Category Archives: a.pass

Close Encounters: Conditions for the work

April 23, 2018 a.pass

Close Encounters is a series of presentations and public conversations organized by the a.pass Research Centre. These informal events are designed to take the time to meet, listen and evaluate an idea, a project, a research, or a specific point in a research trajectory. What to study? What to research? What to practice?

For this episode of Close encounters, Sofia Caesar and Femke Snelting have invited each other for an afternoon of conversation about contracts as propositions and elements as conditions. Both are involved in related but very different practices that they will present and bring into discussion with each other and the public.

Image: detail of Spaghetti plot, vinyl on wall, Sofia Caesar, 2018. Photo: Gilles Ribero

View online: https://apass.be/conditions-for-the-work

Close Encounters: Active Archives

January 5, 2018 a.pass, Active Archives, Constant

In the context of the series Close Encounters, Nicolas Malevé and Femke Snelting and a.pass researcher Pierre Rubio will discuss the long history of Active Archives. Active Archives started in 2006 as a Constant project concerned with digital archive practices of cultural institutions. The project is currently activated by Michael Murtaugh and Nicolas Malevé in the context of SICV.

Close Encounters is the name of a series of presentations and public conversations organized by the a.pass Research Centre. These light and irregular events are designed to take time to meet, listen and evaluate an idea, a project, a research or a specific point in a research trajectory. What to study? What to research? What to practice?

“Within Active Archives, we aim to set up multi-directional communication channels, and are interested in making information circulate back and forth. We would like to give material away and receive it transformed: enriched by different connections, contexts and contradictions.” Active Archives manifesto, 2006

Monday Readings

December 29, 2017 a.pass

@ a.pass
Delaunoystraat 58/17 (third floor), 1080 Brussels

From January to April 2018, Femke curates the research centre at a.pass, a programme for advanced performance and scenography studies in Brussels. As part of this, she proposes five Monday Readings that bring habitual tool-situations apparent in a.pass in conversation with theoretical and political thinking. They are intimate collective situations on the articulation of technique and the performance of boundaries. The Mondays attempt to develop further connections between artistic research and techno-political practices such as software-as-a-critique, active archives and techno-galactic software observation.

With: Seda Guerses, Martino Morandi and Sina Seifee.

Monday 15 January: Text processing (with Martino Morandi)
Monday 5 February: Local server (with Martino Morandi)
Monday 26 February: Encoding + compression (with Martino Morandi)
Monday 19 March: Key cards (with Seda Guerses)
Monday 16 April: Databases (with Sina Seifee)

More info: https://apass.be/monday-readings

The Document Transformed

June 21, 2017 a.pass, Possible bodies

Masterclass with Adva Zakai (Thursday) and presentation (Saturday) on the BioVision Hierarchy file format.

BioVision Hierarchy (.bvh) is an ASCII file format used to import data from various motion capture systems into 3D-animation software. It was developed in the mid-nineties and remains one of the most commonly used file-formats for transposing movement captured in physical space, to a computational environment. Around this relatively legible format, a rich ecology of software tools developed. The file-format functions as a boundary object between practices and bodies, as it is used by animators, game developers, interface researchers, medical professionals, dance-historians, sports-analysts and engineers.

Together we will analyse the .bvh specifications and samples of the file format in order to understand what imaginaries of the body are encoded into it, what a bipedal skeleton hierarchy consists of, and how rotational data for rigid bodies might constitute a movement in itself.

The reading of the .bvh file format is developed with Adva Zakai in the context of Possible Bodies, a collaborative research initiated by Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting on the very concrete and at the same time complex and fictional entities that “bodies” are, and the matter-cultural conditions of possibility that render them present.

Image: Rigging Biovision Hierarchy with Sina Seifee.

Regime Change

October 31, 2016 a.pass

As a contribution to the a.pass event The Artist Commoner : Public Meeting, Kate Rich, Femke Snelting and Magdalena Tyzlik-Carver propose a day long session, aimed at aligning the a.pass computing infrastructure with the ambitions and aspirations summoned by the commons.

