robertogreco + observation   177

Agnès Varda's Ecological Conscience
"“Existence isn’t a solitary matter,” says the shepherd to the wanderer in Agnès Varda’s 1985 film, Vagabond. This vision of collectivity, the belief that we are all in it together, recurs throughout Varda’s films, from her early, proto–New Wave La Pointe Courte (1954) to her acclaimed Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961) to her most recent film, Faces Places (2017), made in collaboration with the young French street artist JR. (Filmmaking isn’t a solitary matter, either.) “This movie is about togetherness,” she told New York Magazine. Watching Faces Places, I couldn’t help thinking about Varda’s 2000 film, The Gleaners & I. Both are road-trip movies in which Varda interviews the kinds of people we don’t often see in movies—farmers, miners, dockworkers, and their wives. Both films proceed by chance, gleaning whatever they happen upon. But though The Gleaners is now seventeen years old, old enough to drive a car and almost old enough to vote, it’s feeling as fresh and relevant as if it had been made in parallel to Faces Places. It rewards rewatching.

The Gleaners & I is a documentary about the time-honored act of gathering what other people have abandoned or thrown away. Gleaning is most often associated with what’s been left behind after a harvest; think of that famous Millet painting, The Gleaners (1857), which you can find in the Musée d’Orsay. The women—gleaners used to be mainly women—bend over to collect the bits of wheat the harvesters have left on the ground; they gather what they find in their aprons. It looks like back-breaking work. “It’s always the same humble gesture,” Varda comments in voice-over: to stoop, to glean.

Today, they tell Varda, harvesting is more efficient because it’s done by machines, leaving less for gleaners to pick up. In her film, Varda interviews present-day glâneurs; some glean to survive, some out of principle (“Salvaging is a matter of ethics with me,” says a man who’s eaten mostly garbage for ten years), others just for fun. One woman Varda interviews demonstrates how they used to do it: with a sweeping extension of her torso she gathers ears of corn into her apron. It was a social occasion, when all the women in the neighborhood would get together and, afterward, go back to the house for a coffee and a laugh.

Varda enlarges the concept of the glâneur to include people like the artist Louis Pons, whose work is assembled from trash, from forgotten things, from pens, empty spools, wires, cans, cages, bits of boats, cars, musical instruments: “He composes,” Varda says, “with chance.” Or to Bodan Litnianski, the Ukrainian retired brickmason-turned-artist who built his house (which he calls “Le palais idéal”) from scraps he found in dumps—dolls, many dolls, and toy trucks and trains and hoses and baskets and plastic fronds—effectively brickmasoned into place. “C’est solide, eh.” Litnianski died in 2005, but there’s a corresponding figure in Faces Places who made me sit up in recognition.

All of the gleaners Varda speaks with are appalled at the amount of waste our culture produces—especially food waste. “People are so stupid!” says a gleaner who strides around his village in Wellies, going through the garbage for food, freegan-style. “They see an expiration date and think, Oh I mustn’t eat that, I’ll get sick! I’ve been eating garbage for ten years and I’ve never been sick.” Back in Paris, Varda interviews people who come around after the market’s been through, to save money. “You should see what they get rid of,” one says. “Fruit … vegetables … cheese, but that’s rare.” His entire diet, it seems, comes from eating the castoffs from the market and the boulangeries. Varda, intrigued by him, follows him back to the shelter where he lives and volunteers as a French teacher to immigrants.

The urban gleaner has often gone by another name: the chiffonnier, or rag picker. Until the 1960s, you could still hear his cry in the streets of Paris: “chiiiiiiiiiffonnier!” Baudelaire, in Les fleurs du mal, sees them “bent under piles of rubbish, jumbled scrap,” collecting “the dregs that monster Paris vomits up.” The rag picker moves through the city on foot, like the flaneur, collecting what it has cast off. Other cities have long had this tradition—the raddi-wallah in India, for instance (which can refer to both the scrap collector or the place where the scraps are brought). In Paris, the chiffonniers, like self-employed sanitation workers, went through the trash, separating out what was useful from what was not, collecting rags, rabbit skins, bits of metal, scraps of paper, bones, glass, yarn, fabric, old clothes, all manner of chemical compounds, anything that could be repurposed, reused, repackaged, or transformed into something else. “Very little went to waste, in Baudelaire’s Paris,” notes the scholar Antoine Compagnon in his recent book on the chiffonnier. Georges Lacombe’s 1928 short silent film, La zone, shows the process of rag picking and what happens to the detritus they collect. They would drag this in bags or in wheelbarrows to a collection point, of which there were many in the city; the rue Mouffetard, on the Left Bank, was the center of this reselling (side note: Varda made a short film about this street, 1958’s Opera Mouffe). The metal, of course, would be taken to factories where it was melted down and turned into other things made of metal. How many lives has metal had, how many shapes has it taken? How many more lives does any object have before it eventually finds its way to some landfill?

Today, this canny recycling spirit lives on in the brocantes, which you can find around town on any weekend afternoon. In among the real antique dealers, you can find people selling all the bits and bobs of things they don’t want or they found in their basements, laid out on tables or blankets. They are “objets that can be found nowhere else: old-fashioned, broken, useless, almost incomprehensible, almost perverse,” as André Breton writes in Nadja, visiting the flea market at Clignancourt. How many different people have made use of the same cast-off calculator, the little porcelain dish, the copy of a minor album by Renaud?

The threat to the environment posed by waste is incredibly pressing; the need to recycle is a question of ethics. If we must consume, let us consume each other’s castoffs. “All these old things,” Baudelaire noticed back in 1857, “have a moral value.” This is the ethos of The Gleaners. Yet it’s difficult to watch the film at times, to be reminded that others are living off what some of us throw away so carelessly, something Varda’s literary kindred spirit, Virginie Despentes, has also managed to do in her recent masterpiece, Vernon Subutex. But neither Varda nor Despentes sentimentalizes this cycle; the gleaners Varda interviews are gleeful. If there’s anyone to pity here, it’s us, paying retail, paying anything: we’re the suckers. Varda helps us see the hyperactive cycle of our materialism and, through the act of glanage, shows us a way to consume less and to engage with our environments more.

Before I watched the film, my suburban ways clung to me. Everything had to be new, of course. I’d never gotten out of the car to pick up some apples from the ground, or brought in a piece of furniture from the street. (I think of Patti Smith in Just Kids, scrubbing with baking soda the mattress she and Robert Mapplethorpe found in the street. She had that pluck and resourcefulness.) Even after it, I’m not sure I would go rummaging through the garbage after the market had finished. But Varda helped me see myself as not only a consumer but a participant in some greater cycle of custodianship. As Varda films people recuperating the copper coils from inside television sets that have been abandoned, or finding old refrigerators and repairing them, or turning them into very chic bookshelves, she seems to be asking us not to limit ourselves to accepting products as they’re offered to us commercially but that we take them apart, turn them into other things, that we imagine new uses for them, even, and especially, when they seem to be useless."
2017  agnèsvarda  environment  sustainability  film  laurenelkin  gleaners  waste  documentary  observation  noticing  women  gender  glâneurs  scraps  scavenging  chiffonnier  recycling  reuse  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Where Not to Travel in 2019, or Ever | The Walrus
"When adventurers crave “untouched” places and “authentic” peoples, it’s the locals who ultimately pay"



"For what is still missing from this scenario is consent. In its place is a sense of entitlement as extreme as it is commonplace."



"We want what we want when we go abroad, which often is the untouched, the authentic—even as our arrival, by definition, undermines those very qualities in a place or of a culture and contributes to the slow, involuntary conversion of one way of life into another."



"
Respectful pilgrimages rarely make the history books or headlines, which is all the more reason to pay them attention. Consider the 1971 “antiexpedition” of Norwegian eco-philosopher Arne Næss and his friends to Tseringma, also known as Gaurishankar, in Nepal, a then unsummitted 7,181-metre peak sacred to those living in its shadow. In a pointed critique of mountaineering’s culture of conquering, Næss’s team travelled light, consulted with a local lama as to how high on Tseringma they could respectfully go, and invited villagers along not as porters but as colleagues. A few years later, other foreigners would claim the first ascent of Tseringma, but forget them. Remember Næss and team, who climbed to a certain height, took a look at the summit from a distance, and turned back."
travel  observation  consent  authenticity  2019  kateharris  colonization  colonialism  adventure  untouched  imperialism  india  johnallenchau  pilgrimage  nepal  arnenæss  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
elisehunchuck [Elise Misao Hunchuck]
[via: https://twitter.com/lowlowtide/status/1052233654074654720

"what a rare pleasure, listening 2 @elisehunchuck presenting her research on an incomplete atlas of stones: ‘Trangressions & Regressions’ @tudelft #ULWeek2018

“stones help us understand how the earth moves”—@elisehunchuck"]

"Elise Hunchuck (b. Toronto) is a Berlin based researcher and designer with degrees in landscape architecture, philosophy, and geography whose work focuses on bringing together fieldwork and design through collaborative practices of observation, care, and coordination. Facilitating multidisciplinary exchanges between teaching and representational methods as a way to further develop landscape-oriented research methodologies at multiple scales, her research develops cartographic, photographic, and text-based practices to explore and communicate the agency of disasters through the continual configuring and reconfiguring of infrastructures of risk, including memorials, monuments, and coastal defense structures.

A University Olmsted Scholar, Elise was recently a finalist for the 2017 Maeder-York Landscape Fellowship at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Cambridge, US) and a research fellow with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (Washington DC, US). Her writing has appeared in The Funambulist and her research has been featured on BLDGBLOG. She has taught representational history and methods in the graduate architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto (Toronto, CA) and has been an invited critic in the undergraduate and graduate programs at the architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty and the School of Architecture at Waterloo.

Elise is also a member of the editorial board of Scapegoat Journal: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy.

For general enquiries, commissions, or collaborations, please contact directly via email at elisehunchuck [at] gmail [dot] com."

[See also:

"An Incomplete Atlas of Stones"
https://elisehunchuck.com/2015-2017-An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones
https://cargocollective.com/elisehunchuck/An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones-1
https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2018/02/21/elise-hunchuck-mla-2016-presents-incomplete-atlas-stones-aa-london
https://thefunambulist.net/articles/incomplete-atlas-stones-cartography-tsunami-stones-japanese-shoreline-elise-misao-hunchuck
https://thefunambulist.net/contributors/elise-hunchuck

"Warnings Along the Inundation Line"
http://www.bldgblog.com/2017/06/warnings-along-the-inundation-line/

"Century Old Warnings Against Tsunamis Dot Japan's Coastline"
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/century-old-warnings-against-tsunamis-dot-japans-coastline-180956448/

"How Century Old Tsunami Stones Saved Lives in the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2018/03/11/how-century-old-tsunami-stones-saved-lives-in-the-tohoku-earthquake-of-2011/#18355a8244fd

https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2017/06/28/bldgblog-features-incomplete-atlas-stones-elise-hunchuck-mla-2016

https://issuu.com/danielsfacultyuoft/docs/2016.04.11_-_2016_winter_thesis_rev ]
elisehunchuck  landscape  multispecies  morethanhuman  japan  iceland  tsunamis  design  fieldwork  srg  multidisciplinary  teaching  place  time  memory  disasters  risk  memorials  monuments  coasts  oceans  maps  mapping  photography  canon  scale  observation  care  caring  coordination  markers 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Birds Art Life - Kyo Maclear
"In Birds Art Life, writer Kyo Maclear embarks on a yearlong, big city adventure chasing after birds, and along the way offers a luminous meditation on the nature of creativity and the quest for a good and meaningful life.

For Vladimir Nabokov, it was butterflies. For John Cage, it was mushrooms. For Sylvia Plath, it was bees. Each of these artists took time away from their work to become observers of natural phenomena. In 2012, Kyo Maclear met a local Toronto musician with an equally captivating side passion—he had recently lost his heart to birds. Curious about what prompted this young urban artist to suddenly embrace nature, Kyo decides to follow him for a year and find out.

Birds Art Life explores the particular madness of loving and chasing after birds in a big city. Intimate and philosophical, moving with ease between the granular and the grand view, it celebrates the creative and liberating effects of keeping your eyes and ears wide open, and explores what happens when you apply the core lessons of birding to other aspects of life. On a deeper level, it takes up the questions of how we are shaped and nurtured by our parallel passions, and how we might come to cherish not only the world’s pristine natural places but also the blemished urban spaces where most of us live."
books  toread  kyomaclear  2018  birds  birding  nture  life  creativity  writing  art  urban  cities  observation  wildlife  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  vladimirnabokov  johncage  butterflies  mushrooms 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Children, Learning, and the Evaluative Gaze of School — Carol Black
"That's when I understood: when you watch a child who is focused on learning, and you let them know you’re watching, and you let them know your opinion as though your opinion matters, you just took that thing away from them. You just made it yours. Your smell is all over it now.

