After submitting a shift proposal (the more performative format) for the next Performance Studies International Conference in Leeds, June 27-30 2012, we, Bianca Scilar Mancini, Alanna Thain and myself, have been accepted with our proposal Ecologies of Siting. Here is the abstract:

ABSTRACT

Ecologies of Siting

The relation of ecology and economy coincides with the concerns of our inter-institutional Research–Creation series “Technologies of Lived Abstraction”, which culminated in July 2011 with ‘Generating the Impossible’. 55 participants explored the limits of a collaborative creative process through techniques of improvisation across heterogeneous backgrounds, following no scripts, without a predetermined landing site, and responsive to the durational intensities of encounter. An always-dissolving collective dedicated ten days to a critical multidisciplinary creative process that involved both a movement of thought and a production of an aesthetic residuum, i.e., an art “object”. This shift is a creative recapitulation of that event’s echoes (where porosity was already a compelling prompt). An “Ecology of Sitting” is based on a process of the improvisation of differential disciplinarity, a contagious attentiveness to how we define environment and landscape as an event-location.

This porous shift will radically experiment with performance methodologies for the improvisation of thought, a critical alternative to and reactivation of the (in)attentive audience of the traditional conference format.  Addressing the notion of concepts, bodies and the environment as variations of duration, we will seek modes of provoking sliding forces always improvising in the ways they generate confounding ecologies to challenge dualisms of body (agent/actor/performer) and environment (site/ location).

The radicalism of our proposal lies in our trust in the event of the encounter, and our conviction that authentic collaboration cannot be catalogued prior to sharing and exchange between participants. What we share are procedures and techniques for the improvisation of thought.

We propose biweekly working group meetings where participants accumulate conceptual or artistic residuum (defined here as the experiential liveliness of duration) from discussions shared through virtual meetings and tasks, as ecologies of improvised thought.  Drawing on a Guattarian ecosophical rejection of a human/non-human dualism, our performance technique of “attentiveness” will be geared towards (re)discovering an “agency of assemblages”, rather than an “acting upon” of the performance of the encounter. “Ecology of Sitting” resists a predetermined utility based on the economies of institutions (academic or arts), and reopens zones of collaborative attentiveness as a method of opening to unexpected connection.  As a set of techniques, we use a creative diagrammatics (Deleuze) drawn from movement work and event-based visual practice.  The goal is to produce a distributed attention that challenges the distinction between rehearsal and event, in an anarchival approach.

I received this very fascinating article by Bernard E. Harcourt, chair of the political science department and professor of law at The University of Chicago. His account of the current practices at Zucotti Park, which he calls “political disobedience” is spot on when it comes to the question of “labelling,” ideologizing or instrumentalizing the ongoing protest. From a philosophical angle I would say the protest has taken up formats that finally grapple with difference as an ontogenetical creative force, which demands the constitution of collectives without central figures, uni-directional goals or simplified solutions. It is not about generating another product or solution but constituting the right problems as they emerge and to work with them, in utmost vigilance and without ideological determinations. It is not a utopia beyond capitalism that is at stake but the actualization of new forms of collective action, thought and creation. The resonance chamber of capitalism is a given and needs to be reconsidered, not as an ideology but as Michel Foucault put it a “micro-physics of power.”

Article by Harcourt in NY Times

categories: activism, politics
tags: , ,

occupy

For more information, click HERE.

While reading in parallel two fairly important texts for my work: Deleuze’s talk “What is the Creative Act?” and Toni Negri’s collection of letters published in English as Art & Multitude I feel compelled to juxtapose them with the aim to work out resonances and productive dissonances. A general statement of Negri provides the fundament:

“Art, as we have said, is labour, living labour, and therefore invention of singularity, of singular figures and objects, linguistic expression, invention of sings. There, in this first movement are lodged potenza of the subject in action, the subject’s capacity to deepen knowledge to the point of reinventing the world. But this expressive act only achieves beauty and the absolute when the signs and the language through which it expresses itself transform themselves into community, when they are embraced and contained within a common project. The beautiful in an invention of singularity which circulates and reveals itself as common in a multiplicity of subjects who participate in the construction of the world. The beautiful is not the act of imagining, but an imagination that has become action. Art, in this sense, is multitude” (xii)

