[resource-net] Disruption Network Lab event "IGNORANCE: The Power of Non-Knowledge", September 30 & October 1

Daniela Silvestrin silvestrin.daniela at gmail.com
Tue Sep 6 11:31:16 CEST 2016

Dear reSourcers,

the next Disruption Network Lab event "IGNORANCE: The Power of
Non-Knowledge" is coming up on September 30 and October 1, which this
time will focus on and explore the making and unmaking of ignorance for
political, legal, technological and social uses in everyday life,
manifested as different forms of what has been termed “non-knowledge”.
You can find all the details about the pre-Lab program at Spektrum, as
well as the main program at Studio 1 below!

Hope to see you!

All the best,


September 30 -  October 1, 2016


“Art & Evidence” Series by Disruption Network Lab

Artists, scientists, researchers, activists and journalists present and
discuss ways and strategies to explore, unveil and unmake ignorance and
its political, legal, technological and social uses in everyday life.

The second event of the “Art & Evidence” series by Disruption Network
Lab 2016 will investigate the political, economic, technological and
social uses and dimensions of ignorance in everyday life, manifested as
different forms of what has been termed “non-knowledge”. Definitions of
ignorance as mere voids or gaps in the growing sea of knowledge, as well
as the common use of the word for referring to a state of deliberate or
willful disregard for important facts, are oversimplifying and failing
to recognize the manifold reasons, forms and dynamics behind its
existence or maintenance. Claim of knowledge always requires its
dissociation from what it is not, or what lies outside of it’s
boundaries, and a growing number of scholars has begun to study
ignorance as a field of inquiry of its own right, thereby demonstrating
that understanding what ignorance is, how it comes to be and how it is
or can be used in the pursuit of different goals requires an engagement
and analysis as differentiated and complex as that related to knowledge
and its production.

Many reasons for the existence and persistence of ignorance have been
identified—such as  secrecy through classification, maintenance of
controversies through denialists’ claims, “balanced reporting” routines
in the media that misrepresenting the level of consensus within the
scientific community, PR strategies specifically developed to cast doubt
on scientific research that indicates health risks of products marketed
by powerful companies and big business, the non-transfer of existing
knowledge or even dismissal of knowledge that is regarded as too
sensitive, controversial or taboo to be produced. Within jurisdiction,
the principle “ignorantia juris non excusat” stipulates that the law—and
therefore penalization for wrongdoing—applies also to those who are not
aware of it. But what if the wrongdoing is a moral one, not penalized by
law? What strategies and experimental approaches can help us to create
more awareness of the limits of knowledge, of their implications and of
our moral and ethical, if not legal, responsibilities related to not

The areas of research and topics presented will range from phenomena in
scientific practice and research to the current political scenario that
we are witnessing; the study and closer look at strategies behind the
deliberate production and spreading of ignorance for political agendas,
such as the creation and dissemination of conspiracy theories or
manipulative use of language, has gained more importance than ever if we
want to understand the reasons for the growing success of populist
campaigns. During the two days of keynote lectures, panel discussions
and a film screening, scientists, artists, researchers and journalists
will discuss and present the growing understanding of social and
technical constructions of ignorance, and how ignorance defines what can
be known by specific groups with different access to power and social


September 14, 2016: PRE-LAB @SPEKTRUM, Berlin


In anticipation of the main event’s exploration of various strategies
behind the production and maintenance of non-knowledge for various
political, legal, technological and social uses, the pre-event hosted by
SPEKTRUM will present a sneak peak of some of the dynamics behind the
social construction of ignorance. Wicked problems, our “bullshit
society” and blatant communication strategies in the media and PR
landscape will be presented through a small selection of videos,
followed by a Disruption Network Lab’s community getting together.

The event is presented by Daniela Silvestrin and will take place in
collaboration with SPEKTRUM | art science community (spektrumberlin.de).


