Vernaculars come to matter, (re)orienting language and technology



What's the role of the vernacular in language and technology? Vernaculars come to matter brings together a range of stories and practices that address this question. It is made in the context of the project VLTK, a Vernacular Language ToolKit in the making.

In this publication, the vernacular appears in the counterdictionaries and formatterings of language; as a plurivocal remix bringing together recycled skills, diskarte practices, and humble templates; at eye level in the reverse diasporic circulation of Dutch-Turkish street typography; as an ongoing struggle with bureaucratic rigidity while transitioning gender or name; as a way to navigate the archive of MayDay Rooms, where the ephemera of radical, anti-oppressive, and working class movements requires a very particular attention; or in the attitudes of photo editing software, such as ImageMagick, manifested as software culture.

Vernaculars come to matter is edited by Cristina Cochior, Julie Boschat-Thorez and Manetta Berends with contributions of Clara Balaguer, Cengiz Mengüç, Ren Loren Britton, Rosemary Grennan, Michael Murtaugh.

Preface: Everyday Technology Press

Silvio Lorusso

From contradictionaries to formatterings: an introduction to VLTK – Vernacular Language Toolkit

Cristina Cochior, Julie Boschat-Thorez, Manetta Berends

A high-low mix tape on the subject of the vernacular

Clara Balaguer

Inverse Turizm/Reverse Diaspora

Cengiz Mengüç

Turnabouts and deadnames: shapeshifting trans* and disabled vernaculars

Ren Loren Britton

Somewhere between automation and the handmade

an interview with Rosemary Grennan

Torn at the seams: vernacular approaches to teaching with computational tools

Michael Murtaugh


Vernaculars come to matter exists in a printed and online form, which can be found at and The publication is made in the context of the project VLTK, a Vernacular Language Toolkit in the making.

Published by: Everyday Technology Press

Editors: Cristina Cochior, Julie Boschat-Thorez, Manetta Berends
Contributors: Clara Balaguer, Cengiz Mengüç, Ren Loren Britton, Rosemary Grennan, Michael Murtaugh
Copyediting: Cannach McBride
Design: Marianne Plano

Printing and binding: Graphius
Print run: 500
Tools: LaTeX, ImageMagick
Fonts: Arial, Times, Courier

“Arial. Or Not?”, a note on the fonts: Arial. Or Not?

All texts and images are licensed under the CC4r license, which considers authorship to be part of a collective cultural effort and rejects authorship as ownership derived from individual genius. With this license, we would like to accommodate re-use and generous access conditions, as we consider hands-on circulation as a necessary and generative activation of current, historical and future authored materials. While you are free to (re-)use the texts of this publication, you are not free from taking the implications from (re-)use into account. The full CC4r license can be found here:

The publication is made with Free/Libre and Open Source Software (F/LOSS). The code can be found at and is published under the CC4r license.

ISBN: 978-90-832180-0-7

With many thanks to Femke Snelting for providing us with always sharp feedback and valuable thoughts, Silvio Lorusso for accompanying us throughout the process of making this publication in such an attentive way, and Varia for the infrastructure that makes collective work possible.

This publication is made possible with the support of Stimuleringsfonds-logo-en.svg.


Clara Balaguer (Makati City, Pisces Metal Monkey) is a cultural worker and grey literature circulator. From 2010 to 2018, she articulated cultural programming with rural, peri-urban, and diasporic communities from the Philippines through the OCD, a residency space and social practice platform. In 2013, she co-founded Hardworking Goodlooking, a cottage industry publishing hauz interested in the material vernacular, collectivizing authorship, and the value of the error.  Currently, she builds and publishes curriculums at BAK basis voor aktuele kunst as head of Civic Praxis (Community Portal); at Willem de Kooning Academy as research lecturer in Social Practices; at Piet Zwart Institute as a midwife for Experimental Publishing; and at Sandberg Institute as teacher at the Dirty Art Department. Frequently, she operates under collective or individual aliases that disclose her stewardship in any given project, the latest of which is To Be Determined: a transitional, migratory, neighborly structure of sleeper cells (Trojan horse networks) that activate–deactivate for leaking access to cultural capital.