The evaluative gaze does the greatest harm, of course, to the kids who live under a biased eye; the ones who enter school with a test score or a disciplinary record or a skin color that shades the gaze against them. Once an assessment of a child's ability has been made, positive or negative, that child will feel it; if you think you can conceal it from them, you're wrong. They know. They always know. Studies have shown that even lab rats learn more slowly if their researchers believe that they aren't smart rats. The kids who grow up under a negative gaze, the ones who day after day, year after year, feel themselves appraised and found wanting –– these kids pay the greatest price, their psyches permanently damaged by it, their futures irrevocably harmed. (The fact that our appraisals are shown again and again to be wrong never seems to discourage us from making them.) But even the kids who get the good grades, the high scores, the perfect "10's" –– even they are subtly blighted by it. They've won the prize, and lost their power.

Why is it clear to us that it's degrading and objectifying to measure and rank a girl’s physical body on a numeric scale, but we think it’s perfectly okay to measure and rank her mind that way?

Over the years I've watched the many ways that children try to cope with the evaluative gaze of school. (The gaze, of course, can come from parents, too; just ask my kids.) Some children eagerly display themselves for it; some try to make themselves invisible to it. They fight, they flee, they freeze; like prey animals they let their bodies go limp and passive before it. Some defy it by laughing in its face, by acting up, clowning around, refusing to attend or engage, refusing to try so you can never say they failed. Some master the art of holding back that last 10%, of giving just enough of themselves to "succeed," but holding back enough that the gaze can't define them (they don't yet know that this strategy will define and limit their lives.) Some make themselves sick trying to meet or exceed the "standards" that it sets for them. Some simply vanish into those standards until they don't know who they would have been had the standards not been set.

But the power of the gaze goes beyond the numbers and letters used to quantify it. It exists in looks and tones and body language, in words and in the spaces between words. It is a way of looking at another human being, of confronting another human life; it is a philosophical stance, an emotional stance, a political stance, an exercise of power. As philosopher Martin Buber might have put it, the stance of true relationship says to the other, "I–Thou;" the evaluative gaze says "I–It." It says, "I am the subject; you are the object. I know what you are, I know what you should be, I know what 'standards' you must meet." It is a god-like stance, which is actually a big deal even if you think you are a fair and friendly god.

The evaluative gaze of school is so constant a presence, so all-pervasive an eye, that many people have come to believe that children would actually not grow and develop without it. They believe that without their "feedback," without their constant "assessment," a child's development would literally slow or even stop. They believe that children would not learn from the things they experience and do and see and hear and make and read and imagine unless they have an adult to "assess" them (or unless the adult teaches them to "self-assess," which generally means teaching them to internalize the adult gaze.) For people whose experience is with children inside the school system, it may seem self-evident that this is true. For people whose experience is with children outside the school system, it may seem like believing that an acorn would not grow into an oak tree unless you measure it and give it your opinion. Because an oak tree does not actually require your opinion, and believe it or not, 90% of the time, neither does a child.

A pot boils whether you watch it or not. It just needs water and fire.

There are ever-increasing numbers of people raising their kids outside this Panopticon of constant evaluation and measurement and feedback, and what they find is simply this: they grow and develop very much like other kids. Like other kids, they don't all conform to the same "standards;" like other kids, they are individual and diverse. Like other kids, they have triumphs, and struggles, and doldrums, and passions, and frustrations, and joys. "Assessment," or the lack of it, seems to have remarkably little to do with it. Because what an oak tree actually needs is not your opinion but soil and water and light and air, and what a child needs is love and stories and tools and conversation and support and guidance and access to nature and culture and the world. If a kid asks for your feedback, by all means you can give it; it would be impolite not to. But what we should be measuring and comparing is not our children but the quality of the learning environments we provide for them. "
carolblack  canon  unschooling  deschooling  evaluation  assessment  schools  schooling  schooliness  cv  petergray  judgement  writing  art  sfsh  rubrics  children  childhood  learning  howwelearn  education  discipline  coercion  rabindranathtagore  panopticon  observation  teaching  teachers  power  resistance  surveillance  martinbuber  gender  race  racism  measurement  comparison  praise  rewards  grades  grading  2018 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Cartoon abstract: Ethnography? Participant observation, a potentially revolutionary praxis - LSE Research Online
"A comic strip visualisation of the 2017 article Ethnography? Participant observation, a potentially revolutionary praxis by Alpa Shah from the journal HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. Made possible by the article being published under a Creative Commons licence"

["Ethnography? Participant observation, a potentially revolutionary praxis," by Alpa Shah
https://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau7.1.008

"This essay focuses on the core of ethnographic research—participant observation—to argue that it is a potentially revolutionary praxis because it forces us to question our theoretical presuppositions about the world, produce knowledge that is new, was confined to the margins, or was silenced. It is argued that participant observation is not merely a method of anthropology but is a form of production of knowledge through being and action; it is praxis, the process by which theory is dialectically produced and realized in action. Four core aspects of participation observation are discussed as long duration (long-term engagement), revealing social relations of a group of people (understanding a group of people and their social processes), holism (studying all aspects of social life, marking its fundamental democracy), and the dialectical relationship between intimacy and estrangement (befriending strangers). Though the risks and limits of participant observation are outlined, as are the tensions between activism and anthropology, it is argued that engaging in participant observation is a profoundly political act, one that can enable us to challenge hegemonic conceptions of the world, challenge authority, and better act in the world."]

[via:
"A comic adaptation of 'participant observation as a potentially revolutionary praxis,' my @haujournal essay on ethnography! Thanks @kazmantra and @LSELibrary! @davidgraeber @MikeSav47032563 @AmEthno @AmericanAnthro @britsoci @TheSocReview @CMcGranahan @culanth @news4anthros"
https://twitter.com/alpashah001/status/948233738483388417 ]
ethnography  karenrubins  alpashah  anthropology  srg  comics  2017  research  observation 
january 2018 by robertogreco
xian franzinger barrett on Twitter: "@TheJLV The first time I was observed as a student teacher. I was quite nervous. My students asked why, "We observe you every day and we are more im… https://t.co/8QEUi6A0nx"
"The first time I was observed as a student teacher. I was quite nervous. My students asked why, "We observe you every day and we are more important observers". I remember than every time I'm observed, even in harassment. Our students know the teaching they need. Much love."

[added:
"☛ “We observe you every day and we are more important observers.”

Cf. _I Learn from Children_ http://groveatlantic.com/book/i-learn-from-children/ … and “Who are you now?” http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/748734074"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/933096514351534082 ]
xianfranzingerbarrett  teaching  howweteach  carolinepratt  observation  children  students  relationships  everyday  learning  unschooling  deschooling  education  pedagogy  conversation  2017 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Sally-Ann Spence on Twitter: "Tucked away in a drawer in @morethanadodo's entomological collection there is a little unassuming brown note book. In it observations are en… https://t.co/JFVpu2rmRo"
"Tucked away in a drawer in @morethanadodo's entomological collection there is a little unassuming brown note book. In it observations are entwined with a fleeting moment of a very human story...
(thread)

Beautifully written by hand with meticulously pressed specimens, this book records the observations of leaf cutter bees in the summer of 1852

Each plant used by the bees that summer was recorded & pressed. It would have required hours of careful observations & every plant was individually researched to correctly identity it

Detailed notes on the bees nesting behaviour was also recorded & observed. Tubes were diligently made, carefully fixed to the wall & patient hours spent watching the insects at work...

There are many important things to be drawn from this little note book. Data on insect behaviour supported by plenty of evidence certainly, but also a story that resonates with so many today & is something we are examining & studying right now

William was an inmate of Hanwell Asylum, the first purpose-built public asylum for the pauper insane in England & Wales opened in 1831. A little note by the warden accompanying his notebook tells of the benefit of this personal project to William & other patients mental wellbeing

So here is an example of real entomological data, an historical object in itself, evidence that supports modern day research & a very human story all contained in the corner of a drawer in a museum within a little unassuming brown notebook.

There is quantifiable evidence that in our rapidly urbanising world spending time in natural areas immersing ourselves in nature has positive affects on our mental health. I believe William found this in that summer of 1852."
insects  plants  classdieas  leafpressing  science  1852  entomology  collections  observation  inmates  data  evidence  research  nature  sally-annspence 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Impakt Festival 2017 - Performance: ANAB JAIN. HQ - YouTube
[Embedded here: http://impakt.nl/festival/reports/impakt-festival-2017/impakt-festival-2017-anab-jain/ ]

"'Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurts': @anab_jain's expansive keynote @impaktfestival weaves threads through death, transcience, uncertainty, growthism, technological determinism, precarity, imagination and truths. Thanks to @jonardern for masterful advise on 'modelling reality', and @tobias_revell and @ndkane for the invitation."
https://www.instagram.com/p/BbctTcRFlFI/ ]
anabjain  2017  superflux  death  aging  transience  time  temporary  abundance  scarcity  future  futurism  prototyping  speculativedesign  predictions  life  living  uncertainty  film  filmmaking  design  speculativefiction  experimentation  counternarratives  designfiction  futuremaking  climatechange  food  homegrowing  smarthomes  iot  internetofthings  capitalism  hope  futures  hopefulness  data  dataviz  datavisualization  visualization  williamplayfair  society  economics  wonder  williamstanleyjevons  explanation  statistics  wiiliambernstein  prosperity  growth  latecapitalism  propertyrights  jamescscott  objectivity  technocrats  democracy  probability  scale  measurement  observation  policy  ai  artificialintelligence  deeplearning  algorithms  technology  control  agency  bias  biases  neoliberalism  communism  present  past  worldview  change  ideas  reality  lucagatti  alextaylor  unknown  possibility  stability  annalowenhaupttsing  imagination  ursulaleguin  truth  storytelling  paradigmshifts  optimism  annegalloway  miyamotomusashi  annatsing 
november 2017 by robertogreco
don't look | sara hendren
"While reading to my three children at night, my youngest, age 7, will often be lolling in bed while I narrate. Or maybe he’ll be fiddling with Legos or other blocks as he listens. But lately, when the action of the story gets intense, or a scene grows emotional, or somehow the suspense elongates, my son’s whole body will wind down till he’s perfectly still. He will train his eyes on my face, watching the words come out as he listens. He’s the youngest, so it’s likely that his brain is having to assimilate at least one new vocabulary word per paragraph by inference, all while he’s being carried along by what happens, and then what happens next.

This perfect quietude usually only lasts a dozen seconds or so at a time, after which he’ll go back to kneading his pillow or looking at the stickers on his bed frame while the story continues. But each time this happens, I’m aware of it. I can see him in my peripheral vision. And for many reasons, at least right now, I don’t meet his eyes. I keep reading.

Sometimes I’m so tempted! I have an instinct to share his attention. To break the spell of the narrative to say: See here, here we are, watching the same characters move their way through time. That would be the completion of one kind of circuit: you and I, caught up in this same tale together.

But I hold back. I don’t want to intrude on his experience of just the story itself, being delivered to him aurally and mostly without my mediation as to what things mean, what context we’re missing. He is having his own encounter, and that’s another kind of circuitry altogether. It’s one to which I’m sometimes best as a witness. Because this is also how a story does its work: sending a charge to its boy and back again, blooming both partial and replete in his singular comprehension.

Part of parenting is surely this—acting as nothing more and nothing less than a hedge around experiences we may watch but perhaps refrain from sharing. All I can think now is: Keep reading. Don’t look."
sarahendren  2017  restraint  parenting  observation  assessment  readalouds  intrusion  cv  canon  comprehension  constructivism  stories  literature  witness  sharing  narrative  quietude  stillness  concentration  attention 
september 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Seattle Review of Books - Here is a movie to remind you why you love reading and writing
"A lot of great movies adapted from written works have been released over the last month or so. Silence is a complex and challenging and ultimately rewarding adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about the demands and responsibilities of faith. Fences is one of the most harrowing family dramas I’ve seen in years, with career-best performances from Denzel Washington and, especially, Viola Davis.

But one original movie in theaters right now, not adapted from a book or play, is a surprising tribute to the importance of the written word. I’m talking about Jim Jarmusch’s new film Paterson, and I’m telling you: if you love books and poetry and writing, you have to see this movie as soon as possible.

Paterson’s premise sounds like the setup for a limerick: Adam Driver stars as Paterson, a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. The film follows a week in his life, and not a whole lot, really, happens. Paterson is a man who likes his rituals: he walks the dog to the bar every night, and he writes a few lines of poetry into his notebook in the morning, and he likes to sit in the same spot and watch the water go over Paterson Falls. He and his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) live a quiet life that is mostly content. They could use a little more money, sure, but who couldn’t?

