[NetBehaviour] "Networked Conversations as Activism"

Helen Varley Jamieson helen at creative-catalyst.com
Mon Dec 2 11:25:13 CET 2019

hi max,

thanks for reading & responding :)

i can't speak for all of the performers & participants, but for me the
conversation is part of the whole event, therefore part of the
performance / art / activity. it's preceded by a cyberformance which is
definitely an artistic action, and the intention is that the
cyberformance part of the event informs the conversation part of the
event by provoking, questioning, challenging, shifting, encouraging
participants to open up their thinking, to hear other points of view, to
engage in discussion rather than argument. in many contexts our
conversations have become very combative, about trying to convince
others to agree and believe in the same things as we do, rather than
actually listening, sharing, thinking. i try to approach the topics as
openly as possible, drawing material for the cyberformance from a wide
range of sources and involving individuals and groups who have different
perspectives in creating and presenting the cyberformance. it can become
a complex, layered collage, which demands a lot of focus from the
audience & is often other than their expectations. so before the
conversation begins, they have been shifted somewhat, & this means that
the conversation starts from somewhere different. so yes, a change of
consciousness can occur; even if it's a small & subtle change, it can
niggle away under the skin like a tiny splinter & lead to longer term
changes in individual's thinking and approach. these things are pretty
impossible to measure, i'm basing my thoughts mostly on personal
feedback from colleagues or associates who, years after participating in
one of these events, mentions the ongoing effect it's had. it's personal
& small-scale but i believe longer-lasting & ultimately highly
impactful. there are also the further conversations that participants
have beyond the event, & the ripples those cause, that i don't always
know about but they do happen.

the global-local connection is important because it brings unexpected
contributions & this stops us from falling into familiar patterns.
sometimes it's surprising to learn that things are almost exactly the
same in different places, & other times things are totally different.
the conversation goes between the universal & the particular, & somehow
in this balance there is an openness & understanding. i like your image
of unknotting, it's very fitting - we can become so knotted up in our
own realities that we need someone or something from somewhere far away
to be able to see where the knot needs to be picked at to loosen it up &
undo it.

i've written a book chapter that explores these methods & projects in
more detail if anyone is interested in reading further, it's in
"Convergence of Contemporary Art, Visual Culture and Global Civic
Engagement", https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/we-have-a-situation/172764

h : )

On 28.11.19 19:16, Max Herman wrote:
> Hi Helen,
> My internet is not working so I'm typing on phone, but I like this
> article and these ideas a lot.  Verfremdungseffekt is a good new word
> I didn't know. 
> Are the performers and participants generally thinking of the
> conversations as art, an art form?  I think that idea of participatory
> art forms is important.  Bohm writes about group conversations in On
> Dialogue, thinking that if they happen similarly to what you describe
> then a change in consciousness occurs and new consciousness can
> occur.  He means dialogue as "through-meaning" or meaning-flow rather
> than exchange per se.  He doesn't really view it as art, more from a
> science standpoint, but the idea of "no pre-set conclusions" is key.
> One challenge of the open-ended discussion I agree is effectiveness or
> "result." There can sometimes be a very predictable repetitive
> outcome, or an attempt to "do too much" that is either overwhelming or
> unfocused.  I do think there must be a middle road something like
> "beginner's mind" that can be both a worthwhile state in itself and
> contributive to something larger or in process (like say a method or
> manner, methode so to speak).  This mid-range is part of theater and
> literature since their prehuman origins I think, including shared
> visual imagery, symbols, abstractions, etc.
> When you refer to global-local that has a relevance to middle or
> betweenness, with an emphasis possibly on the "present" as this
> meeting-space.  Where the present knowns of the past, our packets of
> info, can be called into play in the context of massive future
> challenges or unknowns, resulting in a known/unknown mix in the
> present space that can be literally new and permutations can lead to
> ideas or conditions that didn't exist at the start of the conversation.
> I have usually found this approach to have a lot of elegance and
> relevance but it doesn't seem to fit most typical definitions. 
> Frankfurt school communicative theory sort of relates, but I'm not
> sure that Marx or Freud really do.  Postructuralist theory sometimes
> seems unnecessarily complex to me and perhaps obfuscating.  You can
> get a lot of complexity and change, perhaps sufficient, from rather
> simple "ingredients" like those you describe.  Certainly the natural
> world has tremendously complex and adaptive, innovative capacity with
> arguably no theory whatsoever. 
> Rambling now, but knot-riddled shoulder (I have device-shoulder
> symptoms lately) makes me think there is a vocabulary of nodes or
> topics, topoi, which come up in conversation but are often knotted. 
> Your method seems well designed to ameliorate these, and I think there
> may be a larger historical era calling for this.  It would be
> something like a network-literate set of manners for each node,
> methods that defer the fight/flight fixity that freezes up the knots. 
> The nodes roughly correlate to the spheres or disciplines of
> knowledge, so each discipline would need a conversible
> network-orientation to be achieved, plus popularly known or at least
> to those in conversation.  These would be site specific somewhat or
> situational, so I think your reference to situation is very relevant.
> I do think the core method you have of conversation is the key though,
> say a general network intelligence method, which can be applied to all
> particular methods and help elucidate them.  For example network
> genetics, network biology, network dramaturgy, network math, etc.
> Thanks for the very interesting article and link,
> Max
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on
> behalf of Helen Varley Jamieson <helen at creative-catalyst.com>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, November 27, 2019 8:40 AM
> *To:* NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
> <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
> *Subject:* [NetBehaviour] "Networked Conversations as Activism"
> my article "Networked Convesrations as Activism" was recently
> published in the latest issue of Interact, a portuguese online
> magazine for art, culture & technology. the article discusses the use
> of cyberformance and networked conversations to encourage critical
> thinking & civic engagement. (it's in english).
> https://interact.com.pt/30-31/networked-conversations-as-activism/
> the theme of the issue (30-31) is art, activism and digital networks,
> & it also includes a review (in english) of the cyberformance "Letters
> to the Earth" which we did in april this year
> (https://interact.com.pt/30-31/letters-to-the-earth/). there are lots
> of other interesting-looking articles, if you can read portuguese.
> h : )
> -- 
> helen varley jamieson
> helen at creative-catalyst.com <mailto:helen at creative-catalyst.com>
> http://www.creative-catalyst.com
> http://www.upstage.org.nz

helen varley jamieson

helen at creative-catalyst.com <mailto:helen at creative-catalyst.com>

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