|[WiwiHome :: This page]|
" After attending a series of workshops at Steirischer Herbst festival in Graz, termed “playing field research (Speilfeldforschung) on questions of surveillance, participation, collaboration, and open sources”- here is a rather lengthy blog about how these workshops went, some things learned, and some things that I think might be of interest to critical practice. While the entry on WS1 is rather lengthy and diary like, I try to keep the section on the collaboration-workshop shorter. This section is probably most relevant to CP.
“The art of control - central to all forms of society - assumes different guises in different geographies, cultures, political systems and situations. Who is in control, what is the effect of control, how is it avoided and where is it required? These aspects and others are investigated, visualised and reviewed in "Spielfeldforschung" (playing field theory), the theoretical backbone of the festival. Because politics and economy are no longer divisible today, one question that arises is that of models of society and relationships jettisoning the idea that people can be modelled completely around the economy. Participation and collaboration are the buzzwords used to discuss the interplay between the controlled calculation and subversive uncontrollability of society. The theoretical field covers considerations of the critical art and net scene, the open source movement, aesthetic approaches and analyses of governmental studies; reflections that - following the French philosopher Michel Foucault - proceed on the premise that rule often exists in a strange alliance with those being ruled, which is why self-rule and foreign rule are often indivisible. "Spielfeldforschung" is not an academic programme that examines art as an object but rather seeks to find ways of exposing itself to art in a rambling understanding of theory, in formats that allow visitors to meet artists, theorists and activists on location in the course of the festival programme.” http://www.steirischerherbst.at/2006/english/calendar/calendar.php?eid=128
Very briefly on workshop organization
Speaking with Gesa who co-organized the workshops and gave “artistic advice” for the overall festival, she mentions her intention to bring economists in, which was apparently impossible to negotiate with the other organizers. She is keen to address the problem of artists and activists repeating familiar discourses in a bubble-like isolated environment, and had been hoping to break with this tradition. Inviting specialists working within economy/trade/finance/government contexts to speak, give presentations, participate in discussion (Anja: This is a very interesting idea, did she mention at all why this was a problem to organize? I personally would not see the Herbst festival as a conventional platform for activist discussion, it seems to be to be geared towards a more “professional” artistic genre and is perhaps more commercial than a strictly political forum. In this way it seems much more interdisciplinary and non militant, which should be a constructive point in arguing for the inclusion of economists etc. )
Florain Malzacher who co- curated the festival has over the recent years been involved in a lot of co-ordination of workshops and summer academies (Theaterformen festival workshops- theater.kein.org, Mousonturm Summeracademies, http://www.betacity.de/pdf/leporello_sommerakademie.pdf#search=%22mousonturm%20academies%20malzacher%22 ) I will try to get some texts by him, would think he has written about the business of workshop organization
It was interesting to see how politics gets spoken about in different contexts, what open source means to practitioners in different fields (performing arts/ activism/ fine arts..) and especially what collaboration means in different contexts : the way it is inscribed, theorized, perhaps being used as a buzzword, in the fields of performing arts/ activism/ fine arts.. I try to think about some of this below.
