HU Seminar: Digital Concept and Cultural Production

a seminar at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin – Institut für Kulturwissenschaft

Summer Semester 2021

Course Title:

DIGITAL CONCEPT AND CULTURAL PRODUCTION IN THE 21ST CENTURY – Learning from the Humboldt Forum

This seminar focusses on digital concept design and its role in cultural production today, where it is emerging as an increasingly important cultural technology (Kulturtechnik) and as an increasingly prominent profession in projects and initiatives of the culture industry, broadly defined.

We will begin by contextualizing our discussion in relation to core concepts such as “culture industry”, “cultural technology”, “cultural production”, “cultural practice” and “cultural labor”, we will take stock of digital concept design’s position in the contemporary culture-technical landscape and interrogate its current and potential roles in the constitution and production of culture for our moment in the early 21st Century.

Sharpening focus on our subject, we will trace a profile of the concept designer as a professional role in labor statistics and on the digital media-related job market in the US and Europe since the 1990s. Examples from cases of product or service design behind famous applications will help make the profile of the concept designer more concrete.

We will also trace the role back to its origins in a less-explicit technicity behind the production of cultural objects traditionally conceived: in architecture, art, marketing, product and service design, urban design and planning and digital product and service design. Mirroring the productivity of concept at this level, we will trace the function of conception even further down to the fundamental moments of epistemology, communicative exchange and the social constitution of truth.

As examples and case studies to anchor these theoretical questionings, we will look at developments in the cultural sector in Berlin as “creative city”, with a review of projects by the Berlin agency “Kulturprojekte” and an invited guest for insight into the concept process and the work of producing events in the particular context of Berlin in the 21st C.

We will finish the semester with a sustained case study examining the role of digital concept design in projects of cultural production in the early 21st Century. This will take the form of an extended, layered and multi-perspectival look at the process of conceiving and constructing the Humboldt Forum, from its official mandate in 2000 to its first public opening in December 2020. Drawing on direct experience in the conception, strategic planning and implementation of the Humboldt Forum’s digital media concept, we will take advantage of the high resolution of our subject matter to examine how the role and tasks behind such a project were defined, how solutions were developed, approved and implemented, and what results can be observed or ascribed to digital concept in the project. The evaluation of the process and results in this case will be set against critical positions enumerated from our readings and discussion on core concepts of cultural theory and the contemporary critique of cultural production.

Format: wöchentliche Online-Treffen basiert auf wöchentlicher Text-Lektüre

Lektüre: Kerntext 10-30 S., plus Kontext- und Zusatzlektüre optional

Online-Treffen:

  • Video-Vortrag: vor jeder Sitzung wird ein Video-Vortrag zum Thema hochgeladen
  • Online-Treffen:
    • kurzer Impuls-Vortrag (10-Min)
    • Diskussion des Textes (20-Min)
    • Offene Diskusion (45 Min)
  • Lektüre: Kerntext 10-30 S., plus Kontext- und Zusatzlektüre optional
  • Sprache: Lektüre Deutsch und Englisch; Diskussion Deutsch und Englisch; Vorträge Englisch mit Deutsch
  • Zeit/Ort: Online Termin-Plattform (Zoom, ??) Fr. 10-11:30 / Videos bis Do. 19:00
  • Kalender: 12.04.2021 bis 17.07.2021 (ausser 01.05., 13.05., 24.05.2021, vorlesungsfrei)
  • Lesematerialien: Quellen und Rechtelage zu klären; Moodle als Lehr-/Lernplattform
  • Aufgaben: Lektüre, Teilnahme an Diskussionen, ein Impuls-Vortrag, die Formulierung einer eigenen Fragestellung und die Verfassung eines finalen Aufsatzes (10-15 SS.)
  • Evaluation: Aufsatz 40%, Partizipation 40%, Impuls-Vortrag 20%

Modules:

1 – KULTURINDUSTRIE – Culture Industry

reading: Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, “Kulturindustrie: Aufklärung als Massenbetrug” in Dialektik der Aufklärung: Philosophische Fragmente, Fischer 1969

reading: on H&A’s “Kulturindustrie” essay (tbd)

reading: Bernhard Siegert, “Cultural Techniques: Or the End of the Intellectual Postwar Era in German Media Theory”, Theory, Culture & Society 30(6) 48–65 2013

