Moritz Greiner-Petter

I'm a designer and researcher based in Basel (CH), with a background in visual communication and digital media design. As a researcher and practitioner I'm interested in exploring the media aesthetics and epistemes of information technologies through design practice. My work takes the form of speculative artifacts and interface prototypes, experimental on- and offline publishing formats as well as writing.

Since 2013, I have been working on various research, design and publication projects at the Critical Media Lab, part of the Institute Experimental Design and Media Cultures, Basel Academy of Art and Design FHNW, as well as developing institutional communication and collaboration tools and formats at the lab.

Currently, I'm also developing digital interfaces for archival research within the SNSF-funded research project Visualpedia at University Lucerne, Department of Cultural and Science Studies.

I'm constantly concerned with: 💿 media-reflexive gestures 🔘 critical interfaces 📁 digital materiality 🔩 the generative poetics of standards and formats 🖇 thinking tools and notational virtuosity 🎚 nuance and ambiguity in digital structures and representations 🐚 organizing knowledge otherwise 🔗 institutional interfaces and media formats of collaboration 🗄 books, shelves and other media of organisation and display.


since 2013
Junior researcher at the Institute Experimental Design and Media Cultures / Critical Media Lab, Basel Academy of Art and Design FHNW.

Designer at Fraunhofer Society, Department for Responsible Research and Innovation, Berlin.

Graduation in Visual Communication (diploma) at the Berlin University of the Arts, College of Architecture, Media and Design.

Selected Projects
How to Build a Lie — Performance Lecture, 2020

Together with Jamie Allen, I developed a lecture performance for Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, part of his artistic research project The Lie Machine / How to Build a Lie on voice stress analysis and other media objects and technologies associated with “lie detection” and “truth verification”.

For the presentation we created a courtroom-style media scenography for which I developed a custom browser-based media player for multiple screens.

Special thanks to Benoît Verjat for his invaluable support.
Ultimate Fail Compilation — Generative Video, 2018

Wheels of Misfortune
In the deluge of daily video compilations of epic fails, bad karma and what-could-go-wrongs, the two-wheeled electric hoverboard looms as a peculiarly devilish contraption – a failure machine by thoughtless design, a vehicle for the endless replication of human humiliation. With carpet corners and kitchen counters as natural enemies, the accident is an inevitability in its fleeting service life.

Misery Loves Company
Fueled by the omnipresence of smartphone cameras, the pleasure industry of mediated misery strives. No personal fail that goes unrecorded in the global village of stupid neighbors and coworkers having a bad day. The tacit conventions of domestic smartphone videography reveal the choreographies of failure to unfold in remarkably similar ways. The media-aesthetic uniformity of everyday fails yields a communal catharsis: We all fail the same.

Fail Army
The visual compilation of collective failures merges the individual struggle into the universal tale of the epic fail. One's own mindless mishap becomes the expression of an eternal cycle of failure, a repetitive pattern of similitude, an ideal type, an emblematic fail.

Complete Failure
In the “Ultimate Fail Compilation”, the relentless vertigo of fragmented moments of near failure suspends the expectation of disaster indefinitely. The result is an unstable state of permanent crisis, that cruelly deprives us of the satisfaction of the comedic collapse – the ultimate relief of malicious glee.

Ultimate Fail Compilation is a series of generative video loops in various versions. Fail videos found online are manually processed with a custom-made frame annotation tool to align their movement and positioning. The final animations are programmatically generated by combining and blending the clips based on their frame data. Made with Processing.
Critical by Design? — Conference Design / Publication, 2018 & 2022

As part of the research team of the project Critical Artifacts, I co‑organised Critical by Design?, an international conference on the potentials and limitations of design as a mode of critique. It was held on May 17–18, 2018 at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel.

Together with Meike Hardt, I also developed the design concept, website and conference materials.

The design is based upon a combinatorial play with terms taken from critical design discourse. Two different concepts are combined into ever changing variations of the conference title to underline the questioning and interrogative perspective of the symposium. Each of the juxtaposed terms is related to a large set of found imagery used to generate evocative collages that enrich interpretations of the concepts.
Following the conference, I co-edited the volume Critical by Design? Genealogies, Practices, Positions (together with Prof. Dr. Claudia Mareis and Prof. Michael Renner), published by Transcript Publishing in 2022. We co-wrote the introduction and I contributed an article on Critical practices of design at the peripheries of the discipline. The design of the book was developed by Meike Hardt and Marius Förster.

