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Volkswagen Foundation funds Research Project "Boundary Values: Operational Relationships of Climate and Migration" at the Department of Design

Das Bild zeigt ein Patrouillenboot im südlchen Mittelmeer zwischen Italien und Tunesien.
Patrouillenboot im südlchen Mittelmeer zwischen Italien und Tunesien © Winfried Gerling 2022

The Volkswagen Foundation has approved funding totalling EUR 346,900 for the research project "Grenzwerte: Operative Verhältnisse von Klima und Migration". The project is embedded in the programme "Aufbruch – Neue Forschungsräume für die Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften" in the Exploration profile area of the Volkswagen Foundation. The project is headed by Prof. Winfried Gerling, Professor of Concept and Aesthetics of New Media in the European Media Studies programme at the Department of Design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam.

The project "Grenzwerte" deals with the complex relationships between climate and migration, which become effective not only politically and metaphorically, but also operationally through the use of sensors and data. The team of Svea Bräunert, Winfried Gerling and Paul Heinicker is focussing on the operational platform CALLISTO, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to merge data from satellites, drones and social media. The aim is to show that climate regulation and migration are connected and how this connection is established by means of apparatus, operations and semiotics.

Using a mix of methods from operational analysis, aesthetic research, data visualisation and theory, combined with expertise in photography, design, artistic research and curatorial practice, the interface of media studies in the fields of digital culture, environmental media and sensor technologies, borders and migration will be explored.

The researchers are initially focussing on CALLISTO as a case study, but assume that the findings will be transferable to other operational platforms. "We are delighted to receive funding from the Volkswagen Foundation and hope that our case study will contribute to a better understanding of how these novel operational platforms work and how we can analyse and describe them by drawing on text, images and data in equal measure," says the team.

About the Volkswagen Foundation
The Volkswagen Foundation promotes research and science in all its branches, particularly in the natural sciences, the humanities and technology. The Exploration profile area offers space for creative and daring research approaches that contribute to solving major, science-driven challenges and are intended to generate new knowledge without defined utilisation contexts.

The Volkswagen Foundation's Exploration profile area supports projects such as this one, which promote unconventional ideas and advance into previously unexplored areas of research. The Foundation encourages people to take risks and contribute to solving major scientific challenges with unorthodox questions and experimental approaches.