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Aesthetics of Participation

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How can we understand and design for critical engagement in technology-mediated practices?

The overarching purpose of the theme of ‘Aesthetics of Participation’ is to revitalize participation in an era of new systems and domains of computing. This will happen through an understanding of the ways in which people become critically engaged with situations, and developing new possibilities for people to engage with societal, daily and personal challenges.

Web 2.0, social media, and so forth have moved computing into the arenas of everyday life, public environments, public government, private homes, global financial and energy systems, and the like. In certain areas, this has led to increased participation and engagement. Anyone can publish their artistic productions, such as music and writing. Social media, such as fixmystreet.com, are used to combine resources to solve community problems. However, in other areas this is not the case. Digital governance has left citizens as uninformed, powerless, and not in control of their own situation. On Facebook, teenagers are inveigled into disclosing sensitive, personal information. We have an environmental crisis on our hands, yet still we have few means for resolving it in our everyday lives.

We are engaged with the ways in which these societal and personal arenas are mediated by interactive technology and new media. The theme ‘Aesthetics of Participation’

investigates how we can learn from the field of aesthetics, to establish new ways for people to critically engage with such challenges.

The theme of Aesthetics of Participation will:

  1. Analyse existing possibilities for participation, investigate who shapes the possibilities, what the dynamics of their development are, and how they are experienced and changed;
  2. Design interventions exploring new opportunities of the aesthetics of participation, by establishing new connections and alternatives for engagement and action.