Paterson is a film of echoes. Certain themes repeat themselves over and over: fire, twins, rain. Paterson admires the poetry of William Carlos Williams, the city of Paterson’s most famous literary resident, and Williams’ work reverberates through the film as well. (Williams wrote an epic poem about the city also titled Paterson.) These little instances accrue into a fuller portrait, a pointillist masterpiece.

Paterson doesn’t write his poetry for the sake of immortality. He writes poetry because it’s how he processes the world. Driver reads the lines over and over in a halting voice as Paterson writes in his notebook and the handwritten words appear on screen. We see him sitting in his small office, lined with books by Williams and David Foster Wallace and Frank O’Hara, as he struggles to get the words just so. He seems to meet poets around every street corner: everyone is recording the universe in careful handwriting on lined paper in secret notebooks.

Paterson made me happier than any movie I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s a movie about art for the sake of art, a movie about writing and reading for no reason but for the pleasure of writing and reading. Paterson’s life inspires his art, which in turn inspires his life. There’s probably no big break around the corner for him. He’s probably not going to get a big thick hardcover anthology of his work. But he does it anyway, because he has to, and because it makes him better.

Trust me: you don’t want to half-watch Paterson on your couch while idly flicking through your phone. This is a movie to watch in the theater. Afterward, take public transit home. Bring a book of poetry to read on the bus or the train. Eavesdrop on some conversations. There’s art everywhere — you just have to be ready to receive it."
paterson  jimjarmusch  fil  towatch  poetry  everyday  notebooks  attention  mundane  paulconstant  2017  williamcarloswilliams  understanding  thinking  whywewrite  happiness  howwewrite  writing  words  notetaking  observation  listening  art  life  living  reading  artleisure  leisurearts 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger: ‘If I’m a storyteller it’s because I listen’ | Books | The Guardian
"After lunch we move into his study, a den of paintings, a place of light, its windows thrown wide, looking on to trees. He tries to make himself comfortable on the white sofa, an arthritic back giving him trouble. As a writer, Berger has that rare and wonderful gift of being able to make complex thoughts simple. He once said, in a BBC interview with Jeremy Isaacs, that he likes, in all his work, to follow the advice of the photographer Robert Capa: “When the picture is not good enough, go closer…” His eye for detail remains unrivalled and consistently surprising (think of his irresistible observation that cows walk as if they were wearing high heels). Reading him is like standing at a window – perhaps a bit like the window of this study – with no one blocking the view. “The way I observe comes naturally to me as a curious person – I’m like la vigie – the lookout guy on a boat who does small jobs, maybe such as shovelling stuff into a boiler, but I’m no navigator – absolutely the opposite. I wander around the boat, find odd places – the masts, the gunwale – and then simply look out at the ocean. Being aware of travelling has nothing to do with being a navigator.”"



"In 1944 he joined up, refusing a commission with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire light infantry, and became a lance corporal at a training camp. He preferred the company of working-class recruits, for whom he became a scribe, writing their letters home. In a sense, he has continued to do this all his life: telling other people’s stories lest they vanish. In a conversation with Susan Sontag, he once said: “A story is always a rescuing operation.” And he has also said (in The Seasons in Quincy): “If I’m a storyteller it’s because I listen. For me, a storyteller is like a passeur who gets contraband across a frontier.”"



"And what does he think about Brexit? He leans back on the sofa (we have now shifted from the overheated study into a cooler parlour, a sofa crawl in operation) and admits it has always been important to him to define himself as European. He then attempts to describe what he sees as the bigger picture: “It seems to me that we have to return, to recapitulate what globalisation meant, because it meant that capitalism, the world financial organisations, became speculative and ceased to be first and foremost productive, and politicians lost nearly all their power to take political decisions – I mean politicians in the traditional sense. Nations ceased to be what they were before.” In Meanwhile (the last essay in Landscapes) he notes that the word “horizon” has slipped out of view in political discourse. And he adds, returning to Brexit, that he voted with his feet long ago, moving to France.

We talk about what it is for a person to adopt a foreign country as home, and about how it is possible to love a landscape like a familiar face. For Berger, that face is the Haute-Savoie. “This is the landscape I lived in for decades [he left only after Beverly died; his son Yves still lives there with his family]. It matters to me because during that time, I worked there like a peasant. OK, don’t let’s exaggerate. I didn’t work as hard as they did but I worked pretty hard, doing exactly the same things as the peasants, working with them. This landscape was part of my energy, my body, my satisfaction and discomfort. I loved it not because it was a view – but because I participated in it.”

He explains: “The connection between the human condition and labour is frequently forgotten, and for me was always so important. At 16, I went down a coal mine in Derbyshire and spent a day on the coal face – just watching the miners. It had a profound effect.” What did it make you feel? “Respect,” he says quietly. “Just respect. There are two kinds. Respect to do with ceremony – what happens when you visit the House of Lords. And a completely different respect associated with danger.” He says: “This is not a prescription for others, but when I look back on my life I think it’s very significant I never went to a university. I refused to go. Lots of people were pushing me and I said, ‘No. I don’t want to’, because those years at university form a whole way of thinking.” And you feel free from that? “Yes.”"



"As he nudges closer to 90, Berger feels his own way of seeing has changed surprisingly little, although, he points out, technology has changed the way younger generations explore art. He admits, then, to his enthusiasm for texting: “I’ve been a fan for a long while because it’s like whispers – and with that goes intimacy, secrecy, playfulness…” But there is nothing fixed about the way he sees. He believes one never sees the same picture twice: “The second time I saw the Grünewald altarpiece was after a terrorist attack – it was the same painting yet I saw it differently.” The importance of certain painters has shifted too. He reveres Modigliani less, admires Velázquez more: “When one is young, one likes drama, excitation, bravura – Velázquez has none of this.”"



"But Berger’s greatest strength in old age is his ability to live in the present. “I cultivated this early on – and this is the paradox – because it was an escape from prescriptions, prophecies, consequences and causes.” The present moment is key to his thinking too. In Ways of Seeing, he suggests that paintings embody the present in which they were painted. Defining the secret of reading aloud well, he says it is “refusing to look ahead, to be in the moment”. And he says that a story puts its listener “in an eternal present”. He has also written about the circularity of time. Does he think that applies to an individual life? Is there, in old age, a way in which one starts to hold hands with one’s younger self?"
johnberger  art  seeing  listening  2016  observation  noticing  storytelling  writing  robertcapa  presence  migration  reading  marxism  globalization  capitalism  participation  labor  participatory  texting  intimacy  secrecy  playfulness 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Reading Things — Magazine — Walker Art Center
"I’m sunbathing on the beach on a cloudless August day in the Rockaways. It’s blindingly bright and I have a T-shirt draped over my eyes to block the sun. I am overhearing a conversation between some of the friends around me and someone new who has walked across the sand to us. Whose is this voice I don’t know? I think it is man, someone I’ve never met. I uncover my eyes and see that it is one of my friends—a woman, a transwoman whose female-ness I have never questioned, whose voice I had always heard as a female voice. Had I never heard her before? How can my ears hear two different voices, depending on whether or not I know who is speaking? As I puzzle over this, I start thinking of other instances in which two or more versions of reality butt up against each other, two contradictory sensory experiences that are somehow both real to me, depending on how I encounter them. What is going on here?"



"This winter I delivered an artist talk at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I’ve been teaching, about my investment in objects with open-ended or ambiguous function—things that cause one to ask, “What is this for?” I discuss the studio as a place where I aim to make objects that frustrate even my own attempts to know them, once and for all, as one thing and not others. I make things that ask for nuanced, open-ended forms of reading that can accommodate these objects of ambiguous functionality. Over coffee the following morning, one of the other faculty members in the department, Corin Hewitt, excitedly wanted to know if I had heard of a beloved object known as the “slant step.” I had not, but since then an image of it has been following me around—in the studio, on the train, in and out of bathrooms, while reading the news. The slant step is a small piece of furniture that was purchased in a second-hand store in Mill Valley, California, in 1965 by the artist William Wiley and his then-graduate student Bruce Nauman. Costing less than a dollar, this wood and green linoleum, one-of-a-kind handmade object struck these two artists as puzzling and fascinating, primarily because its function was a mystery. Though reminiscent of a step stool, the step part of the stool sits at a 45-degree angle to the floor, making it impossible to step up onto it, hence the name, the slant step. This unassuming ambiguous object resonated not just with Wiley and Nauman, but also with a whole range of Bay Area artists in the 1960s, inspiring more than one group exhibition themed around it, a catalogue, and numerous articles as well as extensive use as a teaching tool by the painter Frank Owen. It is now in the permanent collection of the University of California Davis.3"



"In the midst of all this urgency, the figure of the slant step comes to my mind. I feel embarrassed about it because what could this remote object have to offer when we are in need of such concrete changes? A useful object with no apparent use. A handmade thing of unknown origin, producing more questions than answers. An object that modestly requests a more effortful type of reading than what we normally engage in. We identify things in terms of their function and move on, reading passively. We learn only as much as we need to know. This object, compelling to so many in the past 50 years, is compelling to me as well, insofar as it encourages me to read more slowly. It makes me want to see it as more than one thing at once, or as many different things in quick succession. Looking to the slant step as a teacher, I want to learn what it seems to already know—I can’t always know what I am looking at. Clearly already well used in the mid-1960s but for an inscrutable purpose, the slant step speaks of bodies without being able to name them. It has always seemed wrong to me to say that we see what is before us and then interpret it, because the idea of “interpreting what we see” implies an inaccurate linearity to this process and suggests that the things themselves are fixed while our understandings of them remain malleable. Rather, we understand what we are seeing at the same moment we see it; perception is identification. Understood in this way, changing our interpretations is literally synonymous with changing the functioning of our senses, initiating a pulling apart of the instantaneous act of assigning meaning to what we see. This slowness to assign identification in the moment of encounter lies at the heart of the slant step’s curious appeal."



"On an overcast August day in 1995, Tyra Hunter, a hairstylist and black transgender woman, got in a car accident while driving in Washington, DC. Adrian Williams, the emergency medical technician at the scene who began to cut away her clothing to administer urgently needed aid, is reported to have said, “This bitch ain’t no girl… it’s a nigger; he’s got a dick!” Hunter lay on the ground bleeding as Williams and the other EMTs joked around her, and died later that day of her injuries at a nearby hospital. A subsequent investigation into the events leading to her death concluded that it would very likely have been prevented had treatment been continued at the scene of the accident.15

In the fall of 2014, a grand jury in St. Louis County Missouri decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In the spring of 2015, the US Department of Justice also cleared Wilson of all civil rights violations, deeming the shooting to be an act of self-defense. In Wilson’s testimony in his grand jury hearing, he recounted looking at Brown in the moments before shooting him six times, and described him as having “the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”16

It’s hard to stomach these statements, but I write them here because I am noticing the ways that both of the speakers managed to transform the person they were about to kill from a human being to a thing in the moments before their deaths. By a probably less-than-conscious twist of verbal gymnastics, both killers shift from using a pronoun generally used to refer to people (he/she) to using a pronoun generally used to refer to inanimate things: it. If murder is the act of permanently dehumanizing another, then it is as if in order to give themselves permission to kill these two individuals Williams and Wilson had to preemptively transform them from people into things. “It’s a nigger…” “It looks like a demon…” Did these statements make it possible to turn a human being into a corpse? Maybe so, as a person turned nonconsensually into a thing is already a person dangerously close to death."



