[iDC] The Syntax of Events & Proposal

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Tue Feb 7 11:53:02 EST 2006

Thanks Danny, Steve. 

I agree with Steve that it can be a joy to see a brilliant speaker like
Wendy Chun dive into her topics and swim far out. How many people
enjoyed the other keynotes (at the previous ISEA In Helsinki for
example) at which speakers read aloud 40 page-long papers? The rituals
of paperism are deadly. Neither Wendy nor Shudda engaged with that. To
accentuate a speaker is fine. To give them more time can indeed be a
treat. It can set up an atmosphere and establish a standard, yes. We
just ask to put a lock on paperism.

Event practices are always cooperative if not collaborative. But why are
there no collected accounts of the grammar and syntax of events? People
do it all the time but they don't reflect back (enough) on what
happened. Where is the event toolbox, an experiential repository? The
iDC will set up a collaborative platform, a wiki, a repository for
cooperation studies. One section will address event-based practices.
Essays can be added as much as experiential accounts. Perhaps this will
get us further. Who wants to join this effort? You can contact me
off-list with ideas about such platform.

Genres, categories cover part of the event landscape. Just take ISEA.
With Steve, Joel and others I thought through the upcoming ISEA
conference. And while there will be moments of experiment the event will
alternate between traditional formats and more playful ones. It's more
like a patchwork of building stones. Writing a typology of event formats
is a great idea. More traditional conferences will merely stick to a
conventional genre, a blueprint. Other event will blend the well proven
with the mildly risky. Again others will look more like ³Untitled
Event², a piece performed by John Cage and Merce Cunningham and others
at Black Mountain College in 1952. Charlie Gere describes it as follows:

"Untitled event was set in a square arena, in which spectators' seats
were arranged in four triangles, dissected by diagonal walkways. On each
chair was a white paper cup, which those watching were expected to hold.
Overhead there were all- white paintings by Robert Rauschenberg,
presumably similar to the works that inspired 4'33". During the
performance Cage, dressed in black tie, gave readings from a text about
music and Zen, and from the writings of the mediaeval mystic Meister
Eckhardt, followed by a 'composition with radio.'  While this went on
Rauschenberg played old records on a wind-up gramophone while David
Tudor played a prepared piano, later, poured water from one bucket to
another and back again, accompanied by Charles Olson and Mary Caroline
Richards reading poetry. Jay Watt played exotic musical instruments,
Cunningham and others danced through the aisles, while Rauschenberg
projected slides of colored gelatine and films of the school cook and
the setting sun."

Gere, C. (2002) Digital Culture.  London: Reaktion Books, pp 75.

Sounds a bit like Free Cooperation. 

Danny, you also open up the diversity question again. Topics (e.g.
"FLOSS porting" or conferencing) are not exclusive to the uptight,
middle class white (as Tim Leary would have put it). "New media" is
altogether a very white male scene. But that slowly changes at least
here in the US. I think that these topics are, as much as we seem to
witness the globalization of everything, fairly local. Also Adam's
comments made me think that European event culture differs to an extent.    

Let me know who wants to join the creation of the Cooperation


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