WORKSHOP 1. IF THE SKIN IS FASTER THAN THE WORD
links that I think are of particular interest in relation to critical practice: http://www.radicalempiricism.org/biotextes/anglais_index.html http://www.republicart.net/disc/aap/cvejic01_en.htm
Initially, Massumi and Manning introduced/discussed (using two texts, by James Whitehead and William James) the concepts of affect, realtionality, relational movement, preacceleration… the philosophies of radical empiricism, and the way both Massumi and Manning work with these. I shouldn´t go on to crudely summarize what was discussed during this time, but here are some links to texts for anyone interested: William James: A world of pure experience http://spartan.ac.brocku.ca/~lward/James/James_1912/James_1912_02.html A.N. Whitehead: Essays in Radical Empiricism, chapter 9 Brian Massumi: brianmassumi.com, radicalempiricism.org Erin Manning: www.thesenselab.com
Mette Ingvartsen presented a space for collaboration she created at Nadine´s in Brussels (go to http://www.aisikl.net/mette/ and the to “tmotmo”) and an online space called Everybody's, which “is dedicated to the distribution and criculation of performing arts and its discourses in its widest sense.” www.everybodys.be -you can find some great texts there, such as a full version of “A grammar of the multitute” by P. Virno. Xavier Le Roy played a choreographic game with us, which I would like to play with CP if there is interest. Jan Ritsema (this is a fragmented account of what some might have come to understand as a failure, perhaps not so interesting to all) proposed to make a film with us on acceleration, multitasking and performance of multiple identities enabled by new communications technologies (skype, etc.). Anja: Should also mention that he proposed that in this process of communication we also find a means by which to accrue capital. Im not sure how significant this seemed to the rest of the group but Bojanas initial proposition to me in the skype chat was that she would pay me for a cliché. And the conversation was often revolving around this theme. Interesting that this was the topic as well as Franks (= a participant) question about the morals of technology and the way in which we use it. Jan started the session in a curious way, at first presenting us with a rather concrete film proposal, which the group resisted and questioned for various reasons and for a long time, then followed by him slowly letting the role of facilitator go, so that after a while we got lost negotiating without a moderator and struggled to find a way of having a discussion, understanding what we wanted this workshop to be, how we wanted to engage and how we could collaboratively make a film (and whether we wanted this at all). By leaving us to decide entirely by ourselves how to go about spending our time, he put us in the awkrward position of on the one hand trying to entertain ourselves by means external to us (some people had separate discussions, some people faded in and out of skyping, sms-ing and talking on the telephone, probably still in a spirit of experimentation with Jans proposal, however producing a lot of noise and chaos) and on the other trying to generate some kind of consensus about what to do now. We failed to get a collective discussion going, and ended the session in chaos and confusion. I think the group, even if all communication appeared to disintegrate, tried to engage in what Jan had first proposed, but as there was no coherent way of doing so, it failed to all come together and reach some kind of terminus. Jan had after all not been insisting on making a film, but rather started a situation which we as a group needed to find a way of engaging in. Not having managed to make some such way crystallize, we all got lost in various activities and conversations, and let it go on until time was out. afterwards we felt very tired from shifting focus all the time and confused about the fact that we had not reached any conclusion. Also perhaps the point that he made after could go toward offering some explanation: he said that he found agreement boring and that discontent bred ideas, or perhaps chaos, perhaps nothing specifically positive in a conventional sense, but it seemed he was more interested in the dissolution of a coherent project than the creation. That’s why he was so ambiguous and cryptic about the parameters for the exercise.
On the notion of collaboration within this workshop: the notion of collaboration seems to be omnipresent at the moment, in performing arts contexts as much as fine arts, with much attention given and research being done into ways of working together, getting around hierarchical structures, making space for audience involvement and participation, and working things out together. in the performing arts field, working together of course is more of a necessity than in most fine art practice, and with most people at the workshop being involved in performing arts practice, I found that we reached a high level of sensitivity to each other, in listening, letting others speak and telling from peoples body-language what kind of state they might be in and how one might respond to them. I thought our social situations were followed and co-constructed with great care. (Anja: I would not agree with this so strongly. I think that this care took time and may have been more present at the conclusion of the workshop. I think there were problems with understanding the dynamic requirements of such a large and diverse group, and that this is not in any way surprising. I think the process of this relation is important to be aware of and acknowledge in order to analyse the workshop. But that’s just my opinion…) ...This might be to do with the fact that for most dancers and theatre workers the understanding and shifting/ transformation of relations is what constitutes their practice (relations to other performers, to audience..), and that they are rather skilful and creative with engaging with people. As opposed to the second workshop, where group members shared backgrounds in activism, anthropology, visual arts/ film, architecture, political philosophy, and where discussions sometimes got out of hand and monologues ensued, in this first workshop there were very few monologues that went on for too long, everyone got to speak in the group and we worked very hard throughout the week on figuring out how the power dynamics in our group functioned (they to some extent shifted several times every day). This is of course not to say that the second workshop group didn´t develop ways of relating to eachother and communicating- I wan´t there throughout the second workshop (or Herbstcamp as it was called) but with the first workshop this sensitivity to eachother was immediately perceived to be crucial part of the work we do. There being one main organizer (Bojana), 7-8 guest organizers, and about 15 participants (who had paid 150 euros to attend, some on stipends), we went very consciously and carefully through the different stages of constituting ourselves as a group, and throughout the week re-negotiated how we wanted to spend our time together. Towards the end of the 7 days, we had a long discussion about how we felt in the setup, the problems we found and things we appreciated, and to what extent what we did resembled a masterclass, an open meeting, etc.
