[-empyre-] Fwd: messy potentials

carol-ann braun carol-ann.braun at wanadoo.fr
Sat May 11 19:15:20 EST 2013

le  11/05/13 02:24  Erin Manning  erintango at gmail.com wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> To respond to Renate's most recent message...
> I'm not sure how you would feel, Carol-Ann, but I don't see us working that
> differently. I think many of the main issues and interests are similar. Of
> course how we proceed is different, but I've never met two collectives who
> have the same process (the whole idea of process would be dead if it wasn't
> generated by the project itself!).

Yes, the main issues and interests coincide. There is also a generosity and
persistence (the French would say "suite dans les idees"...) in your
approach, Erin, that I appreciate very much, not to mention an exceptional
clarity in the linking up of critical theory to your own practice.

Your current work is perhaps a priori more rooted in the arts. Often, I have
felt obliged to sideline artistic concerns. As a student of Rosalind Krauss
and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe at Princeton in the early seventies, I had the
conceptual tools to re-mediate the "avant gardes" of the fifties and sixties
(forgive the short-cuts...) But I can't say that our work around urban
renewal projects has been artistic (the link to the notion of "maitrise
d'usage" and the work of Jean-Marie Hennin might have disappointed some...).

The common thread, however, between the social work I've described here and
my artistic work (not grounded in large-scale collaborations) is best
summarized in the word  "relation". I noticed that it is also central to
Sense Lab's manifesto. The concept of "relation" here is distinct from the
command-response schema inherent to instrument-based interactivity. It is
diffuse, complex, social. Yes, "instruments" (ie tools to animate, tools to
capture data, programs to adjust representations to the information gleaned
by these tools...) mediate digital "relations". But, for me, understanding
(and "drawing") these relations has meant many a detour into the
non-artistic.  (A small voice within says : "So what.")
Erin, in response to Renate, you say :

  I think all potentials are in some way rhizomatic
> - they generate series, open themselves to capture, seed new processes, etc.
> The way we work at the SenseLab is very non-linear in the beginning, resulting
> eventually in an event that has a sense of focus (at least at the level of
> having created enabling constraints that are capable of generating a singular
> process) that then opens the way for a renewed unfocusing.

I think this ambition to confront, directly, the notion of collaborative
processes...as a beginning and end...is crucial.

  The hope is that through the process we will have made links
> with other collectives and learned from their process, that we will have a
> better understanding of how to better generate an emergent collectivity that
> persists in our absence (including a more-than-human collectivity), which will
> hopefully give us a renewed sense of how to continue the slow work we are
> already doing in our own local constituencies.

Generating an "emergent collectivity" is part of the equation of generating
"new representations of the world".  The work is interdisciplinary. It is
interesting how Fluxus formulated this process, though some Fluxus artists
would reject the highly technological practices of those of us who are
working in this vein.


> our own smaller collaborative settings (including those that seem individual),
> we will do our work - make art, choreography, write books etc. This elasticity
> between the processual and the "finished" object is very much at the heart of
> our process, and we are fed, I think, by this transversality.
> I would love to hear about how other collectives approach this question of the
> unfinished and the more finished...
> Erin
> On 2013-05-10, at 6:36 PM, Renate Ferro <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Dear Carol Anne and Erin,
>> Thanks so much for launching what I see are two pretty differing
>> approaches to collaboration.  I am on the road traveling and am now in
>> California.  I am inspired to push you both to talk about
>> what you thought about  "collaboration to instigate, plot,
>> rabble-rouse "through technology" in regards to both your broad
>> platforms Carol Anne and Erin in The Sense Lab.  Carol Anne I believe
>> that you have touched upon this in your recent post but for some
>> reason.   Are there rhizomatic potentials involving thinking,
>> moving, responding?   I am interested in questions and not solutions
>> per se, in fact those that go beyond the art, technology and activism
>> categories excite me most.  Being in California I guess is prompting
>> me to think about Ricardo Dominguez' collaborations and then of course
>> there is Zach Blas who will be a guest in a couple of weeks.
>> Our friend Ana Valdes actually wrote the beginnings of our
>> Introductory post and I know for sure that she also is interested in
>> the opening up of possibilities within the collaborative network.
>> For now though thanks so much for helping us to consider the beginnings
>> of this discussion.  Just before I go to bed Pacific Time I will
>> launch week two. Hope though you will both have time to my
>> instigations?
>> Hope you are all feeling the sunshine like I am right now!  Renate
>> On Thu, May 9, 2013 at 9:32 AM, carol-ann braun
>> <carol-ann.braun at wanadoo.fr> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Dear all,
>>> The problem formulated by Renate and Tim is NOT that of "designing for
>>> social change".  As I re-read the introductory paragraph, the focus is on
>>> "networks where art, theory and activism infiltrate diverging aspects of
>>> culture and society".
>>> Here, technology is an instrument for helping art, theory and
>>> activism—already tied and "active"—to infiltrate  "diverging aspects of
>>> culture and society".
>>> Erin turned this around by insisting that "diverging aspects of culture and
>>> society" SHAPE the technology. It is clear that the technology and the
>>> practices that emerge with it shape artistic intent as well.
>>> Moreover, in our experience, the "infiltration-process" is slow and
>>> fallible. Technology is often inadequate in constructing and maintaining
>>> alone the force of a specific socio-cultural event.
>>> By linking art, theory and activism we’ve complicated the already murky
>>> question of “usefulness” in the arts:
>>> a)    Does robust technology—a useful tool— transform into a product when
>>> used by activists?
>>> b)    Is the nature of “activism” fundamentally altered with the
>>> introduction of a technological product?
