[-empyre-] Modules, Collectives, and Space

Mayra Angélica Morales Gallardo m.mayra at gmail.com
Sun Apr 14 16:53:46 EST 2013

Dear all,

I've been enjoying your threads into the conversation and I would love to engage with it from Erin's invitation to talk about collective process.

What I found extremely interesting in relation to a collective process is that it was a process that operated a question: "the question of working in an architecturally, economically and digitally circumscribed environment...". The question of how to move in a place of rigid possibilities and even how to collectively move those rigidities. (Rigid in the sense of it already pre-configuring movements*)

Performing a question instead of performing an idea is something that I found very challenging within the project. And that is still bugging my curiosity in terms of how drastically that changes landing into the midst. What midst? I like Brian's "in between of the registers of bodily experience" and I would add to that what I'm trying to explore as "emergent invisibles", perhaps emergent invi[n]cibles? (Just for the fun of catching the non-typo streetly gourmet concept "stimulated space", before it splashes onto a surface, and throwing it back to the playing field!) 

What I found out in performing a question is that you can not keep doing what you usually do nor what you can imagine. Or better put: you can now actually do what you not-so-usually-but-usually do and what you usually can't imagine but still do anyway. That was challenging. But also, in a way, a bit of a catalyst for immobility. The curious thing is that it was a different immobility than the immobility that the Dome would generate. While the Dome immobilized relation to "conventional" movement* patterns, the question immobilized the conventional in order to activate other kind of re[lation]alities. These other kinds of relationalities are what I call the midst of emergent invisibles.

Some of the emergent invisibles that I encountered:
-A person talking to the wall/surface/screen of the Dome.
-A recording cabin built in the cleaning tools room.
-A head-standing body in the middle of the Dome.
-A thread of the yarn holding a solitary street post.
-A dancer racing a skateboarder in the conjoint Peace Park.
-A pack of people from different disciplines transporting imaginary rain above their heads.
-An anti-dome mini dome cocoon.
-An architecture of pillows for play-grounding.
-A dizzy raspberry.
-A moving scanner registering disequilibrium. 

Now, the emergent invisible is not what I'm describing only. The invisibles happen in between a dizzy and a raspberry and other in betweens that transect and ripple.

Other emergent invisibles that I believe were more radical in terms of it's invisibility were:
-Constant rescheduling.
-Atemporal event. (In terms of it happening in more than one moment and less than during the programmed date with an audience)
-Generosity of engagement.
-Intermingling and Cross-pollinating.
-Flying lines of desire.
-"Slime molde" collectivity!

I agree, with Nathaniel, very much in that all these emergents should keep in movement or in active stillness, otherwise they would also fall into rigidity which I think is the very sense that we combat?

The question for me right now would be: how to land into the midst of a composition of an active stillness which immobilizes convention and activates potentials of experiencing the world, so intensely that it could crack the rigidities of the imposed scenario (visual, separated, geometrical, oppositional)? But a more interesting and difficult question then: how to do it in a collective process?

I think that within the project Into the Midst, we ventured into the whirls of this question. I suffered the whirling but probably that suffering was the cracking of my own rigidities. A cracking from the individual toward collective process? 

I'm hoping that this reflection can build the conversation, otherwise we can just let this thought hang around for a while. Or else.

I also wanted to suggest, if of interest for the conversation, to address the amazing manifestation of a self-organized event that we witnessed! Or did it witnessed us?

With warm respects,


Key concepts: collective process, operating question, immobilizing convention, softening the rigid?, emergent invisibles, self-organization.

*When I talk about movement I imply movement of thought and body, movement of thought and action.
On 13/04/2013, at 18:40, "Lichty, Patrick" <plichty at colum.edu> wrote:

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
I think that in describing some propositions for the ongoing discussion , which I am almost in favor of letting go organic as it is the SenseLab mode of inquiry, I will be concise.

