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I will be participating in a one-day conference at UCL London on March 2nd, 2013. The conference is based on the latest issue of Third Text (see antecedent post). The format is going to be a kind of open discussion/forum without paper presentations and more conversational developments of collective thinking around the theme of art and ecologies.

Conference abstract:

The Eco-Aesthetics conference marks the release of Third Text no. 120 (January 2013), dedicated to the subject of “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology,” guest-edited by TJ Demos. The event will include numerous contributors to the special issue, which investigates eco-aesthetics in a postcolonial framework—from global warming in the arctic to oil industry environmental damage in Nigeria’s delta, from conflicts between mining corporations and tribals in rural India to the ecological effects of industrial development in the port of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, from urban farming in Detroit to the Occupy movement’s development of a post-media social ecology. The special issue and conference seek to link international and interdisciplinary researchers, artists, and critical theorists in order to consider the questions of how such politico-ecological developments have been recently analyzed, mediated, and negotiated within the visual cultural of art and activism.

Link

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Practices of Experimentation: Research and Teaching in the Arts Today is the new book I co-edited. It comprises articles and artwork from members of the Department in Art  & Media at Zurich University of the Arts. The title alludes to an approach we have been fostering throughout the book: How to not make a book not on the level of representation and about what people stand for (i.e. their discursive positioning) but to activate what is happing? Aligning with Isabelle Stengers’ concept of “ecologies of practices” the book wants to think through what is happening - thus foregrounding practices and what they can do or might become rather than what they are in a representational manner. The result is a fine mesh of interrelations and open threads allowing for novel assemblages every time you start engaging with the material. The book unfolds into five “materials” (or subject matter): 1) Laboratory-Experiment, 2) Interfaces, 3) Art-Theory-Science, 4) Teaching-Research, 5) Carte Blanche. The latter “material” comprises  four contributions from authors outside the department: Ute Meta Bauer (MIT), Heiner Goebbels (University of Giessen), Germán Toro-Pérez (ZHdK) and Richard Wentworth (Royal College Art). To give you a better idea, below you find the table to contents.

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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.

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.

This is a commentary and reflection on the ongoing discusssions in Hamburg (Germany) about a complex of historic buildings close to Hamburg’s city. The disctrict called “Gängeviertel” in proximity to the city center consits of 12 remaining buildings of the former working-class area. Hamburg’s city council in its continuous treatment of urban space as commodity to be sold at maximum profit disregards the need for affordable housing and culturally transversal zones. DIfferent from Berlin Hamburg suffers from a continuous loss of affordable work and production places for young artists and creative communities (it is probably just a matter of time until Berlin arrives at this stage). More than 200 artists have started to peacefully squat in parts of the buildings for exhibitions, info-cneters, performances, lectures and concerts/parties. The resonance of the interventions has effected more than 10.000 visitors s far. The city who originally sold the property to the Dutch investor Hanzevast is under pressure to resign form the contract and consider alternative developments of the area. The creative community united under the title “Komm in die Gänge” (a word-play on the title of the district meaning something like “move it!”) proposed recently an alternative development plan. Here are two videos, one in German but it provides good insights and another showing a flashmob in front of the city hall against the elimination of important cultural institutions in Hamburg.

Such inspiring activities call for several questions regarding resistance and potentials for interventions and strategic occupation of space. It seems like the negotiation of a spatial environment receives a wider interest through its presence than other less material and less tangible forms of protest. The size plays an important role but also the pressing issue of a lack of space in the city and the desire for liveable and affordable districts with a rich cultural atmosphere. The collective initiative depends heavily on the factor of spaciality and the distribution of matters of interest in the spaces. In an environment of a a major city and the despair of creative cultures that move to Berlin and other countries, Hamburg has the chance to convert a site into something productive in an ethico-aesthetic manner. In other words, the groups that form a collective seek paths for enunciation that operate on margins between a molar issue and its appropriation.

The delicacy of dealing with large-scale sell-outs of space to corporate money reveals its problematic in a double-folded situation. In the molar capture of a capitalist purpose either option, a sell-out or a culturally diverse and sustainable renovation of the district, offers little room for a difference in terms of a creative climate beyond capitalist appropriation. Being marketable will always remain the general purpose if larger investments are at stake. On the other hand the creative force of adaptation seems to be transversally present throughout different notes of critical response to the lack of space, culture or support. One of the major fields of investment should be the creation of collective enunciations that address the issues of molar capture at many levels and through different strata. A rather topological generation of regions with sets of creative practices and their forces. In such a way the predominance of space seems persistent when it comes to a wider recognition of a problematic field. Such a spatial point of entry therefore has to be adapted and extended by its durational nature, its transversal practices and topological unfolding. It sometimes seems to be more reasonable to negotiate a minimal support and therefore a maximum of autonomy. If the city council involves in a remodelling project of the sight it might be advisable to create autonomous formats of a cooperative, with more self-organization and little reliability on the financial situation of the city.

In a deleuzoguatarrian manner I regard the second video, of a flashmob that creates noise, as a cut into the rhythm of solidified space, creating its own rhythm and connecting new milieu’s. Such practices might be a sign for a resistance and practices to come. The foundation of the molar deployment of reason fundamentally disintegrates in light of transversally powerful (meaning creative) rhythms that offer new collective modes of enunciation.

space invaders - impression taken by christoph brunner in paris 2009
In relation to my research and the fabulous projects that surfaced in the last years I thought it would be useful to have some hints towards really great sites for urban activism, actions and interventions that happen in the in-between spaces of the urban fabric. One is co-founded by Jean-Francois Proust and entitled Adaptive Actions - he is also involved in Montréal’s VIVA! Art Action festival of which I will report more throughout the week. Another great site is the well acclaimed and really beautiful site of the CCA’s (Canadian Centre for Architecture) exhibition Actions. FInally a site a good friend pointed me out to in Europe *Book [of] Urbanism. All three propose transversal, activist and creative practices that shift urban configurations and create pockets of difference.

To give a small impression of the side-project around floaties and ephemeral architectures developed by Jonas Fritsch and Christoph Brunner, I would like to post this video documenting our ephemeral action. The video has been produced by Jonas Frtisch. The work developed during the 5-day transnational and pan-global event Society of Molecules undertaken by members of the Senselab around the world. For a short info see the projects-section on this site or follow the links to Society of Molecules and the Senselab. For a detailed coverage of the whole event see the forthcoming issue of the journal InfleXions on micropolitics edited by Erin Manning and Nasrin Himada.

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In one of my recent projects (”Nice-Looking Obstacles: Parkour as Urban Practice for Deterritorialization”), I have investigated the question of movement and architecture as rhythmical nexus through the practice of Parkour. One of my major arguments builds on Parkour’s consideration of obstacles as potential “landing-sites” for a different movement to take place. The engagement with architectural configurations and obstacles through movement recomposes the city, architecture and spacetime through the constant shifting of the movement-space-time nexus (see for example Bergson, Time and Free Will, Chapter II: “The Multiplicity of Conscious States; The Idea of Duration”). To conceptually derive from phenomenological tendencies in Arakawa and Gins and transform the practice of Parkour into a creative form of thought in motion, I use Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of rhythm, refrain, assemblage and milieu. My major concern aims at the question of how architecture cannot only become more fluid or lend itself for interesting encounters, but what are the ecologies of practices that radically open the potential of movement and encounter to create new relational concepts of spacetime. The full article will be published soon in AI & Society but I would like to provide an excerpt of the most conceptually dense section.

The excerpt: “Architectural Body - the Concept of Landing Sites

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