For Thought in the Act
1. On immaterial labor, see also Hardt and Negri (2000, 289–94, 364–67) and Virno (2004, 12–16).
2. In the academic context, these issues are linked to “strategic research plans.” See, for instance, Concordia University’s Strategic Research Plan (http://oor.concordia.ca/formsandreferencedocuments/strategicresearchplan). Note the introductory sentence: “Concordia University’s academic culture celebrates research, creativity, and the transfer of knowledge in many ways that are ideal for today’s innovation driven society.” It is also noteworthy that in discussing the cluster “Technology, Industry, and the Environment,” an area that explicitly targets research done in the fine arts through the multimedia new technology laboratory titled Hexagram (in collaboration often with engineering and computer science), there is very little emphasis on the processual nature of the fine arts; the focus is instead on the wider socioeconomic (neoliberal) stakes of the work. “Telecommunications research at Concordia is focused on digital and wireless telecommunications, wireless access networks, and fiber-optic and satellite broadband communications. There is a recognized strength in the areas of intelligent control systems, very large scale integrated systems, hardware verification, pattern recognition, game development, and bioinformatics. Areas of research intensification include computer security, signal processing, speech signal processing, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, semantic web applications, interactive media, and identification technologies.”
3. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada ran a pilot program starting in March 2003 titled “Research-Creation Grants in Fine Arts.” The program was made permanent starting in 2010–11. The corresponding program at Quebec’s provincial level, administered by the Fonds Québecois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC), is still in operation.
4. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, “Research-Creation Grants in Fine Arts,” http://www.sshrc.ca/funding-financement/programs-programmes/fine_arts-arts_lettres-eng.aspx. For a discussion of the history of research-creation in Canada and an analysis of the concept, see Chapman and Sawchuk (2012).
5. This took the form of the adoption of a research model imported from the social sciences. The social science research model was prioritized from the outset: “The research must address clear research questions, offer theoretical contextualization within the relevant field or fields of literary/artistic inquiry, and present a well-considered methodological approach. Both the research and the resulting literary/artistic works must meet peer standards of excellence and be suitable for publication, public performance or viewing” (ibid.). This is not to say that the current toward new media arts wasn’t already active in Montreal. Institutions like the Society for Arts and Technology have always felt a deep kinship with the notion of research-creation, supporting interdisciplinary and intercommunity work. They are themselves influenced by the Dutch “V2: Institute for Unstable Media,” an arts center dedicated to research-creation in new media arts for both on-site exploration and publication. See Brouwer, Fauconnier, Mulder, and Nigten (2005) and the award-winning Interact or Die! (Brouwer and Mulder 2007).
7. In 2010, a group of researchers in the fine arts convened to discuss new ethics regulations requiring fine arts faculty members and students to seek ethics approval for all work that includes participation. The curtailing of artistic freedom by the bureaucracy of an ethics approval process is a further instance of art moving toward a model of the social or hard sciences. For more on the “Ethics and Research-Creation Study Day,” see Herland (2010). As Lynn Hughes, cofounder of Hexagram, artist, and associate dean, remarked, “The question is how to have an ethical practice without shutting down artistic practices that, for example, choose to be provocative in order to focus and stimulate public debate” (quoted in Herland 2010).
9. The closest English equivalent would be the “Culture and Entertainment District.” The chief artist for the plan was prominent light designer Axel Morgenthaler (Photonic Dreams, http://www.photonicdreams.com). Many other well-established local artists were also involved in the project. Artists involved in the concept for performance halls include Jacques Tessier, Guy Desrochers, Gérard Souvay, Gilles Arpin, Luc Courchesne, Marianne Mercier, Marc-André Boudreau, Nomade Architecture, and Axel Morgenthaler. Many participating artists were chosen through grant-based funding initiates. For the city’s presentation of the lighting plan, see http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=7557,81658025&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL.
10. “Projet touristique de 25 millions. Exit les condos, bonjour l’art technologique,” La Presse, July 8, 2010, Affaires, page 1.
13. The issue of PhDs in the fine arts has become increasingly relevant in this context.
14. Innovative research around research-creation in Montreal includes Sandeep Bhagwati’s MatraLab (http://matralab.hexagram.ca/matrapeople/sandeep-bhagwati); Sha Xin Wei’s Topological Media Lab (http://topologicalmedialab.net), the networking/gaming initiative orchestrated by Lynn Hughes and Geoffrey Rockwell titled iMatter (http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~imatter/), the Université de Montreal’s Institut Arts Cultures Technologies (http://www.iact.umontreal.ca/site/), Hexagram (see note 6), Luc Courchesne’s projects with the SAT (http://courchel.net), Chris Salter’s Lab X Modal (http://xmodal.hexagram.ca), as well as a list too long to mention of artists working on independent projects under the mantle of research-creation. Internationally, among many others, there is Andrew Murphie and Anna Munster’s Dynamic Media project (http://www.dynamicmedia.com).
