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[liberationtech] Open call: Ageing companions / Geprogrammeerde veroudering / Les cyborgs vieillissants

Wendy Van Wynsberghe wendy at
Wed Mar 7 04:49:15 PST 2018

*Ageing companions / Geprogrammeerde veroudering / Les cyborgs 
Collective worksession in Brussels, Belgium, from 17-23 June 2017

[call closes April 18]



The lifecycles of different species are linked via electronic circuits 
with limited lifespan: accessories that measure biorhythms or monitor 
the growth-rate of specimens; interactive medical implants, networked 
pacemakers or wireless defibrillators are an everyday reality. As 
minerals, plants, animals, people and machines wear out, the 
technologies they carry and/or are part of, age as well. Their batteries 
might be empty, their computer chips break down or remote monitors can 
no longer handle the latest update. The ageing processes of biological 
and technological merge and it is not always so clear whether we are 
faced with physical or programmed obsolescence.

Under the influence of medicalisation, miniaturisation and algorithmic 
optimization, the prolongation of life seems to be a tech-only challenge 
without limits. Calibrated on the basis of constantly updating data 
flows, we become-older-together regardless of who or what has access, 
where we will stay all this time and how long we will last. Meanwhile, 
we generate dumping sites full of leaking bits and bytes, excess 
chargers and broken components. The associated ageing of bodies and 
devices takes place simultaneously in microseconds and in geological 
time, both on nano- and global scale. While tools innovate and flesh 
declines, faltering devices keep promising eternal youth.

During the worksession Ageing companions, we will work on the 
interconnected lifespan of both technology and bodies. How do ageing 
bodies keep each other and their technological partners company? How do 
they give an account of their generational specificities? Can we develop 
ecosystems that transcend time and scale in solidarity? Are bodyparts 
and extensions imaginable beyond the expiration date of concepts like 
The Internet of Things and The Quantified Self? How does ageism affect 
the "new" in so-called new technologies? What would it mean to engage in 
wild and mutual life-long learning?

Worksessions are intensive transdisciplinary moments that Constant 
organises twice a year. We create a temporary working environment where 
participants can link their different types of expertise in order to 
develop ideas and research projects together. We prefer to use Free, 
Libre and Open Source software and data available under an open license. 
Language: English, with inserts in Dutch and French.

Participants of all ages are welcome to apply. They have diverse 
backgrounds, disciplines and ages. We are looking for example for 
critical gerontologists, data feminists, reflective self-quantifiers, 
artists who work with wearables (who wears what?), sensors (who feels 
who?), micro-controllers (who controls what?).

During this intensive week we jointly develop prototypes, models and 
concepts that can stretch the imagination for the connected ageing of 
technology and body. We work hands-on with open hardware, visit a 
high-tech lab and contribute to a special episode of Pianorama (cinema 
for seniors). The week ends with a performance that Zoumana Méïté 
develops together with us over the course of the worksession.

Ageing companions takes place in Brussels from Sunday evening 17 June to 
Saturday evening 23 June 2018. Participation is free of charge, Constant 
provides lunch and travel plus accommodation if necessary. Constant 
already invited a number of participants to start the session. In 
addition, 15 places are available via this open call.

If you are interested in participating, please send an e-mail to 
wendy at before 18 April 2018 and briefly motivate your 
participation. Also mention your chronological, biological and/or 
subjective age. We will reply no later than 25 April 2018.

Ageing companions is developed by the association for art and media, 
Constant in collaboration with the kunstenwerkplaats and community 
centre De Pianofabriek.


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