Conscious Cycle Kit

Some nights are just glorious. Like one morning in March 2020, when I woke with such clarity and insight that I sprinted to my notebook to jot down what had come into perception. I wrote almost all of it in 2h, and spent a few days refining.

The purpose of the kit is to help you reclaim your natural flow of creation. Each of us has a unique rhythm, which we can tap, if we listen in and work with our intuition. My friend Kate Alexandra was probably the first to point me towards this way of thinking, when we worked on the We Are In.Tuition fieldbook.

The Conscious Cycle Kit is currently layouted by myself, so it’s not grand, but you get the drift.

If you’d like to download the beta-version, please consider sending me feedback <3: Conscious Cycle Kit

We Are In.Tuition Fieldbook out now

It’s been a year since we held our retreat in Cowra, and from it sprung a fieldbook with wise and thoughtful stories of circle life, leadership and transformation. Our group of academic fringe dwellers crowdfunded layout and print and we’re eternally thankful to our many supporters. Talented Jenni Ottilie took on the graphic design of this eclectic collection of goodness, certainly not the easiest task to find a rounded look and it turned out marvellous.

The fieldbook has philosophical articles, musings, poems, game instructions and thought exercises, introductions to concepts, book recommendations, and there’s a playlist, too!

Here are two versions, one larger and a small pocket version.

 

Fieldbook_WeAreInTuition_2019_WEB_tiny (7MB)

Fieldbook_WeAreInTuition_2019_WEB  (28MB)

Founder at Heart @MBAe

Founder at Heart is a result of a few years teaching Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney’s MBAentrepreneurship. We realised that, coming from an anthropological perspective, some of the inner work we did with students resonated deeply. So, I was invited to design a course around purpose and collaboration.

Summer 2018 was the first term this course was taught. I introduced many reflective exercises and some games, and had four wonderful guests speaking on purpose and integrity, holacracy and non-violent communication as well as resilience and conscious entrepreneurship. My favourite bit is that as one of the assignments students design a game – or experiential format – on the issue of complexity and resilience.


Self reflection as a tool to design a sustainable enterprise
This subject aims to help founders appreciate their entrepreneurial purpose, understand ecosystemic resilience and learn about alternative and lesser known business models that have sustainability at their core. Founding a venture requires imagination, courage and strength of character. Every founder is different, so identifying their values and relationships is imperative to build a business that suits their character but also build harmonious teams and create a regenerative market. With the aim of understanding and developing their own motivation, inner workings and capabilities, students learn to embed their entrepreneurial ethics into 21st Century complexities. Students also learn to take a systems perspective and gain knowledge of new ways of working inherent in Open Value Networks and Cooperatives as well as Holacracy and Teal Organisations. The subject builds on the works of Otto Scharmer (Theory U), Kate Rawford (Doughnut Economy), Daniel Kahnemann (Thinking Fast and Slow), Joanna Macy (The Work that Reconnects), Fritjof Capra (The Systems View of Life), Charles Eisenstein (The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible) and Frederic Laloux (Reinventing Organisations). These authors span and connect inner motivation and capabilities with systemic and economic practices and mindsets.

How it’s different to your usual MBA class
One of the most important aspects of FAH is that it’s taught by an anthropologist, a media/design anthropologist, who’s dedicated to bring humanities back into business (polemic, I know…hehe).  That’s why we’re looking at human behaviour first. This shift of thinking might seem trivial, but it has all kinds of ramifications for teaching business.

Addressing human behaviour and culture
Many companies have understood that applying design thinking without cultural change doesn’t aid innovation and competitiveness. Also, from an anthropocentric perspective, humans have great impact on the planet and not everything we plan is working in our favour in the long run. We can see the ramifications of extractive economy in many ways. And because humans are awesome in adapting to their environment, we’re already building new economic models to help building markets that help the earth regenerate. This course teaches an overview of what it requires to build a good business in a holistic sense.

Pick, remix and make new
Another aspect that is different from other courses – and academic tradition in general – is that this course offers a whole array of content that we skim (instead of going deep into some specialised content). Thi is similar to what we see emerging in faculties for transdisciplinary innovation (check out UTS’ FTDI). Dipping into different ideas and relating them with each other is a deeply creative practice, because in doing so we are creating knew
knowledges at the intersection of our readings.

Intuition helps navigating complexity and uncertainty
This approach aligns with the content we’re covering: it trains us to work within complexity and uncertainty; it requires a dash of intuition, collaborative faculty, and courage to make decisions without extensive data, instead relying on gut feeling, to move because it feels right. But this also means to understand intuition from different schools of thought and training with exercises that are designed to sharpen the senses. Having strong intuition is one of the top qualities great entrepreneurs count on, however, intuition is in communication with its environment and values, so it can always only be as good as the wisdom we’re surrounded by. Thus, in order to shape an intuition of the 21st Century we need to build new, sustainable cultures and views about planet earth and our role on it.

Learning through aesthetic pedagogy
I deeply care about this so called aesthetic pedagogy as I believe it caters to our creative minds in a way that is neglected. This is one course within your whole year that gives students the opportunity to engage as freely as a University course can offer while I as a lecturer am still able to grade achievements. While Universities and traditional schooling give clear guidelines and criteria to meet, this course addresses creativity, imagination, and personal experience. These cannot be assessed like content you are asked to learn and repeat or use in a certain way. For example, this course offers several resources, at students’ choice, and several modes of engagement that are experimental and require creativity. All assignments are designed to explore the edges of students’ comfort zones without the risk of failing greatly.

Modules
Module 1 – Complex Systems

  • Complexity
  • Resilience

Module 2 – Purpose and Integrity

  • Purpose and Integrity
  • Relationship

Module 3 – Views of “Economy”

  • Conscious entrepreneurship
  • Alternative Business Models

Module 4 – P2P Workflows

  • Technology Stack
  • Tools

Module 5 – Navigating Uncertainty

  • Working with Uncertainty
  • Working with Intuition
  • Conversational Intelligence

 

Manifesto For Tomorrow at the Art Gallery of NSW

 Manifesto For Tomorrow was an experimental youth engagement program that made participants the authors of their own declarations of beliefs, intentions and motifs. The program ran in the spring of 2017. I.C.E., the Art Gallery of New South Wales and an alliance of education partners developed and delivered a youth program of artistic research and interpretation, production and presentation that asserted individual and collective identities through the development of a two manifestos; one made by students from Auburn Girls High School and one by Granville Boys. Thereby, Manifesto for Tomorrow provided vulnerable and disenfranchised youth from Western Sydney access to resources to both study and produce alternative narratives of representation and identity.

The focus lay on Sydney Modern Project, the Gallery’s expansion project that will see the space transformed for art, live performance, film, learning, study and cultural experiences. Involved were Gallery staff and a select group of provocateurs from a range of disciplines to help students develop their own utopian vision for the future of the Gallery. The group was guided through a journey of investigation, idea generation and development. They were afforded unprecedented access to the building, and the plans for the Sydney Modern Project.

