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Bring a picture and toy to the Ecsite conference MakerSpace

Personal space of becoming for #Ecsite2016 MakerSpace - example#1
Dissecting & hacking toys at #Ecsite2016 MakerSpaceDissecting & hacking toys at #Ecsite2016 MakerSpaceDissecting & hacking toys at #Ecsite2016 MakerSpaceDissecting & hacking toys at #Ecsite2016 MakerSpaceDissecting & hacking toys at #Ecsite2016 MakerSpaceDissecting & hacking toys at #Ecsite2016 MakerSpace

As on previous years, a team of highly motivated professionals will be running a thematic space dedicated to making and tinkering at the 2016 Ecsite Annual Conference: the MakerSpace. Ryan Jenkins and Jochen Hunger from the organising team are asking future participants to bring along a photo or artifact of a personal space of becoming and an electro-mechanical toy to dissect and remake.


Surprise is part of the hacking culture, but even the friendly chaos of a MakerSpace needs planning and care. As we think about curating a colourful programme full of intellectual discussions and opportunities to get our hands dirty and mess around with tools, materials, and ideas, we want to avoid repetition and embrace the unexpected.


As this year’s theme offers a call for collaboration, we would like to invite you all, future participants in the MakerSpace, to make the programme more meaningful and prepare something in advance to bring with you when you travel to Graz this June.


1. A photo or artifact of a personal space of becoming


Last year during discussions in the MakerSpace in Trento we found that it felt simplistic to claim that everybody is a maker. Yet everybody makes him- or herself. We are continually making choices concerning our present and future. Sometimes these choices are inevitable, but there are moments and places when windows are thrown open, doors are unlocked and something sleeping in us connects with reality. When we are truly learning, we are developing our potential and we become ourselves.


Can we provoke those moments? What do these places look like? Together with psychologist Agnes Bauer, we will investigate personal spaces of becoming. These spaces or surroundings are favorable to flow-driven and experience based learning. Museums, science centers and FabLabs are prone to offer these qualities, but they are certainly not the only places that can create this type of spark in our lives. 


You are invited to join our initial “From MakerSpace to space of becoming” session on the first day of the conference (Thurs 9 June, 12.00 – 13.15) and bring pictures or artifacts of your favorite space of becoming for an ad-hoc exhibition in the MakerSpace. This could be a riverbank from your childhood, a favourite family chair, a collection of terrariums in a children’s museum, or the results of your first experiments with a new tool. Through an investigation of these images and objects, we’ll begin to discuss what characterises a successful space of becoming and ask if we can establish guidelines and best practices for the design of such environments.


2. An electro-mechanical toy to dissect and remake


The hands-on portion of the MakerSpace programme will be dedicated to electronic toys and the wonderful possibilities that they hold for making and tinkering. On the first day of the conference, we will discover together what makes these toys move, make noise, and light up by taking them apart using tools such as screwdrivers, scissors, and saws to explore the inner circuitry and mechanisms. As we engage in the process of dissection, we’ll capture observations, questions and discussions that come up during this hands-on “Dissect, hack and re-imagine electronic toys” workshop (Thurs 9 June, 16.30-17.45).

After we’ve collected the parts and recorded the purposes we’ll spend the next two days remixing, hacking, and repurposing these toys. Attend the second and third part of this series of workshops on Friday 10 June (14.30-15.45) and Saturday 11 June, same time. The possibilities will range from low threshold activities like building art machines from the motors and using sewing needles and conductive thread to create new stuffed animals and twisted toys. All the while, experienced makers will invite participants to explore more high-tech ways of reanimating the toys using digital fabrication tools, arduinos, soldering irons, piezo microphones and more.


We would like to ask you to find a moving, singing, dancing, or speaking toy and bring it with you to the MakerSpace to find out what makes it work and turn it into something new. Secondhand stores, cardboard boxes in attics, and garage sales are great places to find these types of toys.


We hope that these contributions will spark more connections and conversations as we embark again on the exciting, challenging and surprising adventure in Graz this June!


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