The Research Center for Proxy Politics aims to explore and reflect upon the nature of medial networks and their actors, that is, machines and things as well as humans. The proxy, a decoy or surrogate, is today often used to designate a computer server acting as an intermediary for requests from clients. Originating in the Latin procurator, an agent representing others in a court of law, proxies are now emblematic of a post-representational political age, one increasingly populated by bot militias, puppet states, ghostwriters, and communication relays. During the period of the project (September 2014 to August 2017) the center will host a series of workshops at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, revolving around a wide range of relevant topics including the politics of digital networks, the political economy of crypto-currencies, the genealogy of networked thought, the mediality of physical landscapes and strategies of opacity. The center will also conduct material, experimental, investigations into the conception and construction of alternative networks, or alternets.

(Workshop) 11/06 2015  10:00 - 18:00 @ Room 115

Ethical Design of Interfaces – Combat Drones and their Users

Manuela Winbeck


With a growing number of sensors being installed on remote-controlled vehicles and drones, an increasing amount of decisions is being shifted from the pilot to a technological object. Thus the virtual interface of the computer-cockpit remains the only source of information available to the user, or pilot, upon which to make decisions.

In his story Weapon Systems of the 21st Century or The Upside Down Evolution, Stanislaw Lem claims that attacks by insect-like miniature weaponry, artificial storms and pseudo-natural disasters will eradicate the differentiation between nature and technoculture.

The workshop will focus on “hardware” components and technological limits of algorithmic operations.
How are weapons controlled? How may scenarios of weapon application be modeled and who exactly is to be modeled? Who is acting if decisions are made by a machine? How can morally sensitive information be displayed? To what extent can decisions be delegated to machines and who is ultimately in control? How is conflict changing without the moral agency of a human?

The workshop will consist of two parts, a discussion based on relevant texts (details tba) and some practical hands-on experimentation.


Additional workshop guest is curator Tatiana Bazzichelli, who reports about her recent conference Drones – Eyes from a Distance. As part of an ongoing series, Bazzichelli’s Dispruption Network Lab looked at drones as a case study for systems of contemporary non-human vision and warfare technology as well as respective effects. Bazzichelli contextualizes the military use of drones from a hacker’s perspective and elaborates on her curatorial strategies of disruption – also in comparison to Silicon Valley’s understanding of a strategy under the very same name. In the framework of the Lab, the term serves to investigate hacker and artistic practices that interfere with political and technological systems from within.