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Dr Delfina Fantini van Ditmar

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  • Dr Delfina Fantini van Ditmar’s work investigates the socio-ecological and political implications of technological ‘smartness’ when applied to human bodies, homes and cities. Her research unpacks the tensions between algorithms and socio-spatial structures.

    Delfina is a tutor and researcher in Design Products, and a visiting lecturer on the MRes RCA Design pathway. Delfina also participates in the School of Design’s trans-disciplinary modules, including the Grand Challenge, which in 2019 was a collaboration between the Royal College of Art and CERN.

    In her teaching practice, Delfina encourages students to reflect on their design process, think systemically and critically analyse the broader implications of their decisions.

  • Biography

  • Delfina is a design researcher and lecturer. Delfina holds a BA in Biology and completed a year of an MFA at Konstfack University in Stockholm. 

    Delfina holds a PhD from the RCA with a thesis entitled ‘The IdIoT’. The thesis investigated the socio-political implications of technological ‘smartness’ and the algorithmic processes, characterised as the ‘Algorithmic Paradigm’, which are starting to permeate our bodies and the central infrastructure of our homes and cities. Specifically, her research questioned and critically analysed the embedded epistemology of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in the context of the ‘smart’ home. 

    Delfina has a transdisciplinary background linking design research, critical algorithmic studies, architecture, biology and the sociology of technology. She has been a crit and visiting lecturer in several institutions, including The Bartlett, Architectural Association, Canterbury University, Liverpool University and TU Berlin, among others.
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  • Practice

  • Delfina is a transdisciplinary researcher whose work focuses on the intersection between ‘smartness’, design, society, architecture and the environment.

    Her practice encourages a critical and reflective approach towards technological ‘smartness’. She is interested in exploring in depth the edges of design, HCI, critical algorithms studies and architecture disciplines. 

    During her career, Delfina has worked individually and collaborated in a number of projects. Key works include ‘SMART’ Fridge Session at the HQS Wellington, Digital Futures at the Sackler Centre at the V&A museum and 'What Your Kitchen Thinks it Knows About You' at the Natural History Museum. Delfina also collaborated in Dr Helga Schmid's chronobiology research project ‘Circadian Space’, commissioned by Z33 House for Contemporary Art for Istanbul Design Biennial 2018. 

    • Delfina has participated in a series of international conferences, including 
    • London Conference in Critical Thought
    • Internet of Things Philosophy Conference at York University 2014
    • 12th Annual Conference of the German Society of Design Theory and Research at Potsdam 2015
    • Senses and Spaces Conference at Harvard University 2015
    • Digital Cultures: Knowledge / Culture / Technology International Conference at Leuphana University
 2018
    • 15th Architectural Humanities Research Association International Conference
    • Smartness? between discourse and practice  at 
TU Eindhoven
 2018

    In 2019, Delfina also took part in ‘Behavioral Matter’, a transdisciplinary workshop at the Centre Pompidou.

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Delfina's publications range from a chapter in the book Ghost Pavilion for the Venice Biennale, an article for the journal ACM Interactions, a chapter in Springer, and an interview for the book A Better Place, a Next Generation Internet initiative funded by the European Commission and launched at European Parliament.

    Selected Conference Papers and Lectures

    (2018) 'The Diary of a ‘SMART’ Home', Digital Cultures: Knowledge / Culture / Technology International Conference, Leuphana University, Lüneburg

    (2018) The IdIoT in the ‘SMART’ Home. Smartness? between discourse and practice, 15th Architectural Humanities Research Association annual conference, TU Eindhoven

    (2015) with Leander Gussmann (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna), 'The Open Home and Internet of Things: Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?' Senses and Spaces II, Harvard University

    (2015) 'Reassembling Relationships: People, Systems, Things'. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Designtheorie und Forschung (DGTF) 12th Annual Conference of the German Society of Design Theory and Research. The Internet of Dwelling, University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam
University

    (2014) 'A Reflection on Dispersed Agency.' Internet of Things Philosophy Conference. York University

    (2014) 'Everyday Internet: A journey to the politics of the internet’s physical processes.' London Conference in Critical Thought., Goldsmiths University

    (2013) 'The Ubiquitous Window.' London Conference in Critical Thought, Royal Holloway University, London

    (2009) 'Fragile Conference. Bio-Cyber Cities.' Sint-Lucas School of Architecture, 2009.

    Selected Lectures and Talks

    (2019) 30 years of the web: where do we go next? Event organised as part of the European Commission's Next Generation Internet initiative. European Parliament. Brussels.

    (2019) Taking The Code for a Walk. Bartlett Pro. History and Theory lecture series. London, UK. 

    (2018) The 'SMART' home. Liverpool University. London, UK.

    (2018) Algorithmic Reductionism. Data Science UDD. Fundación Telefónica. Santiago, Chile.

    (2017) The Importance of Ethics in the Digitalization of Life. Youth Global Forum. Ministry of Youth. 
Dubai, UAE. 

    (2017) The IdIoT Proposition. IoT Day. V2 Institute for Unstable Media. Rotterdam, NL. 

    (2017) The IdIoT. Fundación Telefónica. Santiago, Chile. 

    Selected Workshops Colloquiums, Symposiums, Panel Discussions and Forums

    Workshops

    (2019) Does Design Care 2?
 Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRA) international workshop, 
Chiba University, Japan.