"conversation on how a collective process can set the conditions for an emergent proposition, which, in this case, was the question of working in an architecturally, economically and digitally circumscribed environment..."

New Media:
Renate and I had a conversation as to how the residency related to New Media, and I think we can see direct interventions and analogues:
1: The circumscriptions of the Dome were technically, sociologicaly, and economically tied to that of "New Media" - My interest in the group relating their experiences to the Empyre list have some part to do with:
2: Manovich's principle of Modularity as a principle of New Media.  
3: On one hand, we used constituent parts -  bodies, food, yarn, video, technologies, personalities to propose processes and assemblages that were a cyborg amass within this space we challenged as to whether it could be a "gallery"
4: We modularized into groups - performers, epicureans, technologists, audiophiles, epistomologists ;)
5: Where i think we had some excellent moments was when the boundaries became very porous. For example, I (as a technologist/epistomologist) bled into the performance group, which I think surprised some of them.  (This was no surprise for me, as I have been involved in performance art for years)  but what this taught me was to see where lines of desire were flying and how self-defined patterns of discipline were circumscribing boundaries and how we transgressed them.  
6: The creations of 'architectures' and their transgressions were also evident when we situated in varius spaces, like the Parc or the SAT or even Erin and Brian's, where brian and Mahasti started doing amazing things with Nathaniel's mobile scanner rig he and I had constructed.

So in a way, we had created a sort of 'slime mold' collective that followed the desires of the group, that (I think) fought the inscribed agendas of the SAT, with sparks emanating from points of intersection/transgression between our 'cells', although we were moving together.

Lastly, what was also of great interest to me was how we operated in each situated space - apartments, domes, dance studios.  One could say these were all part of the collective process, but I saw them as situational modules to the process, giving unique contexts for the participants to operate in.  My fascination was where we all opened, closed, or reconfigured in terms of the space, context and situation.  Throw technology as a haptic lubricant and you have a powerful mix.  

My favorite interaction was a Photosynth piece I did with Eleonora Diamanti where the fall treeline remained stable and the amazing body of the dancer shifted before the software, causing an exquisite shattering of the body in space and time.  For me this was the encapsulating surprise of the event - we came together to explore these situations and propositions we had been talking through the year before, and how would I know that it would result in artifacts like the Dome and my image with Eleonora?

So, what I wonder is manifold:  Through conversations like the SenseLab and processes like Into the Midst, what are the bedrock propositions that sociology and technology in spaces like the SAToDome put in place, and how do they challenge our protocols and (ab)mormative behaviors of collaboration and creation?

Patrick Lichty
Assistant Professor, Interactive Arts & Media
Columbia College Chicago
916/1000 S. Wabash Ave #104
Chicago, IL USA 60605
"Some distractions demand constant practice."
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Johannes Birringer [Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk]
Sent: Friday, April 12, 2013 9:21 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] into what midst? which collective? whose imaginary space?

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

dear all

the responses received here in the discussion were of considerable interest, thank you all, and i hope  that it was not deemed inappropriate by the moderators or invited guests this week that I threw out
small questions early on; I gathered from Erin's reply that one should have waited perhaps, as more participants from SenseLab and SenseLab's "collaborating formations" (Nathaniel) were going to post here to elaborate on "Into the Midst" and, as Erin mentions, have a  "conversation on how a collective process can set the conditions for an emergent proposition, which, in this case, was the question of working in an architecturally, economically and digitally circumscribed environment..."

Already I think one can perceive some interesting propositions, also reflections on what the circumscriptions might have been in that dome, though not the Parc  (from those of you who are part of SenseLab or partook in the actual events or activities or, as Charlotte argues, the "processual art practice."  Charlotte speaks of something radically empirical, which I would like to learn more about (the radical of the empirical), and "thisness" of experience perhaps also requires more discussion I think. All experience can be said to be here and there, this or that, no? and if it is understood to be about the not-form of experience, then I would love to hear you speak about your choreography of experience (your forms) in your processual (art) practice.

