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Visualising a problem

Ana Samardžija Scrivener and Étienne Cliquet

Visualising a problem: we understand this statement as an impulse for practical explorations to be undertaken as a group. At the same time, the field that this exploration could open up and demarcate will undergo theoretical investigations that will seek to explain the point of its application to our sensitive experimentation and configurations, but also to formulate and pursue their objectives. Concerning isdaT participants, the scope of this experimentation is cross-sectorial: they can discover and try their hands at the three optional fields of art, design, graphic design, and support studies undertaken within the framework of lessons on history and philosophical theories. Our experimentation could then call on all manner of media, from performance to web pages, to design and using the most improbable tools, video, models, painting, writing, sculpture, posters, photography, installation, song, conference, tree huts, movement, silence, etc.

For us, visualising a problem is understood as spatialising a problem, exposing it, revealing or rendering it visible, or even looking for a problem (looking for trouble). In this sense, it is important to highlight the fact that our problematic does not coincide with the practices and problematics associated with the visualisation of data. A problem is not a given fact. On the contrary, it is never “given” and must be worked out. It must be configured based on elements of a situation or on existing and stabilised knowledge, such that it renders this situation and this knowledge unstable and problematic; depriving them of their obviousness and setting them in motion.

One clarification concerning our relationship to digital technologies and the Internet: we think of these technologies above all as a very broad context that is at once diffuse and far-reaching. We do not assimilate it as a medium, as is the case for certain artists (net-art or post-internet). We don’t really consider it as a tool or instrument either, as it may sometimes be seen in the digital humanities (cf. for instance, Franco Moretti’s computer-aided literary analysis). The history of the Internet allowed us to hope that its future was in the hands of the citizens, particularly through the emblematic figure of the hacker. Certain episodes of its history, coupled with the development of personal micro-computing, were effectively the result of a free construction of state or economic control (Linux, for instance). But as a whole and specifically at the point we’re now at, the use of computers and Internet no longer involves much choice. Instead, our experience, often subconscious, is that of being chained to it, as is the case in any context. Power relations play out in this that we must learn to analyse and understand. Technology is less a means of expression than it is a determining element of the urban context. Therefore, under the impetus of Visualising a problem, our exploration, experimentation and studies will focus on the contexts we belong to, in all of the complexity of their interpenetrations, stratifications, frictions, shifts, and varying focal points. In this way, we extend and consolidate the questions raised in the Inscriptions class, begun in autumn 2015. This class, which continued in the 2015/2016 year, is devised as a space-time of construction, resonance, trial and error, allowing a period of maturation for questions and materials to share with our partners from FMK.

As for the Inscriptions class, the goal of Visualising a problem is above all a desire for the mutual subjectification of practices, gestures, knowledges, and thought. What is important to us are the forms of life that we are capable of experimenting with through the lessons, conversations, and spatialisation of our thinking. It is in this perspective that we broach language/image interconnections, as configurations capable of acts, capable of registering within us, affecting us, providing food for thought, or spurring us into action. We also deal with the problematic aspects of this capability: its potentialities in both its emancipating and deadening dimensions. We consider these interconnections particularly within the framework of the gesture and mapping. The gesture is considered both in its technical, learned, and repeated dimension, and in its skilled dimension as a signifier capable of connecting or separating. Mapping is envisaged not as an instrument of territorial mastery to contemplate or encompass in one gaze, but as the configuration of an urgent problem, a configuration that takes the body as its medium and enables the world to be interpreted so that it can be experienced differently.

With the common interest in questions pertaining to context, we were able to make a prognosis during our meeting in Belgrade last December about our shared attention to the plurality of worlds, worldviews, and languages. This fulcrum and desire that we share to rethink the advent of the 20th century avant-gardes, leads us to focus particularly on the situations art finds itself confronted with, at the risk of (or desire for) a dilution, or a dilution of its own accord, and where the very question of knowing what is art and what isn’t becomes
less clear cut.

The plurality of languages and the necessity for reinventing our cartographies will be the very fabric of our discussions. Our conversations will provoke constant linguistic “shifts”, wordplay, from translations and untranslatable terms to misunderstandings and the makeshift reinventions of the infamous “international” English. Inherent to the situation we hope to create, this discomfort must not be thought of as something awkward to overcome or tolerate. Instead, it is a matter of accommodating it, observing it, and experimenting with it – treating it as a fertile set of problematics for our work. The same goes for discrepancies and points of contact between the practices and habits of an art school and a faculty of media. Finally, the question of context and the plurality of languages will lead us to focus more particularly on the geo-political dimensions of our exchange, on the specificity of our respective locations on a line traversing Southern Europe from east to west, on the proximity of borders, on migratory trajectories, and other challenges our continent is currently facing.

In the 2016/2017 year, this work will be addressed to third-year students and will link up with the Inscription course, so as to engage and prepare them to continue this train of thought into the second cycle, both with us, and independently. Finally, the aim of our proposal culminates in a single point: this work is intended as a mainspring for establishing fertile situations, both for the students and the professors. Its outcomes cannot be measured by the framework of the proposal itself, but are ongoing and will be reflected in practice.

Conclave : une mouette (ou plutôt un goéland) s'incruste sur la cheminée de la chapelle Sixtine