In/Compatible Research – Introduction


Different technologies, their cultures of use, and how they are conceptualised, at once represent compatibilities and incompatibilities. What happens when such in/compatible phenomena are brought to the fore rather than hidden away in the dark underbelly of digital culture? Is their in/compatibility a threat to stability, connectivity and to the operations of socio-technical systems more broadly? How do these unresolved tensions and paradoxes of media technologies continue to impact experimental artistic imagination and research practices?

It is in this context that the in/compatible research newspaper provides a new platform for knowledge exchange, and research across disparate fields of practice. The content of the newspaper derives from a Ph.D. workshop and conference in November 2011, held at University of the Arts, Berlin (organised by Aarhus University in collaboration with transmediale/reSource for transmedial culture and the Vilém Flusser Archive). It provides an insight into current research from academics, practitioners, and Ph.D. students working in/with in/compatibility, the 2012 transmediale festival theme. As such, the newspaper constitutes a thematic publication for the festival, and is an attempt to extend a media art festival like transmediale into a research context.

Leading up to that event, and subsequent to it, a blog has been gathering draft articles and discussions, reflecting on the issue of in/compatibility. This collaborative ‘peer-review’ process (further developed during the festival itself in February 2012, at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, with presentations and discussions) culminates in the publication of this newspaper. So, although this may seem like old news in many ways, in terms of research practices, it breaks with some of the current academic conventions of peer-review, academic reputation, and what constitutes proper scholarly activity.

The paper is organised into three main strands of inquiry, related to in/compatible interfaces, methods and markets, which together explore some of the fundamental conditions for contemporary research practices. The paradoxes abound. On the one hand, a range of methods, including artistic research, extend and challenge the hegemony of knowledge production, but on the other, there is a powerful trend towards the marketisation of research, the creative industries agenda and instrumentalism in education. Underpinned by new public management, and the Bologna process, research undergoes ‘quality assurance’ where it is measured (through endless audits) and subject to compatible standards. In this process, knowledge production becomes ever more related to economical frameworks.

The evidence is all around us, where drastic cuts to education, and research programmes are made compatible with austerity measures in order to subsidise the failures of financial capitalism (with fees). We ask whether it is possible to reconceptualise research outside the confines (and failures) of financial capitalism? What are the alternative models, which seek autonomy over knowledge production? How are technological paradigms redefining the horizon of social possibilities and enhancing autonomy over research from within a community of peers? These are research questions that we ask you to consider in reading this newspaper, and we hope you enjoy it.

Christian Ulrik Andersen, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Geoff Cox, Kristoffer Gansing (Aarhus University/transmediale), January 2012.

All articles derive from an initial conference and PhD workshop held in November 2011, at UdK, Berlin. Papers  and further comments are available on the website.