[-empyre-] about Brooke's post

Brooke Singer brooke at bsing.net
Fri May 24 00:08:22 EST 2013


Hi Gaby,

Thanks for bringing up scale. This is one of the reasons that brought me to
collaborate in the first place and I think one of the most powerful forces
that bring people to work together. You can do more than you can alone. You
can do things that you can't do otherwise. The social aspect, it's more fun
to work with others than by yourself, was compelling for me as well. That
fun should not be overlooked (as Renate is bringing up in another
thread...); it has to do both with our social being-ness but also powerful
ways of learning. In my past collaborations, primarily preemptive media, we
worked side-by-side a lot of the time, learning from each other and
learning through doing. We had our own specializations but over the years
those lines blurred a lot. Division of labor, or factory style, helps to
speed things up and cannot be dismissed altogether but I tell my students
to not rely on that method solely because you will miss out. Collaborating
is skill sharing. There is also the important role of the one not "in the
know" who will most likely question assumptions and automatic ways of
working that happen when have done something over and over again for a long
time.

Also something that I came to realize after starting to collaborate was how
important group work is as incubator for socially engaged or issue based
projects. The work originates from conversation, debate, struggles, mutual
aid -- not from a single perspective.

The corporatization of which you speak is pervasive. (I see it starkly in
the language of grant writing these days.) The corporate world is very
hierarchical and antithetical to what I describe above, but then so is
academia. I try to counter it in my courses by replicating what I have
found to be successful in my own work: bringing together disparate groups
of people with differing skill sets (that is the leveler) but a common
desire. In the specific class I mentioned before the common desire is to
further the mission of the non-profits with which we work (hand picked by
me). Most of the semester is reading, discussion, brainstorming, testing...
the final production of the work is only the last couple of weeks. By
emphasizing or making space for everything but the finished project I keep
everyone in the space of experimenting and learning longer. There is time
to learn each other's languages, work different angles, learn through
doing, prototype, beta test, fail (...or not just make a company website
for the organization who does not know how to build one!). It was
interesting for me to see in the 3 groups that I worked with this term that
only one resorted to a clear hierarchy where a student stepped into the
role of the director. It's will of course be really interesting to see over
the next decade how collaboration pro/regresses in cultural production and
what it means to students who are digital natives, immersed 24/7 in social
media and grow up with the mass marketed concept of sharing.

Brooke







On Wed, May 22, 2013 at 6:22 PM, Gabriela VargasCetina <
gabyvargasc at prodigy.net.mx> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>  Dear all,
>
> I am enjoying this discussion very much.  What I know of Brooke's work is
> very inspiring, and it is difficult to see how the scale or her projects
> would make them manageable by a single person, so the question group /
> individual becomes very relevant.
>
> I am an anthropologist and we have pretty much the same problems you have
> all been describing: the humanities and social sciences train students to
> work individually, and not together with other people.  Furthermore, it is
> very difficult to get an anthropologist to work with others from mixed
> training, including mathematicians and artists.  I have been allowed by our
> Faculty of Anthropology to put together courses where students have to
> dance or perform their theoretical concepts, or design
> anthropologically-meaningful websites using theories derived from fiction,
> always in teams.  However, many of my colleagues (especially at other
> universities) think this is all bizarre and nonsensical, and even the
> students think that they do not develop 'useful skills' in my courses.  And
> yes, like art students, as per Ana's comment, anthropology students today
> are being told they should find ways to 'market' themselves to
> corporations, individually, and follow instructions instead of questioning
> the world.  There is the job market problem, though: where will graduates
> from anthropology find employment, other than at the local branches of
> multi-national corporations?  I don't have any answers, but the fact that
> the questions are so difficult is sad and troubling.
>
> Gaby Vargas-Cetina
> Facultad de Ciencias Antropologicas
> Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan
>
> On 5/22/13 4:43 PM, Ana Valdés wrote:
>
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>
>
>
> Brooke I loved your rethoric question:
>
> I teach collaboration too and just a few days ago during final
> presentations saw the power of bringing people together who do not know
> each other well -- or at all-- for a common cause or, as Paul notes, shared
> agendas. I pair groups of students to make media work for non-profit
> organizations in Westchester, a pro-bono approach with a participatory
> design bent. But I guess I am left wondering why collaboration is to this
> day is still seen as unusual or something special in art practice and art
> education and not the modus operandi? Now we are going to study
> individuality ... the methods of and reasons for working alone!!
>
>
> I agree totally with you and wonder why all artist educations
>
> are headed to educate artists as "entrepreneurs", as they were
>
>
>
> heads of an unipersonal enterprise with only them as contracted.
>
> I think that's the problem when you try to create the idea
>
> artists and writers are "professions" as doctors, podologists,
>
>
>
> architects, dentists or other.
>
> The writing educations grow as swamps, the "creative writing" is now
>
> an accepted part of the curriculum in many of the world's universities
>
>
>
> but do we have seen the growing of a talented writing group
>
> of people equivalent to all who are being educated as writers or
>
> do we see the same amount of people writing without any
>
>
>
> academical education?
>
> My point is: we are evolving from the concept the artist or the writer
>
> as gifted by God and part of an elite to another myth:
>
> the artist or writer as part of a corporation, skilling them in
>
>
>
> selling of their own works, marketing it and publishing it.
>
>
> I think collaboration is nearly mandatory today if you want to make
> changes and leave a trace in the world we live into.
>
>
>
> Ana
>
>
>
> --
>  http//congresomujeresdenegromontevideo.wordpress.com
> http://www.twitter.com/caravia158606060606060
> http://www.scoop.it/t/art-and-activism/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/food-history-and-trivia
> http://www.scoop.it/t/urbanism-3-0
>
>
>
> cell Sweden +4670-3213370
> cell Uruguay +598-99470758
>
>
> "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with
> your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always
> long to return.
> — Leonardo da Vinci
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forumempyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.auhttp://www.subtle.net/empyre
>
>
>
> --
> Gabriela Vargas-Cetina
> Facultad de Ciencias Antropológicas
> Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán
> Carretera a Tizimín km 1
> Mérida, Yucatán 97305.  México
> Tel. +52 999 930 0090
>
>
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