Tech giants currently dominate all forms of digital communication, from cloud-storage to production tools and archiving systems. For cultural institutions like a.pass and many kindred spirit organisations, there is potential for resistance. Kate, Magda and Femke will use the common power of their intersecting practices in art, technology and theory, to break the spell of this paralysing digital regime. With the aid of Free, Libre and Open Source software, the transposition agents will begin to transform the a.pass relation to its computing technology. Throughout the day the trio will conduct fieldwork, draw up solemn oaths & commit the institution to a rite of passage: from efficiency to curiosity; from scarcity to multiplicity and from solution to possibility.

Champagne served all day.

Table practice

A late report from I Don’t Know! — an artistic conference on knowledge production [18/09/2011]

Arriving for the second day of the conference, I am welcomed by EVC with a cheerful: “We are very curious what you’ll do. When we received your proposal we really did not know what to expect!“. At that point I had just read the descriptions of the other parallel ‘table practices’, and was panicking about choosing such a pragmatic approach. Oh well.

Before the seven sessions begin, the organisers ask us ‘to make our notes public’, meaning to write them on vertically placed cardboard surfaces scattered around the room. Additionally, we are invited to formulate ‘matters of concern’ on pink post-it notes (yellow ones are for possible responses, solutions). It is probably post-it fatigue but the question rubs me the wrong way, as does the term ‘mise en abyme’ that is used to explain the purposeful recursion of the discourse. Another coffee, and it is time to start.

The two discussions starting from The GML-Field Recorder Challenge are each useful and interesting in their own way thanks to many smart and generous people around the table. First we ‘simply’ discuss The Challenge in relation to the questions posed by the conference. Participants point out the difference between ‘writing about’ (or data from?) movement and the act of moving itself; the interplay between standard and practice (referring to choreographer Steve Paxton who resented the standardization of ‘his’ method Contact improvisation, feeling it would risk transforming a practice between people into a technique) and reminding me that the relation between markup and text is architectural.

The second session is a bit more complicated. It takes a while to get started, and in the end The Field Recorder Challenge is used as a ‘case’ in an attempt to compare artistic research to case law, or in short, to a ‘file’. Surprisingly, the situation gets almost out of hand when we discuss one of the stipulations of The Challenge: “The winning design will have some protection in the event that the device falls into the wrong hands“. Apparently one of the blockages for approaching artistic research as a ‘file’ is that it would imply an act of sharing without control. What if your work would be used for a bad cause? How then to take responsibility for your work?

The entertaining Discourse Machine is another kind of ‘table practice’, developed by EVC and PR. It is a conversation-game in the genre of Talkaoke1, though more intellectual in style. In proper Don’t Know!-fashion, it at the same time provokes discourse AND a reflection upon the discourse itself (or on the provocation?). The game is played in rapid succession by seven participants who take up the role of presenter, audience member, interviewer, critical facilitator, feedback-person, interviewee or communications manager. PR confirms that this Discourse API could work with altogether different questions too.

Throughout the conference, the vocabulary of Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour is omnipresent. The confidence by which participants refer to them in conversation makes me wonder about my own usage of their work. A week later, inspired by AL, SV, PH, and LL working courageously through Stengers’ essay Ecology of Practice, it is good to read:

To challenge is something rather easy, you can always challenge somebody. But challenge as related to the eventuality of a cosmopolitical achievement must include the very special fact that in front of a challenging situation, nobody can speak in the name of this situation. Indeed borders are involved and there is no neutral, extra-territorial, way of defining what matters in the situation. It implies, for each involved party, different risk and a different challenge.”2

When it is my turn to speak in the gigantic plenum that concludes the day3, I am too impatient to say anything properly nuanced. As usual, KVDB is to the point: “Be careful not to fetishise your Don’t know!“.

  1. “The most fun I ever had with my clothes on” http://www.talkaoke.com
  2. Ecology of practices and technology of belonging http://www.imbroglio.be/site/spip.php?article43
  3. 50+ exhausted participants placed in a large circle. One by one we respond to yet another quest for ‘matters of concern’. In the middle some conference debris, a recorder slid into the void space, two microphones and a spaghetti of black cables.