Significantly, Manifesto for Tomorrow simultaneously fostered constructive critique and engagement with the AGNSW. Using I.C.E.’s Mobile Digital Studio the program facilitated a comprehensive suite of creative development and production, skills development and training opportunities. At the completion of the program the groups’ manifestos were presented to high-ranking members of the gallery. In addition, both digital artifacts that were created as manifestos was presented to the board in January 2018.

The Process
The two-week program followed a three-step structure:

  • information and research (days 1 – 5),
  • exformation and data mapping (days 2 to 7), and
  • creating and collaborating (days 6-10)

This set-up is typical for design thinking, integrated into participatory storytelling or community arts overlay.

In short, the project exposed the students to four different examples of art manifestos of the 20th and 21st Century (Neen, Fluxus, Minnesota Declaration) as well as four different types of galleries (Maryland County Museum, Sammlung Boros, MoNA, and Sandham Memorial Chapel). Visiting two other galleries on day 3 gave students a physical introduction to a variety of museums, so that they could more critically compare their experience at the Art Gallery of new South Wales.

The students’ manifesto statements were collaboratively researched, mapped, focused and formulated with the help of my role as a Lead Provocateur, meaning that I’d help students learn to research like an anthropologist, critically questioning, using all their senses, and sense-making when bringing information together. Artist Educators from AGNSW joined us each day in order to facilitate the co-creation of the artifact that contained the students manifesto statements.

In order to introduce participatory research methods, we played a blind-folding game in the park, an exercise in sensory ethnography to sharpen their perception when they investigate both gallery environment and artworks. To train documentation, we asked the students to write down their insights and observations in their personal notebooks. Based on these notes, we then did mapping exercises, using methods taken from design thinking (affinity mapping and proper use of post-it notes). We suggested that this way of working was advisable throughout their whole research at the gallery. Throughout the course of the two weeks, we also encouraged students to utilize their ipads to document their experiences using video and audio recording.

Day 1
What’s a Manifesto
What’s a Gallery
Sensory Data Collection
Ethnographic Research and Mapping

Day 2
Storytelling
Power Point intro Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW)
Visit Artist Educator from AGNSW

Day 3
Visit State Library and Barracks

Day 4
First day at AGNSW
Presentation Sydney Modern and site visit
1h walk-through the gallery. What do you see, hear, feel, say?

Day 5
1/5h walk through gallery. What do you see now?
Preparing questions for deputy director
Meet AGNSW deputy director Maude Paige

Day 6
Empathy mapping
Formulating Manifesto statements
Video and Audio Recording

Day 7
Refining manifesto statements
Choreography
Video and Audio Recording

Day 8
Choreography
Video and Audio Recording
Refining Manifesto Statements
Audio Recording

Day 9
Meeting Board of Trustees
Video and Audio Recording
Meeting with AGNSW Director
Audio Recording

Day 10
Final presentation and celebration

Production Roles
1 Lead Producer
1 Lead Community Liaison
1 Lead provocateur
1 Guest provocateur
2 Lead Artists
5 Artist educators
2 Film team

Technology and Working Materials
The students were each equipped with an ipad (lent), notebooks, and a pen in a branded (sustainable material) tote bag. Since we collected the bags each day, all materials and bags were tagged with their names. The bags and ipads were prepared with stickers, so that students could quickly add their names. This worked fast and well.

We encouraged the students to use both digital and paper when walking through the gallery, instructing them to video or audio record and also write down their overall observations, insights and points of interest in their paper notebook (including references to their video or audio material). Specifically, to get an experience of the technology that created their manfesto artifact, the students got to experiment with apps on ipad to learn video editing. Specifically, to get an experience of the technology that created the environment for their manifesto, the students got to try a landscape experience on Vive.

Manifesto Artworks
With a group of 15 girls, the video artist joined for the whole of two weeks to capture the students’ work on video and co-create a piece of video art that portrays each students’ manifesto statement. The statements were accompanied by a performance that each student co-created with a dancer/choreographer.

With the boys, a digital artist co-created a Vive Game with the students. He specifically created the game environment based on models taken from plans for the Sydney Modern extension of the gallery. Avatars were inserted into this environment, and each student brought one of the avatars to live with their manifesto statements as well as one action that the avatar would trigger once approached by the player. Josh, together with Illustrator Andrew Yee, created paper templates for avatars. These templates allowed the boys to give shape and colouring to their personal avatars as they would show up in the Vive Game.

Student Engagement
Generally, engagement was high and steady. The students responded well to abstract ideas and engaged in philosophical topics. They noticed political statements that architecture made (i.e. European “old” art being exhibit in “old-fashioned” architecture; or indigenous art was located in the centre, but also cornered by European and colonial art). Once alerted to their senses, they described their environment with rich sensory information. They described the sound of the space, the floor, their peers, as well as smells and were intrigued by textures. From the first day in the gallery it was obvious that the students took a liking to a full body experience of art, which was reflected in their manifesto statements.

I recognised disengagements, some of which were rather due to shyness (i.e. when meeting the Gallery Director, Deputy Director, or Board of Trustees). For me as a facilitator, there was only one situation when I found it slightly more difficult to keep their attention. The situation was when I explained a designerly or ethnographic way to research. I prefaced that it was Uni-content and I saw their curiosity rise. However, I kept it short as I realised that speaking about the origins of a certain way of working wasn’t as relevant to them as using the time to try it out.

There were moments when students showed their private video clips, which I found very engaging, although it might be interpreted as disengagement. The reason why I found it engaged is that they showed the facilitators and each other what they were into in terms of creativity, which kinds of fan or video art they loved, or what they had created themselves.

Special moments were when we saw the students collaborating to help each other with their manifesto artworks. For example, one student wanted to visualise what she meant by “fantasy” (as opposed to the mythological art she saw in the gallery). She asked another student, who is great at drawing and digital design, to create an anime character for her. They both worked on their shared vision to the end of the workshop.

Facilitation and Engagement
Taking a group of young students to a place beyond their familiarity and asking them to try things beyond their previous knowing requires a lot of one-on-one consultation, and therefore takes a high number of facilitators. When co-creating manifesto statements, the video artist, choreographer, Julia, Jonathan and myself were all engaged with students at the same time.

Engagement with gallery staff was driven by AGNSW Community Liaison Officer. Every day, he brought new people from the gallery to visit the students. All staff we met knew who we were, they asked the students questions, and had chats. Creating special environments, like meeting high ranking personal and trustees showed the students that their observations mattered. For both groups, we had around 30 visitors to see the students’ media manifestos. That was an incredible gift to the whole group, students, facilitators and artists, to honour and celebrate their efforts. The amount of insight and hospitable treatment we received by gallery staff was outstanding.

Workload for students
Overall, I thought they stretched themselves successfully, which includes giving off the impression of it being too much at times. The “too much” was, however, related to abstract understanding and feeling of “grasping” or “getting a grip”, rather than too much content.

Facilitating the right workload was challenging at times, because we needed to get the group to have reached certain steps and content in order to meet representatives (Q&A with deputy director, board of trustees) or artists that were scheduled for particular time frames. Overall, I found that all artists were attentive to each other and the work that was required from everyone. The atmosphere was light and easy.