>>> c)    If art rallies a multitude of people (swarm?) to a common cause how
>>> does it distinguish itself from other forms of communication?
>>> My own partial answer to the above:
>>> a)  Activism forges the use of technology into a product when the
>>> collaborations extend beyond fragile in-house experimentations.
>>> b)  Activism concerns a specific way of using technology, whether already a
>>> “product” or not.
>>> c)  In this context, art is at best, a “drawing process” that echoes other
>>> disciplines that schematize the dynamics of social interaction and the
>>> visualisation of opinion. How are we more than a decorative “fly” in a
>>> phishing expedition..?
>>> On a more personal note, the DICEN lab at the Conservatoire National des
>>> Arts et Metiers is helping us with lebonheurbrutcollectif.org, a project
>>> with alternative methods of measuring "wealth".
>>> We’ve just launched the platform so the content is practically non-existent.
>>> But fundamental questions have already emerged, specifically in the
>>> nomenclature of the terms used to help “quantify the utopian”.
>>> The research work has not yet begun, and the existing terms are not
>>> satisfactory. We want to find a more dialectical and participatory approach
>>> to this process.
>>> Also, we need an ethical methodology for gathering testimonials.  This means
>>> turning to work done in the 70s, by sociologists but also militants working
>>> with people form disadvantaged neighborhoods.
>>> The collaboration of a laboratory will help with “infiltration” to the
>>> extent that they lend legitimacy to our questioning. Critical theory is a
>>> particularly intelligent partner. But they don't care if the platform works;
>>> their criterion for success is new ideas for new articles.
>>> Yoga teachers are actually going to be the ones to bring grass-roots force
>>> to our platform. They will also elevate the discussion because their
>>> bibliography spans centuries :-)  We just have to convince them that the
>>> technology used isn’t at odds with their notion of happiness….
>>> Can the drawn “forms” (visible and invisible) of lebonheurbrutcollectif.org
>>> entice them to infiltrate our technology with their own micro-meso-
>>> macro-political convictions?  As an artist, the force of my "intent" depends
>>> in part on theirs...
>>> Carol-Ann
>>> le  07/05/13 17:14  Erin Manning  erintango at gmail.com wrote:
>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>> Carol-Ann,
>>>> thanks for another very interesting take on your process. We also, at the
>>>> SenseLab, had a situation where a member suffered a psychotic break and
>>>> ended
>>>> up in the hospital at the end of one of our events ("Housing the Body;
>>>> Dressing the Environment"). It was a very difficult moment and put a lot of
>>>> things into perspective for us, especially as we realized how unequiped we
>>>> were to deal with the therapeutic (here in the Guattarian sense) as the
>>>> violence the break had generated became more and more personalized. I've
>>>> come
>>>> to think, as you do here, that the force of the event includes the
>>>> event-based
>>>> hospitality it proposes. How can an event generate the kind of care that
>>>> would
>>>> allow such a potential event not to degenerate into a personal crisis? How
>>>> do
>>>> you generate and sustain what Guattari calls a "group subject," a subject
>>>> (in
>>>> the event) that is capable of composing with the act (is this activism?).
>>>> In
>>>> our case, when this happened, the only thing I could ultimately think of
>>>> doing
>>>> (after 2 months of experimenting with all the techniques we could summon)
>>>> was
>>>> to end the SenseLab, which I did, offering up the suggesting that anyone
>>>> else
>>>> could begin it again with new techniques. Within 24 hours Bianca Scliar
>>>> relaunched the SenseLab and it has been going ever since. One thing I
>>>> realized
>>>> during this period was that I couldn't underestimate the vulnerability this
>>>> kind of work creates. This happened in 2007 and has strengthened our
>>>> resolve
>>>> not to be afraid of meeting our own end - we prefer the end of the SenseLab
>>>> to
>>>> its institutionalization of staid practices. How do we remain necessary (to
>>>> ourselves, to others) is one of our most current questions. I mean this in
>>>> the
>>>> Nietzschean sense, where necessity fashions the way, the path, and not in
>>>> the
>>>> capitalist sense.
>>>> The technical questions of collaboration are mobile within the SenseLab. We
>>>> have tendencies, and skills, of course, and these affect the decisions and
>>>> directions we take. But we try to keep the experiment as open as possible
>>>> each
>>>> time in order to generate new techniques. For our 2013 Enter Bioscleave
>>>> event,
>>>> for instance, Brian and I spent a day last week with Madeline Gins to
>>>> discuss
>>>> how to connect our idea of enabling constraints to her procedures. This was
>>>> very generative (we ended up creating 3 new hybrid procedures which
>>>> Madeline
>>>> will include in her next book!). When we descend on Bioscleave in October
>>>> (in
>>>> the form of an infestation both into Bioscleave and out into the Hamptons)
>>>> the
>>>> idea will be to have generated a set of techniques to co-compose across the
>>>> necessities of Arakawa and Gins' procedural approach and to have expanded
>>>> on
>>>> our process. We will also be working with a local farm, which will
>>>> necessitate
>>>> other kinds of collaborative tools (we hope to work with them to make the
>>>> food
>>>> for the event), with local nurseries (there is a planting/seeding component
>>>> to
>>>> the event), with local performers (there is a mobile bike proposition that
>>>> includes a performative aspect) etc. Each of these collaborations will
>>>> generate new techniques and new constraints. Our hope is to become flexible
>>>> enough, and precise enough, to be able to co-compose across very different
>>>> cultures in order to best generate local emergent collectivities (this
>>>> could
>>>> be a real challenge in Long Island!!). But again, our main goal is humble -
>>>> to
>>>> generate sustainable hubs of action in various sites that continue to
>>>> collaborate beyond the time of the event. And of course, there will always
>>>> be
>>>> a digital component, as I mentioned before. In this case, the techniques
>>>> still
>>>> have to be invented as internet streaming is out of the question (no
>>>> internet
>>>> connection). So we are thinking of operating in unreal-time. I have no
>>>> doubt
>>>> Patrick Lichty will be an innovator in this regard!
