[iDC] The Social Event Machine

Mark Shepard mshepard at andinc.org
Mon Feb 6 11:57:30 EST 2006

Thanks, Terbor, for the invite to chime in. I've been following this  
discussion for the past week, and aspect that I find curious is this  
tight coupling between formats and outcomes. While clearly formats  
enframe the discussion, shaping the relations between participants  
and audience, I wonder if we are placing too much emphasis on the  
formats and not enough on the participants or the topic at hand?

Marc Tuters writes:
> the problem had been that Matt had delivered the same keynote that he
> might have given to a room of industry execs, which, was completely
> intolerable to Austro-germanic gatekeepers of the new media cultural
> avant-garde in attendance. At the same event, however, a workshop took
> place ... brining together artists interested projects that were  
> not dissimilar form the
> work which Matt had discussed (if much smaller in scope). For this
> workshop, I heard nothing but positive reviews. What was the  
> difference?
> Well for one thing we had our own room to do with as we pleased for  
> the
> entire afternoon which we organized into a super-productive workshop
> space, while Matt had been placed on stage as the voice of wisdom.

While I don't know him personally, I wonder if Matt would have  
performed in a similar manner in the context of the workshop format?  
While keynotes certainly ascribe authority to the person delivering  
them, they can also serve as a vehicle by which this authority is  
critically examined.

Marc continues:
> When the academic panel presentation merges effectively with theatre,
> amazing things can happen.

One thing I found interesting about the descriptions of the Free  
Cooperation conference is the suggestion that the topical orientation 
(s) of the conference itself could influence the formats chosen.  
Which is to say that certain topics may imply certain formats. Or  
even, certain people imply certain formats. Trebor has pointed out  
that some people work well in the more intimate setting of a  
workshop, while others are better suited to speaking to a large  

Another strategy involves taking the format itself as a vehicle to  
address the issues at hand in a performative way. Last fall I  
attended a conference on Deleuze's ideas concerning the interval in  
film (www.cinemaintothereal.org/interval). While a few of the  
presentations defaulted to the standard 20 minute presentation of  
papers in a very dry and painful way, others took the format as a  
vehicle for the performance of a film or video as a paper. These  
tended to be far more communicative in that they demonstrated in  
various ways different approaches to the interval, both as subject  
and artifact.



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