"In the 1966 slant step show, William Wiley, the artist who originally bought the step from the thrift store, made a metal casting from it that bore the following inscription: “This piece is dedicated to all the despised unknown, unloved, people, objects and ideas that just don’t make it and never will, who have so thoughtlessly given their time and talent to become objects of scorn but maintain an innocent ignorance and never realize that you hate them.”18 For Wiley, the slant step was both an intriguing object of ambiguous functionality, while also serving another purpose as the object of certain recuperations. To treat a discarded object with care, to focus on it, show it to others, make copies and homages to it—to, in a sense, treat it with love—had a value for him on its own account. A small act of treating an uncared-for thing with care as an articulation of an ethos for encountering one another. Frank Owen, one of Wiley’s friends and an original participant in the slant step show, used the step as a model in his life-drawing classes for decades—producing innumerable depictions of its likeness and encouraging his students to think deeply about it through the slow and close looking necessitated by drawing. “This was its job—to pose on a model stand patiently (which it is very good at) and be drawn while also posing its eternal question: What is this thing, what is it for and why do we attend to it?”19"



"In thinking about Mark and her succulents, I am wrapping myself around the sustaining potential of relations of care with non-human things. I wonder about the role that the cultivation, protection, and recuperation of things might play in the day-to-day processes of healing necessitated by living as a body that is objectified, misread, or unrecognized. Can attending to objects with care be a labor of self-sustenance for us as well? Can the things of our lives be our companions, our children, our comrades?24 What can we know or feel about our own bodies through the ways that we relate to objects? I want to propose the possibility that our relations with objects themselves might function as a means of remodeling our own often-fraught bonds with the materiality that is our own lived bodies. I sometimes joke that all I am doing in the studio is making friends. This joke is feeling more real by the day. I am thinking now about all the gorgeous non-traditionally gendered people I know coming back to their apartments exhausted from the daily labor of moving through the world and carefully watering their plants."
objects  kinship  objectkinship  care  caring  reality  perception  senses  gordonhall  gender  seeing  sculpture  art  artists  2016  functionality  corinhewitt  brucenauman  williamwiley  1960s  slow  slowreading  howweread  reading  knowing  howwelearn  noticing  observation  identification  bodies  naming  notknowing  meaning  meaningmaking  frankowen  ambiguity  mickybradford  race  markaguhar  michaelbrown  williamwitherup  mrionwintersteen  chancesdances  tyrahunter  northcarolina  housebill2  body 
august 2016 by robertogreco
What Babies Know About Physics and Foreign Languages - The New York Times
"Parents and policy makers have become obsessed with getting young children to learn more, faster. But the picture of early learning that drives them is exactly the opposite of the one that emerges from developmental science.

In the last 30 years, the United States has completed its transformation to an information economy. Knowledge is as important in the 21st century as capital was in the 19th, or land in the 18th. In the same 30 years, scientists have discovered that even very young children learn more than we once thought possible. Put those together and our preoccupation with making children learn is no surprise.

The trouble is that most people think learning is the sort of thing we do in school, and that parents should act like teachers — they should direct special lessons at children to produce particular kinds of knowledge or skill, with the help of how-to books and “parenting” apps. Studies prove that high-quality preschool helps children thrive. But policy makers and educators are still under pressure to justify their investments in early childhood education. They’ve reacted by replacing pretend corners and playground time with “school readiness” tests.

But in fact, schools are a very recent invention. Young children were learning thousands of years before we had ever even thought of schools. Children in foraging cultures learned by watching what the people around them did every day, and by playing with the tools they used. New studies show that even the youngest children’s brains are designed to learn from this simple observation and play in a remarkably sensitive way.

Young children today continue to learn best by watching the everyday things that grown-ups do, from cleaning the house to fixing a car. My grandson Augie, like most 4-year-olds, loves to watch me cook, and tries manfully to copy what I do. But how does he decide whether to just push the egg whites around the bowl, or to try to reproduce exactly the peculiar wristy beating action I learned from my own mother? How does he know that he should transfer the egg yolks to the flour bowl without accidentally dropping them in the whites, as Grandmom often does? How did he decide that green peas would be a good addition to a strawberry soufflé? (He was right, by the way.)

Experimental studies show that even the youngest children are naturally driven to imitate. Back in 1988, Andrew Meltzoff of the University of Washington did a study in which 14-month-olds saw an experimenter do something weird — she tapped her forehead on top of a box to make it light up. A week later, the babies came back to the lab and saw the box. Most of them immediately tried to tap their own foreheads on the box to make the light go on.

In 2002 Gyorgy Gergely, Harold Bekkering and Ildiko Kiraly did a different version of this study. Sometimes the experimenters’ arms were wrapped in a blanket when she tapped her forehead on the box. The babies seemed to figure out that when the experimenter’s arms were wrapped up, she couldn’t use her hands, and that must have been why she had used her head instead. So when it was the babies’ turn they took the easy route and tapped the box with their hands.

In 2013 David Buttelmann and his colleagues did yet another version. First, the babies heard the experimenter speak the same language they did or a different one. Then the experimenter tapped her head on the box. When she had spoken the same language, the babies were more likely to tap the box with their foreheads; when she spoke a different language they were more likely to use their hands.

In other words, babies don’t copy mindlessly — they take note of who you are and why you act.

Children will also use what they see to figure out intelligent new actions, like putting peas in a soufflé. For example, in our lab, Daphna Buchsbaum, some colleagues and I showed 4-year-olds a toy with lots of different handles and tabs. A grown-up said, “Hmm I wonder how this toy works” and performed nine complicated series of actions, like pulling one of the handles, shaking a tab and turning the toy over. Sometimes the toy played music and sometimes it didn’t.

The actions followed a pattern: Some of them were necessary to make the machine go and some were superfluous. For example, the children might see that the toy lit up only when the experimenter shook the tab and turned over the toy, no matter what else she did.

Then she asked the child to make the music play. The children analyzed the pattern of events, figured out which actions actually made the toy go, and immediately produced just those actions. They would just pull the tab and turn over the toy. They used their observations to create an intelligent new solution to the problem.

We take it for granted that young children “get into everything.” But new studies of “active learning” show that when children play with toys they are acting a lot like scientists doing experiments. Preschoolers prefer to play with the toys that will teach them the most, and they play with those toys in just the way that will give them the most information about how the world works.

In one recent experiment, for example, Aimee E. Stahl and Lisa Feigenson of Johns Hopkins showed 11-month-old babies a sort of magic trick. Either a ball appeared to pass through a solid wall, or a toy car appeared to roll off the end of a shelf and remain suspended in thin air. The babies apparently knew enough about everyday physics to be surprised by these strange events and paid a lot of attention to them.

Then the researchers gave the babies toys to play with. The babies who had seen the ball vanish through the wall banged it; those who’d seen the car hovering in thin air kept dropping it. It was as if they were testing to see if the ball really was solid, or if the toy car really did defy gravity.

It’s not just that young children don’t need to be taught in order to learn. In fact, studies show that explicit instruction, the sort of teaching that goes with school and “parenting,” can be limiting. When children think they are being taught, they are much more likely to simply reproduce what the adult does, instead of creating something new.

My lab tried a different version of the experiment with the complicated toy. This time, though, the experimenter acted like a teacher. She said, “I’m going to show you how my toy works,” instead of “I wonder how this toy works.” The children imitated exactly what she did, and didn’t come up with their own solutions.

The children seem to work out, quite rationally, that if a teacher shows them one particular way to do something, that must be the right technique, and there’s no point in trying something new. But as a result, the kind of teaching that comes with schools and “parenting” pushes children toward imitation and away from innovation.

There is a deep irony here. Parents and policy makers care about teaching because they recognize that learning is increasingly important in an information age. But the new information economy, as opposed to the older industrial one, demands more innovation and less imitation, more creativity and less conformity.

In fact, children’s naturally evolved learning techniques are better suited to that sort of challenge than the teaching methods of the past two centuries.

New research tells us scientifically what most preschool teachers have always known intuitively. If we want to encourage learning, innovation and creativity we should love our young children, take care of them, talk to them, let them play and let them watch what we do as we go about our everyday lives.

We don’t have to make children learn, we just have to let them learn."
alisongopnik  2016  children  learning  unschooling  deschooling  howwelearn  parenting  education  schools  scientists  science  experimentation  observation  davidbuttelmann  gyorgygergely  haroldbekkering  ildikokiraly  andrewmeltzoff  policy  imitation  howweteach  teaching  daphnabuchsbaum  babies  instruction  creativity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Fail No matter what tests...
"What I love about Holt’s writing is how much of it comes from direct observation of life, and how little of it comes from theory. (This book began as a series of memos Holt wrote to his teaching partner.) However, while I respect these stories and direct observations from the classroom, they can also make for a slower reading experience, and I found myself skipping a lot of sections where Holt describes the specifics of trying to teach his students mathematics.

The writing in this book seemed to me to be much more frustrated and somewhat angrier than the writing in How Children Learn, and there were a few sections that made me cringe a bit from their brutal honesty. (One also needs to keep in mind the book was published in the mid-60s, so some of Holt’s descriptions, particularly one about a retarded child, were a little bit of a shock to me.)

Still, I’ve learned from Holt more than anybody else about how children learn, and there’s a lot to glean from this book. My notes, below — will try my best not to repost the themes I’ve already noted from Teaching As A Subversive Activity, which was obviously much influenced by this book.



Intelligence is a way of operating.



Humans are born intelligent, and children are natural learners.



Small children do not worry about success or failure.



Good thinkers are comfortable with uncertainty and not-knowing.



School make us unintelligent — primarily through fear.



Worst of all: we know how bad school can be, but no matter how bad it is, we still think it’s good for kids.



"Though I didn’t enjoy this book as much as How Children Learn, in the past few months, John Holt has had a tremendous impact on my thinking about how I should go about educating my kids, but more importantly, and maybe more surprisingly, he has had an enormous impact on how I think about my own work, so much of which is based on self-guided, self-directed learning. Even, and maybe especially, as someone who liked and excelled at school and is now moderately successful in my chosen career, he’s made me rethink why it is that I do what I do, re-examine some of my “teacher-pleasing” habits, why it was I “succeeded” in school in the first place, and how my “success” in my career, has been, mostly, attributable to methods and ways of operating that I didn’t learn in school, and how, in fact, a great deal of my best work was done outside of school, when I turned my back on formal education, and struck out on my own."
austinkleon  children  johnholt  learning  unschooling  howelearn  howchildrenfail  education  schools  teaching  deschooling  parenting  howweteach  self-directedlearning  self-directed  success  uncertainty  not-knowing  intelligence  fear  schooling  schooliness  process  observation  science  curiosity  questionasking  askingquestions  johntaylorgatto  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  dumbingusdown  teachingasasubversiveactivity  howchildenlearn 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Werner Herzog on the future of film school, critical connectivity, and Pokémon Go | The Verge
"EY: Have you seen any changes or shifts in the work and in the submissions over the past seven years?

WH: There are always surprises. All of a sudden there is a film that is not really accomplished, but in the film there is a minute of utterly new unseen stuff that just makes you sit down and take a deep breath. Those are the [filmmakers] I would invite [to Rogue Film School], those who are not following on the trodden path. The MasterClass speaks to you in the same way. Find your own voice, do not just stupidly and blindly follow the so-called rules of storytelling in terms of screenplays, the three-act theory, all these things. Find your voice, find your own identity, don't be afraid just to step into it.

Because today it's fairly easy; you can make a film with a very high caliber camera that's not expensive anymore. You can record sound on your cell phone if you add a good microphone and you can edit your film on your laptop. In other words, you can make a feature film for $10,000 or under. And that's what I keep telling the students or those who watch the MasterClass: don't wait for the system to accept you. You create your own system, create your own [budget] and make your own first feature film or your first own documentary.

EY: More and more that DIY spirit is the dominant attitude of young filmmakers, especially those putting their work directly online. Do you think traditional film school will ever go extinct?

WH: No, unfortunately they are not going to go completely extinct; I wish they would. I wish everybody would come out of nowhere and be self-taught by life itself, by the world itself. No, [film school is] going to stay because there is a general demand for content, let's say, on television. And the film industry has some sort of a permanent demand for content. Let it be like that. I do not want to challenge it. But when you look into my MasterClass you better be out for something else."



"WH: No, you shouldn't watch it [the MasterClass] all at once. That would be completely mad. And be careful with the assignments, because sometimes I would say you do not need to follow them. Create your own assignments, be intelligent. Giving assignments, it reeks of high school and getting homework.

EY: Some people respond to that though, some people like that.

WH: Yes, but I always was reluctant to give any assignments. But it's fine. Let it be as it is. It's part of the format and it's part of the charm of it. When it comes to assignment I'm not the one who should be a high school principal.

EY: Right.

WH: I'd rather jump from Golden Gate Bridge if that happens.

EY: I asked about film school because I graduated from a film program less than a decade ago, and already many of the technical skills I learned are outdated. And it seems the things that remain are very personal lessons that usually don't come from the curriculum itself.

WH: Yeah, certain things you can neither learn in film school nor let's say the MasterClass nor in the Rogue Film School. It's just life, raw life as it is has to give you insight and has to allow you to make the right decisions and ask the right questions and gathering enough courage to do something."



"WH: If you are too much into the internet, yes, because it's a parallel surrogate life. It has nothing to do with the real world or examination of the real world, if you delegate too much to your cell phone and applications."



"WH: You see, I come from a world where you touch things, like a roll of celluloid. But I have to get better accustomed to the virtual world."



EY: Lo and Behold is officially being released in August, but in the meantime you've had the chance to screen it several times. What kinds of reactions have you gotten, especially from people who are perhaps more embedded in the "connected world" than you are?