Outcomes
The final presentation for the girls’ group was in Centennial Auditorium. The video artist worked long hours over night to finalise a video loop that showed the girls manifesto statements including their performances. Their audio-recordings of 30-second statements were put on mini-loudspeakers and placed in the room, which gave a soundscape of 8 voices speaking at once. The students were sat in the front row of auditorium, each with a seat empty next to them. They had their ipads loaded with their individual work and performance and could take their respective loudspeaker and show each guest individually what they had created.

The final presentation for the boys’ group was in the gallery’s Function Space with a view to the Wooloomoolloo and the Sydney Modern site. One corner was set up with a screen and Vive equipment, so that the students as well as gallery staff, including the deputy director, were able to access the Vive Game manifesto. The artist worked long hours over night to finalise the Vive Game that contained the manifesto statements of each of the students. The showing attracted about 25 gallery staff.

The atmosphere of both presentations was like a Vernissage: people sitting, standing, walking, watching, engaging, voices, laughter, chatter, artistic visual on the screen and curious testing of Vive technology in the background.

Some data on what the students saw
The girls responded strongly to lighting, detail and positioning of artworks. Words they used to describe their feelings were: astonished, captivated, amazed, inspired, peaceful, but also tired, feet aching, crowded, and cold. Below is a list of their data collection.
The below statements are on what the students observed after their first walk through the gallery.

  • Attention to detail
  • Positioning of artworks
  • Symmetrical hanging of artworks and how they were made focal points
  • Still life skin tones
  • Gallery kept the old design
  • People talking
  • Contrast in colours between rooms
  • When the lighting was bright it put me in a joyful mood
  • Colours soft and smooth
  • Many Aboriginal artworks
  • Irony of Aboriginal art in the middle of European art
  • Surprised voices
  • Purposely put lighting
  • Change of smell
  • Differently sized canvasses and canvas borders
  • Some exhibitions were hard to find
  • Details carved into stone sculpture
  • Original materials
  • Concave wall

The beginning of the second week was marked by exercises that helped the students to organise their data and become clear on their manifesto statements. Among other things, we used an Empathy Mapping tool – taken from Design Thinking Research – to differentiate what we felt, heard, said and saw.

 What was said:

  • Can I touch this?
  • I’m lost
  • OMG, there’s more over there!
  • That must have taken ages
  • What is this?
  • Why is this art?
  • Come here let’s take a picture
  • I could do this, too
  • I can’t take my eyes off this
  • There’s an echo
  • What’s fantasy what’s mythical?
  • So much effort
  • So detailed
  • I don’t think this is good enough for art
  • Wow that’s amazing
  • This is so intricate how did the artist do this?
  • Is there more artwork like this?
  • I can do this how is this art?
  • I wonder how long it took to make that
  • That’s so cool
  • Not enough artworks here
  • The European art is the most beautiful in the gallery
  • I don’t like this
  • Wow this is really interesting
  • I really like how this is placed
  • Why are artists paid so much for a one-coloured canvas?

What was heard

  • Sometimes there was complete silence
  • Footsteps
  • People walking
  • The sound of tapping on marble staircase
  • The sound of the wooden floor
  • The creeks of the wooden floor
  • People stating their opinion
  • The sound of silence
  • People laughing and talking
  • A video playing
  • Sometimes the sound of artworks
  • Slow soft music
  • Let down
  • Echo
  • The different use of music in some displays
  • Whispers of people talking about art

What they saw

  • Some things were not placed right
  • Different positioning of artifacts and paintings
  • Colourful art
  • Colours
  • Differently coloured walls
  • Detailed artworks
  • Black walls
  • Aboriginal and contemporary art
  • Dim and bright lighting creating a flow
  • Less natural light
  • Spotlight on artworks
  • Architecture varies as you move around
  • Different styles
  • Many indigenous works in different sections
  • A variety if different things
  • How things were placed
  • Strategic lighting
  • Sculptures

How they felt

  • Less lighting put me in a peaceful mood
  • I felt very captivated
  • I felt very astonished
  • I felt very inspired
  • I felt lie I was there in the artwork
  • I was interested
  • My feet aching
  • I felt my body aching in pain
  • I felt hot in some rooms
  • I felt my existence
  • Curious
  • The whole environment felt so peaceful
  • I felt calm and collected
  • I felt in love
  • I felt my body melting in pain
  • I felt inspired
  • I felt interested
  • I felt amazed
  • I felt peaceful
  • Cold air
  • The walls
  • The scent of food being served in the kitchen
  • Tired
  • Mood change from different colours
  • I felt crowded

Overall, the students were curious, critical and appreciative. Their perception was very sensory, which made them focus on the visceral experience of art in its surrounding. The students’ final manifesto statements were transferred into a video artwork, directed and edited by an AGNSW artist educator.

The boys approached their observations partly sensory – like perceiving colours and sound – mostly, however, they commented on building-architecture, cultural aspects and appropriateness of artworks. Their attention span differed. Some were noticeable more attentive when they had an opportunity to “make” things (as opposed to conversation). Others were reluctant to write notes into their notebooks. Having ipads engaged most positively, however, sometimes using technology (i.e. having their personal phones on them) led to distraction, and as a result loss of focus energy in the room[1]. Overall, the students were curious, critical, and appreciative.

The students’ first impressions were largely around the urban setting, architecture, nature and acoustics. The below statements are on what the students observed after their first walk through the gallery.

The beginning of the second week was marked by exercises that helped the students to organise their data and become clear on their manifesto statements. Among other things, we used an Empathy Mapping tool – taken from Design Thinking Research – to differentiate what we felt, heard, said and saw.

 What was said:

  • I’m bored because we see the same things over and over again over the course of a week
  • This artwork looks cool
  • This is dope
  • I will come back
  • That painting should not be here
  • Cool
  • Very nice
  • This artwork looks cool
  • I heard silence
  • I heard artist educators speak about art
  • Who is this by?
  • What does this mean?
  • Why is there no sport here?

What was heard

  • talking
  • slight chatter
  • chatter
  • digital art noise
  • calming sound
  • quiet music
  • songs
  • ambient noises
  • silence

What they saw

  • The Lotus (digital artwork)
  • James Cook Statue
  • A family that looked depressed
  • Colourful artwork
  • A cryptic painting
  • Some beautiful aboriginal artwork
  • Modern art
  • Installation of new art
  • A variety of artwork
  • Big art
  • An area still under construction
  • A scary or hallucinating painting
  • Inappropriate art and nudity

How they felt:

  • Calm
  • Interested
  • Fun
  • Amazed
  • Contemplative
  • Irritated
  • Impressed
  • Depressed
  • Calm
  • Sad
  • I felt like I was in a different world

The students’ final manifesto statements were transferred into a Vive VR Game, directed and edited by a digital artist.

Here are the students’ statements and how their claim manifested in the virtual gallery:

THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY. WHY ARE WE STILL FOCUSED ON FINE CLASSIC ARTWORKS?
I walked into the gallery and what I saw was boring to the eye. I want artworks such as anime as they are much more interesting to my generation. Would you want to walk into the gallery and to only find contemporary and traditional? NO! We expect everything to be in the art gallery. We are not in the 20th Century. We are in the 21st Century. We have the freedom to judge and to talk our what our minds want, so why aren’t we changing what obviously needs changing in the art gallery of NSW!

