The seminar that’s not happening because.

Surveillant Architectures: Space Lab

“The sky’s an unusual colour
The weather is doing unusual things
And our leaders aren’t even pretending not to be demons
So where is the good heart to go but inwards?
Why not lock all the doors and bolt all the windows?
All I am are my doubts and suspicions
I against you against we against them”
(Kate Tempest, 2019)

Continuing from last semester’s live situative set-ups, we’ll look at space and its potentials for adventure, risk, unpredictability, proximity, intimacy and presence.

Taking into account the various understandings of the concept of distance that were brought about by worldwide realtime communication over the last 160 years, we’ll foreground central issues like accessibility, safety and security, and how to (re-)establish room for trust, play and maneuver.

What are the possible ways to query space, taking the role of the observer or the associate, the insider? 
As a praxis seminar, the focus is for the students to develop new methods and approaches, especially those that cross diverse media in a performative way.

This was to be the Summer term 2020 seminar, as planned in November 2019. The Kate Tempest quote about locking yourselves in worked out, especially for everyone who is currently in Coronavirus self-isolation. Making new plans now, will let you know asap.

Surveillance 102: The Golden Age

Poster by Nikolai Meierjohann

Summer Term 2019: Surveillance 102: The Golden Age

Building on the subject matter covered in Surveillance 101, we take Gilles Deleuze’s “Postscript on the Societies of Control” as a starting point to address contemporary modes of surveillance: algorithmic, fluid, social, multifocal, networked. We’ll look at the different forms that systematic observation takes today and how it can be used towards artistic ends.


Hands-on Surveillance & Counter-Surveillance techniques
Archival practices
Prison field trip (still working on that – seems pretty hard to get in, too)
Mid Term Review: 4./5. June 2019


  • Gilles Deleuze – Postscript on the Societies of Control. Very short essay from 1990, available online, e.g. here or here. German translation in the Semesterapparat.
  • Also check out this 20 minute video explaining the core concepts (turn off the music and it’s pretty OK).
  • Shoshana Zuboff – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. See Semesterapparat. It’s also online already if you know where to look, and pretty cheap to buy at the moment. German translation, too.

Also see all of these from last term (all still of interest):

In the library:

  • Randolph Lewis: Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America
  • CTRL [Space]: Rhetorics of Surveillance, from Bentham to Big Brother, Thomas Y. Levin, Ursula Frohne, and Peter Weibel, ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002)
  • Surveillance and Security, Technological Politics and Power in Everyday Life. Edited By Toren Monahan
  • Christopher Dandeker, Surveillance,Power & Modernity
  • Newell, Bryce Clayton [editor], Surveillance, Privacy and Public Space
  • Vian Bakir, Sousveillance, media and strategic political communication

Mid Term Review – Winter 2017

30 minute slots, presenting work-in-progress in small hotel rooms

Guest critic: Reut Shemesh

TUESDAY 5th December 2017 from 16.30 to 20.30 h

WEDNESDAY 6th December 2017 from 09.45 to 12.00 h

@ Motel One, Köln-Waidmarkt, Tel-Aviv-Strasse 6

room numbers will be posted to Megaphon as soon as we have checked in on Tuesday


— everyone welcome to practise with us — just turn up on time to join the review —



Mid Term Review Winter 2017 by Nikolai

poster by Nikolai

Winter Term readings & things to watch

Our topic for the Winter term 2017/18:

Real, Fake and the Imaginary

Here’s what to read and watch. The titles are in the library on the Semesterapparat shelf, unless otherwise noted.


  • Bruce Sterling , Distraction, novel, 1998
  • Bruce Sterling, Zeitgeist, novel, 2001



  • Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook his Wife For a Hat, 1970, (chapter “The President’s Speech”, on aphasia) – online i.e. here
  • Oliver Sacks,  Der Mann, der seine Frau mit einem Hut verwechselte, Hamburg 1993



  • For a  popular imagination, Hollywood take on this, (re-)watch Blade Runner, Fight Club, The Truman Show. Plus Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for a very contemporary mix of real and fake.

For a quick intro check out these trailers for two of the videos listed above:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
There are known unknowns; the things we know we don’t know.
There are also the third category of unknown unknows; the things we dont know we don’t know. And you can only know more about those things by imagining what they might be.
Pearl Harbor was a failure of imagination. We didn’t know we didn’t know they could do what they did in the way they did it.

The Unknown Known, documentary by Errol Morris about master liar Donald Rumsfeld, 2013



You go into an office and sit at your desk. But maybe it is a fake job. Your real job is shopping. The true factories of our times are the shopping malls. That is where the real hard work is done.

A typical Adam Curtis, good intro to how he works.
Living in an Unreal World, trailer for HyperNormalisation