WH: Well, everybody has been enthusiastic so far and the buzz is enormous. I never expected it, because in the beginning I was to do some YouTube tips on texting and driving. The financiers of the film, NETSCOUT, understood there was something much, much bigger and they supported me with that. The response has been totally unprecedented for me. What is also remarkable I get a lot of emails nowadays [from] 12, 14, 15-year-olds. And that's something really surprising because they speak a different language, the language of their age group. And yet [they are] making some very intelligent remarks."
wernerherzog  masterclass  education  filmmaking  2016  interviews  emilyyoshida  experience  unschooling  deschooling  internet  virtualreality  pokémongo  pokémon  pokemon  making  observation  roguefilmschool  diy  film  documentary  assignments  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  pokemongo  edg  srg  vr 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Moment(us) teaching — Medium
"At Constructing Modern Knowledge 2016, Carla Rinaldi, president of Reggio Children, gave an impassioned talk to the gathered educators about the lessons of the Reggio Emilia pre-school approach.

She spoke about love, beauty, and respect for children (of all ages) and their learning process. She showed some photos and videos of children learning together and how teachers have the opportunity to make small decisions in this process. To watch or intervene; to ask a question or remain quiet; to suggest an expansion of the complexity of the children’s investigation or to help them simplify their ideas.

What struck me is how quietly these moments happen. These momentous moments are the heart and art of teaching. Not only is this skill too often devalued and disrespected, but the time it takes to listen is dismissed as “wasted.”

Momentous is a word that is usually associated with BIG EVENTS, but the heart of the word is moment — a fleeting second of time where teachers make decisions that are not simple or fleeting.

Too often overlooked and underestimated, the moment occurs only when listening is valued, when respect exists between all the participants, and there is time to slow down and think hard about what to do in that moment."
carlarinaldi  reggioemilia  listening  love  beauty  respect  children  learning  howwelearn  2016  sylviamartinez  observation  intervention  decisionmaking 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Due North | VQR Online
"I arrived in New York in October 2005 and immediately began walking all over the city, exploring for hours at a time. As I traversed its landscape, I discovered a topography of social conditions. Some days, I would linger on Thirty-Fourth Street among the glamorous workers of Midtown Manhattan rushing to and from their high-rise buildings—in swift pursuit of their ambitions, I’d assumed. I’d watch them zigzag around and dart past the enthusiastic tourists filing into the Empire State Building, that colossus rising majestically above as a beacon of hope and symbol of American derring-do.

Then I’d stride northward, eager to explore Whitman’s “Numberless crowded streets – high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies.” A little over two hours later, I would end up in Harlem at the courtyard of a housing project on 125th Street, where residents lounged on benches and welcomed each other with cheerful banter. They also welcomed me, and I sat beside them, took one of the kiddie’s box drinks they offered, and enjoyed their jovial talk in that relaxed, open space in Harlem far removed from the hurried dynamism of Midtown.

But as I’ve circulated through New York’s streets, nothing reveals the city’s opposites in stark juxtaposition like the walk from the Upper East Side to the South Bronx, two neighborhoods separated by a brisk ninety-minute walk, or a quick twelve-minute subway ride. I’d call them neighbors were it not so clear that they occupy such distinctly different worlds. To walk the streets from one to the other, as I often do, is to bear witness to a landscape of asymmetry. The city that comes into view is one of uneven terrain, vistas of opportunity alongside pockets of deep poverty too often lost in the periphery.

In early 2006, almost six months after moving to the city, I was hobbled from roaming around because of a botched surgery on my right knee. A few months later, I switched hospitals to the Hospital for Special Surgery, located on the Upper East Side, where I eventually underwent two more surgeries to get back to walking the streets without chronic pain. As a result of the operations and follow-up physical therapy, the Upper East Side became a regular destination. I spent a lot of time watching people go about their lives, many of whom were middle- and working-class people employed in hospitals, museums, universities, hotels, and elsewhere on the Upper East Side. Plentiful as these workers were, they didn’t define the neighborhood—at least, not in a way that forcefully impresses itself upon the mind when you think of the Upper East Side. No, the population that embosses its mark on the neighborhood is the wealthy—the extraordinarily wealthy, to be precise.

The Upper East Side houses one of the richest zip codes in the US. This wealth touches almost everything in its vicinity. Many of the less-flush people I met going about their days worked at institutions that were among the world’s finest—the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Surgery—and that were easy access for their upper-class neighbors. In addition to stellar medical care and world-class museums, I’d walk past some of the city’s best private schools, public libraries abuzz with parents and nannies—many of whom were foreigners—playing with children, and music schools with eager and not-so-eager kids developing their skills. Here was a neighborhood stocked with the resources for worldly success.

Walking through that part of the Upper East Side was not unlike a jaunt in a museum. On Park or Fifth Avenue, for example, one could walk for hours and admire magnificent buildings fronted by well-manicured gardens and quiet, clean sidewalks. Serenity suffused the atmosphere. Nothing seemed out of place, and, to my untrained eye, it all looked unspoiled.

There are stunning apartment buildings that look like cathedrals in high heels. Überchic boutiques—throne rooms of specialization meant to cater to people with the most rarefied, and demanding, of tastes—abound. You can pick up scented shoelaces for your teen daughter from a store filled with accessories for tweens, buy a bra for a few hundred dollars from an Italian lingerie store, and then drop off your puppy for a spa day, all in under a half hour. And, shhh, the stores were very quiet, I’ll-glare-if-you-speak-loudly quiet. I was often hushed, too, since sticker shock often dumbfounds me. Though, I should confess, something perverse in me wanted me to scream upon entering those hush-up stores.

All around are luxe restaurants with patrons to match, and sophisticated bistros with fresh-looking, pleasant-smelling—oh, those lovely scents!—upscale clientele. And for outdoor relaxation and play, Central Park is a quick stroll away—across the road, even. It’s as if the neighborhood was curated to cater to the needs and pleasures of its wealthy residents. Dig through the historical record and you’ll find that, indeed, starting with Fifth Avenue in the late nineteenth century, later joined in the early twentieth century by Park (formerly Fourth) Avenue, elegance and convenience have characterized the Upper East Side’s moneyed class and its tony residences.

Yet, for all its beauty, the neighborhood today feels like a welcome mat with spikes, or, more aptly, like a museum after closing time. You could stand nearby and look in, but that’s as far as you could go: admiration from a distance. My feet met their limit.

So much of the lives of the very wealthy was a mystery to me, not least because I couldn’t hope to stand and chat with them. The city was this enticing language I was learning, but they were a cipher. They lived, as my friend and walking companion Suketu once put it to me, in vertical gated communities—fortresses within layers of insulation. I’d see them shuttle from cabs or chauffeur-driven cars into their elegant buildings fronted by attentive doormen. Or I’d see them interacting with each other as I strolled past a posh establishment. They were sharply dressed ghosts; I would see them for a brief moment, only for them to quickly disappear into vehicles or buildings as mysteriously as they came.

There was a come-hither-stay-away quality to it all. Apartment lobbies looked inviting, but dapper doormen in their white shirts and black ties stood between you and them. Brownstones were beguiling, but you dared not sit on their steps. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone my shade, the color of the neighborhood’s nannies and gardeners and janitors but not their neighbors (at least, none that I saw), was more unwelcome on a stranger’s stoop.

Nor would I ever see people hanging out on their own steps. The beauty of the Upper East Side, the visual allure, had a placidity I felt detached from. There was something disquieting about all that silence. Certainly, one of the joys of living in the city is the wonderful solitude it affords, the option to, as E. B. White memorably put it, opt out and announce, “I did not attend.” The city is a place of escape as much as it’s one of pilgrimage, and, to someone outside of their circle passing through, the affluent inhabitants of the Upper East Side resemble a group who entered a compact to “not attend.” The serenity felt fragile, and I feared that if I did anything that was perceived as a threat to it, no matter how simple—approaching that friendly face to have a chat, leaning over to inhale perfumy flowers—that I would be promptly reminded that I could inhabit those streets only so much.

When I leave the Upper East Side on foot, the streets declare it to me almost immediately. I cross Ninety-Sixth Street—on Park Avenue, say, and the picturesque quickly recedes. Islands of gardens are supplanted by train tracks that tear out of the ground and rise alongside and above houses, transporting streams of Metro-North trains and dispersing noise across the neighborhood. Pristine sidewalks are replaced by dusty ones, and time and again micro-dirt tornadoes, with candy wrappers within, whirl around. And luxury mansions are replaced by tenement-type buildings, row houses, and “superblocks” of housing projects.

And the population becomes increasingly darker. A lot more. And friendlier. A lot more. More Spanish is heard (significantly so), more bodegas are seen on corners, and the hum of the Upper East Side gives way to a skipping, sometimes clamoring, beat. (On weekends with good weather, there are block parties aplenty). You almost begin to wonder—at least, I often do—if East Harlem is the town crier announcing, “Yeah, you’ve left the Upper East Side. The South Bronx is three miles, and an hour’s walk, thataway.”"



"On the way back home, Suketu drove through the Upper East Side, past glittery boutiques and sexy bistros, enticing department stores and showy high-rise apartment buildings. At that moment, I recognized that, for me, there wasn’t much difference between cutting through the neighborhood on foot and in a car. There was, of course. But leaving from Hunts Point, where time in a car away from residents removes so much of the neighborhood’s pleasure, and arriving in the Upper East Side around fifteen minutes later, only to recognize that I felt at arm’s length from a lot of its residents even when I walked through, reminded me that inequality also deprives the very wealthy. In ensconcing themselves in their circles, the very wealthy had cut themselves off from a range of perspectives and temperaments and stories—stories that are a central part of their city’s vibrancy and appeal. In Hunts Point, I witnessed deprivation due to an absence of resources; in the Upper East Side, I witnessed deprivation of a different, but related sort: the absence of enriching interactions.

I became an obsessive walker as a matter of necessity. Too poor to take taxis when I was growing up in Jamaica, and living in a … [more]
walking  serendipity  2014  garnettecadogan  nyc  inequality  discovery  wonder  possibility  ebwhite  wealth  waltwhitman  rebeccasolnit  micheldecerteau  observation  flaneur 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Reading Right-to-Left | booktwo.org
"At a conference I attended recently, one of the speakers noted how the US army trains observers to “read” a landscape from right to left. The idea is that, as Anglophones accustomed to reading left to right, reversing the direction of attention brings more concentration to bear on the situation. Moving from right to left disrupts the soldier’s instinctual recognition patterns, and so they are more likely to spot things. This skill has apparently migrated from soldiers to photographers:
“One of the first tricks I learned many years ago had nothing to do with photography, but was drilled into me by an army sergeant. It only took a few smacks up the back of my head to learn how to look from right-to-left when scanning a landscape in an effort to see the hidden “enemy” in our mock battles. This process of reverse reading forced me to slow down and read each tree as if it were a syllable I was seeing for the first time. Even today, about thirty years after I called that sergeant every adjective not found in a decent dictionary, I still find myself scanning a landscape from right-to-left.”

The conference speaker contrasted this way of seeing, and the assumptions explicit within it, with the Japanese way of reading, which may be right-to-left, or vertical:

[image]

One might also, in the context of today’s military operations consider the right-to-leftness of Hebrew and Arabic script (and Farsi, and Urdu) – and from there consider the verticality and three-dimensionality of text and thought online, the way it branches and deepens, how it recedes through the screen, through hyperlinks, into an endless chain of connections and relationships.

This reversal and inversion of language patterns has many historical and thus military uses. In Reality is Plenty, Kevin Slavin relates a tale told to him by a photography professor, who was trained as a World War II radar operator.

When radar signals were received aboard an aircraft carrier, they were displayed on a radar oscilloscope. But in order for this information be used in the midst of battle, the positions needed to be transcribed to a large glass viewing pane, and as part of this process they needed to be inverted and reversed. To perform this operation quickly and accurately, the radar operators were trained and drilled extensively in “upside down and backwards town”, a classified location where everything from newspapers to street signs were printed upside down and backwards. This experience would not so much create a new ability for the radar operators, as break down their existing biases towards left-to-right text, allowing them to operate in multiple dimensions at once.

[image]

This process, in Kevin’s reading and in mine, is akin to much of our experience of new technology, when our existing frameworks of reference, both literary and otherwise, are broken down, and we must learn over once again how to operate in the world, how to transform and transliterate information, how to absorb it, think it, search for it and deploy it. We must relearn our relationship not only with information, but with knowledge itself.

