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A conference on the technological history of the unfinished at the German Museum of Technology in Berlin.
© SDTB / Graphic: BOK + Gärtner, Münster; C. Menges

Technical equipment and installations do not remain as they were when new. If they are to function permanently, they must be maintained. Some technology is also rebuilt and converted over time. Under the title “Repairing, Improvising, Re-Arranging”, the 2022 annual conference of the Interdisciplinary Committee on the Technology history of the VDI (IGTG) on 15 and 16 September in cooperation with the Department of the Technology history of the TU Berlin and the German Museum of Technology Berlin is dedicated to the guiding idea of a history of technology of the unfinished.

According to the announcement, technology must be nurtured and cared for, regularly inspected, preventively maintained or subsequently repaired. Keeping technology functional means “repairing it, restoring it or adapting it to modified tasks. Maintenance, inspection, repair and revision usually require experienced personnel and always also embodied action routines, ‘tacit knowledge’ and specific know-how in order to be able to react to weak points and to be able to specifically recognise and remedy signs of wear or faults”. Repairing and improvising are therefore important strategies for putting technology to a “second use”. If components are re-arranged, an existing technology can be used in completely different contexts.

The aim of the conference is to make visible the significance of repairing, improvising and re-arranging in the history of technology as well as in the practical handling of artefacts from the history of technology and to discuss the role of repairing for sustainable development. In the session “Improvising and Re-Arranging”, for example, there will be reports on “Electromobility as “Bricolage” – The Electrification of the Rickshaw Fleet in Bangladesh” and on “Riveting, Sweating, Welding – From the Long Life of the Steamship Kurt-Heinz”. In the session “Conjunctures of Repairing in the 20th Century”, the topics include the disappearance of repairing since the 1970s and “The House as an Object of DIY Repairing”. The third session will deal with “Maintenance, Conversion and Innovation”, the fourth with how technical cultural heritage can be used and converted. A panel discussion will be devoted to the question “Are we going in circles? – Repairing & the Circular Economy”; and a roundtable is under the motto: “When it has to be good again: The Descent and Rise of Repair Education”.

During the conference, curators from the German Museum of Technology will use three objects to offer an insight into the new special exhibition “Reparieren! Use instead of waste”. Due to the limited space available in Berlin, it is also possible to participate in the conference online. Participation is free of charge, but registration live in Berlin is just as necessary as digital participation.

Please note that the conference will be held in German.

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