The Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM) is a research group and facility that carries out fundamental, practice-oriented research. Our interests are at the intersections of design, media arts, anthropology, sociology, historical studies and technology. An integral part of the institute is the Critical Media Lab (CML), which provides an excellent space for practice-based research, scholarly exchange and teaching.
The institute belongs to the Academy of Art and Design FHNW and is situated at the Campus of the Arts Basel. The group is headed by Prof. Dr. Claudia Mareis.
IXDM investigates the art, design and media practices that are embedded in and constitute our technology-saturated, digital culture. We explore the ways technologies continue to open up new possibilities for interaction and knowledge production. These same technologies fundamentally change the condition and character of experience, knowledge and action. Our research examines the lifeworlds shaped and conveyed through technologies and media. Research knowledge and its expressions are also a matter of design. Design has a stake in the analysis and conceptualization of technical, scientific, artistic and cultural knowledge.
Our methods are diverse. Research at IXDM is approached from an inherently interdisciplinary perspective. We draw on the diversity of backgrounds in sociology, cultural and media studies, engineering, design and media arts. We are proponents of historically and critically informed experimental media practices. We merge the benefits of academic research and media-technical practices, in the context of an art and design academy. Our work occupies the interstices between traditional disciplinary pursuits. We publish as often as we exhibit, we demonstrate technologies as often as we give lectures. Each is done in an experimental frame, and centers on innovative research questions.
The Critical Media Lab (CML) is part of IXDM. It is a unique working environment and platform that allows for explorative reflection-in-action. As a distinctive component of the Campus of the Arts Basel, CML is a place where technologies are developed, research partners are convened, and public lectures and events are held. The Critical Media Lab’s activities stage and voice the public-facing aspects of our research. The lab is also a place for conceptual framing, a testing ground for notions and practices of criticality.
IXDM is part of a wide-spread network of academic, cultural and commercial partners. Our newly founded institute at Dreispitz Basel has close local ties to the House of Electronic Arts (HeK), Atelier Mondial and the University of Basel. We also cooperate nationally with the Swiss Design Network, the Swiss Artistic Research Network and other Swiss art and design schools. Our research activities are supported by Swiss national and international granting agencies. We have partnerships and collaborative research with groups all around the world.
IXDM Brochure (PDF)
Our research projects fall into a set of general themes, including: Design Theories & Methods, Designing Knowledge, and Agential Media.
Design Theories & Methods
Design is a knowledge culture in its own right. We investigate its methods and modes of expression in light of history and epistemology. The conditioning of creative practices by material, medial and visual techniques is of prominent interest. We investigate how design intersects with scientific, technological and cultural discourses and role of each in interdisciplinary knowledge processes. Closely linked concepts of creativity, projection and synthesis are critically examined for their epistemic potentials. Proclaimed promises and imperatives associated with cultures of design and creativity are subject to a historical and ideological critique. We combine historical investigation, ethnographic techniques and practice-based experience.
Knowledge practices and cultures from art, science and technology are connected to the paradigm of design and “Gestaltung”. We investigate how knowledge is shaped and orchestrated through multiple forms of representation and media formats. The very production of factuality, evidence and objectivity becomes an object of designerly research and critique. Designing knowledge goes beyond mere representation and involves the whole spectrum of its conception, production, distribution and archiving. We shed light on the social, material, aesthetic and historical conditions for knowledge. Through experimental practice we develop and test novel media designs for knowledge production in inter-, trans-, and antidisciplinary contexts.
Media are environments. They are “milieux”. They condition the possibilities for knowing about ourselves and the world. At the same time as creating illusory structures, these systems and technologies also wrap the globe with material, somatosensory infrastructure. Investigations into the deep time, materiality of hardwares and softwares need to be undertaken, with an eye towards how such scaffolding allows or disallows certain regimes of perceiving, thinking, feeling, knowing and being. Outputs include artistic exhibition work and workshop formats, as well as published writings and media documents which characterize the infrastructures of both sensing and media.