Garnett Hertz on “Critical Making” at USC

Nov. 9

Garnet Hertz’s talk focused around his artistic practice and his new DIY journal “Critical Making”. What was so inspiring about his talk was the balance between playful uses of technology (often obsolete) combined with his critical cultural studies perspective. His project Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot [2004] literally places a cockroach onto the directional controller of a robot so that as the cockroach tries to run in a certain direction it moves the robot. He said the use of cockroach shows the visceral elements of actually making art and physical objects that relate to your research rather than just relying on academic articles and papers. Nonetheless that critical academic perspective is necessary to complement his practice and create a more socially and culturally aware understanding of technology.

The “Critical Making” journal itself was a collaborative project based on a conversation he and Mitch Altman (the “Hacking Grandpa of the Maker’s Community”) had in response to Maker Faire’s recent funding from the military. So in respond Hertz contacted other critical makers, theorists, artists, and engineers to create political conscious alternatives to Maker magazine and other more commercially oriented publications.