September 30, 2016

16:00-17:15 – KEYNOTE
Matthias Gross (sociologist and science studies scholar, DE). Moderated
by Daniela Silvestrin (curator, Disruption Network Lab, DE).
In his keynote, Matthias Gross will present the publication and overview
of inquiries within the field of ignorance studies he co-edited together
with Linsey McGoey: Once treated as the absence of knowledge, ignorance
today has become a highly influential topic in its own right, commanding
growing attention across the natural and social sciences where a wide
range of scholars have begun to explore the social life and political
issues involved in the distribution and strategic use of not knowing.
The field is growing fast and this handbook reflects this
interdisciplinary field of study by drawing contributions from
economics, sociology, history, philosophy, cultural studies,
anthropology, feminist studies, and related fields in order to serve as
a seminal guide to the political, legal and social uses of ignorance in
social and political life.

17:45-19:15 – PANEL
Joanna Kempner (sociologist, US), Jamie Allen (artist and researcher,
CA/CH), Jan Willem Wieland (philosopher and researcher, NL). Moderated
by Teresa Dillon (researcher and artist, IE/DE/UK).
While it is difficult enough to develop what has been termed “negative
knowledge”, that is, knowledge about the limits of knowledge (Karin
Knorr-Cetina), also later in the process it continues to be a challenge
to understand how to deal with these identified fields of non-knowledge.
This panel will deal with such known unknowns, and present experimental
methods of investigation as well as the resulting question related to
the responsibility for not-knowing in moral and ethical terms:
While Joanna Kempner will present her exploration and work within the
territories of “forbidden knowledge” in medical science research, Jamie
Allen will give insight into his artistic work and research related to
“apocryphal technologies” as examples for ignorance through the false
believe of being knowledgable. The ethical questions related to these
and other forms of willful (that is, motivated, affected, or strategic)
forms of ignorance, to what can and should have already been known, will
be presented by Jan Willem Wieland. Taking new forms of slavery and our
so-called slavery-footprint as an example, he will discuss the question
of whether people who are willfully ignorant can be held responsible for it.

19:30-21:15 – SCREENING
Documentary directed by Robert Kenner (2014, 1h36min, OV). Introduced by
Daniela Silvestrin.
“Merchants of Doubt” is a 2014 American documentary film directed by
Robert Kenner that was inspired by the 2010 book of the same name by
Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. The film traces the use of public
relations tactics that were originally developed by the tobacco industry
to protect their business from research indicating health risks from
smoking. The most prominent of these tactics is the cultivation of
scientists and others who successfully cast doubt on the scientific
results. Using a professional magician, the film explores the analogy
between these tactics and the methods used by magicians to distract
their audiences from observing how illusions are performed. For the
tobacco industry, the tactics successfully delayed government regulation
until long after the establishment of scientific consensus about the
health risks from smoking. As its second example, the film describes how
manufacturers of flame retardants worked to protect their sales after
toxic effects of the retardants were discovered. The central concern of
the film is the ongoing use of these tactics to forestall governmental
action to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in response to the risk of
global climate change.

October 1, 2016

17:00-18:15 – KEYNOTE
Karen Douglas (social psychologist, UK). Moderated by Martin F. Robbins
(researcher and science writer, UK).
In the context of the current political scenario, we are witnessing a
widespread success of populist campaigns. Growing tendencies towards
right-wing populist movements could be observed all over Europe during
the past few months and years, recently finding a climax in the UK’s
vote in favor of “Brexit”. Meanwhile similarly, on the other side of the
ocean, Trump is winning over a growing percentage of American voters by
blatantly constructing theories based on unproven facts and figures, to
blame, shame, accuse and slander different minorities, single people or
unpopular authorities, with the aim to spread mistrust, doubt, and
disbelief in the other side, and to promote himself as the real and only
“truth-teller” in the political arena. From afar, all seems to be
crystal clear, and the Trumps, Farages, Wilders, and other figures on
that stage seem to be as transparent as plastic foil — but how is it
possible that the use of conspiracy theories could become and prove to
be so useful for inducing ignorance  and disbelief among those who are
addressed? If looking closer at both the strategies of inducing and
maintaining ignorance among the population, as well as at the
psychological mechanisms behind it, can we not only understand them
better but also find ways to counteract them? Why are conspiracy
theories so popular? Who believes them and why? What are the ways in
which people can and do manipulate subtle features of their language in
order to achieve social goals? These and other questions and reflections
will be addressed by social psychologist Karen Douglas, and discussed
with the researcher and journalist Martin F. Robbins.