  • Freedom
  • Boring
  • Anime

BRING SCIENCE TO LIFE WITH ART THAT ENHANCES MY SENSES AND CREATES AN IMMERSIVE ENVIRONMENT.
Both science and art are human attempts to understand and describe the world around us. We need to bring science to life, with art that enhances our senses and creates an immersive environment. Sound. Sound is as effective with your eyes closed. I wonder how high the frequency of this sound is and how long the wavelengths are. Sight. We use x-Ray’s to see through the human body. But imagine if you were able to see through the artworks, distinguishing the different elements used. Touch. Imagine touching an artwork with your eyes closed. Feeling all the different fibres used in the fabrics. Smell. Smell can be intoxicating and evoke any type of emotion.

  • Science
  • Art
  • Senses

I WANT GALLERIES TO SHOW INDIGENOUS ART IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT REFLECTS THEIR NATURAL AND CULTURAL ORIGINALITY.
I want the gallery the gallery to bring nature inside. I want to see art in an environment that is not man made but is natural. Art should be shown in an environment that reflects cultural context.

  • Environment
  • reflecting
  • culture


WHY IS ART SHOWN IN HIDDEN ROOMS? I WANT CLEARER ARCHITECTURE.
When I first walked through the gallery I was surprised that beautiful artworks were kind of hidden. There was one particular place. The upper Asian gallery. It looked like I wasn’t supposed to go in there. So I felt like a trespasser. But what I saw in there was awesome. I loved that there was a film and there was other art that used electric light. The works that emitted light drew me in and made me feel connected. I also want the room to draw me in and make me feel invited.

  • Inviting
  • Trespassing
  • Space
  • Light

I WANT THE FANTASY GENRE TO BE PRESENTED IN THE GALLERY
Fantasy art is all over the Internet and is loved by many people so it really surprised me to find very little fantasy art in the gallery. I want fantasy characters such as dragons, elves and so on, not mythological gods from Ancient Greece. I want to see the cool ideas artists have come up with, for example, the characters they have created, what the characters can do, and which animals the artist combined to give the character character. These fantasy figure represent the deep psyche of my generation.

  • Mythology
  • Fantasy
  • Dragons
  • Elves

PERMANENT DIGITAL ART
The art gallery of NSW occasionally hold digital art exhibitions, but I want them to be permanent. I want an area dedicated to digital art so that I can come to the gallery knowing I’m going to see something that I’m so passionate about.

  • Permanent
  • digital
  • art

I WANT TO EXPERIENCE EACH ARTWORK WITH SOUNDS RELASTED TO THE WORK’S HERITAGE.
I want to be immersed into everything that is displayed on the walls by listening to the mood that the artworks are trying to portray, so I can have a better multi-sensory experience.

  • Multi-sensory
  • Experience
  • Listen

I WANT HOLOGRAPHIC GUIDES
I realised that information on artworks comes in different forms, like plaques and audio guides. Still, to me there’s something missing, like another layer of engagement. I think that holographic guides would be fun, especially when they’re dressed up fitting to the theme or if they interact with you.

  • Interact
  • Theme
  • Holographic

Oh hello, I’m a representative of the digital age. We need more digital art, don’t you agree? By using interactive technology, we can make interactive art super fun and that means more people of the digital age will come to see it.
In the gallery shows up: VR set pops up and you can take it to land exactly where you were

I wish I could be in the gallery with a digital paintbrush to change all the art to my liking.
In the gallery shows up: digital paintbrush allows player to change the paintings

We modern age people seek a more technical experience with galleries and museums, so I was at the gallery and didn’t get a good understanding of some of the paintings, so I thought if they would make the visits using more technology, maybe we would gain deeper understanding of history and artistic practice and the art work.
In the gallery shows up: artworks become accompanied by screens and digital info boards

 My greatest hobby is boxing and when I go to the art gallery I’d be thrilled to feel motivated to be tough, and I feel more confident experiencing artwork related to boxing, which can help more people to understand the reality of boxing as a sport. Maybe the art gallery could even exhibit on the art of boxing and bring people like me to the gallery.
In the gallery shows up: boxing rink appears and avatar invites player to fight

I’m a man of the future, I desire one thing: I desire digital masterpieces that address all the senses, such as sound, touch and smell as well as sight. Those who oppose the idea are relics of the past. I demand change because the future IS change.
In the gallery shows up: gloves and headset

Hello I’m Selim, a South-Arabian prince, you know what we need in this museum is more Middle Eastern art. This could attract more visitors from the Middle Eastern cultures. We want historic paintings from the Middle East or Golden Ages, or from the war between the crusades and the Muslims. I’ll donate a ten million to the gallery. 25% have to be used to build a new building for Middle Eastern art.
In the gallery shows up: money falls from the ceiling and Middle Eastern art appears

Visitors should be able to form their own perspective, rather than be led to see a certain perspective by people other than the artist. We will get rid of the content cards that have not been written by the artists themselves.
In the gallery shows up: artist plaques disappear from paintings

Hi, I want society to experience art for what it is and how it functions in our day-to-day lives. For example, expressing emotions, imagination, and creativity. It can unite and separate people. Digital art can be watched and made by everyone on their own device. I want more of that in galleries.
In the gallery shows up: Mobile device appears

I want the gallery to incorporate more modern aspects of artworks. So that it gives the gallery a feel that younger people would be attracted to and that they would appreciate at the same time. Adding more varied colours to the walls that can match the artowrks could give the gallery a new feel and would make it feel more expansive and memorable.
In the gallery shows up: more colours pop up on the walls

I’d like the gallery to add more ancient and digital art, because I feel the younger generation would like ancient Australian or for example Egyptian art. I would also like digital art as younger people will naturally be attracted towards it. Also, as the gallery is taking up a renovation of such magnitude, this is the right time to cash in like laser shows, light and sound shows.
In the gallery shows up: laser show in oil tanks

Hi, have a look around you. Wouldn’t it be cool this gallery was in a forest?
I want more art that gives me the feeling of being surrounded by nature through virtual reality.
In the gallery shows up: some 3D nature simulations with sound both music and nature pop up

Hi, I’m Aamer and in this gallery I’d like to see an arcade, like a room that offers Arab-themed interactive digital art, that engages me to be active and curious, that inspires me to find out about a mystery and enter the art gallery to have an adventure.
In the gallery shows up: VR/AR arcade

We Are In.Tuition – Remixing the Goods

  A project I’ve been working on is called We Are In.Tuition.

We Are In.Tuition is a creative residency, dojo, retreat, open value network and fieldbook. It’s the result of 15 months of dojos / gatherings jamming on a loosely defined field of shared practice: intuition and mutual care in leadership, innovation and the future of work.

In February this year, we spent a weekend at Cowra’s The Corridor Project, a rural Australian Woolshed to explore the question- what does it mean to be intuitive, trusting in flow, emergence and embodied wisdom when living in patriarchal structures?

We have since, created an Open Value Network (OVN) to practice and support new and ancient ways of being and livelihood. We are a group of fringe dwelling academics and creative practitioners.

