[-empyre-] into what midst?

Andrew Goodman andrewgoodman at gcom.net.au
Sun Apr 14 12:34:54 EST 2013

I'd like to take up from Charlotte's comments on the bringing of specialties - specific technical skills and technologies - to the dome project and how this might have work to facilitate exchange and experimentation with processes.

Its true that there was a kind of breaking off into various sub-groups based partly around skills and technologies (of sound, image capture, movement, crocheting), at its best this perhaps acted as part of a kind of self organising and diversifying system, with the various subgroups both acting as attractors or lures towards action for the participants and enabling their engagement and experimentation with a range of technologies. This, at least in theory, constructed a dynamic and open structure with flow and cross fertilisation, the various lures modulating flows of energy and engagement from participants without necessarily directing them towards outcomes. It was at its most dynamic, I think, when a large number of attractive activities were occurring, and perhaps at its least when we attempted to reorganise into a single group or when the need for technological skills got in the way of open participation (as I think occurred with the sound work at times). At its best this system
both allowed participants to utilize and explore their various technical interests and expertise without creating enclaves and exclusion - this was only possible, I feel, because the principle underlying interest was in process and self organisation rather than the form/outcomes of these events - we were not particularly worried that not expert involvement in an area (dance, for example) would create a less 'professional' outcome as that was not the point. Rather the flows of engagement and incidental relations arising from such a system were the real event.

Such a system is of course not without its frustrations and dead ends - free experimentation coming up against the limits of patience of those with the technical know-how, or failing to produce results as desired etc., however I think that because of the emphasis on open ended and speculative experimentation within the group the various failures, repetitions and misfires have to be seen as an essential part of the process of self modulation and organisation. At its best this was also the relationship between us and the technicians in the dome and their ability to facilitate experimentation with the technologies of the inbuilt system, with their knowledge allowing quick engagement and experimentation with the capabilities of the projection and sound equipment - perhaps this fell down through misunderstanding of the focus on process within the group, rather than on form and the creation of a spectacle as is the usual focus of creative work that the technicians are asked to facilitate.

For me this worked particularly well with Nathaniel Stern's portable scanning assemblage, and the experimental gathering/scanning of environments/objects/people, as mentioned by Brian in his post. The scanning process easily engaged (and attracted) participants, it was playfully attractive and afforded a wide range of engagement, from brief experiments to much longer and more concentrated involvement. It neither required nor precluded a more technical involvement and was able to operate within the various spaces in which the event took place, and it naturally invited a level of collaboration between people. It had a nice balance between deferral of any pictorial outcome ( the 2 or 3 minutes it took the computer to construct the image post scan) that squarely put the focus on moving in the environment, without the long processing time of the video and audio - and therefore it gave some reward for effort.

The work also had other elements of process-related interest - requiring a new kind of engagement of the participants not only with their bodies as part of a new multiple bodies-plus-equipment conglomerate that roamed the environs and a new way of seeing - both in the kind of ephemeral, non representational imagery produced, and more importantly in the new closely attentive processes of looking and moving with an object being scanned as the held scanner was moved over the surface, requiring a whole body engagement. Again, this was much more about a shift in processes and attention to processes than the form of any outcome (ie the scans themselves).

-----Original message-----
From: Brian Massumi massumib at gmail.com
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2013 11:15:03 +1000
To: soft_skinned_space empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] into what midst?

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