With contributions by Annette Geiger, Bruno Gransche, Emanuele Quinz, Michaela Büsse, Mara Recklies, Anja Groten, Bianca Elzenbaumer & Meike Hardt, Patrycja Zdziarska with Jeffrey Bardzell & Shaowen Bardzell, Emile De Visscher, Moritz Greiner-Petter, Janneke Wesseling, Guy Julier, Carl DiSalvo, Jesko Fezer, Björn Franke, Matt Ward, Marius Förster & Meike Hardt, and an introduction by Claudia Mareis, Moritz Greiner-Petter & Michael Renner.
The digital version of the open access book is freely available online. I highly recommend getting one of the beautiful print editions as well:
WINDOWS — Exhibition / Software Boxes, 2017

WINDOWS is an invitational installation in the front window of COMPUTER + SOFTWARE, a computer store in Basel that has been in existence since 1984. Jamie Allen and I asked a group of 16 artists and friends* to design a software box for our contemporary digital era. A series of interviews as part of the research looks into the early history and practice of software retail packaging design.

* With contributions by Aram Bartholl, Benoît Verjat, Bernhard Garnicnig, Ciara Phillips, Constant Dullaart, Evan Roth, Geraldine Juárez, Ishac Bertran, Jan Robert Leegte, Peter Moosgaard, Phillip Stearns, Pussykrew, Evan Roth, Rosa Menkman, Sebastian Schmieg, Suzanne Treister and Windows93.
T9 Numerology — Phone book / System Poetry, 2017

T9 (short for ›text on 9 keys‹) is a predictive text technology developed in 1995. It was designed to optimize text entry on 3×4 numeric cell phone keypads commonly used at that time. On these standard 12-key layouts the number keys from ›2‹ to ›9‹ are assigned to a group of three to four letters each. In T9, a sequence of single keystrokes is matched against a stored dictionary. Words associated to the entered sequence of numbers are then presented to the user to choose from. Coincidentally and inherent to the working principle of T9, one sequence of keystrokes can potentially represent many different words. This guide book compiles an incomplete and subjective selection of these so-called ›textonyms‹ to be found in the English language. It exposes the collateral poetry, incidental truisms, and semantic comedy that are latently lurking in encoding and compression technologies like T9.

120 pages, 2-color offset print on 130g/m² granulated paper. Edition of 250 copies.

The book's design is based on NOKIA's model 7110 handset, the first mobile phone to commercially implement T9 technology. It incorporates a modified version of NOKIA's iconic display font, adopts the device's key layouts and a page color reminiscent of late 1990s mobile phone LCD screens.

🛒 Available at Motto books
🛒 Buy directly
Impossible Escapes — Escape and Evasion Map, 2017

The third in a series of experimental publications designed for the Critical Media Lab's collaboration with transmediale festival in Berlin. The foldout map addresses illusive modern tendencies to escape – be it from technology, society, or earth – in various vignettes and collected anecdotes. The publication accompanied a workshop that took place during the 2017 transmediale festival "ever elusive". The map was exclusively distributed throughout the festival and through special editions of Neural magazine's issue 56.

Conceptually as well as formally, the design combines two different genres of "escape maps": On the one hand, the graphical language alludes to architectural emergency or evacuation plans, mainly through the use of custom icons, typography and the integration of a simplified plan of the actual festival venue. On the other hand, the written collection of escape tactics and the map's materiality – printed on durable synthetic paper and folded for practicality – speak the language of escape and evasion maps used by the military.

More info: (Archived website)
Order: My Holy Nacho — Website / Parametric PDF Publication, 2016

This online artwork was commissioned by Kunsthal Aarhus as part of the project My Holy Nacho* by Jamie Allen and Bernhard Garnicnig. It enacts an online order process that results in uniquely generated order documents for each customer, that I designed and coded in collaboration with the artists. The project points to forms of networked labour and production and the idealized promise of seamless digital command. The website and generated documents lean heavily into the formal language of online order forms and the ambiguity of remote specification.

The online piece consists of a website with a set of randomized order instructions and material selections. After submitting a shipping address and placing an order, a server-side script generates a personalized and unique order confirmation in form of a PDF. The document features generated material samples and specifications, several custom-designed diagrams of material compositions, a process diagram combining stock images of heavy machinery and an aleatoric machine name generator, and a shipping route map based on the customer's location.

*My Holy Nacho is a durational sculptural project that uses the Internet to create a work of art. A single, randomly chosen object was sent all over the world, and in series treated using material and industrial processes available via online order. It was first presented as Unboxing: My Holy Nacho at Kunsthal Aarhus in 2015. The online commission Order: My Holy Nacho is hosted in conjunction with Copenhagen’s Nikolaj Kunsthal and the exhibition-performance Sectioning: My Holy Nacho, in which the sculptural object is dissected and destroyed.