When I designed the playshop series I pulled out a big sheet of paper and wrote down all the methods, exercises, ideas and practices that had inspired me recently. As a result, our workshop became a bootlegged remix of all kinds of ways of working, and I thought it’s useful to list them here:

  • Coyote Pedagogy – Jon Young’s 8 Shields
  • Emergence Pedagogy
  • The Art of Hosting
  • Possibility Management
  • Non-Violent Communication – Marshall Rosenberg
  • Dragon Dreaming
  • Value Polarities – Daniel Barcay
  • Social Presencing Theatre – Otto Scharmer
  • Theory U – Otto Scharmer
  • Open Space Technology
  • Co-Design
  • Co-Ethnography
  • Collective Impact
  • Open Value Network
  • Dojo Principles
  • Deep Ecology – Joanna Macy, Arne Naess
  • Positionality – Rebecca Freeth
  • Serendipity Management – Inkinen Jaako
  • Taboos and Authority – Arnold Mindel
  • Hidden Commitments / Immunity to Change – Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey
  • Epic Storytelling and Hero’s Journey
  • Aboriginal Lore
  • Political Literacy
  • Zen
  • Conversational Intelligence
  • Satsang
  • Coaching
  • Magic and Shamanism

While I was wondering whether this wild mix would make for a confusing retreat, it turned out to be just fabulous. Everyone said that we learned and did “sooo much, but it didn’t feel that way”.

A year into the project, we’re now raising money to help design and print a fieldbook we made as a result of our explorations in Cowra earlier this year. We’re inviting you to pre-purchase a fieldbook through our crowdfunding campaign. We have also pulled together range of “rewards” to suit a variety of tastes and budgets as a way to say thank you for your kind donation.

This think-and-do’ fieldbook will be produced under Creative Commons licence, to be shared and remixed by anyone!

Please support us here on StartSomeGood

What’s The Future of Education, Really?

UTS Business School has released a short clip on the work we’ve been doing with our students. It’s been a tough semester, including a lot of strong emotions among my students as well as me. The comments they made on this clip validate so beautifully that learning is a liminal threshold, and being outside your comfort zone is … well uncomfortable.

A moment of deep appreciation for the opportunities we get to do the work that connects and expands.

Artist Residency – Working with Resistance

As part of my Artist Residency at the University of Technology Sydney, I was invited to run a series of experimental gatherings, in which we offer a space to reflect and practice working with uncertainty. Our experiments are around behaviours, ethics, and tools that are helpful in times of change. My facilitation is informed by remixing methods and knowledge from the arts, technology, permaculture, business, the humanities, and coyote pedagogy (quite fascinating techniques from wilderness education). The idea is to learn and train together, like in a Dojo. I’ll prepare the space and framing; and at the same time I will be a trainee like everyone else.

The aim of this series is:
a)     to sharpen our senses and working with flow; being intrapreneurial in a top-down hierarchy; it’s about setting the scene and how we relate; it’s about resistance in and around us; about the quality we bring to our lives in order to create magic. And yes, there’ll be sharing on ingredients for proverbial magic potions (no bones or blood involved, promised); and
b)     to research and develop emergent pedagogies through artistic enquiry.

We ran two workshops in Sydney and one retreat out of Sydney. And the result eclipsed what I had originally envisioned by far. We’re currently layouting a co-ethnographic journal and running a crowdfunding campaign to bring it to life.

Hacking Monopoly

Ishan Markandeya came over to Sydney and we co-designed a special Futurescouts session for the course I teach for a group of MBAe Business Students at UTS. We flipped Monopoly and asked our students to hack the game further, to prototype resilient business for a time of transition, to experience the commons, to create economic fictions.

Group size: 3 – 6 pax
Playtime: 1-4h

What:
We hacked Monopoly to offer a collaborative game that educates about commons-based business modelling.

How:
The game is played like monopoly, but we changed the properties to ones that are systemically related to the intersection of economics and politics. The community chest contains cards on resiliency and chance cards pose challenges to growth and profit maximisation. There are five currencies, for example, reputation, time, and natural resources. The game is designed to be hacked further by its players, so that new rules  emerge by way of storytelling. The game win is when all properties belong to the commons and the players begin regenerating spaceship earth.

The goal of Polypoly is not to bankrupt your fellow players, but rather to engage in a non-zero sum game to create “steady-state” economic systems. To win Polypoly is to create the highest quality of life for all life through abundance.

That’s not to say you’ll reach it, though – it all depends on players choices.

The conversations and stories that emerge are how we create a healthy dialog about values, economic ideals, and a place for participants to engage in vibrant discussion about 21st century economics, governance and value.

Compete and cooperate to buy properties of an economy. Commoner, Capitalist, Communist, Socialist? There’s ways to play them all. You might be surprised at your own decisions.

Balance multiple currencies for various social and economic advantages. Cash, Time, Reputation, Influence, and Natural Resources all have buying power! How will you manage your resources?

For more information on the game visit polypoly.us.
This prototype is an ongoing collaboration with FutureScouts.

Fieldbooks United

Over the years we have created a whole series of co-ethnographic fieldbooks to document our social projects. Here is an overview of the lot, in no chronological order, but favorites first. There might be some buzz word alarm. And a lot of depth beyond the buzz. To download click on images.

This is the first of our six Learn Do Share fieldbooks that we created with participants of the workshops and events we ran.  This one is from 2012 at Parsons New School of Design in New York City. The book is full of games, thoughts and activities on change agents, wicked solutions, and collaborative intelligence.

This book was a result of an artist residency at the University of Technology Sydney in 2017/2018. It’s full of wise and thoughtful stories of circle life, leadership and transformation, philosophical articles, musings, poems, game instructions and thought exercises, introductions to concepts, book recommendations, and there’s a playlist, too!

Oh Robot Heart Stories was such a mega mega mega good project! It’s an experiential learning story that was run with two school classes in Montreal and Los Angeles, using technology, math, geography and their creativity to navigate a lost robot home, all the while learning about the fragility of our planet.

 

Our events with Learn Do Share in NYC attracted many Europeans, some of which started their own events in Gothenburg, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Paris and Barcelona. This is the fieldbook of our 2013 event in Gothenburg. The content spans open design, shared storyworlds and the value of creativity.

 

2013 in New York City, this event was all about working with at risk youth, incubating your future and the new venture economy.

 

 

 

The events in Los Angeles had a distinctly different touch to the ones in NYC. For this book, the group chose the theme “Diversity as Identity”, which aligned with the idea they had of the city. The book covers emergent design, incubating civic engagement, storytelling as a means for social change and several manuals for collaboration techniques.

 

Ghent was another of the European creative spots we visited. This book has an array of advice on games, purposeful storytelling, igniting the imagination of many and how to run an open design challenge.

 

 

The Paris crew made their event all about design fiction, building storyworlds, and rebooting the world by giving children digital and creative literacy.

 

 

 

This crazy little book was the result of a birthday surprise, in which we design a geo-located scavenger hunt that started in an art gallery, where we posted a fake art plaque with a primer and a QR code, which gave the first clue. This pdf covers the main stops and overall design of the game.

