Vocabulaboratories

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Coordinator: Marsha Bradfield

Working group: Cinzia Cremona, Michaela Ross,

This project is now completed. Many thanks to everyone involved for all their hard work.

Please click on the link to go to our online Vocabulaboratories meeting minutes.

This page is for our Vocabulaboratories entry.

IN DEPTH Project Description: This is a collaborative project facilitated by Paz Rojo, Anja Kanngiser and Critical Practice member Manuela Zechner. Vocabulaboratories consists of a series of laboratory spaces, in which vocabulary-writing is explored as a relevant, local and self-organizing practice. We propose to make a space within which we can write, exchange and discuss the strategies and hopes we invest in concepts. As such, vocabulaboratories are spaces where everyday, aesthetic, and social practices and articulations will be brought into relation with self-made conceptual frameworks. We understand "writing" in the broad sense, as inscription practice that can take the form of choreography, photography, sonography, etc.

What is a vocabulary? First, it´s something that everyone has. Second, it´s something that everyone works with. Third, it´s a toolbox of concepts, which we use in order to position ourselves, move, and make sense within the world. Fourth, it´s always in the language of someone, or a group of people. Also, it´s to do with the voice; it allows us to become vocal. It´s that through which we articulate what we do, how and why we do it. It´s where a concept meets a practice.

For example; the word "vocabulary" has become part of my vocabulary by now, as a concept I am investing meaning in, and basing my practice upon. There are many other words: "strategy", "collaboration", "tool", "movement", etc. The way I understand those is not strictly in terms of their dictionary definition, or limited to their use in a specific theoretical framework, but comes from where and how a concept can become useful to me.

There are two key strategic/hopeful aspects to our project:

-on the one hand, working in the context of the arts, we want to address questions around authorship, collaboration, institutional contexts, 'activism', hoping the project might constitute an intervention in terms of a critical engagement with discourse production.

-on the other hand somewhat precarious social contexts that are not related to the arts or academia, where the method of vocabulary writing might challenge our own positions and open new modes of reflection, experience and positioning to all involved.

There will be a virtual online space accompanying the laboratories, where writing gets (b)logged, exposed and offered as a tool to other people. As such, the project produces an ever-changing multi-vocal vocabulary. The working method to arrive at this will be collaboration.

A number of guests from various disciplines will join each laboratory, bringing with them entries for the collective vocabulary. Entries are proposals and access points, providing an opening into the ethics and strategy of a practice, and a mode of articulation. Entries will be framed as experiments that we can engage with in various ways, taking into account our contexts. We – participants as well as organizers and guests – will all propose entries, do research, bring and share relevant resource material, and write together or alone where necessary. For example: an idea for "movement" could be a task, an anecdote, a theoretical text, etc, which we will work with, discuss and help translate into practice.

A few preliminary entries from the collective vocabulary: "collaboration", "discourse", "entry", "future", "non-specialization", "practice", "vocabulary"…

About entries:...entries are proposals and access points (or passageways), that give onto a practice and mode of thinking and doing things. They are based on words which we frequently use when asked to describe what we do, or why: words that we keep coming back to and which we invest with some meaning and ethics, without necessarily having formulated a theory around them.

entries are made of reflections and questions, but also of practice. they are entry points to thinking and practice – they make a double movement of exposure and proposal. the idea is not to show off some rigorous writing style, but to explore ones vocabulary for oneself while offering this to others. as such it is important that we don´t get stuck with saying what we do, but that we rather do what we say, and reflect on that. we might come to consider our doing as a form of discourse as well.

The idea of an entry is based on two parts:

(1) a reflexive part: this is where a concept is laid out and invested with meaning, in whatever way, style, format, language, jargon, set of references you find appropriate. this is not necessarily about theory or philosophy, but also about finding oneself a voice and asking questions.

(2) a strategic part: this is where the developed idea is proposed in the framework of a practice or situation, related and relevant to realities you are confronted with. If concepts help us move and position ourselves in the world, then we can learn a lot from looking at the concrete instances or ways in which these concepts may function: through these, we can make them operative and transferable as tools for others to use.

Beyond creative communication and symbolic games, entries speak of problems, situations and hopes we find ourselves with, as well as strategies we meet them with. they are frameworks for putting the real at stake.

As such, each entry will be framed as experiments , experiments or technologies (in the broad sense of modes of configuration of thought and action) that we can singularly or collectively engage with. laboratory participants as well as organizers and guest will propose entries, do research, bring and share relevant resource material, and collaborate or work alone where necessary.

For example: as a cultural producer, i often say the word "collaboration" when i talk about my work. what do i mean by that, why is this notion so important to me? entries constitute entry points for myself and others to understand and make use of the investment i have in this idea of collaboration, and test it.

An applied proposal could be a task, a plan for an action, an anecdote, a theoretical reflection, a set of questions, a score, etc, relating to a situation, environment or doubt we are trying to deal with in our life, and which we might want to address, problematise, and share. the situatedness of this will allow us to question what is at stake and work together to translate a proposal into practice.

The vocabulary we´re building on to frame this project will be successively made into entries too: we will do this together with lab participants. the idea is that while some entry points preexist the labs (the very basic conceptual framing of the project, notions such as vocabulary, entry, proposal, collaboration) throughout the labs, the toolbox of entries gets made through practice. at the first lab in Amsterdam for example, we will work on an entry on "practice", while practicing it at the same time; we also made an entry that gives onto our processes as a group.

(Click here to read the invitation to participate in vocabulatories)

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PROJECT UPDATE

Status: Completed - Vocabulaboratories is now a resource for CP.

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