[-empyre-] my observations about collaboration
erintango at gmail.com
Thu May 16 08:43:15 EST 2013
I don't know Sam Delany, Paul. Can you say more about the difference?
On 2013-05-15, at 2:04 PM, Paul Vanouse <vanouse at buffalo.edu> wrote:
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> Hi Erin,
> Thanks for all your comments! Yes, in the last 10 years at SenseLab it seems that you've done a lot of thinking/practicing all this!!
> Its curious, even half-way through this months discussion there are a lot of deeply shared theoretical keywords/frameworks, and also related insights that seem to be conceived from alternate frameworks or using different metaphors.
> For instance, there is obviously the strong presence of D&Gs theoretical foundations/keywords (which also resonate for me), such as rhizomes, nomadism, vectors, etc. For instance, your descriptions of "practices that resist capture", the diagrammatic as not simply a map (but potentially several superimposed maps that interact to constantly transform one another...), the group subject... Also, Patrick Lichty's essay nicely summarizing collaborative network ideas invoking the rhizome, and Carol-Ann's eloquent use of the molecular and the micropolitical.
> Then there are also our shared insights that seem to arise from different metaphors--as you relayed similarities between "non-rational" and "distracted" participation.
> Is anyone incorporating/utilizing Sam Delany's notion of "contact" vs "network" in conceiving collaboration? I ask mostly out of genuine curiosity rather than expertise because I recall thinking his distinction was productive, but I never really followed up with it.
> Cheers all,
> On May 14, 2013, at 10:17 AM, Erin Manning wrote:
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>> Dear Paul,
>> I love your comments below! I am especially sensitive to how we generate projects in common - this is what the SenseLab means when we say that "we meet at the level of our techniques rather than our finished works." I think here of how generous collaborators have been over the years in their willingness to set aside their remarkable experience in a certain field to start again differently in a new collective setting. This was the case, for instance, with Patrick Lichty at Into the Midst - who was very sensitive to our questions about how not to take technology on as the main aspect of the event but to invent collectively across varying ways to enter into the Society for Art and Technology's Satosphère. And the issue of the non-rational is great! There is a lot of wonderful work that comes from a certain "distracted" place - a place of betweenness where the work is not actually happening but percolating. This weekend a group of 10 of us from the SenseLab are going down to Boston to work with the Design Studio for Social Intervention. We are staying on houseboats and driving together. I have no doubt the houseboat will be central to many of next year's projects! The question of parity is also interesting. One of the things I've noticed over the years is that the person that brings good humour and excitement is often as important as the person who works the most on the details of the project. How do we operate across these differing economies without resentment? And yes to nomadism. We find we need about a year to let the next project come to fruition, and this long period is allied, I think, to the nomadism you discuss - a period where the next work identifies itself, its stakes, its location etc. Sometimes we've needed 2 years. I try not to push this stage as otherwise the project might be still-born. This gestation period is of course full of work, but work that doesn't necessarily focus itself into results in the standard sense.
>> On 2013-05-13, at 9:24 PM, Paul Vanouse <vanouse at buffalo.edu> wrote:
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>>> I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts so far! Most of my experience in this area of collaboration has been for the purpose of (1) creating conceptual, highly experimental artworks; (2) with a critical, interventionist and/or tactical intent; (3) with a reflexive use of contemporary technologies--as a media in themselves. With these three tendencies for the work in-mind, I’d like to pass on four of my key beliefs/observations about collaboration. I'll deliberately try to keep language simple... hope these might be useful and provoke response…
>>> These observations stem from about twenty years of projects with great collaborators--scientists as well as other artists. Many of these projects were undertaken at the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon in the 1990s, alongside people like Patricia Maurides, Michael Mateas, Steffi Domike, Andres Tapia-Urzua, Rob Fisher, Peter Weyhrauch, Patrick Lichty, John Pollock and others. Later collaborators include the Critical Art Ensemble, Faith Wilding, Beatriz da Costa, Millie Chen, Warren Quigley and Andrew Johnson. Furthermore, I’ve frequently worked with several scientists in relationships that are more cooperative than necessarily collaborative, but many of the same notes apply.
>>> (1.) Shared Agendas: Pose project collaborations in terms of shared goals and agendas, or even shared sense of process. Avoid collaborations based on some notion of a fixed form or final outcome. It can be tempting when working with someone that you don’t know well or have little in common with to try to invent a project based on a shared form/product through which you will each achieve your own separate agenda. I’ve found this never works because experimental projects never exactly take the form you expected and if goals differ then you’ll never agree on the acceptable changes to the form. But when agendas and process sensibilities are shared, each new challenge and change of plan tends to strengthen the project.
>>> (2.) The Non-Rational: Work with people that you generally like to be around and to drink with (or whatever ;-) The most interesting ideas typically arise when you aren’t “on-the-clock” or trying too hard. Conversely, the processes and the outcomes of purely institutional collaborations tend to recapitulate the institutional structure in which they occur. (In this sense it is analogous to the open source critique of institutional software structure being merely a diagram of the corporation’s power relations.)
>>> (3.) Parity: Try to collaborate with others with similar levels of experience to contribute (but hopefully in different areas), and a similar time commitment. Try to share all credit equally and avoid any complicated differentiation that might undermine shared ownership. (The film industry model is an appropriate example of what I try to avoid because of its minute detail in credit differentiation and the static titles in which participation might occur—which insure a predictable result.)
>>> (4.) Nomadism: Obviously, collaborations are usually undertaken by identifying a project, teaming up with those with complimentary backgrounds best suited for it and following the project through to its completion. The next project however, will probably necessitate (or at least suggest possibilities for) different tactics, different skill-sets and different processes. Perhaps because the former outcome has been re-appropriated or diffused of its radical potential or perhaps because of a more subjective personal need. Try to be open to new vectors of participation—not only a different type of project, with different collaborators, but also try new roles for your own participation. If you’ve typically been the theoretician in the group try being the technician, or if you’ve previously done all the visual production try taking on the logistical planning. Nomadism in this sense is not only about with whom you play, but also who plays which roles.
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>> Erin Manning
>> Concordia Research Chair
>> Faculty of Fine Arts
>> Concordia University
>> 1455 de Maisonneuve W.
>> Montreal QC H3G1M8
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Concordia Research Chair
Faculty of Fine Arts
1455 de Maisonneuve W.
Montreal QC H3G1M8
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