 

 

This report is the result of a very elaborate ethnographic study by Ludwigsburg Filmakademie. The goal was to investigate how Generation 20+ uses technology these days. Although media use changes by the minute, this report is most interesting with regard to the methods used for research.

Ethnographic Research on Regenerative Futures

When I spent time in Europe I live with an intentional community on 10ha of land in Northern Germany. The place used to be a Botanical Garden meets Bionics experiment. Sounds wild? Yes, the Prof whose mind-child it was, was a true visionary, Buckmintser Fuller style. One of his books is “The Ecology of Beauty“.

Anyways.

The area lay fallow for 4 years. Imagine an exotic botanical garden grow wild! It’s an amazing place to be, and the group of 18, who (got a private loan to buy and) work with the land have dedicated their efforts to experiments with natural building, community building, permaculture and regenerative technology, human dynamics, healing and nature … ah many a thing.

This vid was created when Wir Bauen Zukunft started with a summer camp to clear away many of the signposts, fences, and derelict gigantic models that showed the functions and mechanics of different animals and plants.

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Level Up – Resilience and Empathy Card Game

In Bavaria, in not so ancient times, 30 researchers from different faculties at 18 universities got together to develop their field of study through a lens of “resilience”. They worked for a year and came together in groups of 2 or 3 to then design games based on their research. That means, when playing this game, players will learn about resilience and will have to tap their empathy, not to win or gain points but to increase the spirit and joy around the table. 

2016-09-23-09-58-19Group size: 5 – 8 pax
Playtime: 10 mins – 1h

What:
We designed this storytelling card game to aid groups in companies or cooperatives to tap their empathy with each other and solve resiliency problems of their collective behaviours or projects.

How:
The game starts with a shared problem or design question. Then, prompted by either danger or solution cards (based on resilience factors found by the academics), each player takes a turn to tell a part of an emergent story relating to the key word they drew. The prompt will be put on the table, so that all cards lie open in the end. Bit by bit, players draw cards and decide whether they can be matched (“solve a danger”). In rounds, players takes a new card per turn and continues the story, using the keyword they drew and their imagination. The story is built successively around the table, always relating to the project or problem at hand. This way, the group has a conversation that might solve some of the open questions of their problem in a playful way.
To juice up the game, there is a buzzer that can be hit when someone guesses what character trait (empathy) another player projects.
The round ends when all cards are matched on the table. The next round is based on a new problem or design question that relates to the larger topic. The game ends when players decide they have played long enough. 🙂

Here is a play manual pdf: Manual_Level Up_Resilience Empathy Card Game_Full Set

Queer Economics And Love-Driven Politics

I’m feeling torn about this article. Although I posted it on Medium I never shared it really. I rewrote “fem” and “masc” to read “yin” and “yang”, but that doesn’t cut it either. There’s something in it, and it needs other people, conversation, to shape what can become, so I release it:

This is the story of a change of mind that came so sudden that I didn’t even had time to get nervous. It was the day I shared the stage with Yochai Benkler, which means I had a mad good audience. The OUIshareFest committee had asked me to talk about Poietic Co-Entrepreneurship, something I had R&D’ed for years. But just before the talk, I spontaneously decided to share something else instead, and said:

“This talk is about Androgyny, or the in-between, and how that relates to the way we work, talk and play.”

I handed out small tags and asked everyone in the audience to write down how they saw themselves on a scale between masculine and feminine. Say, I feel 70% feminine and 30% masculine. Then I asked them to flip that and listen to the talk from that perspective. Dear reader, you might want to do the same.

After we had gender-labelled ourselves sufficiently, I went on. Let’s assume we live in a patriarchal economy. That means that structures, symbolism, language as well as storytelling and sense-making mechanisms are largely masculine. There’s an emphasis on competition, argumentative communication, and a desire for definition, linearity, and focus.

At this point, I could hear shuffling feet in the audience and noticed intensive stares, but no one left.

STRUCTURE
To reveal patriarchal structures, I spoke about pyramids versus galaxies as symbols for the old and new economy. The pyramid is the old economy, a hierarchical system with a desire for security/control, winning, and stability. You set an aim, shoot the arrow and go for the kill. The galaxy is the new economy, and is made of many moving parts, which continuously change their relationship towards one another. Here, control is surrendered to organic movement. Stability is found in resilience: the ability to respond well to whatever curveball your environment serves you.

Emerging ways of working emphasise such traits. They are relational and integrative, not exclusive or competitive. Take commons-oriented peer production or design thinking, where pivoting and iterating are characterised by non-linear flows that embrace and integrate multiple potentialities.

LANGUAGE
By this stage, I felt heightened energy in the room and saw supportive nods. I went on pointing out that — while we’re religiously preaching design thinking — the method itself will not change current winner-takes-all practice unless we change the language that goes with it.

We’re still using war terminology: we talk about strategy and tactics and war rooms and combatting problems. Just to get a foot in the door, we marry design thinking with business speak. Speaking of imagination, joy, and playfulness is still frowned upon. Despite modern rhetoric, failing still has a stigma. Empathetic soft-spokenness is devalued as weak and indecisive. Saying “maybe” is seen as an invitation to be taken advantage of. What a shame! What I hear when I hear “maybe” is an invitation to build on someone’s thought. It’s not about arguing someone’s point. It’s about possibility. It’s about levelling up. Not beating down. And that’s way stronger than arguing a point. It is stronger, because you acknowledge that there is more than your viewpoint; it’s stronger, because you acknowledge that an opposing idea is still as true as yours; it’s stronger, because you can hold paradoxical ideas at once and still make sense; it’s stronger, because it’s non-linear multi-level sense-making. In the age of complexity, we may want to come to see that as an evolutionary advantage.

STORYTELLING
At this point, I had eased into my stream of consciousness. So, this is me with a limb out. I proposed that our storytelling is largely masculine, not just in terms of predominant characters in popular TV and cinema, but in terms of underlying structure. In the world of books and films, the typical linear story follows a three-act masculine orgasm: (1) foreplay, (2) climax, (3) sleep (forgive me, but it’s funny). With new technologies, though, we see non-linear narratives emerging. Stories take place on various platforms, such as film, app, graphic novels, instagram, games etc. Such roving stories have multiple orgasms: several releases in various places at once. I’m sure masculine types enjoy these, too.

WHAT ELSE
This chart wasn’t part of my talk, but I got obsessed:

screenshot-2017-01-07-21-04-40

If the Western world is a stronghold of the masculine, how can we bring in the feminine without compromising the masculine altogether? It’s obvious that we have a liking for domination and “power over”. It’s also obvious that — to save our planet  — we need to shift our focus to nurturing and caring qualities; the ones that act from a deep-seated “power within”, a mature strength that leads by service, a confident wanderer that finds that the goal can be in the way.

In our upbringing, we have learned that masculine traits bring success, but we shouldn’t train ourselves to play the domination game. Instead, we should infuse our economy with love and care. Still, we need to realise that these traits bring success, too. And that means valuing and remunerating affective and emotional labour. That means recognizing that the feminine holds a wisdom that will only thrive if we allow the masculine to subside a bit. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need our masculinity. The opposite, we need both. We need the queerness of being both, of being in-between. We could re-marry the masculine and feminine; renew the vows and help both create the poetry of life by working hand in hand, by engaging in love-driven politics with each other, and with nature, by being alchemists.