18:45-20:45 – PANEL

Ippolita group (activists and writers, IT), Hannah Jane Parkinson
(digital culture journalist and writer, UK), and Vladan Joler (SHARE
Foundation director and chair of New Media Department at the University
of Novi Sad, RS). Moderated by Tatiana Bazzichelli (artistic director,
Disruption Network Lab, IT/DE).

Which strategies of manipulation are hidden behind the use of social
media? What are the targeting methods used by Facebook during political
campaigns? How does an algorithm quantify and influence our intimate
lives? Who is controlling our data and for what are they used? Social
media corporations have been basing their economy on trade of personal
connections, targeting of users, and the commercial use of our sensitive
data. This is a trade that most of the time we accept almost
automatically, exchanging data for free services. But while we
experiment the pleasure of being always connected and the playful
dependence of exposing our intimate digital self, somebody else is
profiting, and even trying to orient our political vote. As pointed out
by the Ippolita collective, who will presents the contents of the book
Anime Elettriche. Riti e miti social (“Electric Souls: social rituals
and myths”, Jaca Book, 2016, it.), we are electrical souls permanently
in ecstasy, practicing the discipline of emotional pornography in the
media spotlight - without realising we are at the mercy of a doping and
manipulative power. A power that knows how to use social media, as well
as operate across them, as we read on The Guardian piece by Hannah Jane
Parkinson, who will describe Trump’s social media strategy, as well as
the post-fact problematic posed by the “Vote Leave” campaign by Boris
Johnson in the UK. With Vladan Joler we will investigate what is at the
core of the Facebook Algorithmic Factory, to map and visualise a complex
and invisible exploitation process hidden behind a black box of the
World’s largest social network. Furthermore, we will reflect on critical
ideas and collective challenges to understand dominant technologies of
today, and how they can be used responsibly to avoid being in-corporated
by induced ignorance.


Matthias Gross (Sociologist and science studies scholar, DE).
Matthias Gross is Professor of Environmental Sociology at Helmholtz
Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig and the University of Jena,
Germany. His research focuses on renewable energy, experiment and
innovation, and the changing role of civil society in environmental
policy. His is author of several books including Ignorance and Surprise:
Science, Society, and Ecological Design (MIT Press) and together with
Linsey McGoey editor of the Routledge International Handbook of
Ignorance Studies.

Joanna Kempner (sociologist, US)
Joanna Kempner, an associate professor of sociology at Rutgers
University, works at the intersection of medicine, science, gender, and
the body. She has written extensively on "forbidden knowledge," which is
the basis of her current book project on underground psychedelic drug
research. Her award-winning book, Not Tonight: Migraine and the Politics
of Gender and Health (Chicago 2014), examines the social values embedded
in the way we talk about, understand, and make policies for people in pain.

Jamie Allen (artist and researcher, CA/CH)
IXDM’s Senior Researcher Jamie Allen’s interests lie in the ways that
creative uses of technology teach us about who we are as individuals,
cultures and societies. Born in Canada, and working primarily between
New York, the UK, Copenhagen and now Basel, Jamie has been involved with
emerging technologies as a designer, researcher, artist and teacher for
over 12 years. He likes to make things with his head and hands –
investigations into the material systems of media, electricity, and
information as artwork, design projects and practice-based research.

Jan Willem Wieland (philosopher and researcher, NL)
Assistent professor in the Department of Philosophy at Vrije
Universiteit Amsterdam. Doing research on people's so-called slavery
footprint, and specifically on whether people who are ignorant —
willfully, strategically ignorant — of their footprint can be held
responsible for it.

