Axelle Van Wynsberghe is a Belgian social anthropologist. She has most recently worked at the European Commission's Joint Research Center on policy issues concerning digital technologies and society. She has also worked as an researcher and curator for art institutions in the Netherlands. She received her BA in Cultural Studies & Social Anthropology at the University of Kent, as well as an MA in Arts & Society at Utrecht University. She has won the University of Kent’s Public Engagement Prize in 2017 for her ethnographic film ‘In One Vital Motion’, and was the editor-in-chief of an award-winning magazine in the UK.Locked Pro Plan feature
At the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, I was part of the ‘Knowledge Management: Concepts and Methods’ Unit (H1), focusing on citizen engagement in science and technology policy. I conducted research on experimental forms of citizen engagement and governance as well as ethnographic fieldwork within the JRC in preparation for the future Makerspace of the Ispra site. I contributed to the Unit’s collaboration with science museums, and their design and discourse analysis work on topics such as automated vehicles and genomics. I also spoke at and moderated at: the Connected & Automated Vehicles Inception Workshop (May 6th 2019), Co-Creating Living Labs (May 14th 2019), and the JRC Makerspace Inauguration (May 15th-16th 2019).
Researcher & Co-Curator for Creative Coding Utrecht's HELLO WORLD! exhibition taking place in Utrecht, between the 1-4th of November. As part of Creative Coding Utrecht’s HELLO WORLD! exhibition team, I conducted fieldwork and set up the research structure and program for the exhibition together with director Fabian van Sluijs. As part of this, I conducted 12 filmed semi-structured interviews throughout the Netherlands with participating artists. I lead the development of the Creative Coding Cabinet of Curiosities (CCCOC) strand of the exhibition, curating and collecting artifacts and working with the production team to exhibit the works. I also did editing and copywriting for CCU’s, which is part of their research into creative coding culture and practices.
LIMA stores, archives and preserves digital art. I supported their research on preservation strategies for complex digital objects, and offer a sociopolitical perspective on artworks which address digital culture. I was also involved in the research and publications LIMA's 'Cultural Matter' symposiums, which include artists Nicholas O’Brien, Harm van den Dorpel, Constant Dullaart, and UBERMORGEN.
This interdisciplinary masters programme includes cultural studies and media theory, aesthetics and art history, anthropology and sociology, and is meant to prepare students to be "a leading figure in the global arts, media, and cultural sectors of the future". My MA thesis focuses on the mythos of the born-digital art field, and how these myths are used by artists as a creative platform through which to comment on our post-digital condition.
Throughout my studies in Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, I have grown deeply interested in the impact of digital technology and media practices in contemporary sociality, politics, and art. As part of my Anthropology courses, I have developed a strong theoretical background in power and economy, violence and conflict, development, and ethnographic research and writing. My background in Cultural Studies complements this understanding through a thorough cultural analysis of how media is altering our contemporary sociality, identities, and notions of space and time. I have in-depth research experience on digital culture and issues of internet governance, such as citizenship, privacy, the surveillance industry. To give a few examples, I have conducted a case study on big data in relation to citizen autonomy, and have also researched new media arts collectives composed of internet activists for my undergraduate thesis, ‘The Malign Torsion of the Hyperreal: Simulation & Subversion in Cyberspace | Free Art & Technology Lab: A Case Study’.
'In One Vital Motion' was an ethnographic film on the poetry scene in Canterbury: "This ethnographic film follows the journeys of Kyle Lovell, Henry Maddicott, and Anh-Khoi Nguyen - three poets in Canterbury, Kent, in England. The film traces their personal negotiations with what 'good poetry' is to them, showcasing the ways in poetry is personal, not only in its content but in its practice. It also explores the spontaneous liminal spaces created through the poetry events and sharing groups which allow for acts of self disclosure, and foster intimacy as well as deep bonds of friendship."
Created and built the team for an independent art and politics magazine, of which I was the Editor-In-Chief. Designed visuals, created an original logo, wrote articles, and lead discussions on contemporary issues. Self-funded and published, its events were financially one of the most successful evenings of the Bramley's Bar.