metaLAB (at) Harvard

Among the options and opportunities available to students in Comparative Literature is participation in metaLAB: an idea foundry, knowledge-design lab, and production studio experimenting in the networked arts and humanities, founded and led by Comp Lit department chair, Jeffrey Schnapp. metaLAB is located both at Harvard University and the Freie Universität Berlin. The offices work together as well as independently on a project portfolio that extends from generative AI-informed teaching to data storytelling to the development of interactive museum exhibitions.

Rooted in the arts and humanities, straddling scholarly, critical, and creative practice, metaLAB is a community of scholars, designers, artists, makers, technologists, curators, and educators dedicated to modeling new forms of cultural communication, creative and critical practice, and knowledge production.

  • metaLAB is an idea foundry in the sense that it is committed to ideation, debate, speculation, and theorization across the disciplinary grid.
  • metaLAB is a knowledge design lab inasmuch as it consists of a portfolio of projects that translate ideas into practical expressions, from experimental books and pamphlets to museum installations to software platforms and data visualizations to participatory events.
  • metaLAB is a production studio because it is committed to bringing together the mind and the hand, thinking and making. It tests out hypotheses and ideas by developing and delivering a wide array of outputs including database documentaries, software platforms, artworks, exhibitions, studio courses and workshops, data visualizations, and curatorial projects.

metaLAB (at) Harvard was founded in 2011 and is an institutional unit within the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, where it is involved in the Center’s research efforts in such domains as artificial intelligence, social justice, internet governance, cybersecurity, and the law. It is physically located on the 4th floor of 42 Kirkland Street within Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Because design practice is fundamental to its ethos, metaLAB maintains close ties to GSD faculty, students, and academic programs, as well as to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

metaLAB (at) FU Berlin was founded in 2022 and is housed at the Institut für Theaterwissenschaft. As a joint international research initiative with metaLAB (at) Harvard, it operates as a transdisciplinary platform for the exploration of new knowledge practices in the scientific, cultural and social domains with a focus on critical data science and experimental museology. metaLAB (at) FU’s approach and aim is to develop practice-based research projects in collaboration with both Berlin-based and European cultural institutions and research partners.

Entering an exploratory phase in 2023 is metaLAB (at) HGK Basel hosted by the Academy of Art and Design, University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Basel, Switzerland. This new platform plans to support research, teaching, and science-to-public formats that foster more-than-human transdisciplinary collaborations, integrating urban and sensory ethnography, expanded scenography, and feminist spatial practices.

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