Prototypes have acquired much prominence and visibility in recent times. Software development is perhaps the case par excellence, where the release of non-stable versions of programmes has become commonplace, as is famously in free and open source software. Developers are here known for releasing beta or work-in-progress versions of their programmes, as an invitation or call for others to contribute their own developments and closures. An important feature of prototyping in this case is the incorporation of failure as a legitimate and very often empirical realisation.

Credits, Medialab-Prado, Madrid


My research interest in the cultures of prototyping lies in their contemporary anthropological figuration as both material culture and sociological theory: prototyping as something that happens to social relationships when one approaches the craft and agency of objects in particular ways. A cultural moment, then, when the prototype stands for the mutual prefiguration of objects and sociality; when objects and social relationships are recursively parenthesised, now as protos, now as types, with respect to each other.


To this day my work on the cultures of prototyping has been a collaborative project with my colleague Adolfo Estalella. You can find out more about our work in a blog we have been curating for over two years now, Prototyping, on the cultures of social and political experimentation in Madrid.


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