COOP ~ Reality Settings: Art, Biology & Computation from Month to Month

Seminar 3 & 4: 10 - 17 March 2020

During week three of Reality Settings COOP we will be developing our own experimental methods for investigating reality settings. 

As part of this field research we will spend time modelling, testing and concretising work-in-the-making that have been brought to the COOP by its members. The aim is to give space for developmental processes, individual and in smaller groups, to take place throughout the week.

Scientist and editor Sam Hart will be joining us for 8 days in Tunis. Sam will provide input towards experimental design, information gathering, and synthesis, following the work of the COOP as a partner throughout. He will present material from his transitional background from genomics research, online publishing, personal investigations into philosophy of biology and computation, his strategic work within the cryptocurrency industry, and several other arenas of experience.

The daily structure during the week will consist of a collective activity (a lecture, site visit, discussion) and time for working on experiments. Presentations for the group and collective discussion about the ongoing processes will be dispersed throughout the week.

We will have external lectures by editor and writer Elvia Wilk, anthropologist Eduardo Kohn, and art historian Lars Bang Larsen. 

Elvia Wilk will talk about the challenges of developing fictional narratives at the crossroads of climate and biodiversity crisis. This includes examining and constructing stories that no longer rely on the human as central figure and protagonist, that seek an arc beyond the utopic or the dystopic (with regard to human persistence), that seek to reconcile the human scale with other scales, and that focus on weird and interstitial zones of experience beyond human conception and rational frameworks. Elvia will do a short reading as well as present her current thoughts from initiating a working group on narrative development.

Eduardo will talk about his disciplinary work towards an anthropology of life and development of sylvain thinking based on a long partnership with the Runa people living in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Sylvan thinking posits that forests - that highly “absential” emergent product of a vast network of a vast network of nonhuman semiosis - is a real thing and not merely a human abstraction. A thing that can provide a kind of ethical orientation for the sake of the various human and nonhuman life forms it sustains. Eduardo will share the development of his practice, his experiences of building collaborations with indigenous peoples and the focus of his coming work on sylvan thinking.  

Lars will lead a conversation on the reality altering effects of psychedelics in artistic contexts across different continents in the 20th and 21st centuries. He will also share his conceptual take on the concept of reality settings and help us frame and guide our development of it as a group.

10th March, Tuesday

Time

Activity

Format

   

Evening

Catch-up and thoughts since we last met.

Group conversation.

   

 

11th March, Wednesday

Time

Activity

Format

   

Morning

10-13

Sam Hart presentation (X, Y)

Lecture

   

Afternoon

14-18.30

Introduction to Experiment workshop by Sam

Start of individual or collective experimental work.

Group conversation

   

Evening

19-22

Planning session for the week to come.

Group conversation

   

 

12th March, Thursday

Time

Activity

Format

   

Morning

10-13

Individual or collective experimental work.

Individual and group work

   

Afternoon 

13-18.30

Possible field trip or visit from Tunisian practices

     

Evening

19.30-22

Sam Hart presentation (Z, H)

Lecture

   

 

13th March, Friday

Time

Activity

Format

   

Morning

10-13

 Reading and preparation for Eduardo Kohn conversation

Group discussions

and reading

   

Early Evening

 17:00-20:00

 Call: Eduardo Kohn

Video Call

   

Evening

20:00-22:00

 Dinner and decompression

Group conversation

   

 

14th March, Saturday

Time

Activity

Format

   

Morning

10-13

Individual or collective experimental work

Individual and group work

   

Early Evening  

16-18

Elvia Wilk Call

Skype Lecture

   

Evening

19.30-22

Elvia Wilk Call

Skype Lecture

   

 

15th March, Sunday

Time

Activity

Format

   

Morning

10-13

Status on experimental work and individual conversations

Group discussion

   

Afternoon 

13-18.30

Possible field trip

Trip

   

Evening

19.30-22

Possible field trip:

Trip

   

 

16th March, Monday

Time

Activity

Format

   

Morning

10-13

Individual or collective experimental work

Individual and group work

   

Afternoon 

13-18.30

Lars Bang Larsen skype lecture

Lecture

   

Evening

19.30-22

Film screening: Anathema/Zama

Film screening

   

 

17th March, Tuesday

Time

Activity

Format

 

 

Morning

10-13


Presenting / Rounding off experiments

Group conversation

 

 

Afternoon 

13-18.30

Presenting / Rounding off experiments

- Questions for August (+Jenna)

Group conversation

 

 

Evening

19.30-22

Wrap up, organization of notes, planning of PAF week

Group work

 

 



 

Seminar 2: 26 - 29 January 2020

In the second week of our Reality Settings coop we will focus on artistic, art historical and philosophical approaches to specifying reality settings. Jenna Sutela will unpack her different ways of relating to and working with reality altering materials, such as words, machines, and bacteria. She will be calling us from Helsinki and presenting a set of initial directions that will lead into a broader conversation between all of us.

