Humans are situated beings: they are the product of their relationships with their surroundings. Therefore, to understand ourselves and our behaviour is to understand how these are intertwined with environmental, social, and cultural factors.
Operating under this premise, the research group Situated Art and Design sees an unprecedented need for artists and designers to consider aesthetics ‘in the wild’. Living in cities developed around data and acting within the inscrutable structure of our techno-society demands art and design that can help understand how we relate to these rapidly changing surroundings and to reflect on that relationship. To effectively do so, the production and presentation of art and design must itself be situated within these environments and structures, rather than confined to secluded studios and the sterile environs of galleries and museums.
The research group Situated Art and Design responds to this exigency by fostering a ‘situated turn in art and design’ through a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research projects, ranging from design research on innovative technologies that enable embodied experiences to artistic research on urban planning from embedded positions.
The research group Situated Art and Design is part of Avans University of Applied Sciences and was founded in 2015 – originally operating under the name ‘Human-Centred Creation’. Chair of the research group is Professor Dr. Michel van Dartel. Alongside his work at Caradt, Michel also is Director of V2_Lab for the Unstable Media. The research group includes tutor- and student-researchers from the three academies affiliated to Caradt, as well as several independent researchers and associated members.
Under the leadership of Professor van Dartel, the research group frequently publishes its findings in peer-reviewed academic periodicals and other professional literature. It also achieves significant academic, cultural and social impact through strategic partnerships with academic and cultural partners, as well as with government and industry, and aims to foster the situated turn through its impact on art and design education.
Over the past five years, our research has led to an extensive list of publications and (international) presentations. Besides this academic impact through the publication of knowledge outcomes, our research also has cultural impact through the presentation, exhibition and trying-out of artworks and designs in partnerships with acknowledged art and design venues, such as Eye Film Museum (Amsterdam), TENT (Rotterdam), STRP (Eindhoven), Tetem (Enschede), V2_ (Rotterdam), Baltan Lab (Eindhoven), and Shanghai Theatre Academy (China). Finally, to increase the social impact of our research, much of our research is embedded within strategic long-term partnerships with government and industry, as well as other universities, cultural platforms, and funding bodies, such as our long-standing collaborations with the municipalities of Den Bosch and Breda or the international event for the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing, Sencity (Utrecht), our multiyear collaborative (PhD) research projects with Tilburg University and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, our recurring collaborations with KITT Engineering, Dans Ateliers, The Patching Zone, and V2_, and our advisory roles to the Taskforce for Applied Research, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and the Dutch National Science Agenda.
Finally, to foster a situated turn in art and design, our group aims to make art and design education more aware of the challenges and benefits this turn implies. Besides regular presentations on our research progress within the educational field, we have impact on education by involving Avans teachers and students in our research as (co-)researchers and by actively informing curriculum development with our research outcomes: our research outcomes have for instance been fundamental to the development of new research minors, became mandatory reading for art and design students, and led to the development of a new master’s programme in Situated Design. Besides our impact on education at Avans, we aim for national impact on education through our group’s involvement in the platform Onderwijs op het snijvlak van Kunst, Wetenschap en Technologie, which adopted a selection of insights from our research as its manifesto.