>>>> Erin
>>>> On 2013-05-07, at 8:13 AM, carol-ann braun <carol-ann.braun at wanadoo.fr>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>> Carol, Many thanks
>>>>>> for writing about your projects with
>>>>> Concert-Urbain.  This is a quick post but
>>>>>> could you give us a bit more
>>>>> information about how the association works?
>>>>>> What is your role?  Who
>>>>> innovates the ideas that are supported?  Thanks!
>>>>>> Renate
>>>>> Renate, I understand that you are specifically interested in the
>>>>> inner-workings of "collaboration" and the place of artistic identity in a
>>>>> collective enterprise.
>>>>> "Who innovates the ideas"?  For Concert-Urbain, it depends on which idea.
>>>>> There are "artistic/design ideas", "social ideas", "technical ideas",
>>>>> "research ideas". I do the "drawing". I diagram the conceptual paths
>>>>> between
>>>>> screen representations, the shared imaginary space, the media-objects, the
>>>>> social dynamic and the technology. I also create the interface designs,
>>>>> though I am happy to open the "visuals" to students and young
>>>>> professionals.
>>>>> For me, the core that I carry and identify with is a stubborn  "intent",
>>>>> in
>>>>> the fluxian sense. (And I write the grants to keep the ball rolling).
>>>>> When the innovation is technological it is carried by our programmers:
>>>>> Denis
>>>>> Chiron (tralalere.net/), Mathieu Desve (dagobert.com), Andre Berlemont
>>>>> (oneliferemains.com). They experiment technology with Concert-Urbain's
>>>>> projects and transfer the expertise to their jobs; the reverse also occurs
>>>>> and we benefit from programming done elsewhere. (I often ask them what
>>>>> they
>>>>> want to develop and find funding for that too).
>>>>> I'm interested in a term Erin used: "the force of an event". The term
>>>>> "event" is also fluxian and adapted to intermedial work carried by a
>>>>> network
>>>>> that gives life to the event, promotes it, archives it, etc.... It
>>>>> highlights the links between collaboration + interactive art + the
>>>>> Internet
>>>>> + activism.
>>>>> Biographical note: my first collaborative piece was with the poet Blake
>>>>> Leland and the photographer David Bett, at Cornell in the early 1980s. The
>>>>> poem "Gravity Waves" was encased in a grid of photographs on the wall of
>>>>> the
>>>>> Olive Tjaden Gallery and recited in canon (thank you Jim Leblanc, Richard
>>>>> Estelle and Megan.. And the CCPA). This work inspired the "interactive
>>>>> mise-en-scene" of other poems by Blake Leland, done with programmers whom
>>>>> I
>>>>> consider to be co-authors. (There are snippets of all this on
>>>>> inner-media.org and a funky "video teaser" done later but still online at:
>>>>> http://videochannel.newmediafest.org/select15.html)
>>>>> These collaborative efforts were, for me, innovative...but participatory
>>>>> in
>>>>> a very limited sense.  And they had nothing to do with "activism".
>>>>> For me, "activism" became an issue subsequent to a three-year artist
>>>>> residency at Telecom-ParisTech, with Dr Annie Gentes. No time to go into
>>>>> the
>>>>> details, which included interdisciplinary classes of engineers, continuing
>>>>> education students and musicians (see "City Paradigms" at ISEA 2000; the
>>>>> MILIA 2001 in Cannes).
>>>>> What emerged was a design problem that has fueled much of my work since
>>>>> then: how to cross representation and conversation. Alone, I would never
>>>>> have been capable of "remediating" Fluxus in this way (blasphemy?).  With
>>>>> Annie Gentes, we explored using conversation as a search engine; wrote the
>>>>> blogs of fictional characters with links to real web-sites; experimented
>>>>> with musical avatars. We co-authored articles. We shared a common
>>>>> “intent”.
>>>>> These shared intents, open to participation and specifically the
>>>>> participation of "strangers", are not without risk. One in particular left
>>>>> me feeling very guilty. It involved a summer residency in the city of
>>>>> Troyes, France. With writer Hubert Haddad, we marshaled the creative input
>>>>> of city employees, kids in youth centers, adults in rehab centers…and
>>>>> created an augmented chat space meant to live on once we'd left. Before I
>>>>> knew it, the residency was “over”. We delegated the dynamic we’d launched.
>>>>> Two psychologically fragile participants felt betrayed and wound up in the
>>>>> hospital. This had not been our intent!
>>>>> I decided to confront the “force of an event” differently. Today, drawing
>>>>> includes a transmedial methodology for structuring exchange and prolonging
>>>>> it over time. It also imposes “responsibility” and "sense" across a
>>>>> spectrum: a doodle on the corner of a page, the first “hello” to a
>>>>> stranger,
>>>>> the design of a mobile screen, the accountability of the elected officials
>>>>> who appropriate the work of artists to reinforce their policies…
>>>>> Erin, your experiments with “a society of molecules”, interweaving
>>>>> encounters at the "local level" and exchanges mediated by digital
>>>>> technologies, are central to this larger drawing process. It is clear that
>>>>> your artistic practice could inform that of the Boston Design Studio for
>>>>> Social Intervention too. How architecture (an art!) and urbanism can
>>>>> include
>>>>> such  experimental work is an interesting subject...for a subsequent
>>>>> exchange?
