[-empyre-] into what midst?

Toni Pape tonipape at gmail.com
Tue Apr 9 06:50:22 EST 2013

Hi Johannes,
thank you for your questions. I think they've allowed me to connect a few dots for myself. I'll try to address a few of your questions by proposing three answers to your main question: "into what midst?"

The first middle for me is that of the dome. You ask whether the dome is a gallery. It is obviously not in many ways. But considering the relation between the spectator and the artwork that the dome fosters, one is tempted to say that it puts the viewer in a very conventional spectator/spectacle or subject/object set-up. Now, I'm the first to point out that the conventional gallery (or cinema) space also creates a 'media ecology.' But if that is so, to what extent does the dome's claim to 'innovation,' 'immersion' and 'relationality' go beyond those other forms? Our contention (or my understanding of it) was that simply setting up a 3D environment instead of a 2D 'gallery' doesn't make make the decisive difference. Particularly not if this 'environment' is then siphoned off from the social surroundings.
A last remark on the dome (not as) as gallery: In fact, the dome stills the body even more than a traditional gallery space in that its 3D projections are geometrically correct from only one point in the dome, which is the center of the circular projection space. But I guess that is precisely not the kind of 'middling' we have tried to generate.
No wait, another last remark: The "second space" you ask about at the end of your post is the dome itself. And the web of colored string serves as choreographic object because it inevitably creates vectors for movement in that space which, as I've suggested, oftentimes inhibits movement. To give a very simple example: Imagine a space that pulls you towards its center (to immobilize you there) and how a thicket of string can complicate such direct movement.

That leads me to the middle as a concept. I think it's safe to say that we were less interested in the middle as a (geometrically) fixed point than in the midst of a process. For me, this relates to issues of experimentation. Now, I am by no means a new media expert. But it seemed that the programmers at the SAT had a hard time to accept our invitation to jump into the thick of things and to experiment with us. (They insisted on being mere mediators between us and their software. But that's also not the kind of middling we wanted to generate.) Their set-up required a rendered and polished product that could be exposed on cue. Experimentation, on the other hand, invites the unexpected, the lucky accident and all that. I think there are practices that try to avoid that kind of middle by all means.

If we couldn't propose a finished product, then it's because of the third sense of the middle, which is the social field in the midst of which the SAT is located and that it kind of ignores. We wanted to fold these surroundings into the dome. And I have to admit that it was really difficult to activate the passers-by and dwellers. I myself was part of a failed attempt to communicate with homeless people in the area a few weeks in advance of our week of experimentation. I learned a lot from that encounter. But then again, after a few participatory art projects, I'm tempted to say that individual chance encounters that actually stimulate participation (as well as the failed attempts) are more interesting than creating a wider 'audience.'

Finally, concerning our notion of the collective, I have to ask: which notions of collective are there and are in use? 
I have an idea of how the Senselab brings people together and which notions are important (appetition, process/event, co-creation, transduction, 'affinity' across 'dissensus'). But I'm not sure if that makes for a specific concept of a collective or requires one. What do the others think?

Am 08.04.2013 um 11:07 schrieb Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> dear all
> having read the two introductions to the SenseLab project (Generating the Impossible? Into the Midst?), it was of
> course fascinating to ponder the questions that Erin Manning raised when describing the plan to "explode
> the gallery" – here meaning the SAT dome in Montréal ? a gallery?  – especially when economic issues surfaced (about renting
> the dome space and making money) or, alongside, issues of the Lab itself as having become its own institution or institutional-affiliate
> not experimental, collaborative, collective enough? what notion of collective do you use?).
> The actual event that Erin described seemed to have been site specific, in the Parc, adjacent to that SAT space, and
> it involved two kinds of participatory activities (food, and the crocheted web). Could you please elaborate
> how this now constitutes a 'choreographic object" based on 'new media techniques" exploding anything? (which space?)
> I think I merely wondered what you were planning inside the neighborhood, on the one hand (how was the project
> communicated to the audience or the par dwellers or visitors), and where the "midst" now is located, urban space?
> or adjacent space (non institutional) and how did the action-environment you recounted made for next steps - 
> "providing us with a diagram for entering the space the next day? ? which is the second space?
> with regards
> Johannes Birringer
> Dap-Lab
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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