I also wish to begin looking at Toni's response, as I quite agree with, and already implied, the question..."which notions of collective are there and are in use?"  This concerns the collaborating formations of a Lab group (understood as collective?) and their disseminating strategies (of processes or material objects, or knowledge or training and so on) or, to use perhaps the dome mediators' language, their hardware/software solutions, programming and content (for going into or out of the dome immersion spectacles and projection environments, to pick up what Toni and Brian describe of the technical and ideological circumscription in the dome).

It's the ideological or political that interests me most, thus I wish to raise more questions about the social field in the midst of which or out of the midst of which your group operated, for which, Toni then wonders, a notion of a collective may not be required; you also say that the dome is not that different from a gallery in terms of a media ecology, and that seems obvious I guess. So the exploding bit of the art gallery, that was my earlier question, and now I want to ask you to address the political unconscious of what you set up, presumably, as a "philosophical process."  Toni mentions that folding the surroundings into the art gallery did not work, as passers-by and park dwelllers may not have seen a need for such folding or a necessity for it.

But at least this is what I gathered to be an underlying assumption from Brian Massumi's writing here on the philosophical process of finding techniques for "stimulated space."   I believe this lovely term may have been the result of a typo (you meant simulated space?), but i think the situationist project outside, in the park and in the dark, is apparently directed at sensory communication and stimulation – you mentioned a different proprioception, kinetic sense... --, but what is being communicated, activated, and stimulated for those who may have no stake in the dome, in art, in choreographic objects?

Here I would like to draw a link (if it were not too time-consuming now to even begin to describe and set the stage for a slightly different or comparative context) to some discussions I recently learnt about taking place in Zagreb (Croatia)  amongst some theatre and media practitioners there, especially the dramaturgs of BADco.[http://badco.hr/] and the writers for the journal Frakcija's issue on "Artistic Labor in the Age of Austerity"  (no 60/61, zima 2011/12) - what impressed me when I met them was their uncompromising effort to step back from the gallery (or the theatre) not to explode it but to reflect on the privileged position that might be implied in thinking philosophically or imagining futile experimental gestures, as I have called them elsewhere, on (art) labor and precarity under the current circumstances of economic and financial, political, crisis.  I am also aware that in my own work, which is to some extent focussed on "thisness" of form and materials and how they may relate to anything in close proximity to their instrumentations, to use your terminology, the process is not politicized enough as members of our team perhaps have not yet been eradicated or coopted enough or shown up to be affirmative, to worry and investigate what Marko Kostanic calls the "choreographic unconscious," and what Goran Sergej Pristas and Ana Vujanovic address in the Frakcija' issue, when they directly confront questions about any possibility of, I quote, " politicality of the working methods in art in the context of general politicization of production and economization of politics in neoliberal capitalist society" (p. 124) [much of the writing, and debate in some parts of Europe of course are indebted to Lazzarato and Vierno and their writings on immaterial labor and the public good (sphere), on their comments on performance which have not often yet been reflected in the performing arts community]

I wonder whether over the weeks to come it would be welcomed by all of you here to draw out some of the questions about labor, methods of practice, and the instrumentals, and instrumentalizations involved, whether in SenseLab's activities or other site practices, from a dance or an online platform, a struggling non profit arts organization or failed start up company, from bankrupt states to Occupy or various innumerable breakdowns of civil rights/public spheres .....(central London I understand will be cordoned off next Wednesday for Mrs Thatcher's funeral as protests are expected to erupt and the police in our midst will pre-arrest troubleperformers).

I am skeptical of an idealistically conceived notion of collective, in the present era of fragmentation (my own failing memory is from the 60s and 70s, not 1917), and the question of labor looms large i think, especially if our working conditions are not privileged (most labs, I think, are highly privileged spaces in this sense, and they often also include instruments that allow the fabrication of simulated space. But who is this space for? in relation to what?).

Johannes Birringer
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

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