So I wonder:

  • How can we create malleable structures that enable and equally value both feminine and masculine expressions of individual and collective creativity?
  • How can we bring about a value system for a new economy that embraces the in-between – including its uncertainty, fuzziness, and tenderness – and fosters queerer and more caring modes of interaction?

In Paris, I ended my talk reading out this poem of mine.

lorelemu_solune

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Permaculture for Business

In early 2015, I sent an email to the Michael Crouch Innovation Center at UNSW (back then just opening) and suggested an artist residency to do ethnographic research in a Permaculture community. My goal was to try and apply permaculture principles to the way we work and live in cities; to find new ideas how to transform or build businesses. I never heard back, so I kept working on existing projects.

2016-05-26 09.10.01Later in the year, I worked on an Earthship, together with a wonderful community of permaculturists and natural builders. I thought how useful would it be to bring entrepreneurship and business students out to the country, to work together in this way, hands on, thereby learning what entrepreneurship really is, before learning business modelling and financial planning.

When I returned to Sydney, I spoke to the head of the newly established Judith Neilson chair at UNSW (based in Architecture and Build Environment). The reaction was “intrigued” but we didn’t get anywhere.

One step closer. At least someone heard me.

I also spoke to people at the Hatchery and the business school at UTS. Interest but no budget and risky. If you know someone, who’d be excited to invest in such an experimental learning program, please get in touch.

LORE :: Androgyny

Over the course of a few years, I’ll tie different strands that I research together. I use LORE as a term for this package of research; LORE in the sense of “folklore” but also as “body of traditions” or (in)visible cultural norms we abide by. First, because everything I do places itself in storytelling. Also, because I live and die for a good faerytale. And lastly, because I was invited by an indigenous elder to learn with her. In Wirradjirri, the indigenous Australian Dreaming is referred to as LAW/LORE, which opened up a whole new way of thinking about culture and ethics as a way to “law”. The different strands that I collect under LORE are emerging as I evolve. The first theme that came to me was Androgyny, or generally everything that’s in-between.

To get my ethnography going I started a facebook group to start a conversation about the “in between” across many domains: sex (on being both masc/fem as male/female), politics (on binaries and unity), creativity (on being ambidextrous), mind (on reasoning and sensing), culture (on science and art), philosophy (on spirituality and logic). It’s about integration and remix and what it means when it gets jumbled in a body; how it (re)presents itself in the world; and about our agency. Something important is shifting globally and here’s a forum to move beyond binaries.

Soon after I had about 300 group members, I invited those based in Sydney to a local workshop, a playground to explore and make-do. We were about 20, meeting for 3h at Join the Dots, a workshop space in Marrickville. We had queers, cis, mums, dads, singles, Europeans, Australians, freelancers, artists, consultants, yoga teachers, designers, employees, entrepreneurs, writers, musicians, academics, artists, oh dear so many, all between the age of 5 to 50.

The main questions we asked when designing this playground were:
– How can we soften current labels around gender, queerness or heteronormativity?
– How can we soften ubiquitous divisive/competitive language (i.e in Business and Science) to a more androgynous/integrative one?
– How can we play in between binaries and make people comfortable with that fuzziness?

We started with a little identity change. We gave each participant a small tag. On the one side they first estimated their percentage of feminine and masculine traits. For example,  today I feel 70% feminine and 30% masculine in a female body. Then, we turned the tag around and wrote on the other side. This time, we would choose the opposite or a variation that is very alien to me. For example, I would now have a male body and feel 90% and 10% feminine. The idea was to tap into empathy. Once we had our characters, we all pledged to stay in character throughout the workshop. When we did this, Baran played the hang for us. The atmosphere was so joyful, chilled and energised. Loved it. 

Before the workshop we had asked everyone to bring three objects, ne that is masculine, one feminine and one neutral. We laid out a large butcher paper and everyone traced their object and took it away again. Just looking at the outlines, the group walked around and wrote adjectives next to the traces. This way, we collected impressions about shapes and outlines that hint on masculine and feminine, but we also gathered counterintuitive statements. Overall, we figured that objects were divided into fem, neutral or masc according to their function and/or shape. Very interesting was the 5-year-old, who couldn’t identify specific female objects, everything was male or neutral. Overall, we saw that everyone started from a different idea of what Androgyny is.

To go into the next exercise we asked everyone to choose an object and form groups around a certain object. The task was to create a story that incorporates the object and the gender swapped characters we were playing. For the next hour, groups drew story boards, build small objects and wrote various versions of character development. All this work was done on butchers paper.

To share their ideas, each group improvised a 5-minute performance with everyone on stage performing their character in drag. Giving everyone a counterintuitive role, our idea was to help people get into other people’s shoes. But what happened instead was that all our stories poised  at the edge of stereotyping. It was remarkable to see how we all exposed ourselves freely to how little we actually knew about what it really felt like for others. 

While listening to the stories, the audience would make notes on “Triggers and Thresholds”. Whenever they were triggered emotionally by something pleasing they would write down one word. And whenever they felt a reaction to a threshold, or a liminal space, that is threatening to them, they wrote down a keyword that popped up in that moment. All these keyword were noted on post-its.

On the wall we had created a matrix, on which we collected these statements to get an overview about feminine  and masculine gender ideas in the room. After each performance the whole group would run at the wall and place their triggers and thresholds along a horizontal line that ran from feminine to masculine, and a vertical line that ran from trigger to threshold. 

With such a short timeframe there was no more time to drill deeper into areas, such as the “in between”, transgender, orgasms, sexuality, politics, business, language, emancipation of gender, evolution, etc. We left knowing that there was great interest in a series of playgrounds around the topic.
More photos and details are here.

Group size:
Expected size of the group is 15 to 35.

Materials:
Index Cards (6 x 9)
Post-it Notes
Butcher Paper
Masking Tape
Markers (3 different colours)

Room setup
3 tables
2 benches
couches
chairs
floor space and cushions
three walls, one used for projection

Superhero Card Game

Play this game with a group as an icebreaker or as an energizer to make people talk casually and intimately to learn something about themselves and their peers.

GSuperpower card pic by student_croproup size: minimum 10 pax
Playtime: 5 Min intro, played across breaks, 10 min framing, ideally leads into a self-inquiry game (ask us)

What:
The game objective is to give insight into our life journey and empower confidence in our personal capacity and creativity. Learn to be vulnerable and experience others’ openness.

How:
Hand out  one card pp during a break and ask people to swap until they have their favourite. Back in the group ask who is ultimately happy with their card. Usually, a few are, but most are not. It’s an analogy to life. You cultivate talents and skills, but more often than not lose them to market demands. By retrieving our superpowers we can adjust our path as we go, contributing our best to the world.

