new materiality

A child in Quebec who was learning about how plastics persisted endlessly in our ecosystem said:
Si la chose ne peut pas être défaite elle ne devrait pas exister.
( If a thing cannot be un-made then it should not be made. )

Merleau-Ponty on time

Some striking passages from Chapter 2: Temporality
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, tr. Donald Landes, Routledge, 2012 (1945).

We say that time passes or flows by. We speak of the course of time. The water that I see rolling by was made ready a few days ago in the mountains, with the melting of the glacier; it is now in front of me and makes its way towards the sea into which it will finally discharge itself. If time is similar to a river, it flows from the past towards the present and the future. The present is the consequence of the past, and the future of the present. But this often repeated metaphor is in reality extremely confused. For, looking at the things themselves, the melting of the snows and what results from this are not successive events, or rather the very notion of event has no place in the objective world. When I say that the day before yesterday the glacier produced the water which is passing at this moment, I am tacitly assuming the existence of a witness tied to a certain spot in the world, and I am comparing his successive views: he was there when the snows melted and followed the water down, or else, from the edge of the river and having waited two days, he sees the pieces of wood that he threw into the water at its source. The ‘events’ are shapes cut out by a finite observer from the spatio- temporal totality of the objective world. But on the other hand, if I consider the world itself, there is simply one indivisible and changeless being in it. Change presupposes a certain position which I take up and from which I see things in procession before me: there are no events without someone to whom they happen and whose finite perspective is the basis of their individuality.

If we separate the objective world from the finite perspectives which open upon it, and posit it in itself, we find everywhere in it only so many instances of ‘now’.

Correspondingly, therefore, the subject must not be himself situated in [time], in order to be able to be present in intention to the past as to the future. Let us no longer say that time is a ‘datum of consciousness’; let us be more precise and say that consciousness deploys or constitutes time.

Time exists for me only because I am situated in it, that is, because I become aware of myself as already committed to it, because the whole of being is not given to me incarnate, and finally because one sector of being is so close to me that it does not even make up a picture before me—I cannot see it, just as I cannot see my face.

on Chinese thought: non-dualism, relationality, transformation

Chinese thought: non-dualism, relationality, transformation

From a BBC podcast about a renowned herbalist Li Shizhen 東璧 (1518 – 1593)

"When in pre modern China, people generally had a very organic view of the world around them. So one overarching idea was that everything around us is interconnected, interdependent, and networked together. And that in other words, rather than thinking of the natural world, as that bit of the world around us that's untouched by humans, the Chinese planted human beings right in the middle of it. Now, a second main underlying idea there is that therefore, in order to understand the natural world, rather than trying to identify by or physically what things are, it is much more important to try and explain how things relate to each other. So describe the relationship of various beings, objects, plants, animals with each other. A [third] underlying idea was that everything around us in the natural world is constantly subject to change. The only certainty we have, ironically, about what happens around us is that things are constantly changing. And so everything is subject to transformations, to metamorphosis. And so the, I suppose the sage or the observer, or the scholar needs to put his finger on  explaining why changes happen and how they happen. Now, to do that you need a conceptual toolbox, and the Chinese developed that, you know, over the centuries. One is to think of everything in the world as consisting of complementary opposites. The Chinese call it Yin, and Yang, you know, the shadowy side of a hill, versus the sunny side of a hill so that you can think of things in terms of hot, cold, high, low, black, white, and so on. So that's one toolbox they had.  A second model that was applied to the understanding of the natural world was the idea that everything somehow can be classified into a group of five or following a sequence of five phases. These were natural elements identified as early as the fourth century BC fire, you know, wood, metal, earth. And I left one out here water, I think. And so the whole purpose of it is basically to just describe the pattern of change and describe ways of sequencing of how things follow on from each other. The result of that is that that you know, for the right or the wrong reasons, people who categorize nature in pre modern China seem to be always impelled to have to do this in groups of five and categories of five. And a final, not insignificant feature really about the way in which the Chinese and pre modern China handled nature or saw that relationship is that they used a language which drew substantially on figurative language. They used analogies to talk about nature comparisons. metaphors, rather than a highly technical sort of language and that sometimes takes getting used to.”

Roel Sterckx, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science, and Civilization at Cambridge University
BBC In Our Time 20191128

Collective intentionality and the further challenge of collective free improvisation

Collective intentionality and the further challenge of collective free improvisation


The kind of collective improvisation attained by free jazz at the beginning of the sixties appears interesting from the perspective of contemporary debates on collective intentionality for several reasons. The most notable of these, is that it holds a mirror up to what analytical philosophers of action identify as “the complexly interwoven sets of collective intentions” that make a group more than the sum of its parts. But at the same time, free jazz poses a challenge to these philosophical theories of collective intentionality, because what happens is not planned in advance but arises from spontaneous interactions in the group. The second and no less decisive reason is that jazz musicians act together in a very distinctive way, which casts into clear relief the interplay between togetherness and agonism, individual freedom and group commitment, which is contained in every human interaction. In other words, in free jazz we find what Hannah Arendt calls the “paradoxical” or “twofold” character of “human plurality.” Starting with the analysis of two paradigmatic case studies—Charles Mingus’s Folk Forms No. 1 and Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation—my main concern in this paper is to provide a phenomenological account of the individual-yet-plural intentionality that emerges and runs through the improvisatory process in the free jazz case. After having made the negative point that this phenomenon represents a challenge to the analytical theories of collective intentionality, I shall argue that it can be accounted for from a phenomenological perspective. My basic thesis is that the overall cohesiveness of the improvisatory process must be regarded as a meaningful realization of an overall feeling, shared and shaped together by musicians over time—and not as the execution of an advanced plan.

