[-empyre-] into what midst? which collective? whose imaginary space?

Mayra Angélica Morales Gallardo m.mayra at gmail.com
Wed Apr 17 02:39:16 EST 2013

Dear Johannes,

From my part I can say that you are very welcome into the conversation, you may want to keep in consideration (as I'm trying to do), as Patrick says, that it is a "free-floating" one. Your comments and questions propose an interesting perspective. I am not sure if this perspective crosses by the midst or if it stays in a different orbit. An image comes to mind, from a passage from Brian's book Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts (And this is really pushing my buttons here as I'm trying to learn how to think less without an image), well, then, more that an image I guess it could be seen as a figure:

"The phases of occurrence overlap as they relay each other following an arc of felt becoming. In the overlap and relay, they co-perceive their mutual inclusion in the same event. They co-feel their belonging to each other in co-occurrence. If this were not the case, their multiplicity would not make "an" event. The event would not hold together as one. It would lack dynamic unity. It would dissipate before it could singularly culminate." (3) 

I hope this figure serves to explain why maybe you felt as we planned a course of the conversation that didn't include a wider community. As you may see, we are not much of planners, although we do plan, but I guess, we also try to remain open to the nuances of how things come into appearing and how they sometimes don't. Maybe I can elaborate...

As a new comer to the SenseLab in 2011, I rapidly came to appreciate the power of this figure. I came to realize very soon that there was a concerned sense of attuning. (In dance we some times practice it when we try to improvise different rhythms of group walks). It was a practice. A difficult one. Specially because it disambiguated some of the patterns I had before, for engaging with a collective which in many cases was performed by a moment of a voice saying: "ok, let's come together, brainstorm and decide what we'll do" and I accept that sometimes that voice would be my own — rather a too simplistic explanation though that ignores too much, but it's useful for my example. In coming to the SenseLab I quickly realized that this model was not at work, there was something else, something more radical going on. There was a kind of rhythmic magnetism that would constantly allow for grouping, re-grouping, flourishing and constant perishing attempts, and there wasn't a fight with this modes of continual discontinuity, there was more a walking through it's movements as an event and it's multiplicity of mini events bursting at all times and also perishing at others. 

This kind of organization is something that we sometimes refer to as a diagram, a concept to which at least I enjoy attuning to, as it carries for me a real sense of coherence with my experience of the world and of creativity and life, for the moment. As we can see in Deleuze, "The diagram is indeed chaos, a catastrophe, but it is also a germ of order or rhythm." (102), I even like better Bacon's account, as cited by Deleuze: ". . . it unlocks areas of sensation." (102). (For more on the Deluzian use of the concept of the diagram, see chapter 12 from Deleuze's Logic of Sensation).

A diagram could also be approached as a movement within "the interstices within a system that are working in ways that sort of open up fissures. What are the ways in which uneasiness can be agitated or worked through to make a structure tremble. What is trembling here, what is agitating here? What is still operable or operative in the system? Where are the openings?" (Notes on Deleuze's The Diagram in Logic of Sensation in Erin Manning's class Fall 2012).

Another way of seeing this kind of self-organized forming of organization is by attending to Whitehead, when he explains, in his Adventures of Ideas that: "Life is the coordination of the mental spontaneities throughout the occasions of a society" (207)(Please note that the use of the mental is not merely brain and society doesn't not refer specifically to a society of people only, Whitehead himself refers to it, in this case, as "the grouping of occasions").

And even more, in connecting threads to explaining a bit the mode of organization, I like Whitehead thought on Peace, in the same book as above, when he says that:

"In so far as the Appearance emphasizes connections and qualities of connections which in fact reside in the Reality, then the Appearance is truthful in its relation to Reality. But the Appearance may have effected connection, and have introduced qualities, which have no counterpart in Reality. In that case, the occasion of experience contains in itself a falsehood, namely the disconnection of its Appearance from its Reality" (281)

(Note that Appearance and Reality, from my understanding are a duplicity of the same midst. Also note that truthful and falsehood here has less to do with a moral truth or falsity and more with attuning tonalities).

What I like about this phrase is that it works for me for relating to that experience of when an idea flies and when one doesn't. A thing that happened a lot during the SAT project: The flying and the perishing. Or the landing and the never landing (Depending from where you are seeing it I guess).

Another thing that we used during the SenseLab event in 2011 Generating the Impossible, (That by the way, I love the title because it's so confusing still full of potential!), was the concept of "affinity groups". With this concept we were trying to work not as a whole but as many, in this sense, we would join people to who we would find having an affinity with and form groups. I confess that sometimes I found myself in an affinity group of only myself, haha, but that was fine. What I liked about this concept is that it allowed mobility to transit from project to project, from group to group, to step in and out and by stepping out you were in again, into another probable midst?

I guess what I'm trying to propose here with this way too looooong explanation is that maybe we could practice some affinity groups conversations within this Empyre discussion of the Into The Midst and the SenseLab. As usual with me, a proposal that's open to take fly or not.

(Oh yeah!)

With warm respects,


PS. By the way, Johannes, do send the Kostanic essay & other links! One never knows...
On 16/04/2013, at 09:45, Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

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

greetings to all

just out of curiosity, if I may, in terms of the way you plan/ned to carry forward the discussion this month, was the core debate meant to be on the SAT project (into the midst), on SenseLab as a case-study for the kind of practices you have mentioned and described (and I'd like to come back at some point and ask some questions about your language), or did you envision having others on the wider empyre community respond to the SenseLab team with their readings of your event or with other propositions?

--here , below,  a notice just received from Furtherfield (London), it might be of interest;
and for those here who like to pursue and discuss the angle of the Croatian critique of neo-capitalist collectivism and instrumentalized choreograophic/"process" techniques without outcome (immaterial labor?),
let me know and i send you the Kostanic essay & other links  if you like,

with regards
Johannes Birringer
dap / interaktionslabor

::  Peer to Platform: Artist Collective vs. Social      Network  :::

1 May 2013


£10 / £8 Concessions / £7 ICA Members / £5 ICA Student Members

This panel discussion will highlight the overlaps between the way in
which a radical artist collective functions and how individuals operate
together within the most contemporary of frameworks, the social network.

If the radical artist collective is posited as a network for shared
political ideals and collaborative production, could it be proposed that
an emerging generation of digitally-native artists is more comfortable
establishing such structures online? Perhaps the accessibility of
virtual space, the promise of relative anonymity and the corporate
overtones of online platforms provide the perfect forum to continue the
legacy of groups such as Bernadette Corporation.

Reflecting on the notion of the network and questions of authorship,
ownership, self-promotion, and sincerity, the conversation will explore
the ways in which – arguably – the peer-to-peer bond of the artist
collective has been replaced by the virtual connections of Facebook and

Chaired by Ben Vickers, the panel will comprise Lizvlx from
UBERMORGEN.COM, Metahaven and Ruth Catlow from Furtherfield.

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

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