Played at: University of Technology Sydney, SW/TCH Festival Sydney, re:publica Berlin, This is Not Art Newcastle, Parsons New School of Design NYC, OUI Share Paris

A Meta Look at Collaboration

Lance Weiler pinged me two days ago and asked if I’d have a chat with him about the MOOC we ran, why we design collaboration this way, what it takes to brave it, and what it means in terms of shifts in society. So we dived into the why and how and what of peer production. I had a stream of consciousness and Lance edited it quite nicely. I still need to learn to be more precise with language, but there are some gems in there. My part starts at minute 2:30. It’s a piece to lean back and let it wash over you, just see what comes up for you. Enjoy!

Pan. Puck. Beet. Love.

PanPuckBeetLove2This small hand drawn mystical creature is based on the Greek nymph God, Pan and the Midsummer Night’s Dream elf, Puck. It’s the center piece for an interactive bricolage. It’s a work about lust and mischief; and about the suffering it involves. The temptation is represented by a beet, a melancholic vegetable in Tom Robbins’ magical realism.

The wall hanging is next to a deformable figure, a material that visitors can shape and fold into itself, changing its very nature without changing its original mass. The figure is an experiential, yet abstract topology put in context with the viewers’ archetypal imaginaries elicited by the drawing. The associations that occur at the intersection of erotic mythology and mathematical constraint render love as a topological assemblage; a Möbius strip that gifts us the illusion of progress while keeping us firmly grounded in its endless loops.

Here is a more nuanced interpretation:

The red beet – heart shaped – is temptation. Pan pruriently sniffs the beet while Puck nears it with playful curiosity. Yet the beet’s dryness reminds of melancholy. Its brittle leaves recur in the lover’s hair, a wild growth symbolising the seeker’s pandemonium: impulsive insatiable desire, time and again mistaken for love. Flies surround the frazzled head – they are the totem of rapid change. The androgynous figure has a goatee and small breasts, a comment on confusions that come with gender bending lifestyles. Leaning out of shallow waters, the emaciated body seems both anchored and confined. The lake is bleeding. Unnoticed withers the lover’s foundation. Without it, the erotic traveller is exposed to both liberation and uprootedness.

topologyI drew the image without any meaning in mind. I just drew. Gradually I recognised the symbolism of my drawing. How Jungian. My revelations were deeply connected to my PhD research. I had used a mathematical theory to describe bricolage lifestyles: topology (see image).

The basic principle behind the topology is that a space can change its form without changing its mass. That means, the figure is at once changing and remaining the same. Thinking about society (or lovers) in terms of topology evokes interesting analogies. Imagine a spatial figure consisting of nodes and lines. There is no hierarchy, and no central control. All nodes have equal influence. And any movement of one node changes all other nodes. That means, everything happens in between. The focus lies on the path – think of these as relationships. Their ever-changing nature defies stabilization of the form. The figure is movement. Transferring the model to people means that we’re in movement. Inevitable is the surrender of the individual to the collective. Inevitable is embracing the unknown that rests in such emergence.

2015-11-25 15.40.05Pan/Puck’s torment is topological. Its heterogenous space offers liberation, because agency is granted. But its constant movement uproots the actor. With shifting external foundations, the actor needs a solid foundation within. It is hidden, like the Second Foundation in Asimov’s sci-fi novel. This hidden foundation is key to evolution.

In my bricolage, the plasticine is a topology. I wanted to connect the vast mythology of the drawing with the mathematical constraint, because together they render love and life as a topological assemblage; like a Möbius strip that gifts us the illusion of progress while keeping us firmly grounded in its endless loops.

This little installation can be observed and experienced at Art After Dark on November 13 (Melbourne) and November 20 (Sydney).

This is Not Art

In October we were inScreenshot 2015-10-25 08.40.40vited to Newcastle to run a two-part game called Be.Poietic.Punks. Our plan was to explore intuitive and associative ways of collaboration. Claire Marshall and I weren’t sure if we could make it to Newcastle that day, so we asked the incredible Maree Lowes if she’d be interested running the show on the day.

Maree had never heard anything about the game and, man, she’s the coolest; just dived in and excelled! To prepare, she ran a game test with friends and revelled in collective joy.

When the actual game day came, she facilitated the game smoothly. I did make it to Newcastle just in time to play and be a participant. It was glorious. The group sparked brightly. Thinking, building, crafting, drawing. The design question was: 2015-10-04 14.04.18“How can we create a city without cars?”

The group was divided into 3 groups: the Future, the storytellers and the designers. Each of the groups worked by themselves but would feed their ideas into the other groups at certain stages throughout the game. So the Future determined that due to rising sea levels the city’s streets will be permanently under water. The designers took on the challenge and came up with a system consisting of floating community hubs, hydroponics, and peddle powered hover crafts. The storytellers developed a wonderful narrative arc that played out across time: There was a scientist in the past – Brett Better -, who has developed the beginnings of a (hovercraft) technology that would run on solar power. He never got it to work, though and was, unfortunately, assassinated by the government, because the technology threatened the wealth of corporations. When the flood hit, the people didn’t know how to organise themselves, because they had no transport and no communication technology. Then – the long lost daughter of our hero Brett Better – Lore Better – appears. She had never really fitted in with the community before, being more interested in drumming and tinkering. But she was pissed off that there was no more transport to get her drums to places, so she teamed up and shared her wisdom. 2015-10-05 21.47.35Turned out that she had completed her father’s invention and they instantly started building it. Also, she had huge influence on how the community started communicating, because she knew the art of jamming. As a musician she knew how to feel others, pick up on cues and respond in a harmonious way. So, while everything seemed to be dire, the people started having a fabulous time, bringing themselves into play.

For day two, we had planned a lose walk-in experience, where we displayed the story and some keywords from day one and gave people post-it notes to draw their associations and place them randomly on a “red carpet”. The whole would assemble as a non-linear visual narrative. A bit like an exquisite corpse meets affinity mapping.

My favourite part was the music. We had asked three musicians to jam to whatever input they’d get from the participants. How’s that for serendipity!? Having an actual jam on day 2 was planned long before drummer Lore Better appeared in the story … !! …

2015-10-04 14.18.33Back in the room, every now and then someone would get up and show the band a drawing. There was hardly any speaking for about 1.5h. All that happened was drawing, placing, showing, jamming, reordering, contemplating. The musicians influenced the mood in the room – and the nature of the drawings – with their pace and rhythm. And the creative expression of the drawings they played altered their rhythm and pace. They had never jammed together and their play was spirited! We danced and I felt many people bonded, stayed longer, and just enjoyed the serene and playful atmosphere everyone created.

So what…
Our non-linear story didn’t really go anywhere apart from us enjoying the various interpretations of it. And our solution will not be developed or implemented by any of us. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that by creating something together we teach each other what we really care about. And that we are the ones that can and should be the change we want to see. And we tested what happens when we create intuitively and associatively. I believe there is a lot of important knowledge in our bodies that we forget to access, because we put so much emphasis on our minds. So we’re playing with empathetic ways of learning and working together.

Screenshot 2015-10-25 08.44.11Lastly, a word on the festival where all this took place: Critical Animals is a creative research symposium held annually as a part of This Is Not Art festival in Newcastle, Australia. It’s a forum for students, researchers, writers, artists, thinkers and curious individuals who are critically engaged with creative and experimental art practices. It’s an opportunity to present papers and ongoing research, as well as to challenge creative practices and work collaboratively with others in the field.