ensemble play in online class, First Year Acting - Vocal Technique, Romania

“rhythm" can be the name for the patterning joining antecedent and emergent, here and elsewhere:
Actorie Anul 1 - Tehnică Vocală (curs online)

#stamacasa, dar facem cursuri împreună! Anul 1 Actorie, la cursul online de Tehnică Vocală (prof. Irina Sârbu). ------------------- #unatc #unatc70 #online #remote #onlineclass #acting #theatre #workfromhome #onlinecourse #onlineclasses #workremotely #studentlife #stauacasa #onlinecourses #cursonline #canto #actorie #carantina #actorie #stayhome

Posted by UNATC I. L. Caragiale on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Ensemble play in the face of pandemic, by students in an online course:

Actorie Anul 1 - Tehnică Vocală
First Year Acting - Vocal Technique 
UNATC I. L. Caragiale, Bucharest
(the top art academy in Romania)

place, narrative, mobile technologies, background for

Dear folks interested in place, narrative, mobile technologies,
(who may be interested in working with Robert Brandon and me on an NSF SCC pitch,
or with me and Canadian allies toward the large Canada Infrastructure Ecosystems competition)

Steven Tepper sent this article:

Experiential Data for Urban Planning
Federico Casalegno, Amar Boghani, Catherine Winfield
Innovative Technologies in Urban Mapping pp 73-80

This raises in turn the deep question of how narrative structures work to condition experience.
One way to think about "narrative structure”in a way that is more ample and futile for our research-creation is a configuration of marks or signifiers that condition the experience of the visitor.  These can be not just words on a printed page, but the arrangement of objects in space, or of gestures in an event, 

Of course, Stacey M can expand on this a lot more deeply and broadly than I can, but as a starting point, some resources could include:

Paul Ricoeur
The Human Experience of Time and Narrative

Mikhail Bakhtin
The Dialogic Imagination: chronotope and heteroglossia
Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics: polyphony and unfinalizability (and carnivalization)

Aporetic experiences of time in anti-narrative art†

The Narrative Reconfiguration of Time beyond Ricoeur
Jonas Grethlein Heidelberg University

Mneme, Anamnesis and Mimesis: The Function of Narrative in Paul Ricoeur’s Theory of Memory
Ridvan Askin

And in a lighter vein:

Beyond the Narrative Arc
By Jane Alison March 27, 2019

Mobile Technologies and Changing Spaces of Reading
Brian Greenspan, DH Quarterly

At the least, if we can think of narrative structures as more than a unidimensional “story” arc this may open up richer dialogue with experimental architecture, dance, performed music, post-dramatic theater, responsive environments, mobile technologies.

Contact me if you’re interested — I have a window now till June 18.
Xin Wei

Evan Thompson et al: The Blind Spot of Science Is the Neglect of Lived Experience

Aeon 8 Jan 2019 essay "The Blind Spot of Science Is the Neglect of Lived Experience"
by Adam Frank, Marcelo Gleiser, Evan Thompson

The problem of time is one of the greatest puzzles of modern physics. The first bit of the conundrum is cosmological. To understand time, scientists talk about finding a ‘First Cause’ or ‘initial condition’ – a description of the Universe at the very beginning (or at ‘time equals zero’). But to determine a system’s initial condition, we need to know the total system. We need to make measurements of the positions and velocities of its constituent parts, such as particles, atoms, fields and so forth. This problem hits a hard wall when we deal with the origin of the Universe itself, because we have no view from the outside. We can’t step outside the box in order to look within, because the box is all there is. A First Cause is not only unknowable, but also scientifically unintelligible. 

The second part of the challenge is philosophical. Scientists have taken physical time to be the only real time – whereas experiential time, the subjective sense of time’s passing, is considered a cognitive fabrication of secondary importance. The young Albert Einstein made this position clear in his debate with philosopher Henri Bergson in the 1920s, when he claimed that the physicist’s time is the only time. With age, Einstein became more circumspect. Up to the time of his death, he remained deeply troubled about how to find a place for the human experience of time in the scientific worldview.

These quandaries rest on the presumption that physical time, with an absolute starting point, is the only real kind of time. But what if the question of the beginning of time is ill-posed? Many of us like to think that science can give us a complete, objective description of cosmic history, distinct from us and our perception of it. But this image of science is deeply flawed. In our urge for knowledge and control, we’ve created a vision of science as a series of discoveries about how reality is in itself, a God’s-eye view of nature.

Such an approach not only distorts the truth, but creates a false sense of distance between ourselves and the world. That divide arises from what we call the Blind Spot, which science itself cannot see. In the Blind Spot sits experience: the sheer presence and immediacy of lived perception.