And I was reminded of this once again when I found myself at the weekend defending, for the first time in a long time, but certainly not for the first time ever, the kind of thinking and knowledge production which is native to the internet. In this oft-rehearsed argument, whether it be about ebooks or social media or news cycles or or or, the central thrust is that x technology is somehow bad for us, for our thought, our attention, our cognitive processes etc., where x always tends towards “the internet”, as the ur-technology of our time.

And the truth is that I cannot abide this kind of talk. I know people don’t read books like they used to, and they don’t think like they used to, but I struggle to care. Most of this talk is pure nostalgia, a kind of mostly knee-jerk, mostly uncritical (although not thoughtless) response to entirely rational fears about technological opacity and complexity (this nostalgia, of course, was the basis for the New Aesthetic). But this understandable reaction also erases all the new and different modes of attention and thought which, while they are difficult to articulate because we are still developing and discovering the language to articulate them with, are nonetheless present and growing within us. And I simply do not see the damage that is ascribed to this perceived “loss” – I don’t see the generations coming up being any less engaged in culture and society, reading less, thinking less, acting less, even when they are by any measure poorer, less supported, forced to struggle harder for education and employment, and, to compound the injury, derided at every opportunity as feckless, distracted, and disengaged. I see the opposite.

I’m getting more radical in my view of the internet, this unconsciously-generated machine for unconscious generation. I’m feeling more sure of its cultural value and legacy, and more assertive about stating it. We built this thing, and like all directed culture of the past, it has an agency and a desire, and if you pay attention to it you can see which way it wants to go, and what it wants to fight. We made that, all of us, in time, but we don’t have full control of it. Rather, like the grain of wood, it’s something to be worked with and shaped, but also thought about and conceptualised, both matter and metaphor.

It’s possible, despite the faults of data and design, to be an unchurched follower of the internet: undogmatic, non-sectarian, wary of its faults, all too conscious of its occupation by the forces of capital and control, but retaining a deep faith in its message and meaning. A meaning which it is still up to us to explore and enact, to defend where possible and oppose when necessary. If there is progress, if things can be improved, then they must be improved by new inventions, by the things we have not tried before. No going backwards to the future."
culture  knowledge  internet  japanese  arabic  howweread  understanding  noticing  books  reading  meadia  online  socialmedia  newaesthetic  future  bookfuturism  control  change  data  design  technology  criticalthinking  kevinslavin  observation  seeing  howwesee  waysofseeing  perspective  rewiring  attention  knowledgeproduction  society  difference  cv  canon 
october 2015 by robertogreco
More-Than-Human Lab. » Design Ethnography in the Anthropocene
"It’s the second week of winter trimester, and I’m teaching my second-year undergraduate course in Design Ethnography. The theme this year is the Anthropocene, or how design relates to people’s relationships with animals, plants, the Earth’s elements, and “natural” materials in an era defined by humanity’s impact on the planet.

In this course, students learn about some of the main ecological challenges facing the world today and how different cultures around the world understand the relationship between nature and culture. And we focus on developing critical and creative skills in observation, interviews, interpretation, representation, and reflection so that design can play a more sustainable role in our shared future.

Anthropocene Fever by Jedediah Purdy

The Anthropocene debate: Why is such a useful concept starting to fall apart? by Aaron Vansintjan

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin (pdf) by Donna Haraway

Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet

Tomorrow we delve into what ethnography means and how we do it. I like this lecture because I get to share one of my favourite descriptions of ethnography, from Bronislaw Malinowski’s 1922 Argonauts of the Western Pacific :
“Ethnography has a goal, of which an Ethnographer should never lose sight. This goal is, briefly, to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of his world. We have to study man, and we must study what concerns him most intimately, that is, the hold life has on him. In each culture, the values are slightly different; people aspire after different aims, follow different impulses, yearn after a different form of happiness . . . In each culture, we find different institutions in which man pursues his life-interest, different customs by which he satisfies his aspirations, different codes of law and morality which reward his virtues or punish his defections. To study the institutions, customs, and codes or to study the behaviour and mentality without the subjective desire of feeling by what these people live, of realising the substance of their happiness—is, in my opinion, to miss the greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man.”

Ignore the outdated language and, almost one hundred years later, I think it is still an unusually eloquent statement on the beauty of our field of research. And if ethnography is committed to sharing stories about what it means to be human, then we can also count amongst its rewards a greater understanding of ourselves.

The first assignment is to conduct several hours of participant observation, doing something that can help us better understand people’s everyday understandings of, and interactions with, “nature”. I haven’t defined nature for them, and I can’t wait to see what they do!

I’ve also started doing something new this trimester: Each class begins with 10 minutes of sustained consideration of a photograph. Spending ten full minutes looking at one image is incredibly challenging but, I hope, also rewarding. The longer we spend looking at something, the more we stand to see. Our minds are given time to move away from–and perhaps more importantly, return to–what’s right in front of us. The activity, especially when done regularly, sharpens attention and increases awareness. It teaches students the foundational skill of all ethnographic research: engaged observation. The activity ends with answering one question: “What matters here?” and, of course, there is no right answer. The goal is simply to get better at seeing–at recognising–the larger context(s) which lend any image its resonance or power."
annegalloway  morethanhumanlab  anthropocene  photography  ethnography  designethnography  2015  jedediahpurdy  aaroncanistian  fonnaharaway  bronislawmalinowski  looking  noticing  observation  understanding  slow  classideas  multispecies  nature  culture  reflection  context  behavior  jedediahbritton-purdy 
july 2015 by robertogreco
more-than-human lab - On anthropology, not ethnography, and design
"“Let me begin by restating what, I think, anthropology is. It is, for me, a generous, open-ended, comparative, and yet critical inquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life in the one world we all inhabit. It is generous because it is founded in a willingness to both listen and respond to what others have to tell us. It is open-ended because its aim is not to arrive at final solutions that would bring social life to a close but rather to reveal the paths along which it can keep on going. Thus the holism to which anthropology aspires is the very opposite of totalisation. Far from piecing all the parts together into a single whole, in which everything is ‘joined up’, it seeks to show how within every moment of social life is enfolded an entire history of relations of which it is the transitory outcome. Anthropology is comparative because it acknowledges that no way of being is the only possible one, and that for every way we find, or resolve to take, alternative ways could be taken that would lead in different directions. Thus even as we follow a particular way, the question of ‘why this way rather than that?’ is always at the forefront of our minds. And it is critical because we cannot be content with things as they are.

[…]

Like participant observation, design offers anthropology a way of working that avoids the schizochrony of ethnographic inquiry, and a viable alternative to traditional anthropology-by-means-of-ethnography. The observations, descriptions and propositions of design anthropology are not retrospective but prospective: their purpose is not to interpret but to transform. Design, in short, is not and cannot be a practice of ethnography; it is rather an alternative way to ethnography of doing anthropology – a way that releases the speculative and experimental possibilities of the discipline that the traditional appeal to ethnography has suppressed.”

—Tim Ingold: Design Anthropology Is Not, and Cannot Be, Ethnography (.doc) [https://kadk.dk/sites/default/files/08_ingold_design_anthropology_network.doc ]"
timingold  design  designanthropology  ethnography  anthropology  listening  criticalinquiry  inquiry  speculativedesign  experimentation  observation  holism  criticaldesign  open-ended  unfinished  comparison  via:anne  openended 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Jamie Zigelbaum: Excerpt From My Master's Thesis
"One of the most interesting concepts arising from my research and development of tangible interfaces is the idea of external legibility. While the HCI literature is full of examples of studies of interface legibility or how well an individual user or a group of users can interact with or understand an interface or interaction techniques that they are directly involved with using (what could be called internal legibility), there are hardly any examples of studies to examine the impact of interface design on non-participating observers. I define this property of interface design as external legibility.

External Legibility: a property of user interfaces that affects the ability of non-participating observers to understand the context of a user’s actions.

One reason why external legibility is important in interface design has to do with its relationship to semantics. Although it may never be possible to truly understand another’s mind, communication is based on shared understanding. Without a context in which to base understanding, inferring meaning or semantics becomes difficult.

Think of watching a master craftsperson working on a cabinet. You can see her hammering a nail to join two two-by-fours, you can see how she makes precise cuts along the edge of a piece of plywood. The context that the craftsperson works within is highly legible to an observer—the feeling of the wood, the knowledge of why a hammer is used, the memory of experiences of doing things like what the craftsperson are doing are available to many of us, but unless you too are a master craftsperson you may not know why she is doing the things that she does. The specific content of her actions are private, her thoughts and strategies, but the context of her actions are public. Without the ability to move from observation to inference accurately, it is hard to create shared understanding. External legibility is a measure of the reliability of the connection between observation and inference in interface design, but not in the traditional framing of one person and one machine—what could be called legibility. External legibility is a property of the space between one person observing another person using a machine.

Publications
Zigelbaum, J. Mending Fractured Spaces: External Legibility and Seamlessness in Interface Design. Master’s Thesis, MIT Media Lab (2008)."
jamiezigelbaum  legibility  workinginpublic  modeling  2015  via:litherland  lcproject  openstudioproject  interface  interfacedesign  design  observation  inference  craft  craftsmanship  communication  understanding  process  context  visibility 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Caminar como último acto de libertad que nos queda | VICE | España
""No hay que olvidar que el trayecto es lo mejor del camino". Así se despide en nuestra entrevista Francisco Navamuel. El fotógrafo decidió crear un grupo en Facebook:Caminar como práctica anarquista, ética, estética y de pensamiento. Ahora reconoce que esta idea se le ha ido un poco de las manos. "Cuando te comento esto tiene que ver con el propio funcionamiento de la red social, en el que la información pasa a una velocidad incompatible con la reflexión".

En estos momentos el grupo cuenta con más de 4.600 seguidores. "Pero no siempre fue así. Arrancar el grupo costó más de tres años. El grupo contaba con unos 150 seguidores y decidí hacer administrador del grupo a todos. Actualmente, el grupo se autogestiona y seguimos creciendo, no solo en cantidad sino en calidad".

¿Y por qué esa necesidad de reivindicar el acto de caminar? "Sobre todo para mí es una manera de relacionarme con el territorio, de conocer en primera persona el espacio que habito, de reconocerme en las personas que voy encontrando cuando camino. Es una forma de conocimiento personal donde el espacio-tiempo confluyen al mismo ritmo que el pensamiento. Caminar tiene la capacidad de igualarnos, de hacernos ciudadanos en la medida que ocupamos y utilizamos un espacio y lo transitamos".

VICE: Entonces, ¿caminar va más allá del acto de desplazarse?

Francisco Navamuel: Caminar es un acto de libertad. Pero también de resistencia frente a las urgencias impuestas y las velocidades ajenas. Caminar se ha convertido en algo subversivo si no se practica para producir o para consumir y me niego a renunciar a esa capacidad transformadora y de conocimiento que recibimos cuando se camina, sea la manera elegida que sea: por placer, por obligación o por salud. Caminar tiene esa parte lúdica y pedagógica que tenemos que recuperar como fuente de conocimiento. Pero también entiendo el caminar como una experiencia estética. El paseo está asociado al paisaje y me interesa la percepción que cada persona tiene sobre cómo interpreta el territorio.

Y el grupo de Facebook, ¿cómo surge?

El grupo surge en un momento en el que comienzo a realizar una tesis doctoral en la que vinculo el caminar, la fotografía y el llamado 'Modelo Barcelona'. Desde el principio empecé a ser consciente de la cantidad de información que existía sobre el caminar desde disciplinas como la antropología, la sociología, el arte, el urbanismo. No todo lo que recopilaba para la tesis me era útil y pensé que ese esfuerzo de investigación y toda esa información no debía quedarse guardada en una pestaña del navegador. Decidí crear el grupo Caminar como práctica anarquista, ética, estética y de pensamiento porque pensaba que podría ser útil a otras personas el poner en común todo lo que generaba la investigación. Al mismo tiempo daba la oportunidad a otros caminantes a compartir sus experiencias, vivencias o conocimientos sobre el tema. Soy partidario de la transmisión de conocimientos de manera horizontal y el grupo permite esa transmisión no jerárquica que existe en espacios como la enseñanza reglada o la académica. Cualquiera puede compartir la información que considere oportuna, desde un paseo alrededor se su casa hasta el último proyecto participativo o la última publicación. Si bien Facebook no es precisamente un espacio de conocimiento, respeto y libertad, sí que permite este flujo de información compartida sobre un mismo tema.

Y el anarquismo del título.

