We are an idea foundry, knowledge-design lab, and production studio experimenting in the networked arts and humanities.
We are located at Harvard University and the Freie Universität Berlin. metaLAB (at) Harvard opened in 2011; metaLAB (at) FU Berlin opened in 2022. The offices work together as well as independently.
Like all platforms for experimentation, metaLAB is less a destination than a perpetual work in progress. Rooted in the arts and humanities, straddling scholarly, critical, and creative practice, it is a community of scholars, designers, artists, makers, technologists, curators, and educators dedicated to modeling new forms of cultural communication, creative and critical practice, and knowledge production.
metaLAB is an idea foundry in the sense that it is committed to ideation, debate, speculation, and theorization across the disciplinary grid.
metaLAB is a knowledge design lab inasmuch as it consists of a portfolio of projects that translate ideas into practical expressions, from experimental books and pamphlets to museum installations to software platforms and data visualizations to participatory events.
metaLAB is a production studio because it is committed to bringing together the mind and the hand, thinking and making. It tests out hypotheses and ideas by developing and delivering a wide array of outputs including database documentaries, software platforms, artworks, exhibitions, studio courses and workshops, data visualizations, and curatorial projects.
metaLAB (at) Harvard was founded in 2011 and is an institutional unit within the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, where it is involved in the Center’s research efforts in such domains as artificial intelligence, social justice, internet governance, cybersecurity, and the law. It is physically located on the 4th floor of 42 Kirkland Street within Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Because design practice is fundamental to its ethos, metaLAB maintains close ties to GSD faculty, students, and academic programs, as well as to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
metaLAB (at) FU Berlin was founded in 2022 and is housed at the Institut für Theaterwissenschaft. As a joint international research initiative with metaLAB (at) Harvard, it operates as a transdisciplinary platform for the exploration of new knowledge practices in the scientific, cultural and social domains with a focus on critical data science and experimental museology. metaLAB (at) FU’s approach and aim is to develop practice-based research projects in collaboration with both Berlin-based and European cultural institutions and research partners.
metaLAB is a porous community of experimentally-minded scholars, artists, designers, technologists, and thinkers, with affiliations and practices distributed worldwide. Together we instigate and manage a portfolio of projects: some we spin up ourselves; others involve partnerships with libraries, archives, and museums; others still involve commissions or competitions. Projects vary in scope and scale from provocations to platforms and weeks to years. Amidst the ebb and flow of projects, we come together for conversation and shared critique, inspiration, and collaboration. That conversation is ongoing and represents the heart of metaLAB as a community.
There are various forms of involvement with metaLAB.
Principals are faculty, staff, and affiliates with longstanding, sustained commitments to a number of metaLAB projects. Akin to the principals in a design studio, they advise on strategic matters.
Researchers are team members on metaLAB projects who are typically affiliated either with Harvard or the Freie Universität as graduate or undergraduate students.
Postdocs are usually in residence at metaLAB for the duration of the post-doctoral fellowships that they hold. Because metaLAB has no resources of its own to support them, they should expect to bring their own funding with them. If you are interested in pursuing a postdoctoral residency either at metaLAB (at) Harvard or F.U. Berlin, please feel free to contact us.
Senior Affiliates and Affiliates join metaLAB’s yearly cycle of conversation and discovery on a less formal basis, participating in regular meetings, joining projects, and individually or collaboratively advancing their own research. Affiliation lasts for one academic year though may be extended depending on a person’s project involvement. The designation “senior” is indicative of a higher degree of involvement in the metaLAB community.