Order: My Holy Nacho (Website)
Unmaking: 5 Anxieties — Card Deck / Kitification, 2016

The Critical Media Lab together with the Research Institute for Arts and Technology as well as guest researcher Tom Jenkins held a discussion session on maker culture and its discontents at transmediale 2016 in Berlin. As a conversation starter we developed an Unmaking Kit – a publication in card deck format organized around five thematic anxieties. I designed the cards including their faux particle board packaging.

The card deck apes similar forms of supposedly creativity-conjuring and game-like techniques as IDEO's Method Cards or Oblique Strategies. The kitification and commodification of creativity sold in form of maker kits is one of the many critical aspects addressed in the card deck itself. The format also is taking up critical toolkits like the Critical Making Design Process Cards or Design Friction Kits and more generally is inspired by open publication formats like Fluxus artists' books.

Download Card Deck (PDF, 15MB)

More info:
Bread and Roses and Data — Desktop Performance / Data Labour, 2015

At the conference Data Traces in Basel, Jamie Allen held a performative lecture on labour aspects of networked production. Together we developed a desktop performance staging the exhaustive layers of online interfaces, services and tools that constitute the work space for the talk itself.

A predefined list of web searches and online documents as well as programmed desktop actions as dramatic intermissions are triggered live and in sync with the lecture script, embracing the thematic laboriousness. The system is realized in AppleScript, a programming interface for the automation of Mac OS.

Video Documentation
Three Questions On Media Criticality — Booklet / Website / Media-Reflexivity, 2015

I designed a field notebook and website accompanying a discussion session held by the Critical Media Lab at transmediale 2015 in Berlin. The publication compiles concise answers by invited scholars and practitioners in the field of media studies and arts to three questions on the notion of criticality of, in, and through media technologies.

The layout of the publication draws on self-reflexivity regarding its own media format, showing all pages on each and every page in a revolving arrangement that also mirrors the circularity of the ring binding. The system becomes differently apparent in the dynamic online version. That way, the design refers equally to traditions of book design (like the density and hierarchy of medieval script) as to algorithmically generated data representations (in its adaptive system and synoptic view).
Displayce — Interface Experiments, 2014

Displayce is a series of experimental web interface patterns which appropriate the functionalities of Google's mapping service. In a manner of purposeless play they try to allow for unintentional usage and perplexing aesthetics of (dis)orientation.

A print version of the project is available as limited edition folders each with a set of four unique A2 posters generated from the web interface.

IXDM / CML — Designing (for) an Institute, 2013–now

Since 2013, I’ve been responsible for the communication design of the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures* (IXDM) and its Critical Media Lab at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design Basel in my role as designer and junior researcher at the institute.

* In 2021, the institute was restructured and expanded. The logos above are part of the new identity of the lab. The posters and covers below are earlier work.
Besides the continuous design of most of the outward facing communication elements, the project entails the development of organizational tools and structures within the institute – from digital message boards to spatial design elements for the research lab. These have been developed over several years to augment the specific collaborative research practices of the group.
The work includes, among other elements large and small: design (and later re-design) of the institute’s website, visual concepts for brochures and various online and print announcements, implementation of a custom e-mail-driven message board system and other internal communication platforms, co-design of a showcase shelving system for the lab, development of an adaptive exhibition system for the presentation of video portraits of the researchers.
Precise Ambiguities — Critical Artifacts / Graduation Project, 2012

Precise Ambiguities is a collection of self-critical Denkwerkzeuge (tools of thought). The project consists of a number of metaphorical artifacts trying to reflect on our ability to relate to the world and its phenomena through the tools we create. By irritations in their conventional form or behaviour the project tries to shift the focus to the unmarked blind spots of our tools of thought, especially digital ones.
Scope — Installation / Tangible Time, 2009

Scope is a digitally augmented installation that allows you to haptically interact with a set of chronological image data. A growth process of plants is captured alongside the installation is exhibited. Sand on a reactive surface represents an amount of time passed. By manipulating the sand different moments of the growth process can be made visible projected directly upon the material. The visual data becomes apparently materialized in an interaction that metaphorically and sensually suits the content. → Video
Mirrorcle — Installation / Slow Media, 2009

Mirrorcle exposes hidden messages through a person's breath. Due to its slowness and fuzzyness the developed display technology shows intriguing analogue qualities. The narrative potentials of the protoype were explored with short oracle-like messages triggered by the proximity of a person.
Memo — Interactive Object / Gestures, 2009

Memo is a prototype for a gadget that allows to store short messages for display in public or private spaces. The box itself works as an input device that decodes writing gestures to letters, somewhat like a clumsy digital stylus. The resulting message can be displayed by tilting the box and is stored, for others to discover. → Video
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