Hay algo en la acción del caminar que lo vinculo con valores del anarquismo. Caminar es una manera de posicionarse en el mundo. Cada persona decide cuáles son los motivos que tiene para caminar, tiene libertad para decidir hacia dónde se desplaza y el mismo acto genera un bien en la comunidad. Las personas que caminan respetan y protegen los espacios por donde transita. Se es solidario con las personas que encuentras a tu paso. Caminar se ha convertido en un acto de resistencia y en muchos momentos de desobediencia, de compromiso y de acción directa. Caminar como experiencia libertaria, de respeto, conocimiento y reconocimiento del 'otro', caminar como acto de rebeldía, como respuesta a la especulación urbana. Caminar como penúltimo acto de dignidad, como último acto de libertad.

¿A qué te refieres cuando hablas de ética y estética?

La ética y la estética están íntimamente relacionadas en la medida que una experiencia estética está cargada de ética. La observación responsable genera pensamiento crítico. Como consecuencia de esa observación el ser humano ha materializado esa experiencia estética en objeto artístico por medio de la literatura, la escultura, la pintura, el dibujo, el sonido o como es en mi caso por medio de la fotografía. Caminar por tu entorno más inmediato te invita a mirar, a percibir, a conocer, a reflexionar y te permite ser crítico hacia las diferentes transformaciones que el poder fáctico impone. Ese conocimiento junto a ese pensamiento crítico genera un compromiso ético.

¿Se pueden cambiar las cosas con el acto de caminar?

Las cosas no se cambian por sí solas simplemente caminando. Se necesita el compromiso de una parte de la sociedad. Las personas que deciden caminar están en continuo cambio y ese movimiento genera unas sinergias que son capaces de transformar cualquier cosa. No basta con salir a la calle a caminar si no va implícito un grado mínimo de compromiso y de acción.

¿Necesitamos volver a ocupar los espacios públicos?

Necesitamos recuperarlos en la medida en que necesitamos socializar el espacio que ya ocupamos, y el desplazarse a pie ayuda a mantener ese equilibrio entre lo privado y lo público. Si algo caracteriza ese espacio público es la posibilidad de transitarlo con total libertad. Un espacio imperfecto y en continua transformación, donde el ser humano debe ser el protagonista frente a la especulación y a los intereses partidistas. El antropólogo Manuel Delgado llega a afirmar que el espacio público no existe en esta sociedad capitalista mientras se excluya de él a las personas y colectivos más vulnerables. Creo incluso que es necesario recuperar el espacio público como espacio de confrontación, donde dejemos de ser simples autómatas obedientes y materialicemos nuestros deseos. Una parte de urbanistas modernos, junto a ciertas políticas neoliberales, se han empeñado en proyectar las calles, las plazas, los barrios de tal manera que todo esté en orden, controlado y vigilado, de crear la ciudad perfecta con la intención de desactivar cualquier tipo de discrepancia y conflicto. Esto va en contra del propio concepto de ciudadano en la medida que se hace ciudad activando y socializando el espacio público.

¿Cómo ha influido tu pasión por caminar en tu proyecto personal?

Esa experiencia estética la materializo a través de mi trabajo artístico por medio de la fotografía y los registros sonoros. Pongo en práctica diferentes maneras de caminar, desde las deambulaciones perceptivas de los surrealistas, las derivas psicogeográficas de los situacionistas hasta las transurbancias que nos propone Francesco Careri con el grupo 'Stalker/Osservatorio Nomade'. De estas experiencias nace el proyecto WALKCELONA, en el que llevo trabajando los últimos siete años. Registro mis desplazamientos por la ciudad, que no dejan de ser pequeños momentos cotidianos, donde el conflicto está presente en sus calles, donde las contradicciones urbanas nos hacen errar en todas direcciones, donde los paisajes lingüísticos nos hace más humanos, sabiendo que la mayoría de las veces acaban censurados, generando muros de estéticas imposibles. Donde la arquitectura nos habla de cómo el espacio se convierte en tiempo y éste en historia, de lugares concretos que la cámara aísla y rescata de su anonimato para ser observados con la tranquilidad que la fotografía nos permite y que el ritmo de la propia ciudad nos arrebata."
walking  freedom  fernandobernal  2015  via:javierarbona  ethics  anarchism  aesthetics  thinking  solviturambulando  walkcelona  psychogeography  francisconavamuel  barcelona  españa  spain  knowing  scale  situationist  observation  criticism  criticalthinking  publicspace  space  manueldelgado  transurbanism  urbanism  urban  cities  anthropology 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Fred Moten - A look at Duke's preeminent poet | The Chronicle
[now here: https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2010/10/fred-moten-look-dukes-preeminent-poet ]

““It’s very difficult when your role models are Shakespeare and Milton,” he said. “Everyone has to come terms at some point with the fact that you’re not going to live up to that—and then you just keep going or you don’t.” What do you think?

He did, and although he may not be Shakespeare, Moten has had his own bit of success in the contemporary poetry world. Last year, the Poetry Society of America chose him as one of 16 poets honored for an outstanding first book of poetry, and published one of his poems, “Rock the Party, Fuck the Smackdown” in the literary journal A Public Space. PSA Programs Director Rob Caspar said Moten caught the group’s eyes—and ears—with poetry that was experimental and “radically lyric.” What do you think?

“There’s song and voice, at the heart of his work,” Caspar said, “but it’s a new and complex song, and a voice that probes and pushes as much as it celebrates.”What do you think?

As for how he thinks of his own writing, Moten explained to the literary journal Callaloo that he doesn’t see poems as neatly wrapped ideas or images. Instead, he believes that “poetry is what happens…on the outskirts of sense.”What do you think?

This unorthodox approach to writing extends beyond Moten’s own projects, spilling over into his teaching philosophy. In a Fred Moten English class, a standard essay on a piece of literature might be replaced by a sound collage or a piece of creative writing reacting to the reading. It’s an attempt, he said, to get his students to write like they actually want to write—not the way they think they need to for a class. What do you think?

“School makes it so that you write to show evidence of having done some work, so that you can be properly evaluated and tracked,” he said. “To me that degrades writing, so I’m trying to figure out how to detach the importance of writing from these structures of evaluation.” What do you think?

Second year English Ph.D student Damien Adia-Marassa said this means that Moten’s classes are never the same. Last Spring, Marassa worked as a “teaching apprentice” in one of Moten’s undergraduate courses, “Experimental Black Poetry,” for which he said there was never a fixed syllabus. What do you think?

“He just told us the texts he wanted to study and invited us all to participate in thinking about how we might study them,” Marassa said. What do you think?

But is Professor Moten ever worried that students will take advantage of his flexibility with structure and content? What do you think?

Actually, he said, he doesn’t care if students take his courses because they think they will be easy. What do you think?

“I think it’s good to find things in your life that are easy for you,” he said. “If someone signs up for my class because they think it will come naturally to them and it won’t be something they have to agonize over, those are all good things in my book.”What do you think?

In the Spring, Moten will switch gears as a professor, teaching his first creative writing course since arriving at Duke—Introduction to Writing Poetry. But whatever the course title may imply, he won’t be trying to teach his students how to write, he said. Instead, he hops they’ll come away from his class better at noticing the world around them. What do you think?

And he hopes to teach them to that, in order to write, you first have to fiercely love to read. That’s a skill he learned a long time ago, out in the flat Nevada desert, when he first picked up a book of poems and started to read, not knowing where it would take him. “
fredmoten  poetry  writing  teaching  howeteach  classideas  creativewriting  2010  noticing  observation  flexibility  teachingwriting  howweteach  school  education  structure  thinking  howwethink  sense  sensemaking  literature  pedagogy  evaluation  tracking 
may 2015 by robertogreco
“The world is full of objects, more or less... - robertogreco {tumblr}
“The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.

I prefer, simply, to state the existence of things in terms of time and/or place.

More specifically, the work concerns itself with things whose inter-relationship is beyond direct perceptual experience.

Because the work is beyond direct perceptual experience, awareness of the work depends on a system of documentation.

The documentation takes the form of photographs, maps, drawings and descriptive language.”

—Douglas Huebler
time  place  documentation  cv  douglashuebler  art  experience  perception  awareness  belatedness  things  objects  cataloging  description  observation  photography  maps  mapping  drawing  drawings  systems  archives  noticing  collections  collecting  capturing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Halcyon Maps | Constellations throughout the ages
"Though on the short timescale, stars appear to mantain nearly fixed positions in relation to each other, long-term observations show that all stars indeed move and all constellations gradually change over time.

This chart shows how the various constellations and asterisms on the night sky (namely the Big Dipper, Orion, Crux, Leo, Cassiopea and Lyra) changed throughout the human history and how will they look to an earth-based observer in the distant future, due to the proper motion of stars in our galaxy.

All data used to make this chart was gathered from the Hipparcos Catalogue, which was published in 1997 by the European Space Agency. It was a result of the 4-year long mission of the Hipparcos satellite. Visualization was achieved using the special astronomical software HippLiner."
contellations  astronomy  astrology  maps  mapping  time  timelines  history  constellationalthinking  perspective  observation  sterism  nightsky  skies  bigdipper  orion  crux  leo  cassiopea  lyra  motion  martinvargic 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Surveillance and Care | Snakes and Ladders
"Another day, another story about the legal trouble you can expect if you’re a free-range parent. This matters, a lot, and what’s at stake needs to be made clear.

1) The parents here are accused by the state of “child neglect,” but what they are doing is the opposite of neglect — it is thoughtful, intentional training of their children for responsible adulthood. They instructed their children with care; the children practiced responsible freedom before being fully entrusted with it. And then the state intervened before the children could discover the satisfaction of exercising their freedom well.

2) What’s happening here is fundamentally simple: the surveillance state enforcing surveillance as the normative form of care. The state cannot teach its citizens, because it has no idea what to teach; it can only place them under observation. Perfect observation — panopticism — then becomes its telos, which is justifies and universalizes by imposing a responsibility to surveil on the very citizens already being surveilled. The state’s commandment to parents: Do as I do.

3) By enforcing surveillance as the normative form of care, the state effectively erases the significance of all other forms of care. Parents might teach their children nothing of value, no moral standards, no self-discipline, no compassion for others — but as long as those children are incessantly observed, then according to the state’s standards the parents of those children are good parents. And they are good because they are training their children to accept a lifetime of passive acceptance of surveillance. The Marxist theorist Louis Althusser used to speak of the ways that culture can be transformed into an “ideological state apparatus” — that’s what our society wants to do to parenthood."
panopticon  surveillance  parenting  freerangeparenting  government  alanjacobs  2015  cps  freedom  control  parenthood  children  ethics  morality  culture  ideology  louisalthusser  observation  care  caring  althusser 
march 2015 by robertogreco
New book on 'Design Ethnography' — pasta and vinegar
"Here's the book blurb:
"What do designers mean when they say they’re going to do “ethnography” and “field research”? What are the relationships between observing people and designing products or services? Is there such a thing as a “designerly” way of knowing people? This book is a report from a research project conducted at HEAD – Genève that addressed the role of people-knowing in interaction/media design. It describes the wide breadth of approaches used by designers to frame their work, get inspiration or speculate about plausible futures. This book presents practitioners’ tactics and illustrates them with several cases. Unlike many resources on user-centered design, it takes a broader approach to design by considering cases in which design is not only a problem-solving activity, but a tool to speculate about the near future, reformulate problems or propose a critical discourse on society. In doing so, this book helps designers, students and consultants to challenge their own perceptions and update their approaches."

The book is a collective effort, with texts from John Thackara, Julian Bleecker, Sara Ljungblad, Gilles Baudet, Anab Jain and Jon Ardern, James Auger, Virginia Cruz and Nicolas Gaudron, Liam Young, Fabian Hemmert, Steve Portigal, Gordan Savičić and Selena Savić, Anne-Catherine Sutermeister and Jean-Pierre Greff. 

It can be purchased online here at we-make.it [http://we-make.it/shop/ and http://wemakeitberlin.tictail.com/product/design-ethnography ]"
design  ethnography  designethnography  nicolasnova  johnthackara  julianbleecker  saraljungblad  gillesbaudet  anabjain  jonardern  superflux  jamesauger  virginiacruz  nicolasgaudron  liamyoung  fabianhemmert  steveportigal  books  gordansavičić  selensavić  anne-catherinesutermeister  jean-pierregreff  futurism  speculativedesign  disign  nearfuture  fieldresearch  research  observation 
january 2015 by robertogreco
SINGLE STREAM (trailer) on Vimeo
"2014, 4K CinemaScope, 5.1 surround sound, 23 minutes
Picture: Paweł Wojtasik, Toby Lee
Sound: Ernst Karel

SINGLE STREAM explores a recycling facility in the Boston area, where hundreds of tons of refuse are sorted daily. Blurring the line between observation and abstraction, SINGLE STREAM plunges the viewer into the steady flow of the plant and the waste it treats, examining the material consequences of our society's culture of excess."

