Earlier in the semester I completed a Concept Map around my Temporary Expert: Anthropocene Edition theme of “limits to growth”. As I stated in last week’s post, I needed to take this process further as a next step in my project development. As you can see in that first map below, there is an area in the upper right-hand corner where I identified a gap in research and thinking.
My research and understanding have advanced since then, and armed with those I tried to fill out that missing section of the map. First of all, I needed to identify the stakeholders whose actions could provide a significant response to the pitfalls of unregulated growth. I narrowed my list to INDUSTRY, POLICY MAKERS, and the CITIZENRY, with INDUSTRY being the most powerful, ostensibly.
I tried to identify why these various entities operate as they do with relation to limits — what drives their responses?
One interesting link that came from putting these next to each other shows up below. The choice of structure for the project is founded in something analogous — based in trusted & tested forms (of games and spectacle) — to the underpinning of Industry’s survival mentality — prior models & events. Vetted forms and models exert a lot of influence, which can aid an intervention or sustain a dominant system.
With my Concept Maps and also additional research in hand, here are the Conceptual and Research Questions I’m working with.
- How is the project PUBLIC FACING?
- How does SHAME factor in? How is this not about individual guilt?
- How does PLAY & WONDER factor in?
- Is this about CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING? ACTIVATION — a CALL TO ACTION?
- What is the INVITATION?
- How can a particular message or piece of content be conveyed in a way that is unexpected, mysterious, and untarnished by something to pulls a spectator/participant back into reality? How can the PARTICULAR & PECULIAR coexist in an action/event?
- What forms can playful subversion take?
- When is manipulation admissible?
- How does one prepare/train for subversive action?
- What systems can I look to as analogies to help structure rules of play/amusement? What rules of play/games have known analogies in other systems?
I’m continuing to read Is Shame Necessary?, An Anthology of Chance Operations, and now also Causing a Scene, by Charlie Todd the originator of Improv Everywhere. Takeaways so far:
- Discrete individual actions — like changing the type of light bulbs one uses — are relatively ineffective compared to larger structural changes that need to be made, or as part of a suite of actions an individual might take. The issue with GUILT, such as the guilt around using inefficient bulbs, is that it can spur people to make a minor response to assuage that feeling, but because it’s internally focused it can stop there.
- The unexpected, outrageous, or surreal, when inserted into everyday moments, can have a lasting impact and generate engagement, enjoyment, and prolonged connection to an event/experience. One key is not to break character or allow the constructed reality to drop. There needs to be an integrity to the intervention that is maintained for the audience.
- Reach out to Experts: Steven Lambert, Eyebeam Fellow and Co-Director of the Center for Artistic Activism. Not An Alternative, an Arts/Activism Collective. Jennifer Jacquet.
- Prototype Public Engagements. Ideas: Try to give out my stamps on the street. Set-up a Soylent sample stand (need to make Soylent for this).
I’m intrigued by the notion of COMMUNICATION TOKENS that occurred to me when reflecting on the success of the stamps from my midterm. What was effective? They were temporary/ephemeral. Kinetic/kinesthetic. Linked to childhood. What are similar objects?
- Finger paints
- Temporary tattoos
- Candy necklaces
Could I create small tokens that vibrantly communicate some idea about living with limits, like the stamps did? Could wearing them for a set period provoke interesting public interactions? Could I pass them on — as gifts — the to public?
I’ve realized that for my project I need to get comfortable with PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT. I need to explore UNCOMMON INTERACTIONS and SURREAL/UNEXPECTED/PLAYFUL exchanges. This can move me toward SUBVERSION IN PLAY, which I think is at the heart of this project.
Part of my ongoing practice and research will be STUDIES IN DISENGAGEMENT & ANNOYANCE on the subway. I’m going to study subway hecklers, performers, and proselytizers to see how people respond to them, and try to discern why. These people could also be Experts for me. I will document their interactions (if possible) and log my notes.
For my Daily Practice this week I’m wearing the same outfit every day, as a kind of uniform. I will be notating any comments or questions I get from people who have noticed the repetition. Here is my public uniform that I will wear Monday-Friday:
And this is my house uniform, which I will switch into when I get home: