional disciplinary pursuits: we publish and exhibit, we experiment, prototype and give lectures.
The physical space of the lab allows for direct experimentation, production and actualisation, it is a space where thinking and doing are co-located and inscribed in the movement of bodies and materials, as well as in scholarly texts and reflexive media. The space is outfitted with digital and analog media technology provisions that situate the work of the lab in technocultures, historical, contemporary and speculative.
The Critical Media Lab Basel is an idea, a space, a community and a set of activities. The lab is a space where things are open, in processes, experimental and without proscribed, obvious or necessary application. It is a space of risk, with a studio culture that highlights how invention takes place in environments of exchange and diversity, never in a vacuum. The Critical Media Lab Basel is well provisioned with contemporary media technologies and tools, while the common root of ‘lab’ and ‘labour’ helps evoke an active, physical space in which people engage with media and technologies. We organise workshops, guest visits, lectures, performances, publications, cultural and public events that complement the collaborative work of research, design, art and media making, teaching and learning.
We work through third-party funded projects and ad hoc collaboration. These projects embrace a heterogeneity of perspectives and experimental, exploratory, unorthodox and transdisciplinary practices. Projects in the lab are situated around engagement with histories and contemporary practice in design, art, media and technology, composing teams that are supported through scientific granting agencies, cultural resources and support, and collaborative involvement in broader networks. A diversity of topics, orientations, drawn from an ongoing and growing roster of projects, are represented in our work.
Curricular & Extracurricular
Our primary work involves designing and running research projects. Although we do not offer a taught programme, we are nevertheless involved in cross-institutional pedagogies. We are interested in working with students, colleagues and others, often involving ourselves through mentorships, residencies, co-productions and advising on media, technology and design. Students become involved with Critical Media Lab Basel activities by assisting on research projects.
A central public event, to which all are welcomed, is the CML Research Colloquium. It is an opportunity to exchange and engage with colleagues from outside the team, across different fields, sometimes also across continents. The colloquium sessions are bi-weekly meetings with invited guest presentations followed by round-table discussions. We welcome colleagues and students to these encounters with research and practice.
How to Work with Us
The Critical Media Lab is public facing and highly collaborative, frequently advising and working with students, faculty and researchers across the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, and outside of it. We often host colleagues, visitors and associated researchers from across international institutional landscapes, and from the communities of related practice of which we are a part.