[-empyre-] on mask-making / ojo colectivo

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri May 31 05:30:38 EST 2013

dear all

Zach's posting on masks/mask making was very interesting, and made me think about
the moment, in a short while, when i will travel from the south to the usa and face the customs
and border officers, and they will fingerprint me and make me take my glasses off and glance
into a camera. What if you were to wear a mask? but that won't be possible.

 Your workshop works symbolically?  I do like to ask about your concepts of anonymity - which you mention below -
or "opacity/recognition,"  I remember that you had written about this before, can you perhaps
tell us how useful or concrete some of the actions have been and become over time? who are the participants
in such mask workshops? have you worked with illegal immigrants or refugees?   what do ask them to read (one of your
constraints?)? in what language?

[Zach schreibt]
 ...a group i
started that usually operated as an anonymous collective:
for the past year, i've been organizing mask-making workshops as part
of my "facial weaponization suite" project:
it goes without saying that each workshop i've organized has been
incredibly different--with various degrees of success and failure (but
it doesn't even make sense to evaluate the workshops with such a
rubric), and these workshops are continuously reoriented as i learn
from each one. i have many other thoughts on ideas of collective
transformation with the mask as well as desires for opacity / refusals
of political recognition & representation that i can address later.
but for now, i wanted to share the workshop process with everyone.

about usefulness perhaps much has been said, as Carol-Ann writes on May 8,
but the robustness and the infiltration still interest me, also in regard to the workshops mentioned by the alonso+craciun collective.

[Carol-Ann scheibt]
The problem... 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.

Yes. i think so too.

I'd have to agree with Carol-Ann, and this is what I meant yesterday when i tried for a long time to figure out (i was invited, and it was inviting) how to collaborate and speak with Simon/Simon's writing in his home, how to collaborate across distance and across such languages (discourses) and code.  

I also have experienced the exciting and dynamic moments and lasting moments of infuriating collaborations, since infuriating for me is not necessarily negative, but often one is made aware of the slow and fallible processes, mentioned by Carol-Ann, and in a performance lab this is a negligible problem compared to actions in neighborhoods or in civic/political spaces and against threatening institutional protocols or apparatuses when the collaborative politics by necessity is put under pressure and solidarity comes foremost, but there are probably many virtuosic solidarities, and many as there are betrayals, and suddenly one stands there alone, slightly naked, scared, humiliated. 

For the time being, I wish to reflect, or just look at, the image of Zach's "collective mask" (anonymised)
and juxtapose it to what Alonso+Craciun have called, on their website, “El Ojo Colectivo”   - the collective eye. 

I wanted to ask Alonso + Craciun to please tell us a bit more too about the collective tour?

¿Podría explicar esta idea de la mirada colectiva, y cómo pueden
"dirigir" o fomentar un programa pedagógico  con los jóvenes estudiantes, cómo se llega a un decisión en qué manera de entrar en, infiltrarse en el pueblo? ¿qué tipo de infiltración?

Ana -- oh, "no-colaboración es anti-natural"? No puedo creer. creo que 
los artistas no son una invención de la modernidad. ¿narcisismo es natural, al igual que la competitividad, no?

con saludos
Johannes Birringer

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