2018-2019 COOP study group: AGENCY - Everyday practice and global power. Tutor team: Nick Aikens / Annie Fletcher, James Bridle, Navine G.Khan-Dossos. Partner: Van Abbemuseum

Student participants:

Dayna Casey, Emma De Filippo, Jiatu Gu, Konstantin Mitrokhov, Martina Mächler, Nilz Källgren, Zoi Moutsokou. 

Tutor team: 

Artist : Navine G.Khan-Dossos

Curator: Annie Fletcher / Nick Aikens for the  Van Abbemuseum

Scholar: James Bridle


AGENCY- Everyday practice and global power from Month to Month & Chronicles

DAI Week 10 (AKA Extension Days): February 13 – 17 (4 days), Epen to Eindhoven (Van Abbemuseum).


AGENCY: Everyday practice and global power

Data, weather, and climate. How do we relate to the global through the local, and the community through the individual?

Mass surveillance and transnational terrorism, climate change and conspiracy theories, anti-social media and rapacious capitalism. As the scale and complexity of our societies grows ever vaster, individuals feel ever more disempowered and hopeless. Our vision is increasingly universal, but our agency is ever more reduced. We know more and more about the world, while being less and less able to do anything about it. In an age of planetary-scale networks and ever more opaque and remote systems of governance, how do individuals retain the capability for creative thought, meaningful action - and a sense of humour?

The Agency group intends to explore artistic practice that is concerned with the present state of the world while refusing, reassessing, and rewriting the narratives of despair and powerlessness that are thrust upon us. It asserts that it is possible to critically engage with the most technologically complex and politically pressing issues of our times while upholding the ongoing importance of story-telling and myth-making, and the value of artistic expression, imagination, and intervention.

We’ll do this work together. Agency will be developed by looking at and developing our own practices; by exploring the work of others; by reading and listening to different and distant perspectives, and by developing communal practice through collective data-gathering, narrative, and decision-making.



AGENCY will engage with texts such as Amitav Ghosh's The Great Derangement and Eduardo Kohn's How Forests Think to bring non-European and historically marginalised perspectives to bear on questions of the environment and technological progress.

The Great Derangement - Amitav Ghosh

Hot Earth Dreams - Frank Landis

The Mushroom at the End of the World - Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

Staying with the Trouble - Donna Haraway

Meeting the Universe Halfway - Karen Barad

Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology at the End of the World - Timothy Morton

Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things - Jane Bennet

How Forests Think - Eduardo Kohn

New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future - James Bridle


Communal Practices:

This study group will ask participants to perform certain fixed practices on a regular basis, to extend the COOP into the time on either side of it:

* Each student will work out their carbon footprint for the travel to and from each DAI week

* Each student will upload five pieces of content (images,text,video) to a communal research blog

* Each student will upload at least five pieces of content(images,text,video) to a personal research blog, which will be discussed in the personal tutorials

* Each student will research the study group's guest tutor(s) and provide at least one question towards a group interview of the guest(s) during the COOP

* One student each month to write up the interview and add it to the communal blog

* The first evening of each COOP will be a reading or screening to set the tone for the days ahead and provide a gentle transition for the group from one half of the week to the next. Possibly a shared listening and response to a podcast.

(Or it may return each month to The Great Derangement by Amitav Ghosh and read the whole book over the year)

* COOP tutorials will be divided between individual tutorial time but also group tutorials (alternate months), where students get more involved with each other’s work, giving feedback and even finding ways to take part in each other’s practices.

* COOP activities will aim to find a balance between action and contemplation, trying always to plan a physical activity for each monthly session, i.e. a walk, building kites, making a shelter in the forest, aerial photography with balloons. This will be planned by Navine and James, Annie and Nick (alongside guest tutors) or by the students themselves. These activities will also be documented and uploaded onto the communal site.

* Find ways to join up with other CO-OP groups sharing similar concerns and combine resources and knowledge and keep in touch with the rest of the DAI group’s activities and initiatives.



* At the beginning of the year, the study group will design and put online a website dedicated to the data and research produced by the COOP every month.

* All the students will have access to the group areas, as well as their own personal page to upload to. This will encourage them to place research in a shared semi-public realm, that is visible to the group, and builds upon a basic structure every month to generate content through group discussion and personal explorations.

* At the end of the year the study group will bring this information together and choose if and how AGENCY publishes it to share with the wider DAI network and perhaps even beyond that.

* The study group will look at the relationship between web and book publishing using examples such as periodicals such as Dark Mountain and Salvage, and choose the best platform through the year’s discussion.


Publishing References

The SAS Survival Handbook (John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman)

Whole Earth Catalog

Dark Mountain (Manifesto)

Salvage Journal



http://www.tumblr.com/ & https://glitch.com/ 


What are we looking for in our students?

* An existing knowledge of, or an interest in how to engage the Internet as a platform for research, production and dissemination.

* An acceptance of being an active part of a group that will produce ‘data’ throughout the year that may or may not be made public (and to be an active part of the decision-making process around how to use this data)

* A desire to take part whole-heartedly in a group dynamic, to create and think together, not just with other CO-OP members but perhaps with non-human entities

* An ability to be generous and feed the group with their own knowledge and critical stance as well as maintaining space for their personal practice.

* A willingness to participate in the set activities devised by AGENCY that happen outside of the DAI week, and to commit to that output every month for group and personal progress.

* A good set of outdoor clothes - a warm jumper, a pair of muddy boots and a waterproof, to be prepared to spend as much time outside as inside.