In this paragraph Negri condenses the founding principles to establish art as a creative and political act of a multitude. Three important blocks occur at this intersection: 1) The function of living labour as production,2) the potenza lodged in the expressive act of a subject in action, and 3) Beauty as expressive act through a community, i.e. art as expressive act of the multitude. The repeated critique on the concept of multitude is going to be sidelined in what follows, since the concept of the collective takes a more prominent role in my work on Simondon. Another difficult part that I am dealing with in another place is the role of the subject in relation to action or the expressive act. Even though it might seem like Negri and Deleuze conceive of a subject as the locus of creation in both texts that are discussed here, I deem their concept of the subject closer to Guattari’s notion of the production of subjectivity. Hence, subjectivity is a process of creation where acts become expressive but alsways already as a collective that assembles the subjective form of an event. Such a notion of the subjective form refers to Alfred North Whitehead for whom the subjective form is the expressive moment of an event before it perishes, it is concrescence.

For Negri it is crucial to abandon a notion of the natural as separate from the human. What he calls abstraction defines the state of encounter with “nature” as always already artificially shaped by human presence. This general state is lodged in the overall transformation of labour from abstract to immaterial labour as bottom-line of his work with Michael Hardt. For Negri “living labour is nothing but immaterial production, whether it is intellectual or affective” (xiii). Enmeshed in workings of abstraction the subject and in particular the human subject cannot be accounted for as natural.

Both, Deleuze and Negri point out the importance of a necessity or the work/labour that emerges out of a struggle. For Deleuze in relation to philosophy this means not to engage with thinking in general but to invent and create concepts. In a similar way, Negri points out that the work of constitution has to engage with what he considers as the “truth of the factitious” (3). This truth is not a hermeneutic truth but a truth that is constituted by and through the real. The real is not an empirical matter of fact but rather to speak with Deleuze and Latour a transcendental-empirical matter of concern. Negri considers ontological experience “as a truth of abstraction, and the recognition of this as a condition of experience” (5). In other words, for Negri the constitution of truth as factitious means that truth will be always constituted by means of abstraction. Abstraction defines not a pure transcendentality but manifests abstraction as a mode of existence (I will at greater length deal with the notion of “modes of existence” through the work of Gilbert Simondon an Étienne Souriau in a later post and in my PhD-Thesis).

The potential of an anthropomorphizing notion of the subject shifts once we address the process of constitution as partaking in seeking the real. The real is always synthetic as Isabelle Stengers would probably say. As such the seeking of the real is not a desire for final truth. As Negri says: “There are no longer natural determinisms or historical vestiges, nor finality of fulfillments which hold: the space has become entirely a-teleological” (11). To seek the real means to seek it “until it falls into our hands: an encounter, an event” (10). Hence, it is not a final real but a singularity as part of a wider collective that is defined as the quality of art as living labour for Negri: “The abstract is the sole community in which we exist” (11). Such an abstract defines part of Negri’s use of the concept of multitude. Labour, so my own interpretation, is not necessarily only a human concept. How could it be solely human if the human itself does not hold sway as a natural entity? If the human defines an individual or an individual of labour it would lose its factitious mode of existence. From this perspective, labour is not human as such but a collective abstract process with tendencies towards autonomous production. This mode of production defines what Negri calls the beautiful as collective act, an imagination that has become action. Imagination, again, has to be regarded as synthetic and factitious. It is not human but abstract and therefore collective.