with brian massumi and erin manning starting the workshops with two days of talking about and experimenting with notions of affect and relationality, we were immediately sensitized to eachothers ways of speaking, working, and moving. we did an initial physical exercise with erin, who works with what she calls relational movement, which I understand to mean moving closely together with equal use of pressure/force and trying to keep a balance and anticipate movement together, perhaps akin to the idea of a fulcrum between the bodies. she calls this anticipation preacceleration, a non- sensuous perception, which is crucial to building and living affective relationships- not only in terms of movement, but also in terms of anticipating when someone is about to say something, do something, so in any social situation really. preacceleration then means a moment of potentiality, which one can share and work with in different ways (it relates to affect, which is perceived non-sensuousely according to the radical empicist theories we worked from…). having researched and practiced this both theoretically and phyisically, we became very aware of the constitution of our relations, and the possibilities we had to alter them. which I think did a lot for building the sensitivity we had developed towards eachother in the course of those 7 days. a very important part of this concept of relationality is, as far as I understand it, is the idea that by recognizing relations as being no less real and influential on our experiences of the world than objects and spaces, we come to sensitively work with these relations, which massumi and manning suggest is key to making change in a real world sense. Massumis forthcoming book (don´t have a link yet) and existing writing on affective politics might be very interesting to look at: http://www.radicalempiricism.org/biotextes/textes/massumi.pdf http://brianmassumi.com/textes/EVERYWHERE%20YOU%20WANT%20TO%20BE.pdf some interesting links to erins work: http://www.thesenselab.com/speakersseries.htm, http://www.thesenselab.com/members/erin/Violent%20Touch.pdf (chapter 3, the politics of touch
the importance of collaboration, the attention given to relationality and ways of speaking/ inhabiting the space we shared, were much discussed. (here is an essay by bojana on collaboration and collectivity, quite interesting in terms of thinking about collaboration in relation to other modes of ´working together´ such as collectivity, co-operation, community, etc. http://www.republicart.net/disc/aap/cvejic01_en.htm )
another interesting point to think about is the way politics was spoken about during this first workshop. Brian spoke briefly on affective politics, and his current project about the affective politics of the Bush government. Generally, the notion of and desire for change was there in the space we shared, almost at all times if you ask me (but this surely is my point of view). However we didn´t discuss world politics, or regional politics, or discuss what exactly we mean by politics, but rather were busy with the “politics” of art and performance, of co-operative engagement and affective practices. Politics was often refered to in the way of “I completely agree that the state of the world is very worrying at the moment...” –i.e. rather carefully and avoidingly. I´m not sure if more explicit reference would have been desireable, if it would have hindered us to concretely work on strategies and micropolitical processes, and to let everyone make of this microsituation and its relation to what is happening in the world what they like- or if it was to some extent laziness or some cowardly avoidance strategy that led us to avoid discussion of politics per se. the way we conceived of methods of working together and discussed eachothers work (almost all participants presented their work, followed by a more or less in depth discussion) in my view did happen with a strong focus on how our practices and theoretical interests coincided and what they ´do´- to spectators, institutional frameworks, ourselves and the people we work with- what effect they have on the world. we did not speak much about the iraq war for example, or about poverty, climate change, exploitation, precarity… I don´t think any of us had expected a de-politicized workshop within the ´professional´ field of performing arts, and I don´t think we were engaged in this kind of discourse necerssarily, but we certainly looked at politics specifically in relation to (performing) art practice (which sometimes, particularly in cases we discussed, borders on a kind of activism one might argue. open question..) . Anja: this is a good point and definitely needs to be thought about more; because in speaking about politics in an abstract way is still in some ways avoiding the political realities we experience each day. Although I agree it would be difficult to speak about concrete political situations in this context it is still something that would be interesting to work through. Even the “professional” arena has to face political actualities, which I thought could have been discussed more
apart from the sessions with massumi and manning, there was another initial point of reference/ proposal that quite strongly influenced our processes during the workshop. the proposal was to think about how ´theory´ and ´practice´ coincided in our work. the initial setting up of this dichotomy (the reproduction of which seemed to be out of our hands) led us to try to make arguments about how theory and practice blend into eachother in our work, and how we view them as inseparable- which actually ended up producing more of a distincion between the two, because we then constantly referred to these terms as opposites during the workshop. in the end, I think, we somewhat concluded that thinking in terms of ´theory´ and ´practice´ was perhaps not the most fertile way of going about it, especially when one wants to collapse the boundary between the two, and that relations between the two could very hardly be described or pinned down.