>>>>> Carol-Ann
>>>>> le  06/05/13 23:57  Erin Manning  erintango at gmail.com wrote:
>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>> Carol-Ann, Tim,
>>>>>> great to be taking up such interesting issues! I like the focus Carol-Ann
>>>>>> places on "tailoring technologies." I love your description about how the
>>>>>> work
>>>>>> is still-born on some occasions, and then suddenly finds an enthusiastic
>>>>>> wave
>>>>>> and then changes, opens to something different, generates a different
>>>>>> outlook.
>>>>>> That's been my experience as well. Tim, you ask about the role of digital
>>>>>> technologies in our process. My suspicion is that there is no collective
>>>>>> work
>>>>>> today that doesn't to some degree engage with technology, which have
>>>>>> become
>>>>>> very instrumental to all our processes. Some activists' work is directly
>>>>>> tied
>>>>>> into technology and others use technology simply as a means. The SenseLab
>>>>>> falls somewhere in between. We have over 200 active members on several
>>>>>> continents, so we rely on different communications technologies: an
>>>>>> internet-based password-protected hub where we use writeboards and post
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> several simultaneous projects, connect about reading groups and local
>>>>>> events,
>>>>>> discuss workshops etc. This is pretty straight-forward and has proved
>>>>>> very
>>>>>> useful in the lead-up to events, where we tend to use the writeboards
>>>>>> quite
>>>>>> intensively to plan activities. We also have group skypes regularly and
>>>>>> use
>>>>>> them for reading groups (all our Montreal-based events can be skyped into
>>>>>> except the movement experimentation - haven't figured that out yet!). And
>>>>>> we
>>>>>> work with the limits of the web quite intensively in our online journal
>>>>>> Inflexions: A Journal for Research-Creation, where we attempt to explore
>>>>>> what
>>>>>> a practice of "web-reading" might be that diverges from a print-based
>>>>>> experience, as well as in events such as Into the Midst where we were
>>>>>> engaged
>>>>>> with designing visual and sound platforms.
>>>>>> But there are also real limitations to the digital tools we use. We find,
>>>>>> for
>>>>>> instance, that they are unable to prolong, affectively, the force of an
>>>>>> event.
>>>>>> In and of themselves (without punctual events staged face to face) blogs
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> writeboards tend to lose their urgency and people post less and less.
>>>>>> Websites
>>>>>> work the same way (and I am terrible at updating). So what we do is come
>>>>>> up
>>>>>> with techniques for each event that we hope are best able to connect in
>>>>>> both
>>>>>> at the digital level and with the intensities that come of the localized
>>>>>> encounter. We find we have to meet face to face at least every 2 years as
>>>>>> a
>>>>>> large (and always changing) group and that the local meetings must be at
>>>>>> least
>>>>>> once a month (and it is best that these local meetings happen all over
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> world).
>>>>>> The best example of the fashioning of techniques of this kind are the
>>>>>> ones
>>>>>> we
>>>>>> invented for the 2009 distributed event, Society of Molecules, which took
>>>>>> place in 17 cities across 15 countries for one week in May. The event was
>>>>>> based on molecules (3-10 people) creating an event in their local
>>>>>> constituencies that touched on institutional questions in an artful way.
>>>>>> The
>>>>>> local interventions were all different (you can see an account of them in
>>>>>> issue 3 of Inflexions). Our concern was not necessarily to connect in at
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> level of the content of the interventions. Our concern was to explore how
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> make felt the affective resonances between local interventions toward a
>>>>>> distributed notion of an aesthetico-politics. We also wanted to see how
>>>>>> it
>>>>>> might be possible for a distributed event to maintain the intensity that
>>>>>> a
>>>>>> face to face event can have. We knew that if we relied on the internet
>>>>>> alone,
>>>>>> we would only get "reportage," and that the reporting wouldn't be able to
>>>>>> communicate the importance, or the intensity, or the urgency, or the
>>>>>> unease
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> the endeavours. We also knew that, not being in the diverse locales, we
>>>>>> wouldn't necessarily have a strong sense, across the wider network, of
>>>>>> why
>>>>>> this or that local intervention was necessary (for instance, we had a
>>>>>> "lack
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> information booth" in Montreal that came out of a frustrated attempt to
>>>>>> find
>>>>>> our more about a site that was facing gentrification, a very local issue
>>>>>> that
>>>>>> might not have resonated with people in another locality). So we worked
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> develop techniques that would to some degree affect each molecules across
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> distributed network without reducing the effect to the actual content of
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> interventions. Of course, in the end, we did want to know what the other
>>>>>> people had done, but we wanted to know it in a different way, a way that
>>>>>> could
>>>>>> affect how we proceeded.
>>>>>> Three techniques were invented:
>>>>>> 1. Each molecule sent us a movement profile that traced the habitual
>>>>>> daily
>>>>>> movements of their host. Over a 5 month period previous to the event, an
>>>>>> emissary was sent from another molecule to locate the host. They could
>>>>>> appear
>>>>>> anytime, so if the host was away, they would have to make sure someone
>>>>>> else
>>>>>> moved in their movements. Once the emissary found the host,
>>>>>> 2. the whole molecule had to be gathered, and a relational soup had to be
>>>>>> made. The soup could take any form. A recipe had to be provided, after
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> fact, to the emissary for him/her to bring back to their own molecule.
>>>>>> 3. The emissary left a seed, brought from his or her home molecule, to
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> host molecule, who had to care for it after the May event.
