The Guerrilla Knowledge Unit (GKU) is an experimental artist collective that complicates conventional, anthropocentric pedagogical and technological interfaces — through performances, curatorial encounters and artistic works. Our transdisciplinary projects challenge “divisions of labour” [1] between tech developers and end users by bringing non-experts — curious amateurs — into a territory of collective inquiry [2, 3]. In doing so we seek to provocatively explore ways to collectively experiment and respond to “urgent” challenges facing contemporary education and the conservatisms of AI-enabled technologies. Recent work shrewdly gazes at the glossy claims made by new Ed-Tech innovations, through experimental strategies that take up, resist, and challenge conventional infrastructures of disciplinary bordering (curriculum), knowledge production (school) and transmission (teacher). 

The GKU collective was initially established as a transdisciplinary plug-in to the QUT (Queensland University of Technology) Ars Electronica Futurelab Academy. The purpose of the Academy is to support students and academics from international partner universities in the exploration of emergent methods for transdisciplinary creative practice and artistic thinking, a process that favours collective inquiry and experimentation over absolute solutions [4]. Over an eight-month timeframe leading up to the Festival, and in Brisbane, Australia, the GKU plug-in comprised undergraduate students from the QUT Faculty of Education joining with teams of students from the Creative Industries and Science & Engineering Faculties to design projects that responded to the Ars Electronica Festival theme: Artificial Intelligence / The Other I.

In plugging into the Academy, the GKU recognized the potential to test and explore how the practices of pre-service student teachers might expand and challenge the framework, experimentations and emerging ideas of the Academy projects. Specifically, what practical concepts could be translated and applied to their own concepts of teaching and education and understanding the values of artistic thinking as a method for new millennium pedagogies beyond the historically-dominant didactic approach. The transdisciplinary nature of the Academy fostered dynamic interactions between group members, so the GKU plug-in allowed the students to challenge their ideas of education as well as actively shape the direction of the arts-science-technology-education projects. Additionally, all students involved in the Academy periodically moved around and participated in the different projects, providing rich exposure to diverse transdisciplinary collective experimentation beyond their own degree subjects.

Over the time of the Academy and in the lead-up to the Festival the GKU honed its focus to create speculative installations about education possibilities and futures.

  1. Marres, N. (2012). The redistribution of methods: On intervention in digital social research, broadly conceived. The Sociological Review, 60, 139.
  2. Marres, N. (2012). Material Participation Technology, the Environment and Everyday Publics. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK: Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan.
  3. Marres, N. (2017) Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  4. Camnitzer, L. (2017). ‘Thinking About Art Thinking’. In Supercommunity: Diabolical togetherness beyond contemporary art, edited by Aranda, J., Wood, B.K., Vidokle, A., Negri, A., & Biennale di Venezia, 174 – 179. London; New York: Verso.