speaking about methodologies, strategies and techniques appears to me to have been much more of a fruitful way of understanding how we put our (theoretical, political, philosophical) ideas into practice, and back into theory again. obvious point, but still interesting to consider how the vocabulary that is proposed at the outset of a process (in this case the workshop) – be it a conscious proposal of a terminology or words that get taken up spontaneousely- can come to influence that process to the extreme, and how hard it is, even when one recognizes that the use of a certain vocabulary as no longer helpful, to move beyond that framework and find different notions to work with, and establish different parameters for working/ speaking.
--a question I would be interested in, in relation to critical practice, is what vocabularies/ ideas/ parameters we have been using and how the use of these has evolved, what terminologies as well as methodologies have arisen in the course of our working together? for example, what do we understand by collaboration? how have our experiences of the constitution of the group changed, and our perception of the roles we play within it?
back to the workshop: we played a lot of games ( some of which I could propose to play with critical practice, some of which are too complex to describe here- the triangle/relational choreography game, the interview game, the skype question game, the game for building a feedback-machine, the talking about someone elses work game, the relational movement exercise, the reflecting on doing this workshop game, the laughing game..-I am making up names for most of these experiments here). I will try to post links concerning some of these methods. of course, many of the setups we experimented with are not only used by self-organizing groups within the arts or academia, but very much relate to games and seminars for team-building, communications skills, management, as used within corporate/ commercial contexts. This is another reason why Gesa, who co-organized the workshops, suggested we should get people from these sectors to join, work with us, co-evaluate our processes. --Ian, and those that collaborated for the 2005 degree show, could probably give some interesting response to this, having worked with consultants etc...
we much discussed if all participants felt they could get equally involved, if we were being “taught” by some and not by others, and so on. we came to discuss how language enables/disables us to take part in certain things, and with regards to collaboration we spoke about how in our separate projects the attempt at creating non-hierarchical ways of working still left those more articulate, or those quicker to respond, in a position of power. I think we agreed in our acknowledgement of the fact that proposing a collaborative structure perhaps was not enough to get people to work together on euqal terms, and that we found sometimes the rhetoric of collaboration could conceal existing hierarchies within groups. This of course seems to be a paradox: what I mean is that we shared a certain ambiguous feeling about using the notion of collaboration too much, being suspicious of how fashionable it has become within the arts world, and not wanting it to come to play an almost ideological role. Also, we had no clear definition of collaboration to work from. In some discussions people brought up that often they could work together more openly and confront problems in a group more honestly if they didn´t proclaim an ethics of collaboration, not proposing to start from this paradigm which in many cases isn´t discussed closely in itself, but went about building trust and sharing knowledge and responsibility on the basis of the different desires, ways of working and abilities of each member of a group, and let that group evolve by itself rather than immediately placing it under the notion of collaboration. I think many of us were weary about labeling any project as collaborative that starts from the intention to share responsibility and power. The lack of a definition, of course, contributed to our feeling uneasy about using the notion too much. Anja: For me personally it is impossible to attain a perfect equality in collaborative practices and it is more important to acknowledge the multitudes of differences of each member. Collaboration can be more about each person choosing to take responsibility for certain facets of the project, and even then these choices should not be assumed to be concretely fixed over time. It is always dangerous to assume the possibility of a clearly demarcated and precisely balanced allocation of tasks. It is ofcourse of primary importance to see collaboration as a methodology in itself with the same difficulties and complexities as any methodology and requires constant self reflexion and discussion. It is too much of a catch word at the moment and this makes it appear to be a simple framework for people working together
--The final workshop was ´about´ collaboration. I will posta summary here soon. We started this last workshop with proposing definitions of collaborations, and formulating questions we had about it. I think this would be a particularly interesting topic to discuss with critical practice.