>>>>>> The visits could be virtual, though this option was only taken up in 1
>>>>>> case
>>>>>> (we tried to make sure the hosts and emissaries weren't too far apart so
>>>>>> that
>>>>>> actual visits would be possible). What we found was that these techniques
>>>>>> stimulated the events on all sides - they brought excitement and made
>>>>>> palpable, across the wider network, the urgency of local interventions.
>>>>>> They
>>>>>> also activated online discussions.
>>>>>> For us, techniques have to be invented anew for each event, and it is the
>>>>>> techniques that create the conditions that make the event do its work.
>>>>>> For
>>>>>> our
>>>>>> 2013 event, while we of course continue to use online tools, we are
>>>>>> working
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> seed local groupings in ways that get our preparations going in more than
>>>>>> one
>>>>>> environment. One key question is how you seed collectivities at a
>>>>>> distance.
>>>>>> That way when we meet on skype or online, we are gathering from the work
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> the project underway. We find that brings a precision to our work and
>>>>>> allows
>>>>>> us to develop collectively.
>>>>>> Erin
>>>>>> On 2013-05-05, at 9:41 AM, Carol-Ann *Braun <carolannbraun at free.fr>
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>>> Erin,
>>>>>>> Several aspects of your last post elicit a « hurrah » on my part :
>>>>>>>  •    things go slow;
>>>>>>>  •    valuing need not be tied to value-added or prestige value;
>>>>>>>  •    the pragmatics of the useless…;
>>>>>>>  •    the dangers of « making the product the goal ».
>>>>>>> These ideas are linked.  "Slow" is the price of working through and with
>>>>>>> an
>>>>>>> existing social framework. The "valuing criteria" change along the way
>>>>>>> (and
>>>>>>> reframe the notion of usefulness).
>>>>>>> It’s not just a question of “therapeutic value” replacing  “economic
>>>>>>> value”.
>>>>>>> It’s a question of the scale of the desired impact, over time: working
>>>>>>> with
>>>>>>> a small, local group of citizens; extending participation; sharing and
>>>>>>> recognizing what has been “given” by participants; including decision
>>>>>>> makers
>>>>>>> in the loop; tailoring technologies to the attention spans of those
>>>>>>> involved; integrating the notion of “accountability” for actions taken…I
>>>>>>> fully agree, it is an iterative process and the associated technology
>>>>>>> may
>>>>>>> vary at each step.
>>>>>>> This much said, it is important that the associated digital tools be
>>>>>>> sturdy
>>>>>>> enough to withstand the slow tempo of real change.
>>>>>>> Question : Does this turn experimental tools into "products"?
>>>>>>> I cannot share the numerous steps involved in creating debating and
>>>>>>> polling
>>>>>>> platforms…so here are some collaborative highlights, minus the solitary
>>>>>>> moments of discouragement and rejection:
>>>>>>>  1.    One of our debating platforms, dring13.org, was imagined in
>>>>>>> 2006-7
>>>>>>> by a group of art-student-apprentices at the CFA-Com of Bagnolet, a poor
>>>>>>> Paris suburb. Their first prototype was shown at Bagnolet’s “Spring
>>>>>>> Fest”
>>>>>>> and students scouted about with mobile phones to garner testimonials and
>>>>>>> send them to an interactive “mosaic” projected in the local library.
>>>>>>>  2.    A sturdier version was programmed a year later by an apprentice,
>>>>>>> hired by us with grant money from La Region Ile de France. A student
>>>>>>> start-up (unflux.com) designed the interface and accompanying posters
>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>> flyers. I scavenged about for content. The site was shown at a rally
>>>>>>> during
>>>>>>> “La Semaine de l’Egalite 2008.” Then..zero…a big “so what”…
>>>>>>>  3.    Several months later, Dring13 was “picked up” by an “Espace
>>>>>>> Public
>>>>>>> Numerique” in the city of Ivry, another poor Paris suburb. Workshops
>>>>>>> were
>>>>>>> organized by the social workers for kids, then for senior citizens, who
>>>>>>> used
>>>>>>> mobile phones to film each other. They uploaded their stories, discussed
>>>>>>> them and then cast their “votes” on each others' videos.
>>>>>>>  4.    Dring13.org then got used by an Antenne Jeunesse in the 13th
>>>>>>> arrondissement of Paris, accompanied by professional actors who used the
>>>>>>> web
>>>>>>> site on-stage. A year later, another association, called Les Jardins
>>>>>>> Numeriques, helped a Junior High School History teacher in the 14th
>>>>>>> arrondissement to organize one of her classes around the website, with
>>>>>>> kids
>>>>>>> who talked about their social origins…and never used the website.
>>>>>>>  5.    In the meantime, one of our developers, Mathieu Desve, decided
>>>>>>> that he’d like to do a mobile version of our back office and media
>>>>>>> center.
>>>>>>> No budget, just enthusiasm. He took the equivalent of a month full time
>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>> come up with the application. A gift.
>>>>>>>  6.    At the same time, the FING (http://fing.org, thank you Fabienne
>>>>>>> Guibe!) invited us to “Les Midi de la Democratie Participative”, power
>>>>>>> lunches for functionaries in the Val de Marne (to the south-east of
>>>>>>> Paris).
>>>>>>>  7.    We were asked to set up a web-site for citizens with mental
>>>>>>> disabilities, encouraged to talk about how to improve their daily life.