Manetta Berends works with forms of networked publishing, situated software and collective infrastructures. She is a member of Varia, a member based organisation working on everyday technology in Rotterdam, and an educator at the master Experimental Publishing at the Piet Zwart Institute.

Julie Boschat-Thorez is a researcher, artist and educator whose work focuses on knowledge organisation systems and the stories which can be extracted from them. She primarily investigates mundane objects such as archives, collections, datasets or museums, to recover traces of their creators ideas and circumstances (for better or worse). She also has an overlapping practice of archiving with an interest for variability, circulation, community and access. She is a member of Varia, a Rotterdam based initiative which aims at developing critical understandings of the technologies that surround us. She teaches at the Willem de Kooning Academy.

Ren Loren Britton is a white trans* interdisciplinary artist and researcher tuning with practices of Critical Pedagogy, Trans*FeministTechnoScience and Disability Justice. Playing with the queer potential of undoing norms they practice joyful accountability to matters of collaboration, access, Black Feminisms, instability and trans*politics. They love slowness, reading, following non-linear processes and experimenting towards greater accessibility. Ren has presented work with multiple institutions including Transmediale (Berlin), ALT_CPH Biennale (Copenhagen), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Constant (Brussels), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), Kunsthalle Osnabrück (Osnabrück), Varia (Rotterdam), Rupert (Vilnius) and Martin Gropius Bau (Berlin). With Isabel Paehr as MELT they operate as an art-design duo, questioning how coloniality, climate change and technological developments are intertwined. To pursue these questions, MELT boils up insights from chemistry, crip technoscience and trans*feminism to study and set in motion transformative material-discursive processes. MELT is currently a Fellow with the project ACCESS SERVER at the Het Nieuew Instituut in Rotterdam, NL and an associate fellow with MELT’s project Data for…? (trans* and disabled lives) with the Digital Curation Institute at the University of Toronto, CA.

Cristina Cochior is a researcher and designer working in the Netherlands. With an interest in automation, situated software and peer to peer knowledge production, her work largely consists of investigations into the intimate bureaucracy of knowledge organisation systems and the collective building of non-extractive digital infrastructures. She is a member of Varia and teaches Hacking at the Willem de Kooning Academy.

Rosemary Grennan is the co-director of MayDay Rooms, an archive and educational space in London which seeks to connect histories and documents of radicalism and resistance to contemporary struggle. She is also completing a PhD in Media Anthropology from University College London.

Silvio Lorusso is a writer, artist and designer based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In 2018 he published his first book entitled Entreprecariat. He is an assistant professor and vice-director of the Centre for Other Worlds at the Lusófona University in Lisbon. Lorusso holds a Ph.D. in Design Sciences from the Iuav University of Venice.

Cengiz Mengüç is a graphic designer and visual artist interested in diasporic identity expressed through the vernacular visual culture and architecture of the everyday. His current practice moves between commissioned art and design work, street-level advertising work and self-initiated projects, working mostly across the mediums of installation, print and publishing. Currently, he is developing new work based on his ongoing research. Cengiz Mengüç graduated from the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts with a Bachelor degree in graphic design and works and lives in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Michael Murtaugh is a computer programmer who researches community databases, interactive documentaries and tools for new forms of online reading and writing. He contributes to projects such as the Institute for Computational Vandalism and Active Archives, is a member of Constant and involved in Piet Zwart Media Design where he teaches at the Experimental Publishing Masters course.

Varia is a small member-based organisation in Rotterdam (Charlois), focused on everyday technology. It uses the term everyday technology to break through the vision of old and new technology, or smart and not so smart technology by looking more at the appropriateness of what each technology does in a particular situation, while trying to understand whose everyday is meant by the term, to not include one single world view, but to acknowledge that everyone engages with technology in a different way.