Concluding my description of the first workshop, I would like to say that of course my description here might not coincide with other participants experiences, although we have been feeding back a lot and I have sent this text to some for co-evaluation and commenting. Also, of course some of the conversations I quote were not among the group as a whole, so if I present a consensus here, this might relate to a conversation between two, or three, or more, but not the entire group. the week was very intense and full of surprises and re-adaptations. some people will keep in touch and work together, maybe there will be a next meeting. currently we are jointly evaluating our process on www.everybodys.be (under ´on workshop´)- there you also find a summary that Bojana, who organized this workshop, started off.
WORKSHOP 2. COLLABORATION
Florian Schneider, Irit Rogoff, Lawrence Liang, Sebastian Lütgert, etc.. THE COLLABORATION WORKSHOP:
Rather than giving a too detailed account of proceedings here, I will make a list of links of interest, which should be self explanatory.. i´ll keep my comments short, so that this doesn´t become a kind of diary, but more of a collection of references and questions/ideas. feedback would be welcome.
At kein.org/collaboration there is a site with texts and documents (and open mailing list) about collaboration:
Collaboration- 7 notes on learning and working together (!!) http://kein.org/node/89
Interview with Godard: “I would have been a collaborateur” http://kein.org/node/87
On Collaboration, Participation and Piracy; http://kein.org/node/92
Collabo Wiki in progress http://www.kein.org/keinwiki/Collaboration
A guide to open content licences/ Lawrence Liang: http://pzwart.wdka.hro.nl/mdr/research/lliang/open_content_guide
The dictionary of war, a great project with online video archive (see concepts on right side of page): http://dictionaryofwar.org/
Thoughts/ things noticed/ frequently discussed issues:
WAYS OF WORKING WITH RELATIONALITY For those that were at the SOMA workshop during collide/collabo, this following comment might make sense, otherwise I suggest to those interested that I can re-do the exercises described above with them:
Doing the relational-movement exercise with Erin Manning, which is based upan a way of leaning against eachother, and then moving together by sensing eachothers preacceleration, I was wondering how this way of working with relationality relates to the SOMA-techniques (letting oneself fall to be caught by others) we worked with during collide/collabo. I came up with this: I think while ´relational movement´ as Erin calls it produces a sense of collaboration, shared energy, closeness, and combined strength, the SOMA technique produces a sense of community, of inter-dependence and fragility, as it is based upon a different kind of trust than relational movement. While SOMA depends of total trust for the other person(s) to save oneself from falling, where there is always a relation faller-catcher, relational movement depends on an equal application of force, a leaning against eachother rather than a catching. I think it is quite interesting to try these exercises in relation to eachother, to get a sense of how exercises that appear similar are based upon an entirely different form of relationality.
On collaboration: there have been many (very productive, but never conclusive) attempts at defining what collaboration might mean, in different contexts and at different times, out of which came a set of questions on collaboration, a FAQ and dictionary on collaboration which is in the process of being put together by all workshop participants (will post link soon)- some of these questions were:
what is the role of compromise in collaboration? collaboration as a working with compromise or constraint creatively?
collaborations as a sensing and careful shifting together in relation/ of relations (people- people/ things- people)
what is the role of a common starting point in collaborative processes? (the idea of a degree zero?)
to what extent does collaboration, if posited as a paradigm or general principle, produce semblances of equality (within a working group), to what extent does the definition of a process as collaboration assure that distribution of power will be dealt with responsibly in a group? can/ should collaboration be regulated?
what role will collaboration come to play in the context of cultural policies where vulgar notions of participation and access gain importance? how might one protect/ re-code/ deconstruct the term ´collaboration´ to counter its assimilation into a superficial rhetoric of access?
how does collaboration relate to community, how to cooperative, how to collective?
what is the relationship between collaboration and democracy?