>>>>>>>  8.    The disabled public and staff co-designed the site (“Menu not
>>>>>>> clear!” “We don’t understand anything!”  “Redo it!”) They tested the
>>>>>>> prototypes. The administration validated the site. We are now in the
>>>>>>> process
>>>>>>> of planning official ateliers and the site will soon be open to the
>>>>>>> public
>>>>>>> at large. The elected officials associated with the project plan on
>>>>>>> using
>>>>>>> the platform to respond.
>>>>>>> To get back to your points:
>>>>>>> •  our technology evolved from a process including the participation of
>>>>>>> teachers, students, artists, businesses, functionaries, social workers,
>>>>>>> academics, associations...and ordinary citizens.
>>>>>>> •  no one at Concert-Urbain earns a living from this;
>>>>>>> •  the prestige factor has been…nothing any self respecting media-artist
>>>>>>> would settle for;
>>>>>>> •  the usefulness of these endeavors has yet to be proven…
>>>>>>> This collaborative “art stop-and-start-up” has yielded theoretical
>>>>>>> riches
>>>>>>> however: an understanding of the pragmatic dynamic between people,
>>>>>>> organizations and technology…in France.
>>>>>>> One sure thing : the “value” of this understanding can be maintained and
>>>>>>> increased only to the extent that it is shared.
>>>>>>> More on “enabling constraints”…soon.  And on the artistic rewards, which
>>>>>>> are
>>>>>>> surprising.
>>>>>>> Carol-Ann BRAUN
>>>>>>> Association Concert-Urbain
>>>>>>> http://concerturbain.wordpress.com/
>>>>>>> PS Thank you for the Boston Design Studio for Social Intervention link,
>>>>>>> which I have forwarded to my Paris network.
>>>>>>> le  04/05/13 18:34  Erin Manning  erintango at gmail.com wrote:
>>>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>>> Thank you
>>>>>>>> Carol-Ann, for your descripton of Concert-Urbain - sounds really
>>>>>>>> wonderful.
>>>>>>>> Before we start speaking across projects, let me say a few words about 
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> SenseLab. For those of you who were part of the discussion last month,
>>>>>>>> consider this a continuation of the discussion!
>>>>>>> I started the SenseLab in
>>>>>>>> 2003 with the idea that we might collectively find ways to stage
>>>>>>>> encounters
>>>>>>>> that provoked new forms of collaboration. With Brian Massumi, who 
>>>>>>>> joined
>>>>>>>> very
>>>>>>>> early on, and a lively set of collaborators, our first gesture was to 
>>>>>>>> ask
>>>>>>>> ourselves whether there would be interest in meeting in settings that
>>>>>>>> privileged neither the conference paper nor the art exhibition. What, 
>>>>>>>> we
>>>>>>>> wondered, would it mean to meet across our "techniques" rather than our
>>>>>>>> finished projects?
>>>>>>> This spawned the first series of events, Technologies of
>>>>>>>> Lived Abstraction, which lasted until 2012. During this period, we 
>>>>>>>> worked
>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>> collectively develop what we call "enabling" constraints to better be 
>>>>>>>> able
>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>> come together and create lasting collaborations. We discussed some of
>>>>>>>> these
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> last month's empyre list.
>>>>>>> While the events, as I mentioned last month, are
>>>>>>>> very important to what we do, what we are most interested in is 
>>>>>>>> creating
>>>>>>>> modalities of engagement that exceed them. We count on the myriad
>>>>>>>> collectives
>>>>>>>> who work across art, activism, philosophy and social change to connect 
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> with
>>>>>>>> us, and to assist us in coming up with ways of extending the work we do 
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> our
>>>>>>>> events beyond them. One example of such a group is Boston's Design 
>>>>>>>> Studio
>>>>>>>> for
>>>>>>>> Social Intervention, which continues to be a real inspiration to us, 
>>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>>> with
>>>>>>>> whom we work to develop new techniques.
>>>>>>> We are just beginning a second stage,
>>>>>>>> which we are calling Immediations. This will likely take us through the
>>>>>>>> next
>>>>>>>> decade, as the work we do takes time (and we are slow!). For 
>>>>>>>> Immediations,
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> emphasis is on opening out the idea of "emergent collectivities" to 
>>>>>>>> sites
>>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>>> are not our own. How, in relation to other collectives, can we work to
>>>>>>>> seed
>>>>>>>> collaborations offsite? What kinds of collaborative effects can a group
>>>>>>>> like
>>>>>>>> the SenseLab seed? People often tell me that they wish they were in a 
>>>>>>>> city
>>>>>>>> like Montreal that is so full of activism and lively in its
>>>>>>>> collaborations.
>>>>>>>> Our hope for this next phase is to connect in with other groups to see 
>>>>>>>> how
>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>> network existing collectives to create more of these enclaves of
>>>>>>>> collaboration.
>>>>>>> The first event of the new series will take place at Arakawa
>>>>>>>> + Gins' Bioscleave House (NY) and will take the form of an infestation. 
>>>>>>>> As
>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>> discussion progresses, I'll be happy to discuss it further. Until then, 
>>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>>> few
>>>>>>>> thoughts:
>>>>>>> 1. A technique is something that is created in the process itself,
>>>>>>>> and cannot necessarily be subsumed to the next process.
>>>>>>> 2. An enabling
>>>>>>>> constraint is a constraint that opens the process to its potential 
>>>>>>>> without
>>>>>>>> leaving it to pure chaos, a kind of structured improvisation.
>>>>>>> 3. Collaboration
>>>>>>>> as we understand it is not about creating "the newest new" in the
>>>>>>>> capitalist
>>>>>>>> sense. We are interested in forms of valuing that are not directly tied 
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>> value-added or prestige-value - the forms of value most prized within
>>>>>>>> capitalism. For this reason, we speak of a "pragmatics of the useless,"
>>>>>>>> foregrounding a speculative pragmatism that opens the way for new kinds 
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> approaches to valueing the "useless." We place art and philosophy 
>>>>>>>> squarely
>>>>>>>> within the realm of the "useless" and value them highly.