Teresa Dillon (artist and researcher, IE/DE/UK)
Teresa Dillon is an artist, researcher and Professor of City Futures at
the Watershed, UWE, Bristol. Her performative, research and sound based
work explores techno-civic interfaces and relationships with current
projects focusing on sound re-enactments of the built environment,
free-to-use Urban Huts and infrastructural literacies within Smart City
contexts. She holds a PhD in social and educational psychology and has
co-designed educational software at Futurelab/NFER and for the BBC.
Teresa has published on various media and art related topics, and since
2013 directs Urban Knights, a program that promotes practical approaches
to urban governance and living. Between 2014-2016, Teresa undertook a
Humboldt Fellowship at the Technical University and the University of
the Arts in Berlin, where she carried out work on artistic approaches to
making the electromagnetic spectrum audible.

Karen Douglas (social psychologist, UK)
Karen Douglas is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of
Kent. She studies the psychological factors associated with belief in
conspiracy theories and some of the potential social, health and
environmental consequences of belief in conspiracy theories.

Martin F. Robbins (researcher and science writer, UK)
Martin Robbins is a Berkshire-based researcher, writer and talker at the
messy border of science and culture. He is a columnist at VICE, and
blogs for The Guardian and the New Statesman about science,
pseudoscience and evidence-based politics.

Hannah Jane Parkinson (digital culture journalist and writer, UK)
Hannah Jane Parkinson is a digital journalist at The Guardian. She is a
writer on pop culture, music, tech, football, politics and mental
health. She lives in London and previously lived in Russia, Oxford and
Liverpool. She likes reading, sauvignon blanc, laughing and Liverpool
FC. Twitter: @ladyhaja

Ippolita group (activists and writers, IT)
Ippolita is an indisciplinary research group active since 2005. They
conduct wide-ranging research on technologies of domination and their
social effects. Their essays include Anime Elettriche (2016), La Rete è
libera e democratica. FALSO! (2014), In the Facebook Aquarium (2012),The
Dark Side of Google (2007), Open non è Free (2005). The collective also
run workshops on digital self-defense and convivial informatics for
girls, children, academics, affinity groups, computer geeks and curious

Vladan Joler (SHARE Foundation director and chair of New Media
Department at the University of Novi Sad, RS).
Vladan Joler is Associate Professor and Chair of New Media Department at
the University of Novi Sad, Serbia and the director of the SHARE
Foundation, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to protecting the
rights of Internet citizens and promoting positive values of openness,
decentralization, free access and exchange of knowledge, information and
technology. In last 2 years Vladan is leading Share Lab – a research and
data investigation lab for exploring different technical aspects of the
intersections between technology and society. Share Lab is using various
network topology, data mining and data visualization methods to uncover,
visualize and independently monitor different aspects of Internet
privacy and security. Their most recent investigation is about the
Facebook Algorithmic Factory: Facebook’s data collection, storage,
algorithmic processing, and targeting.

Funded by: Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin, Senatskanzlei / City
In partnership with: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. In cooperation with:
Kunstraum /Kreuzberg /Bethanien.
In collaboration with: SPEKTRUM (http://spektrumberlin.de), The
Resistance Studies Network (www.resistancestudies.org) and the
Resistance Study Initiative – RSI, University of Massachusetts Amherst,
USA (www.umass.edu/resistancestudies). 
Media partners: ExBerliner,
Location: Kunstquartier Bethanien - Studio 1, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997
Schedule: September 30 (16.00-21.15); October 1 (17.00-20.45), 2016
Details: http://www.disruptionlab.org
Tickets: 5€ / day

More info: www.disruptionlab.org
Twitter: @disruptberlin (Hashtag: #dnl)
Facebook: facebook.com/disruptionlab

Tatiana Bazzichelli (Artistic Director and Curator) tbazz at disruptionlab.org
Daniela Silvestrin (Co-Curator) daniela at disruptionlab.org
Claudia Dorfmueller (Administration and Project Manager)
claudia at disruptionlab.org
Kim Voss (Project Manager) kim at disruptionlab.org
Tabea Hamperl (Press Manager) tabea at disruptionlab.org

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