For Negri a truth that will be constituted moves trough processes of empirical traces. He proposes: “So let us begin by putting together the most simple things. Both the space of our habitat and the time of our conscience require objects in relation to which we can re-take the measure of our life” (10/11, my emphasis). The objects might be the creation of works of art. Art does not have to be a physical object but marks a mode of existence. Its presence has an incurrence into the ontological experience of the event. Negri defines the abstract as collective. This mode of collectivity is a pre-individual and potential one. For what comes along as abstract might be also called the “autonomy of affect” (Massumi 2002)[1]. The autonomy of affect as the abstract collective relational bond for potentiality to surface in its actual effects requires another component as helpmate to its emergence: space-time. Talking about the differences between philosophy, art and science, Deleuze evokes their common limit as space-time: “All of these disciplines communicate at the level of something that never emerges for its own sake, but is engaged in every creative discipline: the formation of space-time” (Deleuze 2007, 320). Deleuze extends the linking collectivity of abstraction towards its potential holding together in space-time through different modes of expression (which is another notion for disciplines). The seeking as encounter or event is a shock in a double sense: A virtual shock as much as an actual shock neither of them coming in first but both vibrating across their continuum. A shock occurring in space-times delimiting and at the same time populating the limits with potentials. Such is the creative practice that does not allow to speak of creation as such but only to “speak in the name of … creation” (320). To speak in the name of creation accounts for the act of creation as autonomous, as part of an abstraction of living labour. In that sense, as Deleuze alludes to Malreaux “art is the only thing that resists death” (328). To resists death means to engage in the process of constitution of a truth as a collective matter of concern. Negri’s conception of the multitude aims at dealing with the singularity of each mode of existence and their potential for a transindividual force of expression. Only through that abstract collectivity a work of art might achieve beauty, not as the beautiful opposed to the ugly but as a felt increase of potential for a different future to come. Such a collectivity requires always a struggle and a crisis, the continuous movement of thought, a pragmatics of of discomfort, a discomfort that does not stop to ask questions, similar to the idiot invoked by Deleuze and one of Stenger’s main protagonists. Such a struggle defines the relation between the human and the work of art expressed through Deleuze referring to Paul Klee as the people that are missing: “The people are missing means that the fundamental affinity between a work of art and a people that does not yet exist, will never be clear. There is no work of art that does not call on a people who does not yet exist” (329).

[1] Brian Massumi  grants affect an autonomous state to avoid any one-to-one mapping of affect and effect or affect and emotion. Affect exists but autonomously incurs into actual occasions (events) without pre-defining its actual effects. Without affect’s autonomous state, there would be no elbow-room for novelty (Massumi 2002, 23-45).

Deleuze, Gilles, “What is the Creative Act?,” in Two Regimes of Madness, Cambridge Mass.: Semiotext(e), 317-329.

Massumi, Brian. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2002, 23-45.

Negri, Toni. Art & Multitude. Cambridge: Polity, 2008.

I am very happy to announce that the latest issue of Latvian/European bi-llingual (English and Latvian) journal Acoustic Space on Art as Research has come out. It includes papers from the art as research stream at the SLSAeu Conference 2010 in Riga. In particular I would like to point out Sher Doruff’s article “Artistic Res/Arch: The Propositional Experience of Mattering” which was the keynote for the stream.

My own article “Research-Creation // The Generation of Novel Textures” deals with a first outline for research-creation as point of entry and constant practice of interlacing thinking and feeling in creative processes. In the first section I develop the concept of research-creation as alternative to the constant binarization between art and research that haunts the filed of creative production I am currently interested in. In an second part I propose four movements to approach the practice of research-creation:

1) Generate Spaces of Experimentation

2)Experiment by Dint of Technic and Technicity

3) Embrace Failure as Productive

4) Think-Feel Collectively

The article has undergone further thinking and elaboration since it was produced but it captures in dialogue with the first issue of Inflexions on “How is Research-Creation” a port of entry into my thesis work.

acousticspace9small

Below a video explaining the Political Equator, a concept I heard first of in the work of Teddy Cruz. There will be a conference June 3&4 in San Diego/Tijuana. Their website will provide full detailed information as of May 14.

Below the abstract for my mini-presentation at the 2011 Netaudio Festival and Conference:

How do collectives constitute and endure themselves beyond social or interpersonal strata? In a time of “social” media as potential motors of political change, the attention paid to what constitutes the “social” in social media is often considered as a mere connection between humans by means of technology. Marshall McLuhan’s statement “the medium is the message” aims at undermining the conception of media as bare means to human ends. The medium itself determines how a message is expressed and does not merely transmit its content. The medium becomes active and renders what is expressed. I assume that this assertion is difficult to sustain if one tries to consider the Internet as “a” medium. Instead of considering the Internet as medium I would like to address its technologies as enabling for practices of immediation. Immediation accounts for the embodied experience of any aesthetic expression and sensation and locates the event of immediated experience in everyday life. Through immediation the human and the nonhuman become part of a relational logic where the boundaries between subject and object blur and are negotiated to form transindividual collectives. These collectives are as much social as they are political or ethico-aesthetic.

In light of social media the medium is not the message. Rather processes of immediation entangle embodied experience with immediated collective forces. A collective is not the formation of a group composed of individuals, but an affective relational experience amongst different modes of existence: technologies as much as ideas, perceptions humans and other bodies.

