The Ecoes Forum Presentation
Key Words: togetherness, utterances as sites on the move, matters of concern, communing in a curiosity, activation of sensibilities, common knowledge
'What kind of “we” are we?' Michaela asks. For me, this question highlights the interplay between individual and shared knowledge shaped through a sense of togetherness.
My name is Marsha Bradfield and my interest in this project began with tracing flows of information through the Market of Ideas. I am concerned in particular with the ways in which utterances move among interlocutors to take on meaning that relates to their immediate speaker’s respective point of view.
Hence, I have chosen as the video backdrop for my presentation a clip from one of Cinzia’s edits because it emphasizes the movement of ideas, the way bodies…be they physical, conceptual or otherwise…share space by occupying it in relation to each other…Moreover, the clip reminds me that, by paying close attention to the dynamic relations of these bodies, we can begin to appreciate the micro aspects that shape this project in important ways.
In thinking about this, I have found it useful to conceptualise utterances less as language and more as spaces—but as dynamic spaces—as sites on the move. As containers for the collaborators’ interests, sensibilities and, perhaps most importantly, matters of concern, these sites can be occupied by multiple residents at the same time. One might say that being in an utterance is about communing in a curiosity. These utterances are frenetic places where meanings alternatively interrupt, echo and expand one another while positions slip and fix—with this forum being a case in point.
This understanding of the project’s discursive aspect turns on a larger sense of collaborative art making as an ongoing conversation. This isn’t a metaphor; collaboration is dialogue. Often, however, this discursive aspect gets effaced in the 'final' output as 'artwork.' The process as practice is eclipsed by the product as an object…as something objectified…as something out 'there'. But it’s my aspiration that 'Ecoes' will proffer a different model; that is: this project, still very much in progress, will somehow reify the process of its production and, by extension, the discursive and site-specific making of art more generally.
Glossed via its Greek origins in the word oikos meaning ‘house,’ Ecoes is a residence for various matters of concern, which engage one another to produce 'shared' rather than 'common' knowledge. By this I mean, knowledge created by the group but used differently by its various members. Both tacit and explicit, we share this knowledge without assuming we hold its significance in common—that it means the same thing for all of us.
'We share, we hold,' I say. But my use of the pronoun 'we' to describe the members’ relationships should not be taken as evidence of easy solidarity. The controversies in 'Ecoes' continue, feeding off one another in unexpected ways. I hope we will unpack this a little in the following discussion, while also acknowledging some of the strong affinities that members of the group share.
I'm not sure 'Ecoes' is or ever was about 'accurately' representing the Market of Ideas. Instead, I see the project as a reflexive exploration into the ways in which such account creation can produce something other than (re)presentation. In the process, of this organic exploration, the 'original' ding is expanded and been enriched.
The challenge of editing the footage from the Market of Ideas using actor-network theory is only the most obvious answer to the question: 'What brought us together?,' a concern that has, as the project’s developed, been eclipsed by a different question: 'What’s kept us together?'
Returning to the spatial metaphor introduced above, it is tempting but too simple to understand the group’s 'togetherness' as the project’s architecture…as a structure for building both its visual and verbal utterances into something stable. This assumption is problematic because it presumes a systematic use of space based on a consistent measure…which, simply put, does not exist in 'Ecoes' and which I hope has been conveyed by both the heterogeneous positions on this panel and the diverse edits in the sequence.
Hence, rather than the project’s architecture, it's my sense that the 'togetherness' of 'Ecoes' is better likened to movement…various kinds of movement involving different intensities of effort, because it is through calibrating our respective matters of concern in relation to one another that our individual sensibilities are activated. This activation in turn produces new kinds of collaboration without the intention--and this is critical in practice--of necessarily instrumentalizing them in the service of a clearly defined outcome.
Circling back to my stated interest in utterances as sites in this project to be occupied, I will conclude by asking a question. I want to suggest that, in addition to accommodating the collaborators’ respective matters of concern as distinct positions, 'Ecoes' encourages an understanding of these positions as somehow shared…insofar as they support, service, situate and substantiate each other. This leads me to wonder, 'How do we use one another’s positions in Ecoes and, by extension, networked practices more generally?'.
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