>>>>>>> 4. Our process for
>>>>>>>> each event dictates what forms of technology we will use - we are
>>>>>>>> extremely
>>>>>>>> open in this regard. Our tools of course involve a lot of online
>>>>>>>> communication
>>>>>>>> (a Basecamp group hub) as we have members from all over the world.
>>>>>>> 5. While we
>>>>>>>> have received government funding for this second phase of the SenseLab, 
>>>>>>>> we
>>>>>>>> are
>>>>>>>> extremely aware of the dangers of institutionalization and the ways it
>>>>>>>> makes
>>>>>>>> products its goal. The third phase of the SenseLab will be to take it 
>>>>>>>> out
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> the institution and ask what kind of site would best co-compose (in
>>>>>>>> Montreal)
>>>>>>>> with the current culture of artist-run centres and community activism
>>>>>>>> organizations. We would like to envision the SenseLab's future as an
>>>>>>>> unaccredited teaching/learning site that feeds into and composes with
>>>>>>>> alter-economies across art, philosophy and activism.
>>>>>>> Looking forward to the
>>>>>>>> conversation!
>>>>>>> Erin
>>>>>>> Erin Manning
>>>>>>> Research Chair, Philosophy and Relational
>>>>>>>> Art
>>>>>>> Concordia
>>>>>>>> University
>>>>>>> http://www.erinmovement.com
>>>>>>> http://www.senselab.ca
>>>>>>> http://www.infl
>>>>>>>> exions.com
>>>>>>> On 2013-05-04, at 3:55 AM, Carol-Ann *Braun
>>>>>>>> <carolannbraun at free.fr> wrote:
>>>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned
>>>>>>>> space----------------------
>>>>>>>> Hello to all - nice to participate this first
>>>>>>>> week of May in a discussion on
>>>>>>>> the balancing act between artistic activism
>>>>>>>> and "real time alliances"Šor, as
>>>>>>>> I understand it: the ³wicked problem of
>>>>>>>> designing for social change" ?
>>>>>>>> (Ritter, early 70¹s!)
>>>>>>>> The projects of
>>>>>>>> our association, Concert-Urbain, based in Paris, are at the
>>>>>>>> frontier between
>>>>>>>> design and social work. Our software development,
>>>>>>>> prototypes, ateliers,
>>>>>>>> shows, conferences, have been enabled by the French
>>>>>>>> government.
>>>>>>>> Exceptionally motivated functionaries have helped us with
>>>>>>>> budgets, ateliers,
>>>>>>>> reports from the field. They have been our business
>>>>>>>> angels in the launching
>>>>>>>> of an ³art-start-up².
>>>>>>>> In France, government policies contribute
>>>>>>>> extensively to innovation in the
>>>>>>>> arts. The policies reflect the programs of
>>>>>>>> thousands of citizen's
>>>>>>>> associations, some run by activists in what is called
>>>>>>>> here ³l¹education
>>>>>>>> populaire², ie, schooling for the people by the people
>>>>>>>> (the movement is
>>>>>>>> vast, at the heart of France¹s social fabric).
>>>>>>>> Our
>>>>>>>> design challenge includes interlocutors at every level of society. This
>>>>>>>> entails a special kind of salesmanship: choosing modest words to 
>>>>>>>> describe>
>>>>>>>> what you want to do as an artist;  adapting technology to existing
>>>>>>>> educational methodologies; answering questions others have asked; 
>>>>>>>> getting>
>>>>>>>> elected officials to define and then accept the risks digital 
>>>>>>>> technologies
>>>>>>>> might represent for them; saving face when no one answers the call to
>>>>>>>> participate... The negotiation process is long-term, with changing
>>>>>>>> interlocutors as time goes by. It is painstakingŠand sometimes just a
>>>>>>>> royal
>>>>>>>> pain. It also brings esthetic breakthroughs of particular significance 
>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>>> an
>>>>>>>> artist working with digital technologies.
>>>>>>>> I have several examples of
>>>>>>>> collaborations and collective initiatives that I
>>>>>>>> can share with you. Each
>>>>>>>> raises different issues:
>>>>>>>> 1. A collective fiction, with a chat space at
>>>>>>>> its core: carried by officials
>>>>>>>> in the city of Troyes who wanted to bring
>>>>>>>> city employees and citizens
>>>>>>>> together around a shared ³multimedia² project.
>>>>>>>> 2. Measuring utopia: an art project on the subject of happiness, with
>>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>>> methodology that involves an alternative approach to data-base design.
>>>>>>>> Our
>>>>>>>> main partner: the CIRASTI, a federation of associations to engage kids
>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>> scientific projects.
>>>>>>>> 3. An urban renewal initiative by the
>>>>>>>> Conseil general du Val de Marne, that
>>>>>>>> includes an on-line debating platform
>>>>>>>> designed to include those who suffer
>>>>>>>> from intellectual disabilities. It is
>>>>>>>> linked to the "participatory design"
>>>>>>>> of neighborhoods by including
>>>>>>>> inhabitants
>>>>>>>> (see http://www.maitrisedusage.eu/).
>>>>>>>> More on its way
>>>>>>>> throughout the coming week,
>>>>>>>> Carol-Ann BRAUN
>>>>>>>> Association
>>>>>>>> Concert-Urbain
>>>>>>>> http://concerturbain.wordpress.com/
>>>>>>>> le  04/05/13 06:37
>>>>>>>> Renate Ferro  rtf9 at cornell.edu wrote:
>>>>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned
>>>>>>>> space----------------------
>>>>>>>>> We are most grateful to Ana Valdes for agreeing
>>>>>>>> to guest moderate the
>>>>>>>>> May discussion with Tim Murray and myself and welcome
>>>>>>>> her back to
>>>>>>>>> -empyre- as a guest moderator.  We also wish to thank Erin
>>>>>>>> Manning who
>>>>>>>>> has agreed to make the transition from last month's discussion
>>>>>>>> to this
>>>>>>>>> month highlighting The Sense Lab.  Erin will be making a few
>>>>>>>> posts
>>>>>>>>> specifically about her own experiences with collaboration.  She
>>>>>>>> will
>>>>>>>>> be joined by Carol-Ann Braun.  Biographies for Week One guests are
>>>>>>>> below.  We look forward to the month with you.
>>>>>>>>> Tim Murray and
>>>>>>>> Renate Ferro
>>>>>>>>> Week 1:
>>>>>>>>> Erin Manning (CA) is a philosopher,
>>>>>>>> visual artist and dancer, and is
>>>>>>>>> currently a University Research Chair at
>>>>>>>> the Faculty of Fine Arts,
>>>>>>>>> Concordia University, Montreal. She is also a
>>>>>>>> founder and director of
>>>>>>>>> The Sense Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory on
>>>>>>>> research, creation
>>>>>>>>> and an international network focusing on intersections
>>>>>>>> between
>>>>>>>>> philosophy and art through the sensing body in motion. Erin
>>>>>>>> Manning
>>>>>>>>> received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of
>>>>>>>> Hawaii
>>>>>>>>> (2001) and has been teaching philosophy, political theory, visual
>>>>>>>> studies, cultural studies, and film theory. She is a member of the
>>>>>>>> editorial board for the online journal Inflexions and the author of
>>>>>>>>> works
>>>>>>>> on movement and ephemerality, for which she frequently
>>>>>>>>> collaborates with
>>>>>>>> Brian Massumi.
>>>>>>>>> Carol-Ann BRAUN (US/FR) is a Paris-based American artist
>>>>>>>> who has been
>>>>>>>>> working with digital technologies since 1985. Her work ranges
>>>>>>>> from
>>>>>>>>> still images to animations to interactive immersive text-based
>>>>>>>> environments (inner-media.org). Closely affiliated with the Atelier du
>>>>>>>>> CUBE
>>>>>>>> (lecube.com ), she has extended her artistic practice beyond
>>>>>>>>> esthetics to
>>>>>>>> include ³social media². The first prototypes involved
>>>>>>>>> chat spaces as a
>>>>>>>> search engine.  This led to the design of polling
>>>>>>>>> technology
>>>>>>>> (http://cie.acm.org/articles/braun-phones-kids/). Last
>>>>>>>>> month Concert-Urbain
>>>>>>>> launched a poetic polling platform on the subject
>>>>>>>>> of happiness:
>>>>>>>> lebonheurbrutcollectif.org. The project¹s intention is
>>>>>>>>> to find contribute
>>>>>>>> to defining new criteria for measuring the
>>>>>>>>> ineffable nature of
>>>>>>>> happiness...It will be gathering momentum over the
>>>>>>>>> next three years. The
>>>>>>>> Ministry of Culture and the Region Ile de France
>>>>>>>>> have taken a particular
>>>>>>>> interest in ³Le Bonheur Brut Collectif, ²
>>>>>>>>> which is also being followed by a
>>>>>>>> research team at the CNAM
>>>>>>>>> (Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers),
>>>>>>>> Paris.
>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>> Renate Ferro
>>>>>>>>> Visiting Assistant Professor of
>>>>>>>> Art
>>>>>>>>> Cornell University
>>>>>>>>> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
>>>>>>>> Ithaca, NY  14853
>>>>>>>>> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
>>>>>>>>> URL:
>>>>>>>> http://www.renateferro.net
>>>>>>>>>   http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
>>>>>>>> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net
>>>>>>>>> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre-
>>>>>>>> soft skinned space
>>>>>>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
>>>>>>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>> e
>>>>>>>> mpyre forum
>>>>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>>>>> ----------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>> Erin Manning
>>>>>> Concordia Research Chair
>>>>>> Faculty of Fine Arts
>>>>>> Concordia University
>>>>>> 1455 de Maisonneuve W.
>>>>>> Montreal QC H3G1M8
>>>>>> http://www.senselab.ca
>>>>>> http://www.erinmovement.com
>>>>>> http://www.inflexions.org
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>>> ----------------------------------------------------------
>>>> Erin Manning
>>>> Concordia Research Chair
>>>> Faculty of Fine Arts
>>>> Concordia University
>>>> 1455 de Maisonneuve W.
>>>> Montreal QC H3G1M8
>>>> http://www.senselab.ca
>>>> http://www.erinmovement.com
>>>> http://www.inflexions.org
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> empyre forum
>>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> --
>> Renate Ferro
>> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
>> Cornell University
>> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
>> Ithaca, NY  14853
>> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
>> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
>>      http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
>> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net
>> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
>> -- 
>> Renate Ferro
>> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
>> Cornell University
>> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
>> Ithaca, NY  14853
>> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
>> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
>>      http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
>> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net
>> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Erin Manning 
> Concordia Research Chair 
> Faculty of Fine Arts
> Concordia University
> 1455 de Maisonneuve W.
> Montreal QC H3G1M8
> http://www.senselab.ca
> http://www.erinmovement.com
> http://www.inflexions.org
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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