BIO 26| Common Knowledge | Bodies of Knowledge
14 November 2019 — 09 February 2020

The 26th Biennial of Design, curated by Austrian design curator and cultural producer Thomas Geisler together with assistant curator Aline Lara Rezende, is taking on one of the greatest challenges of our time: information. Under the motto Common Knowledge, this year’s Biennial of Design tackles the information crisis.


Working with content, structures, and stakeholders, the 26th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana, BIO 26| Common Knowledge, hopes to find ways, unearth projects, and explore concepts and systems that can serve to turn this disruptive chaos in and of information into creative knowledge clusters. The notion of “common knowledge” relates and refers to what people know; more broadly, it refers to what people think and how they structure their ideas, feelings, and beliefs. Furthermore, the term “common knowledge” carries a sense of communal or shared knowledge.


In an attempt to pin down the comprehensive theme, BIO 26| Common Knowledge adopted the data– information–knowledge–wisdom (DIKW) Knowledge Hierarchy diagram. The DIKW system will be used as a base to structure the central exhibition, commissions, catalogue and public programs at BIO 26| Common Knowledge. The central exhibition and accompanying catalogue, which will be released as a magazine of 5 issues, will be divided into five thematic chapters: the four components of the pyramid diagram -data, information, knowledge, and wisdom- and one introductory chapter dedicated solely to the 'information crisis' as a whole.


BIO 26| Common Knowledge will be organized around a central exhibition of already existing projects that will be presented at MAO, and six major commissioned experimental projects by multidisciplinary teams selected through a designathon process. These will be displayed at and with partnering institutions central to knowledge production and dissemination, such as a museum (in this case Museum of Modern Art plus Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova), library, university, and news and media organization, as well as a botanical garden and retirement home.


BIO 26| Common Knowledge is organized around a central exhibition of historic and contemporary projects that will be presented at MAO, the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana. At the central exhibition prominent works of Superflux, Dunne & Raby, Otto Neurath, Orson Welles, Viktor Papanek, Forensic Architecture, Otl Aicher, acclaimed infographist Jaime Serra, editorial designers Mark Porter & Francesco Franchi and the intrinsic Institute of Patent Infringement project will be on show. The 26th Biennial of Design is proud to collaborate with international partners, such as ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany and MU Eindhoven from The Netherlands. Both are showing exciting exhibitions on the framework of the biennial.


This year, the curatorial team decided to use a different approach for the commissioned projects. Up until now, hackathon events are a known part of the design and innovation world, and for the first time this methodology was used to commission projects for a biennial/exhibition purpose. After an open call and two designathons (a hackathon with a design and curatorial twist) in May and July, the nominated teams of the 6 commissioned projects presented their final concepts during the show off at MAO.


An international jury of prominent experts — renowned Slovenian innovation scholar Aleš Pustovrh, curator at the Vitra Design Museum Amelie Klein, accomplished writer and director of the Design Museum in London Deyan Sudjic, professor of philosophy and fine art and a senior research tutor at the Royal College of Art in London Johnny Golding and curator at Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana Maja Vardjan —selected the best projects by institution to progress to the next phase. Their projects received funds to be developed further into validated prototypes, installations, services, or systems to be exhibited during the biennial. The teams were guided by international design mentors: CommonplacePaolo PatelliApolonija ŠušteršičKathrina DanklFuturefarmers in Bureau d'études, their works will also be included in the central exhibition at MAO.


Curator : Thomas Geisler

Austrian design curator and cultural producer Thomas Geisler curated international exhibitions for the Vienna Biennale (2015 and 2017), London Design Biennale (2016 and 2018), Vitra Design Museum, and many others. In July he started in his new post as the director of the Museum of Decorative Arts – Dresden State Art Collections (SKD). Before that he was the director of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald – the crafts and trade initiative of the Bregenzerwald region – where he was leading exhibitions and other initiatives, overlapping innovative craftsmanship, design and architecture. He was also the curator and head of the Design Collection at the MAK Vienna. He played a pivotal role in establishing the Victor J. Papanek Foundation at the University for Applied Arts Vienna and is a co-founder of Vienna Design Week.


Assistant Curator: Aline Lara Rezende

Curator, designer and journalist Aline Lara Rezende previously worked with Paola Antonelli at MoMA, New York, in the pioneer department, known as MoMA R&D--a curatorial driven initiative that, among other objectives, explores the potential and responsibility of museums as public actors, with the vision of establishing cultural institutions as the R&D departments of society. Furthermore, Lara Rezende has worked for The National Art Center, Tokyo; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; the Sao Paulo Biennale; and collaborating with the Vitra Design Museum. She is the co-founder of SALOON Wien, a network for women working in the arts in Vienna. As a journalist, she writes critically on the crossroads of design and cultural shifts for various international outlets.



Challenge 2 | The Museum: A Meaningful Online/Offline Experience
In collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art


During a period of intensive digitization, museums have created a large amount of material in digital form. The museum of the future integrates physical and digital space seamlessly and creatively to reach not only its audience but to impact society at large.


The number one priority of any museum is to allow public access to its collections. The Museum of Modern Art has been looking for new ways of accessing and using museum collections that would go beyond the simple concept of making the material digitally searchable and identifiable through rich metadata. Their challenge for the participants was to find ways of opening up digital data, not only as research information but as a physical experience, with the purpose to stimulate the public to use and understand its archives and collections.


Selected project: Bodies of Knowledge


Opening: Thursday, 14 November 2019, 7 — 10 p.m., at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova


Bodies of Knowledge is a “playable archive” installation created in collaboration with the The Temporary Slovenian Dance Archives, Rok Vevar at the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, +MSUM. It allows visitors to access and contribute to archive content through their gestures. The installation shifts the archive from a site of knowledge retrieval to one of knowledge production and disassembling and mobilizing its documents, technologies, and institutional framings into new compositions. In the spirit of modern dance, Bodies of Knowledge breaks the internal logic of the archive by releasing the emancipatory power of movement. Historiographic structures dissolve, allowing the emergence of alternative wisdoms.


Bodies of Knowledge integrates physical and digital space seamlessly, including the visitors, their bodies, and their movements into the architecture of the archive, both conceptually and spatially. Its intention is to open up digital data not only as research information but as a physical experience, to stimulate the use and understanding of the archive and collection by the public.


The archive content accessed within the space blends existing archive footage from the Temporary Slovene Dance Archive with user-generated footage that is recorded as people move through the space. Appropriating technologies of computer vision and pattern recognition from existing digital surveillance tools, the installation captures images of the visitors’ bodies, analyzing, categorizing, and dissecting them, to include them in the spatial displays. In addition, live captured body parts bring fragments from the archive back into the space. The recognition of a visitor’s hand activates an isolated selection of archived materials in which other hands appear; a downward movement from the visitor brings falls, failings, and releases into the space. Gestures of visitors accessing content are recorded, classified, and then fed into the overall system, adding the footage to the existing dance.


Participants: Cyrus Clarke, Juliana Lewis, Monika Seyfried, Giulia Cordin, Luigi Savio, project manager Matevž Straus

Design Mentor: Paolo Patelli
Knowledge Mentor: Ida Hiršenfelder

online exhibition