Dr Betti Marenko

Profile image of Research Leader, Product Ceramic and Industrial Design Programme Contextual Studies Leader, BA (Hons) Product Design

Research Leader, Product Ceramic and Industrial Design Programme Contextual Studies Leader, BA (Hons) Product Design

Central Saint Martins

Biography

Betti Marenko is Research Leader for the Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design Programme, and Contextual Studies Leader for the BA (Hons.) Product Design. She has a background in philosophy, semiotics and cultural studies and has written extensively about the practices and politics of post-human corporeality. Her PhD investigated the skin-based, affective metamorphosis of permanently marked bodies via Deleuze, Guattari and Spinoza.

Her research focuses on the intersection of design and philosophy. Her scholarship on Deleuze and design is internationally recognized, and she co-edited with Jamie Brassett the volume Deleuze and Design, Edinburgh University Press 2015.

Her current work focuses on computation, philosophy and design by critically examining the new contingent logics of digital computation in the light of nonhuman theories. She is interested in the relationship between technology and magic, and researches animism as a post-human, post-user, post-cognitive narrative of reframing interaction with digital objects as human-nonhuman relationality.

She is regularly invited to speak on digital materiality, animism and interaction, computation and non-human design. She has lectured at MIT, CCA San Francisco, IDE Zurich, University of Belgrade, and the University of Urbino. Her work is published in renowned international journals.  She is on the editorial board of Design and Culture.

Research interests

Deleuze and Guattari, design, The Nonhuman, animistic design, computational making, digital materiality, minor practises.

Research statement

Betti Marenko’s research is located at the intersection of design with the philosophical thought of Deleuze and Guattari. Her work examines the tensions between design taken as way of speculating on, and instigating, the future, and thought that addresses materiality, affect, the virtual and the nonhuman.

She is currently researching digital uncertainty in computational design from a nonhuman philosophical perspective, and looking at design processes as non-linear unpredictable events best captured by intuition and minor practices. In particular, she examines the incomputable power of algorithms through the lens of Deleuze’s notion of the virtual and the actual to speculate on how algorithm-driven patterns of differentiation and instability are inducing a shift from design formalism to a new technical logic of digital computation, more contingent, discontinuous, interpretative and intuitive.

To articulate this line of enquiry, some of her writing look at the genealogies of the technological imagination, and at how the history of automata and stage magic inform the contemporary digitalization of experience. Other writing have focused on the material morphogenesis of the technodigital object - and the mobile intensities that characterise it - to account for the evolving intelligence of the current objectscape.

In collaboration with Phil van Allen, Professor of Interaction Design and Media Design Practice at the MFA program Art Center College of Design Pasadena, she has been developing the notion of ‘Animistic Design’ as a key narrative to explore alternative models of interaction between humans and the nonhumanity of digital objects.

Students

Betti Marenko is interested in hearing from potential PhD students interested in Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy in relation to design practices and theories; animism, agency and thing theory; computation and digital materiality.

Selected research outputs