Designing Things – Engineering the Senses

4./5. Juni 2015 - 13.30 Uhr
eikones Forum

For three decades now, historians, media theorists, and scholars in neighbouring disciplines have been busy mining the intersections of visual culture, art, and science/technology. Productively so – as a consequence, the historicity of perception arguably has come to be understood and conceptualized primarily in terms of epistemic-cum-aesthetic categories: seen through by the eyes of scientists and artists (or instruments and artworks), supplemented by an immense literature on modernity’s iconic ‘media’ such as photography, cinema, avant-garde architecture, and design.
This workshop doesn’t so much aim to challenge these narratives of visual culture; its aim is to more systematically put on the map a range of everyday technologies and perceptual problems that were not admitted to the modernist/media canon. By focusing on the senses of the commoner people such as office clerks, industrial operators, and late modern ‘data processing’ personnel, the aim, then, is to problematize the design of the common(er) things, including stationery, machine tools, advertisements, and computer interfaces. For, typically, the design of things reflected fundamental assumptions about what it meant to see or hear. Vice versa, demands made on the senses at work, at war, or at home prompted solutions designed for peculiar kinds of people: the operator, the reader, the consumer, etc.


Thursday, 4 June 2015


13.30 – 14.00Max Stadler (ETH Zurich):
Welcome and Introduction
14.00 – 15.00Hannah Wiemer (ZfL Berlin):
Deceiving the Enemy - Educating the Senses for War.
The Camoulage Scholl of the Royal Engineers in
Kensington Gardens 1916-18
15.00 – 16.00Eva Frey (ETH Zurich): Postwar Advertisement
Image Production. Paper Study:
Rheinbrücke (1959), Gerstner + Kutter
16.00 – 16.30Coffee Break
16.30 – 17.30Regina Lee Blaszczyk (University of Leeds):
Color Engineers: Negotiating the Line between
Taylorism and Pop Pychology
19.00Conference Dinner

Friday, 5 June 2015

10.00 – 11.00Fabian Grütter (ETH Zurich):
The Artist-turned-Organizer: Graphic Design, Office Labor
and Paper Standards in Switzerland, 1910-1940
11.00 – 12.00Mara Mills (New York University): Early Human Factors
Research at Bell Telephone Laboratories
12.00 – 13.00Lunch
13.00 – 14.00Anne Sudrow (Centre of Contemporary History, Potsdam):
"Emancipation for the Senses": The Design of the Undustrial
Workplace in the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s
14.00 – 15.00Jens Gerrit Papenburg (Humboldt University of Berlin):
Listening Devices. Popular Music Culture, Sound Design,
and a History of the Senses
15.00 – 16.00Stefan Krebs (University of Luxembourg):
Engineering the Silent Car: French Automobile
Technology in the Interwar Period
16.00 – 16.30Coffee Break
16.30 – 17.30Final Discussion, Moderation: Michael Hagner (ETH Zurich)




Concept: Eva Frey, Fabian Grütter, Max Stadler

Speakers: Hannah Wiemer (ETH Zürich), Regina Lee Blaszczyk (Leeds), Mara Mills (New York), Anne Sudrow (Potsdam), Jens Gerrit Papenburg (Berlin), Stefan Krebs (Luxembourg)

eikones NFS Bildkritik, Rheinsprung 11, CH - 4051 Basel