(see also history of the notion ´collaborateur´ during/ after ww2 in france, how anyone that did not resist the occupying nazi forces was seen to have collaborated with them)
collaboration as an experimental setup enabling investigation into democratic processes
collaboration as a model? a paradigm? a spirit? a concept? a method?
what role does affect play in collaboration, what role does language play? (imperfect intimacy)
collaboration as shattering of centralized viewpoints (there can be no “outcome”- no single result)
what is the role of consensus within forms of collaboration?
collaboration: relation of individuals to “group” (kind of synechdoche)?
collaboration as joint thinking process (brainstorming..) not process of definition
collaboration as temporary alliance
collaboration as motivated by self-interest, not charity or sense of community
what is at stake in collaboration is the self
do we seek stability or continuity when we enter into collaboration?
does collaboration “reach out”? if yes, to whom, in what way differently than a “collective” might reach out?
what is the role of a common goal within collaboration? can collaborative processes be said to start from a common goal? if yes, what is this goal concerned with- a form of production, an ethics, a process?
does the corporation represent some kind of opposite to collaboration
Personally I think this has been hugely productive in thinking about collaboration, and I have the feeling now that it makes no sense to come up with a strict definition or general principles of regulation of collaboration. While there might be many ´vulgar´ notions of collaboration around, making it useful to flesh out what people and groups consider methods for collaborative work that carry a lot of potential, and how certain usages of the term ´collaboration´ rather go against the spirit of collaboration we were interested in, the description of this spirit however might rather be left vague and open, or poetic perhaps, so that it opens possibilities of working together, of thinking about collaboration, learning from it and constantly re-working it, rather than narrowing these possibilities down and regulating them. I had been wondering about this a lot in the course of writing out my ´proposal´ or project outline to present to Critical Practice- in relation to aims and objectives, and the question how ´collaborators´ or ´collaborative projects´ might be defined. Looking back at the aims+objectives now I find we did very well with getting around vulgar as well as restrictive notions of collaboration. Still it would be interesting to look at what common and differing ideas we might have about ´collaboration´within CP?
Some notes on ownership, copyright, relation of myself to my own (Lawrence Liang):
the identification of “self” with “own”- the self as in possession of ones own person (Locke and proprietary individualism), one being the master of oneself, consciousness as constitutive to claiming to be a subject (to own oneself)- internment of the insane (dis-owning themselves of themselves)
Etienne Balibar and the relation of moi/ soi, proper/ le propre to appropriate: to identify with/ to make property of- relations of identification to appropriation naturalization of the self with the own
“mine” does not necessarily refer to ownership, but also to relation:
this is my pen (proprietary) this is my mother (relationship) this is my poem (usually interpreted as proprietary)
“owning up to”- belonging to- collaboration as a way of rethinking relationships in terms of caring and concern, not property affirming the self- created as property and not sth one is strongly related to as a gesture of brutality my wife- patriarchy and the advent of property
data- from latin: datum/ to give- Sanskrit: data- the giver
the impossibility of legally enforcing gratitude, the question of how to encourage acknowledgement of gratitude
what does it mean to own an image references: derrida/ on friendship, ICA publication/ dear image,
not referring to originality but to performance- you don´t own or create an idea of course, you do it, and thereby stand in relation to it
the history of paper and the history of ownership
the oedipal in relation to ownership- the idea that ones relationship to sth is only secure if it pertains exclusively to oneself
“gehören” in german- latin: obeodire- to belong/ to obey- die Frau gehört dem Ehemann- obedience/ control and ownership
- some things on workshop organization context; organizing groups and transparency; what is a workshop; what is a theory workshop; continuity of relations
-irits discourse of access, occasion, implication irit rogoff is developing a vocabulary that should enable a moving beyond notions of unconscious participation, etc: from audience to the implicated from art to the manifest from the exhibition to the occasion (field of potentiality, less limited)
the problem with the notion of access as well as participation- that these imply a ´granting´, an ownership of a resource, a caritative gesture on the part of a powerful subject, temporarily/conditionally enabling the participation of a consumer- what notions to propose beyond access and participation