Speculative Exploration

The digital material exploration collective is a research collaboration initiated by researchers at Roskilde University. The main agenda is to develop an experimental approach to researching the potential of new technologies and materials: Speculative explorations in interactive design, art and technology. The massive evolvement of technology invites an ongoing exploration of the creative and speculative spaces they open up. It calls for a sensibility towards the possibilities in materials, tinkering, hacking, redesigning, shaping and questioning possible, probable and potential outcomes. computational material exploration includes play, aesthetics, experience, engagement, embodiment, social and physical elements. We strive to cultivate a practice based on the following assumptions:

  • New technological innovation happens all the time and there should be an active academic and democratic discourse around its potentials.
  • Technology exploration is fundamentally a creative process and should be treated as such.
  • Computational material technologies should be explored from within their own potential, speculative contexts not merely justified from a problem or solution oriented perspective.

Speculation is about projecting and unfolding multiple potentials and contexts (B) from digital and material interactive designs, art and technology (A). From one A can follow many potential B's. Exploration is about researching these for their unpredictable properties and affordances. Speculative exploration is about creating technologies and competences to intervene in, experiment with and express through digital material artifacts and environments.

Atmos Provence: A play on the traditional Provence Bowls from Holmegaard glass blowery. Rethought as lamp as a composite between wifi enabled electronics + lights + glass + 3D printed mount. Made with Æsa Björk & Sara Hulkkonen at Glasmuseum Ebeltoft

Core Themes

The program builds on the following three themes, serving as a frame for exploration of, and speculations from, computational-material technologies. Computational material exploration and speculation is the active exploration of - and with - new technologies and the material potentials, speculative contexts it opens up for, tools for enabling technologies focuses on creating tools for new engagements with technology and maker thinking is the emancipatory and reflective mindset framing the research process.

Digital Material

Approaching computational logic and physical computing as a material, fundamentally shifts the way we think of it in design practice. With materiality comes the need for form-giving, shaping and creating languages around the expressive properties of different configurations. Computational-material designs creates potentials and unfold contexts for speculation and interaction to be explored in order to asses not only possible and plausible, but also potential and preferable outcomes.

Tools for Enabling

Today we are expected to be able to read and write, but when it comes to technology most people are consumers. Creative explorations with technology are different from traditional engineering. What we need is to enable creative practitioners to take control of explorative use of technology. Our approach is to explore the potentials of designing creative programming frameworks and tools that empower researchers and practitioners to think code in creative terms.

Maker Thinking

The Maker Movement has harbored a mindset which utilizes exploratory approaches to technology for emancipatory purposes. It is an a-disciplinary mindset seeking to create new skills across the silos of traditional craftsmanship, artistic genres and academic disciplines. It thinks beyond utilitarian perspectives, seeking to create a common ground for a multitude of explorations on many different levels. Emancipating thought and practice from historical dogmas of expectations, expressions, and values. We contend that this research perspective can channel this sort of knowledge production back into traditional institutions and framings also; hence transform these.