    (2019) Behavioural Matter, workshop part of the exhibition ‘La Fabrique du vivant’ public engagement program. Centre Pompidou, Paris.

    (2019) Next Generation Internet. Nesta, London. 

    (2018) The Algorithmic Paradigm 11th International Paris Workshop of the Design Theory SIG of the Design Society. MINES ParisTech: école d’ingénieurs, formation et recherche. Paris, France. 

    (2015) Nordes Design Ecologies. Organisers: Claudia Dutson, Delfina Fantini van Ditmar, Dan Lockton. Stockholm, Sweden.

    Colloquiums

    (2019) Colloque international: The limits to growth of the smart city : spaces and energies of digital infrastructures. Marne-la-Vallée. Paris, France. 

    (2017) The IdIoT. Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures / Critical Media Lab Academy of Art and Design FHNW. Basel, Switzerland. 

    Symposiums

    (2018) PACTMAN, EPSRC-funded project Trust, Identity, Privacy and (TIPS) by Design on Security in the Digital Economy. Edinburgh, Scotland.

    (2014) Imaginaries of the Future: Historicising the Present. Montreal, Canada. 

    Panel Discussions

    (2015) Open Home ‘Das Internet der Dinge’. Depot. Vienna, Austria. 

    Selected Book Chapters, Interviews and Journal Articles 

    Fantini van Ditmar, D. (2019) 'A Circular ‘SMART’ World'. Design Cybernetics: Navigating the new. Springer, pp. 101–117.

    Fantini van Ditmar, D. (2019) 'A Better Place: Towards a Collective Intelligence for Europe'. A project funded by the European Commission, pp. 50–54.

    Fantini van Ditmar, D. (2017) 'Deconstructing the ‘Smart’ Home'. Cybernetics: State of the art. TU Berlin University Press, pp. 166–173.

    Fantini van Ditmar, D. (2017) 'Design Research: The IdIoT’s Role In The ‘SMART’ Home'. Revista Diseña 11, pp.122–133.

    Fantini van Ditmar, D. (2017) The Algorithmic Desert. Ghost Pavillion publication. La Biennale di Venezia, 57th International Art Exhibition. Reflektor M. München, DE.

    Fantini van Ditmar, D & Lockton, D. (2016). 'Taking the code for a walk'. Interactions, 23 (1), pp. 68–71.

    van Ditmar D. F. & Glanville R. (eds.) (2013) 'Listening: Proceedings of ASC Conference 2011'. Special double issue of Cybernetics & Human Knowing 20.

    van Ditmar, D. (2011). 'Bio-Cyber Cities'. Fragile Conference Proceedings. Sint-Lucas School of Architecture. April 6-8, Brussels & Ghent, Belgium, pp 86-95. 

    Selected exhibitions

    (2015) SMART Fridge Session, Off The Wall Exhibition. HQS Wellington. London, UK.

    (2014) The Internet of Things: What Your Kitchen Thinks it Knows About You? Universities Week. Natural History Museum. London, UK. 2014. [Project in collaboration with Michael Kann]. 

    (2013) What Hath God Wrought? Digital Futures: Urban Open Space. Sackler Centre. Victoria & Albert Museum. London, UK. [Project in collaboration with Caroline Claisse]

    (2010) The Looking Glass (Drink me! Think me!). VIP room at the Nobel Prize NightCap. Stockholm School of Economics. Stockholm, Sweden. [Project in collaboration with Sanna Marander]

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  • Awards and Grants

  • (2014) Royal College of Art – Student-led fund – granted by the Research Methods Course to organise the seminar ‘In Anticipation of the Sixties: A talk by Jasia Reichardt’ and the workshop ‘The Search: Engineering Serendipity’. 

    (2012) PhD Scholarship. CONICYT. Advanced Human Capital Development Program. Chilean Government. 

    (2011) Heinz von Foerster Award. Indiana, USA.

    (2011) Best Paper Award. Fragile Conference. Sint-Lucas Architectuure University. Brussels, Belgium.

Selected work

Research

Research interests

Delfina’s research looks at ‘smart’ technology, both in terms of its historical development and its current status. Her investigations include a critical analysis of ‘intelligence’ from the origin of Artificial Intelligence (AI) up to the present Silicon Valley culture. 

In response to the rapid growth and commercialisation of ‘smart’ technology, Delfina’s work critically investigates and questions the algorithmic processes that are starting to permeate not only our bodies, but also the central infrastructure of our homes and cities. 

By problematising the ambiguities of ‘smart’ technology, her work examines the issues surrounding algorithmic logic and numerical reductionism, exposing  a series of controversies regarding the apparent neutrality at the core of ‘smartness’. 

Current and recent research

2014. Royal College of Art – Student-led fund – granted by the Research Methods Course to organise the seminar ‘In Anticipation of the Sixties: A talk by Jasia Reichardt’ and the workshop ‘The Search: Engineering Serendipity’. 

2012. PhD Scholarship. CONICYT. Advanced Human Capital Development Program. Chilean Government. 

2011. Heinz von Foerster Award. Indiana, USA.

2011. Best Paper Award. Fragile Conference. Sint-Lucas Architectuure University. Brussels, Belgium.