An Aesthetics of Matters of Concern Project Development

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September 4: The Ecoes group presented at Networks of Design, an experience that raised more question than it answered, prompting interested collaborators to think how the project might be pushed further.

September 19: Jem and Marsha sent their proposal to Chelsea, along with answers to several questions.

October 14: Marsha and Jem met in Brick Lane to discuss the project, which beginning of which will be presented at the Research Narratives, a practice-led doctoral / post-doctoral exhibition and symposium Chelsea College of Art and Design, London 28-30 October, 2008

October 17: Jem set up page on SwarmTV, prompting discussion on the infrastructure of this site on the project page.

October 18: Marsha started a project page on the CP wiki. She posted the proposal, established a Project Development page (what you're reading at present). She watched the SwarmTV tutorial video. This raised questions related to the site's usability, prompting Marsha to create two new pages on Jem's site: Dialogue on SwarmTV[1] and The Language of SwarmTV[2]. Language seems a critical issue here, as so much communication on the site takes place via text.

October 22: We appear to be encountering technical difficulties. The site has been spammed. And all the posts on the two new pages Marsha created have disappeared. Drat!

October 23: Though the site had been spanned (Jem has fixed it), the content on the two pages linked above disappeared for another reason. This seems related to the formatting of links on this wiki (Marsha was accessing the links from here).

Jem and Marsha have started several conversations on SwarmTV related to dialogue and language. Marsha's also been working on a definition of "an aesthetics of matters of concern" (AMOC). While Cinzia was the first to use this term in Ecoes's culture (she mentioned in the July 21, 2008 working group meeting), it seems Bruno Latour had designs on it way back in April and May of 2005. You can get his "What is the Style of Matters of Concern? Two lectures in Empirical Philosophy" by clicking on this link

Other immediate questions emerging from Jem and Marsha's collaboration include: What's the relationship between AMOC and collaborative aesthetics? Does this relate to a distinction between "representation" and "description"? What are popular models for representing shared experience in visual culture and how might they inform an AMOC (assuming that it’s ocularcentric at this stage)? Also, what are the benefits/problems of collapsing research about the project (reading of Latour’s work on this kind of aesthetics, for example) into formal experimentation with AMOC on SwarmTV? It seems Jem and Marsha are trying to talk about AMOC and do it at the same time. But talking about Actor Network Theory and doing in Ecoes didn’t prove so productive. How might this current iteration of the project avoid problems with previous iteration/s?

A note about the organization of utterances on the SwarmTV: Jem and Marsha have been conversing through short discussions. Jem has distinguished Marsha's utterances by italicizing the text. They also use conventions like "Dear Jem" or "Hi Marsha". So a very basic form of coding has emerged… One of the challenges of using SwarmTV relates to space: the interface fills up fast. This isn't really a problem as the utterances can be layered. But there’s a threshold to this approach. Suddenly, the whole thing becomes illegible, a giant mess.

Also, Marsha's wondering what other forms of dialogue she and Jem might use in addition to verbal exchange. Combining verbal and non-verbal forms could be interesting.

October 26: Jem called Marsha to talk about how the project might be presented. He's been working with the DVD Cinzia produced for NOD.

Marsha talked to Jem about her interest in an aesthetics of matters of concern. It seems there are various interpretations of this term. For Latour, it has at least four specifications, all of which are defined in relation to an aesthetics of matters of fact (Sources are from What is the Style of Matters of Concern? Two Lectures on Empirical Philosophy):

  1. Matters of concern have to matter. “Can we do better and distinguish those various and confused layers to make sure that our scenography registers that they matter for some people who have to be specified, and for whom they are the source of immense interest and a redirected attention?” (p.30)
  2. Matters of concern have to be liked. This is a weird one. It’s in contrast to the first empirical position that matters of fact are there “whether you like them or not”. I think the point he’s trying to make here is that they’re negotiable.
  3. Matters of concern have to be populated. They involve lots of stuff that can’t easily be separated out. (Witness the spaceship Columbia) Put simply: We need to include the artists in CAD designs…
  4. Matters of concern have to be durable. “Matters of concern, on the other hand, have to be kept up, cared for, accompanied, restored, duplicated, saved, yes, saved, we know that for our hard disks content and we still act as if fact could be hard forever, at no cost, without making any backup [sic.].” (p.31)

Marsha is more interested in an aesthetics of matters of concern (AMOC) as being about the presentation of interests. How are those things which interest constituents/collaborators/contributors represented and, by extension, registered?

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