15. The cynicism often lies under the surface, either taking the form of a rejection of research-creation as a “new turn” (this criticism is accurate: research-creation is a modality of creative practice that has always existed) or taking the form of the reaffirmation of the theory–practice divide with an exclusionary emphasis on one side or the other. The point we are trying to emphasize is not that research-creation in itself is a “new” practice, but that we can take this politico-economic juncture as a starting point to redefine how research and creation practice modalities of intertwinement that give us new ways of conceiving both creative practice and research.
17. The first issue of the SenseLab’s online journal was dedicated to the question of research-creation, with contributions from a number of SenseLab event participants. See “How Is Research Creation?,” special issue edited by Alanna Thain, Christoph Brunner, and Natasha Prevost, Inflexions: A Journal for Research Creation, no. 1 (May 2008), http://www.inflexions.org.
18. Dancing the Virtual, http://www.dancingthevirtual.blogspot.com/ The call for participation is available at http://senselab.ca/wp2/events/dancing-the-virtual-2005/. Thirty participants were chosen on the basis of their response to the call, which brought the total to forty, including the core SenseLab committee. Invited participants included those listed at http://senselab.ca/wp2/participants/.
19. On the concept of the movement of thought, see “Conclusion: Propositions for Thought in Motion” (Manning 2009, 213–28).
20. The movement exploration for this event was “relational movement.” For a more detailed exploration of this movement practice, see “Incipient Action: The Dance of the Not-Yet” (Manning 2009, 13–28).
21. Despite the lack of funding, everyone who committed to Dancing the Virtual attended and, with the exception of two participants, returned for the subsequent event, Housing the Body, Dressing the Environment. Certain eligible components of subsequent events were funded by grants from the SSHRC.
22. We make a distinction between “relationality” and interactivity based on the mode of causality (co-causal and fostering emergence of the new in the first case, and linear and reproductive of function in the second). On this distinction, see “The Thinking-Feeling of What Happens” (Massumi 2011, 39–86).
23. A Basecamp grouphub was set up for online interaction in advance of the event.
24. On the concept of the terminus, see “The Ether and Your Anger: Toward a Speculative Pragmatism” (Massumi 2011, 29–38).
25. On the need for “sobriety,” see Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 279).
28. Other platforms included “Into the Night,” “Dancing the Environment,” “Becoming Responsive,” “Fashioning Skins,” and the already mentioned “Around Architecture” and “Sound Surrounds.” There were also three food-related platforms, one organized for each evening.
29. This was especially the case in academic contexts that were becoming more and more economically driven, such as in Australia and the United Kingdom, where the assessment review began to prioritize only standard academic contributions (such as peer-reviewed journals) for the advancement of its employees.
31. See SenseLab, Society of Molecules, http://senselab.ca/wp2/events/society-of-molecules-2009/ and http://theaterofmemory.com/societyofmolecules/. The phrase “society of molecules” was lifted from Whitehead (1968, 157).
32. On diplomacy as technique of relation, see Stengers (2011, 374–85).
33. In cases where the host might leave during the five-month period, allowances within the movement profile had to be made. This became quite interesting, as it might require another member of the local molecule to move into another’s movement profile.
34. On the Freephone project, see SenseLab, “San Diego,” Society of Molecules (http://senselab.ca/society%20of%20molecules/sandiego.html); for a mainstream press account, see http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/05/freephone-project.html.
35. See issue 3, “Micropolitics: Exploring Ethico-Aesthetics,” Inflexions (http://www.senselab.ca/inflexions/volume_3/main.html).
36. The term “emergent attunement” was suggested to us in the context of self-organizing events by Heidi Fast (2010). We reinterpret it in the context of Daniel Stern’s work on “affective attunement” (Stern 1985, 138–61).
37. See the Fibreculture Journal special issue on “Metamodels” (2008).
38. Technically, in Deleuze and Guattari’s vocabulary, it is a “machinic assemblage” (1987, 71, 145).
40. On the concept of prearticulation, see Manning (2009, 5–6, 216–17).
41. On singularization (“qualification”) as lying at the basis of the process of capitalist product development (despite its finally quantitative principle of functioning), see Callon, Méadel, and Rabeharisoa (2002). On the self-driving, value-adding form of life called “human capital” as the generic subject of capitalism and its ultimate product, see Foucault (2008, 226–32, 243–45).
42. For details on the specifically capitalist functioning of the limit as organizing a field of relation and on its “marginalist” evaluation, see Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 440–41).
43. “Those who gave away or destroyed the most property earned the greatest social prestige. Anthropologists have described the ceremonies as a form of ‘war with property.’ The potlatch also had important elements of economic distribution, social bonding and political processes, all central to the maintenance of a society. The Canadian government considered the practice to be destructive of the stability and established hierarchy of native communities and it was outlawed (from 1884 until 1951) and rigorously suppressed.” Robert Drislane and Gary Parkinson, “Potlatch,” Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences, produced by Athabasca University and ICAAP, http://bitbucket.icaap.org/dict.pl?alpha=P.
44. It is important to note that there is little theoretical writing from Pacific West Coast First Nations on the potlatch. It comes up as a context more often in poetry and literature, which suggests that for the writers it has a tendency to morph based on the specific conditions of its coming to be. In reading Mauss’s accounts (1966), we must therefore keep in mind that his approach was always anthropological and, as such, tending toward the generalization of the practice. His vocabulary is also one that is informed by the economics of his time and his location: capitalism. The challenge is to read across Mauss to find, as Derrida (1992) does, the openings, the inconsistencies, and the contradictions within his accounting of a practice so foreign to his cultural bias.
45. Adapted from Deleuze and Guattari (1994, 204).
Postscript to Generating the Impossible
1. The project in the SATosphere was titled Into the Midst (October 15–22, 2012). Its aim was to problematize the relationship between the SAT and its urban surround, between the floor space of the SATosphere reserved for the audience and the projection surface of the 15-meter-high dome, and between the participatory process and ways of opening its intensities to a public. See http://senselab.ca/wp2/events/into-the-midst/. For accounts of this event by participants, see also Intelligent Agent, special issue on Into the Midst (forthcoming).
2. Readings were as follows: day 1: Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought, chapter 8, “Nature Alive”; day 2: William James, Essays in Radical Empiricism, chapter 4, “How Two Minds Can Know One Thing”; day 3: Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics, chapter 3, “Culturing the Pharmakon,” and chapter 5, “Introductions”; day 4: Félix Guattari, Three Ecologies (entire essay); day 5: Arakaw and Gins, unpublished essay on biotopology.
3. Participants in Generating the Impossible, with their countries of residence at the time of the event, were Faiz Abhuani (Quebec), Kenneth Bailey (United States; Montreal segment only), Laura Balladur (United States), Lisa Benson (New Zealand), Lone Bertelsen (Australia), Marie-Pier Boucher (Quebec), Christoph Brunner (Switzerland), Noyale Colin (United Kingdom), Laura Cull (United Kingdom), Jaime Del Val (Spain), Pia Ednie-Brown (Australia), Aphra Ednie-Brown (Australia), Charlotte Farrell (Australia), Barb Fornssler (Canada), Jonas Fritsch (Denmark), Paul Gazzola (Australia), Diego Gil (Netherlands), Andrew Goodman (Australia), Saara Hannula (Finland), Sophie Le-Phat Ho (Quebec), Mike Hornblow (New Zealand), Annette Svaneklink Jakobsen (Denmark), Mazi Javidiani (Quebec), Thomas Jellis (United Kingdom), Jondi Keane (Australia), Erin Manning (Quebec), Brian Massumi (Quebec), Kevin Mitchell (Canada), Mayra Morales (Mexico), Lincoln Mudd (United States), Mahasti Mudd (United States), Andrew Murphie (Australia), Andreia Oliveira (Brazil), Raphael Ng (Singapore), Toni Pape (Quebec), Leslie Plumb (Quebec), Virginia Preston (United States), Alan Prohm (Finland/Germany), Jean-François Prost (Quebec), Ana Ramos (Quebec), Stellaluna Ramos (Quebec), Alessandra Renzi (Canada), Troy Rhoades (Quebec), Nicole Ridgway (United States), Nonie Ridgway Stern (United States), Felix Rebolledo (Quebec), Ronald Rose-Antoinette (France), Bianca Scliar (Brazil), Ron Simon (Quebec), Stephanie Springgay (Canada), Nathaniel Stern (United States), Bodil Marie Thomsen (Denmark), Sean Smith (Canada), and Alanna Thain (Quebec). Mary Zournazi (Australia), Michael Goddard (United Kingdom), and Celine Sumic (New Zealand) participated in the preparations but were unable join us for the event itself.
4. This is sometimes called a white elephant gift exchange.
5. Participants were solicited using the call reproduced at the end of Propositions for Thought in the Act. The cutoff was nine months before the start of the actual event, to leave adequate time for preparatory activities. A few participants who contacted us late in the process were put on a waiting list and later admitted to the event. We wanted the event to be as inclusive as possible, and worked to keep possibilities open for anyone expressing a serious interest.
6. All the food for the SenseLab events has come from the Fruiterie Mile-End, a family-owned Montreal landmark. In the spirit of the gift, the Fruiterie has always charged us wholesale prices and provided us with older produce free of charge. We consider the neighborhood ethos provided by the Fruiterie (and by its owner, Javed “Bob” Iqbal, in particular) as very much in keeping with what the SenseLab’s attempts to achieve through its event series.
8. For additional (but by no means complete) documentation, see http://senselab.ca/wp2/events/generating-the-impossible-2011/.
9. For more on the issue of decision making and self-organizing in the Into the Midst event, see “Dancing the Constraint” (Manning forthcoming b).