2 – KULTURTECHNIK – Cultural Technology

reading: Friedrich Kittler – “Es gibt keine Software” in Die Wahrheit der technischen Welt. Essays zur Genealogie der Gegenwart, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2013, SS. 285-299

reading: Friedrich Kittler – “Hardware, das unbekannte Wesen” In: Sybille Krämer (Hrsg.), Medien, Computer, Realität : Wirklichkeitsvorstellungen und neue Medien. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, http://hydra.humanities.uci.edu/kittler/hardware.html

reading: on FK’s Theory of Cultural Technology

supplementary reading:

Sibylle Krämer, “Friedrich Kittler – Kulturtechniken der Zeitachsenmanipulation” in Medientheorien Eine philosophische Einführung eds. Alice Lagaay, David Lauer, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag  – 2004

Josef Wallmannsberger: “Friedrich Kittler” in Helmut Schanze (Hrsg.), Susanne Pütz: Metzler Lexikon Medientheorie, Medienwissenschaft. Ansätze, Personen, Grundbegriffe. Metzler, Stuttgart/Weimar 2002, S. 162 f.

3 – KULTURARBEIT – Cultural Production/Cultural Labor

reading:  Karl Marx, “Wage Labour and Capital” in The Marx-Engels Reader ed. Robert C. Tucker, New York: Norton 1978 203-217 English / Deutsch

reading: Scott Lash and Anthony Fung, “Cognitive Capitalism and Creative Industry” in The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism Part 3 Ed. Warren Neidich, Berlin: Archive Books 2014

4 – KONZEPTION

Lecture: Origins of the Concept in

level a: epistemology

René Descartes – excerpts from “Rules for the Direction of the Mind” in The Philosophical Works of Descartes Vol 1 (PP. 3-15, 22-30)

Edward E. Smith, excerpts from Ch. 1 “Concepts and Categorization” in An Invitation to Cognitive Science, Vol 3: Thinking, Ed. Daniel N. Osherson, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995) SS. 3-35).

level b: semiotic (re-)production and exchange

Ferdinand de Saussure, excerpt from Course in general linguistics. Eds. Charles Bally & Albert Sechehaye. Trans. Wade Baskin, NY: Columbia University Press, 2011; Overview: “Ferdinand Saussure et le course de linguistique générale   Shorturl.at/dkET8

level c: culture-technological production

5 – KONZEPT

Reading:

·       Architecture

Carolin Stapenhorst, Ch.0 “A Notional Outline: from Aesthetic Norms to Conceptual Strategies”, and Ch. 1.1 “ The Need for a Transversal Language” (SS. 9-30) in Concept: a Dialogic Intrument in Architectural Design, Berlin: Jovis-Verlag 2016

·       Art

Sol Lewitt: “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” and Rolf Wedewer “Introduction to Konzeption/Conception” in Alexander Alberro, Blake Stimson Eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, Cambridge: MIT Press 2000 (SS. 12-17; SS. 142-144)

·    Marketing

·    Product & service design

Katja Ischebeck, “Was Sie über Konzepte wissen sollten” in Erfolgreiche Konzepte: eine Praxisanleitung in 6 Schritten, Offenbach: Gabal-Verlag 5. Auflage 2019 SS. 11-35.

      • Urban and social policy design
      • Digital communications
      • Digital product/service

6 – KONZEPTER*IN

Reading:

Katja Ischebeck, “Der Konzeptfahrplan in 6 Schritten” in Erfolgreiche Konzepte: eine Praxisanleitung in 6 Schritten, Offenbach: Gabal-Verlag 5. Auflage 2019 SS. 36-150.

Invited guest: Thorsten Haase Talent Manager from Designer Dock, Berlin

7 – CREATIVE CITY: BERLIN 

Reading: from Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class 2002

Invited guest: Simone Lenbach, Project Director at Kulturprojekte Berlin

8 – CULTURAL PROJECT: HUMBOLDT FORUM

Reading:

Horst Bredekamp/Pater-Klaus Schuster, “Die Idee des Humboldt Forums” and Laura Goldenbaum, “Ein Schloss in Erwartung kollektiver Sinnstiftung  – Dokumentation der Beschlüsse in den Gremien” in Das Humboldt Forum: die Wiedergewinnung einer Idee, Eds. Bredekamp und Schuster, Berlin: Wagenbach 2016 SS. 11-15; 148-189.