The Danish art historian and curator Lars Bang Larsen will join us for three sessions in Epen and lead a conversation on the reality altering effects of psychedelics in artistic contexts across different continents in the 20th and 21st centuries. He will also share his conceptual take on the concept of reality settings and help us frame and guide our development of it as a group.

To end our days together we have two calls with the London-based Italian philosopher Federico Campagna. During the first call, he will go through his conceptual work around reality systems, as framed in his book Technic and Magic and outline the different influences this concept has on his own thinking and writing. During the second call, we will have a more open conversation around the ideas relating to reality settings that are emerging within our group and how they might relate to, diverge from, or expand upon Federico's practice. We will also be screening material selected together with Lars Bang Larsen on Tuesday evening. The ultimate goal of the days we have together is to hone in on a common conceptual direction of work for the group.

Lars has provided three texts to be read in preparation for his sessions. They are Pia Lindman: Selfhood of Cells (2019), Lars Bang Larsen: Anti-Disciplinary Feedback and the Will to Effect (2011/2018) and, optionally, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: “Memories of a Molecule”, from A Thousand Plateaux (1976).

Federico has asked us to read the introduction to his book Technic and Magic.

 

26th January, Sunday

Evening

Catch-up and thoughts since we last met

Group conversation.

 

27th January, Monday

Morning

10-13

Call: Jenna Sutela

Presentation / Extended Conversation

Jenna.

Bjarke and Aslak

Afternoon

14-18.30

We start or end with a walk in the area.

Lars Bang Larsen presentation on Art and Psychedelia

Presentation

Dialogue

Lars Bang Larsen, Aslak, Bjarke

Evening

19-22

Film screenings selected by Diakron and Lars Bang Larsen

Screening

Lars Bang Larsen, Aslak, Bjarke

 

28th January, Tuesday

Morning

10-13

Call: Federico Campagna

Lecture + Dialogue

+

Conceptual Discussion with Lars Bang Larsen

Lecture + dialogue

 

Conversation

Federico Campagn, Lars Bang Larsen, All

Afternoon 

13-18.30

We start with a walk in the area.

Preparation of questions and areas of importance for conversation with Federico in the evening.

Dialogue

All

Evening

19.30-22

Call: Federico Campagna

Extended conversation.

Conversation

Group + Ferederico

 

29th January, Wednesday

Morning 

10-13

Each student / or in groups write / draw reflections / organize notes from the past days.

We finish with a conversation about common directions of travel for the coop.

 

Decompression and Planning

All

Seminar 1: 1-4 December 2019

In the first week of our Reality Settings coop we will open up a broad dialogue on the subject of reality settings, take a deep dive into the field of synthetic biology and introduce our practices and interests to each other. 

Diakron will present our ongoing project Primer, and the numerous initiatives and collaborations that have grown out of it which straddle the intersection between science, technology development, the production of the future and art. Artist and co-tutor Jenna Sutela will call in with a presentation of her work with non-human organisms, sound, sculpture and algorithms. Each student will be tasked with introducing their practice, as well as particular areas of interest, experience or practical traction relating to Reality Settings. We will start a process of collective research and note-taking as well as set up research platform(s) for working together throughout the year.

Science writer and author Britt Wray will give a remote talk on the current state of synthetic biology and its recent history. She will introduce us to the science underlying these new developments and the diverse set of interests, practices and businesses that together define the field and its future impacts. Britt is a trained biologist, an expert on the field and is the author of Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics and Risks of De-Extinction and a co-host of the BBC podcast Tomorrow's World. She is currently researching for a new book on the psychological impacts of climate change.

To start an exploration of the aesthetic potentials of altered states, reconfigured biology and human perception we will watch Andrei Tarkovskys seminal Stalker, based on the sci-fi novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.

There will be no required readings for this first week. We will introduce a syllabus with seminal texts that can guide our readings throughout the year - one that will grow gradually for each month, and should be seen as an access to resources for independent research as well as collective readings.

Sunday, 1 Dec.

Evening

Meeting each other for the first time.

Presentation of the course plans.

Questions and conversation about the course.

Group conversation.

Presentation.

Monday, 2 Dec.

Morning

10-13

Jenna Sutela remote call

Presentation of Jenna’s practice and main interests.

Quick intro to Diakron / primer and the practices and main interests of Bjarke and Aslak.

Presentation / Conversation

Afternoon  

14-18.30



Student introductions. Their practices and interests / ideas for the COOP

We end with a walk in the area

Presentations

Dialogue

Evening

19-22

Film Screening: Stalker by Andriy Tarkovsky

Screening

Tuesday, 3 Dec.

Morning

10-13 

Student introductions. Their practices and interests / ideas for the COOP

Presentations

Dialogue

Afternoon   

13-18.30



We start with a walk in the area.

Student introductions. Their practices and interests / ideas for the COOP

Presentations

Dialogue

Evening

19.30-22

Call: Britt Wray.

Conversation

Wednesday, 4 Dec.

Morning  

10-13

Each student / or in groups write / draw reflections / organize notes from the past days.

We finish with a conversation about what came up.

 

Decompression and Planning

 

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