One has to consider the constitution of a collective as the co-emergence of social formations with their environment. Collective means to become enmeshed in a relational logic where each situation is negotiated between its participants. To make these relational becomings palpable, I will use as an example the SenseLab’s (senselab.ca) last event “Society of Molecules” (see: inflexions.org, no. 3 –Tangents). By means of physical and (im)mediated exchange different local nodes (molecules) were able to stage a series of collective events across fifteen countries in 2009. The potential to physically experience local events and at the same time to participate in virtual relations between the different produces the constitution of transindividual collectivity.

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I have been asked to participate in the accompanying conference of this year’s Netaudio Festival in London. Since I attended the festival in its first generation in 2006 it has developed massively and presents itself as a solid discourse on general themes concerning collective creative production, issues of open source and various forms of sonic expression, from broadcasts, to live performances and discussion panels.

I will be part of a panel entitled “Creativity and Collaboration in the Internet Era” together with Michael Bauwens, Matt Fuller and Tamara Barnett-Herrin. Other panels include Liliane Ljin, Jeremy Gilbert, Matthew Herbert, Mark Fisher and the UK Uncut.

The format of the conference defines for me the most exciting aspect. While there will be short presentations, a main focus lies in the formation of small working groups with each of the panelists to have in-depth discussions. After some internal discourse the groups will then come together to present their insights to the rest of the panel. I deem it as a relieve to partake in a more experimental format that allows for some dialogue beyond self-representational modes usually deployed at conferences.

In my mini-presentation I will take on the notion of the transindividual in the work of philosopher Gilbert Simondon to discuss modes of collective individuation that are different from general concepts of collectivity as a multitude of bodies. If possible I will make use of the last Senselab event “Societies of Molecules” to highlight modes of collective individuation with the help of online-platforms and actual gift economies.

food

I just finished reading a publication coming out of the 1999 exhibition by White Columns on Gordon Matta-Clark’s collaborative work with Caroline Goodden entitled Food. The most moving part was a letter from Caroline Goodden to Corinne Diserns describing the development of Food:

Food was born out of the hunger for change and the excitement of experimentation. ln a decade where avantgarde dance was saying “Take us of the precious procenium stage,” sculpture was saying, “Get us out of pristine white-walled galleries.” While artists in general were saying, “Let us live and work in some space (i.e. lofts),” some of us were saying “lets have some food!” In other words….change needed. Different space,different stimulation, different food.

Building on this excitement of experimentation a new model of inhabiting a space and time of collective creative practice across different modes of life strikes me a particularly enjoyable and inspiring practice. the reason I get so enveloped by the experiment of food lies in the absolute obvious relation Goodden makes between diverging practices of economy, survival, creative practice, community and acts of creation. From my point of view she outlines a mode of collective that includes manifold layers of life and starts from this relational nexus instead of just patching existing discourses together. In the end, it is not that important if the place was not sustainable. As Goodden points out:

The joy is the idea. The idea, as an idea, worked. It was a beautiful, nourishing, vital, stimulating new concept which was a living, pulsating hub of creative energy and piles of fresh parsley

The fact that an idea works and lives is the most enriching aspect I have experienced in my engagements with North-American and Canadian ethico-aesthetic experimentations. Working at an art school in Zurich, one of the largest hubs for art-object capital turnover, gives me an idea where I would draw lines of experimentation and invention that move and don’t leave a stone untouched and other ‘artistic’ practices that play safe games of accumulation. What might we be able to do with experimentation to radicalize in a manner that it concerns life and the potential for new modes of life? How can we make an idea work as an idea?

FOOD

As part of a twofold workshop on diagrammatic practices we (Sher Doruff, Claudia Mongini, Thomas Jellis, Diego Gil Tizzoni and Christoph Brunner) have spent a weekend at Alpenhof in Appenzell, Switzerland. During that event, which targeted the relevance of diagrammatic practices in relation to research-creation, we were exposed to a continuous play of appearance and disappearance of out immediate environment due to the play of mist. The relation between affect and percept as an intrinsically diagrammatic processes where experience with something is always a tentative edging into existence. More on the entire workshop is coming soon. Here is the first video:

Nebulous Diagramming (Kunsthof Appenzell) from Christoph Brunner on Vimeo.