Plus other public materials on the history and progress of the Humboldt Forum project

9 – DIGITAL CONCEPT HUMBOLDT FORUM

No new readings – Input from student projects; final sessions will be conducted as organised discussions around an analysis and evalution of chosen aspects of the Humboldt Forum as digital cultural project, possibly with a round-table of invited guests:

10 – ROLE/TASK

11 – SOLUTION

12 – RESULT

 

Bibliography: (in progress)

  • Katja Ischebeck, Erfolgreiche Konzepte: eine Praxisanleitung in 6 Schritten, Offenbach: Gabal-Verlag 5. Auflage 2019
  • Matthias Messerer, DIGITALE KONZEPTION: So führen Sie Ihre Anwendung zum Erfolg  2019
  • Ralf E. Strauß, Digitale Transformation: Strategie, Konzeption und Implementierung in der Unternehmenspraxis 2019
  • Carolin Stapenhorst, Concept: a Dialogic Intrument in Architectural Design, Berlin: Jovis-Verlag 2016
  • Majer Kefi, Information Technology Ethics: Concepts and Practices in the Digital World, Cambridge: Scholars Publishing 2015
  • Eds. Turkka Kalervo Keinonen, Roope TakalaProduct Concept Design: A Review of the Conceptual Design of Products in Industry, Berlin: Springer 2010
  • Jean Piaget, La représentation du monde chez l’enfant, Presses Universitaires de France 1947
  • Edward E. Smith and Daniel N. Osherson (Eds.) An Invitation to Cognitive Science vol.3: Thinking, Cambridge: MIT 1995
  • Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, “Kulturindustrie: Aufklärung als Massenbetrug” in Dialektik der Aufklärung: Philosophische Fragmente, Fischer 1969
  • Eric Louw, The Media and Cultural Production, London: Sage Publications 2001
  • Eric Klinenberg and Claudio Benzecry, “Introduction: Cultural Production in a Digital Age” Cultural Production in a Digital Age Vol. 597, (Jan., 2005), The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Sage Publications pp. 6-18
  • https://www.jstor.org/stable/25046058
  • Sybille Krämer (Hrsg.), Medien, Computer, Realität: Wirklichkeitsvorstellungen und neue Medien, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1998. http://hydra.humanities.uci.edu/kittler/hardware.html
  • Friedrich Kittler, Die Wahrheit der technischen Welt. Essays zur Genealogie der Gegenwart, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2013
  • Ana Ofak (Herausgeber), Susanne Holl (Herausgeber), Friedrich Kittler (Herausgeber) Medien vor den Medien (Kulturtechnik) –  Berlin: Wilhelm Fink 2007
  • Medientheorien: Eine philosophische Einführung eds. Alice Lagaay, David Lauer, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag  2004.
  • Susanne Pütz (Hrsg.), Metzler Lexikon Medientheorie, Medienwissenschaft. Ansätze, Personen, Grundbegriffe.  Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler 2002.
  • Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, Ilinca Iurascu and Jussi Parikka (Eds.), Theory, Culture & Society Issue 30 No.6 pp. Sage, 29 October 2013 (https://monoskop.org/log/?p=9650)
  • Alexander Alberro, Blake Stimson Eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, Cambridge: MIT Press 2000
  • Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class: And How it’s transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life,  New York: Perseus Book Group 2002
  • Jacques Rancière Le partage du sensible: esthétique et politique, Paris: La Fabrique-éditions 2000
  • Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019 (1977).
  • Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
  • Heinz Steinert, Culture Industry, Cambridge: Polity Press 2003.
  • Eds. Bredekamp und Schuster, Das Humboldt Forum: die Wiedergewinnung einer Idee, Berlin: Wagenbach 2016.
  • Barrett, M, Ideology and Cultural Production, London: Routledge 2020.