[See also:
https://twitter.com/single_stream
http://ek.klingt.org/currenthappenings.html ]
sensoryethnography  sensoryethnographylab  ernstkarel  pawełwojtasik  tobylee  film  documentary  boston  video  2014  observation  abstraction 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Poetry No. 88, Anne Carson
"INTERVIEWER: Most people are not aware that you’re a visual artist as well as a verbal artist. You make books—a single book that you make for one person or another. I remember when we were going through the Ontario countryside, and everything was white, and at one point you pointed off in the distance and said, “I used to live there,” I think it was Port Hope? I looked out and thought, Nobody used to live there. There was just nothing there. Then you handed me this white book that you’d made for your brother Michael.

CARSON: When I go on the train from here to Toronto I always dread that passing of Port Hope because it was a place we lived for six, seven years and my parents for about fifteen years and my brother intermittently, so the book, because it’s about him, is connected to that place in some ways. But it’s a place where everyone’s life fell apart. That’s too strong. It was a place where we all, my brother and I, met the end of our adolescence. So that’s a serious order."



"In surfaces, perfection is less interesting. For instance, a page with a poem on it is less attractive than a page with a poem on it and some tea stains. Because the tea stains add a bit of history. It’s a historical attitude. After all, texts of ancient Greeks come to us in wreckage and I admire that, the combination of layers of time that you have when looking at a papyrus that was produced in the third century BC and then copied and then wrapped around a mummy for a couple hundred years and then discovered and put in a museum and pieced together by nine different gentlemen and put back in the museum and brought out again and photographed and put in a book. All those layers add up to more and more life. You can approximate that in your own life. Stains on clothing."



"… I remember in grade two when we had to draw pictures of a barnyard one day, and the teacher said we could put a story on it if we wanted to, to explain our barnyard. That was quite a breakthrough moment. Putting the story as well as the picture together. And when I did my first book of poems, Short Talks, when I first produced that as a manuscript to try to publish it, it was drawings. A set of drawings that had at first just titles, and then I expanded the titles a bit and then gradually realized nobody was interested in the drawings and I just took the titles off and then they were pellets of a lecture."



"… since then there’s been what people call a paradigm shift, which means now you can’t do anything wrong, but which really means people are offering equally blind judgments of the work. I don’t know why that happens. I guess people are just afraid to think. They like to have a category that’s ready so they can say: “Okay, now we know this is good, we can enjoy it.”"



"INTERVIEWER: So there’s this dense otherness that you just want to find out about. Whether it’s relevant is besides the point.

CARSON: One thing I do understand about the Greeks is that they, too, understood this and valued it. That is what the god Dionysus is as a principle—the principle of being up against something so other that it bounces you out of yourself to a place where, nonetheless, you are still in yourself; there’s a connection to yourself as another. It’s what they call "ecstasy." The Greeks invented this concept, but they also embody it for us, which may just be just our utilitarian approach to them. But who can say. We are always going to be looking at the Greeks and figuring out who they are in relation to what we are. We can’t get out and be in a third place and judge both of us."



"INTERVIEWER: I end up putting you and Alice Munro together. In each of you there’s an attachment to the physical world and the details of life—almost like you are reveling in them—whether they’re bad, good, painful, or whatever else. Does that seem right to you?

CARSON: I recognize that. Reveling is good. A good word for it. But she and I are very different. What we have in common is perhaps an attitude that however bad life is, the important thing is to make something interesting out of it. And that has a lot to do with the physical world, with looking at stuff, snow and light and the smell of your screen door and whatever constitutes your phenomenal existence from moment to moment. How consoling—that this stuff goes on and that you can keep thinking about it and making that into something on a page."
annecarson  poetry  interviews  2004  stains  imperfections  wabi-sabi  life  living  observation  alicemunro  paradigmshifts  perspective  otherness  relativity  willaitken 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Some observations on Taiye Selasi’s “Driver” – The New Inquiry
[regarding: http://www.granta.com/Archive/123/Driver (Update: now here and paywalled: https://granta.com/driver/ )]

"It may surprise you to learn that Taiye Selasi’s short story, “Driver,” absolutely seethes with class antagonism. It does so very quietly. “I am the full-time driver here,” is the first line of the story; “I am not going to kill my employers” is the second. Instead, the protagonist—Webster, a formerly college-bound young man whose ambitions were halted by his father’s illness, and who has become a driver for a wealthy Ghanaian family—writes “I will make just a few observations.”

This is all he will do. He will not kill them. He will merely see them.

He does not burn down his employers’ house, for example, but he does make some heated observations: the madam’s flowers are, she tells him, the “toast of all of Ghana”; some of us, he responds, do not have bread. But he doesn’t say it; he only imagines saying it to her. It’s the kind of bitter play on words that a frustrated mind would knot itself up with, but it’s a signifying that he doesn’t dare speak out loud. He doesn’t dare burn down their house, though he kind of wants to; instead, he ruminates on how the pots of flowers “burst into flames” as they “pretty” the walls of the compound. How beautiful their house would look in flames, he doesn’t say. The story does not turn into Faulkner’s “Barn Burning.” He does not attempt to reclaim his masculinity with violent action. He is passive. He observes.

It took a second reading before I noticed how intensely freighted the protagonist’s words are, in fact, how tightly wound his consciousness is. The antagonism is there, but the double meanings are also not quite meant to be heard; they might even be unconscious to him. His observations to us are as guarded as his words to his employers, his thoughts couched and hidden; he is surprised, at one point, to find himself crying. Nothing in what he has said, up until that point, explains why he has tears in his eyes. Which is another way of saying that he does not speak: he’s not telling any stories about what he sees, as the second meaning of “observations” indicates. He observes, passively, but he does not—except to us, and we must still draw it out of him—say what he has seen. He remains silent. He sees but is not heard.

He certainly doesn’t speak back to his employers, for instance. His great fear is that his employers will see him seeing them, and fire him for his observation, so he is scrupulously dumb, mute. His father is sick with cancer, his family needs the money from the job, and he particularly likes this particular job because it allows him time to read, to continue his studies, as he puts it. So he does what he needs to do to keep it. He keeps his mouth shut.

Instead of observing what he sees, then, he says what he is supposed to say to keep his job, which is, mostly, nothing. Like his father—“a smiley man…a dimpled, deferential, diminutive man”—he plays the part well. He says “yes, ma’am” and “yes, sir,” as little as he can get away with. But unlike his father, he knows the mask he’s wearing. His father believed. The son does not. His father thought that hard work and subservience would pay off; his son has seen that it does not, but he makes the best of it.

This, at least, is how the story is set up at the start. Our protagonist wears the mask, plays the role he has been hired to play. He follows the rules. He does what he is told, and he keeps his mouth shut. He is defensively cynical, making a protective shell out of a mute exterior. But the persistent difficulty of servile life is that his employers do not keep their end of the bargain, and do not have to. Employment is not a contract; employment is a form of subjection.

For one thing, his father’s boss does not take care of his sick servant’s family, as the father had expected, as the implied contract of their relationship does not turn out to enforce. Instead of acting as a benevolent patron, the boos simply offers a job as driver to the son (“offers”). If anything, the father’s sickness is an opportunity for his boss: another driver becomes available, and his sister needs a driver (for reasons which later become apparent)."



"The protagonist’s masculinity makes it easier to overlook the undercurrent of aggressive seduction that threads through the entire story, but it is there. Were the protagonist a woman, it would be easier to see his employers harassing him, forcing intimacies upon him that he spends the story trying to evade, but which he cannot avoid. We’d recognize this story in an instant if it were a frustrated male employer seducing his female servant, forcing her to choose to be seduced; Samuel Richardson wrote Pamela in 1740, and it’s been written a time or two since. But though it’s less clear that we are seeing a version of that story, we are: his mistress is frustrated with her husband’s infidelity, and she eventually forces the protagonist to choose to be seduced.

It begins when he walks past his mistress’s bathroom window and accidentally sees her naked. He is doubled over with panic that he will be fired for “peeping”; he hides, and literally weeps with fear. “Peeping” is a firing offense. But like most forms of policing, what seems like a contract—don’t do the crime, don’t do the time—is actually a power relationship masked by the illusion of choice. He sees her naked, but not because he “peeped”; it is her who left the window “undressed,” projecting her naked body out of the room where she bathes, onto the eyes of the unsuspecting Webster, who had no intention of seeing her. He didn’t actively look; he was just walking by, and was, passively, made to “peep.” But the moment he does, he is in her power.

The story ends when, fifteen minutes later, she walks out into the garden, where he is frozen, speechless, paralyzed. She tells him what he has feared: she saw him seeing her. She tells him he can keep a secret. Finally, she tells him that she will help his father if he has sex with her and, without using words, that she will fire him—like the last driver—if he will not. Here the story ends. She takes him in her arms; he reciprocates, and a curtain of modesty falls over the proceedings.

If she had used violence, it would be possible to call this “rape.” But he does not say no, does not resist, is not forced. He reciprocates, as he has no choice but to do. Which is the point. Because she allows economics to do the work for her, there is no word for his violation. We cannot say he was raped, because he chose, even if it wasn’t the choice he would have chosen, even if we see him weeping with fear and frustration, even if she catches him like a spider catches a fly. Of course, she needn’t be the spider in her own mind; she didn’t force him, after all, and maybe he really does want it? He doesn’t say no, after all, and she’s doing him a favor. She can think all of these things, plausible. And he says nothing to contradict her.

This, then, is the movement of the story: from an impulse to violent action to words, and from words—from actually speaking—to merely seeing, silent acquiescence. The silence of seeing and knowing what one does not dare to say. And the violation without violence of economic force. With no power to say no, silence is subjection."
observation  power  silence  control  policing  2014  aaronbady  taiyeselasi  storytelling  powerdynamics  subjection 
december 2014 by robertogreco
A Thousand Rivers: What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning.
[also here: http://carolblack.org/a-thousand-rivers/ ]

"The following statement somehow showed up on my Twitter feed the other day:
“Spontaneous reading happens for a few kids. The vast majority need (and all can benefit from) explicit instruction in phonics.”

This 127-character edict issued, as it turned out, from a young woman who is the “author of the forthcoming book Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter” and a “journalist, consultant and speaker who helps people understand how we learn and how we can do it better.”

It got under my skin, and not just because I personally had proven in the first grade that it is possible to be bad at phonics even if you already know how to read. It was her tone; that tone of sublime assurance on the point, which, further tweets revealed, is derived from “research” and “data” which demonstrate it to be true.

Many such “scientific” pronouncements have emanated from the educational establishment over the last hundred years or so.  The fact that the proven truths of each generation are discovered by the next to be harmful folly never discourages the current crop of experts who are keen to impose their freshly-minted certainties on children. Their tone of cool authority carries a clear message to the rest of us: “We know how children learn.  You don’t.

So they explain it to us.

The “scientific consensus” about phonics, generated by a panel convened by the Bush administration and used to justify billions of dollars in government contracts awarded to Bush supporters in the textbook and testing industries, has been widely accepted as fact through the years of “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top,” so if history is any guide, its days are numbered. Any day now there will be new research which proves that direct phonics instruction to very young children is harmful, that it bewilders and dismays them and makes them hate reading (we all know that’s often true, so science may well discover it) — and millions of new textbooks, tests, and teacher guides will have to be purchased at taxpayer expense from the Bushes’ old friends at McGraw-Hill.

The problems with this process are many, but the one that I’d like to highlight is this: the available “data” that drives it is not, as a matter of fact, the “science of how people learn.” It is the “science of what happens to people in schools.”

This is when it occurred to me: people today do not even know what children are actually like. They only know what children are like in schools.

Schools as we know them have existed for a very short time historically: they are in themselves a vast social experiment. A lot of data are in at this point. One in four Americans does not know the earth revolves around the sun. Half of Americans don’t know that antibiotics can’t cure a virus. 45% of American high school graduates don’t know that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. These aren’t things that are difficult to know. If the hypothesis is that universal compulsory schooling is the best way to to create an informed and critically literate citizenry, then anyone looking at the data with a clear eye would have to concede that the results are, at best, mixed. At worst, they are catastrophic: a few strains of superbacteria may be about to prove that point for us.

On the other hand, virtually all white American settlers in the northeastern colonies at the time of the American Revolution could read, not because they had all been to school, and certainly not because they had all been tutored in phonics, which didn’t exist at the time. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, not exactly light reading, sold over 500,000 copies in its first year of publication, the equivalent of a book selling sixty million copies today. People learned to read in a variety of ways, some from small one-room schools, but many from their mothers, from tutors, traveling ministers, apprentice’s masters, relatives, neighbors, friends. They could read because, in a literate population, it is really not that difficult to transmit literacy from one person to the next. When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.

In other words, they could read for all the same reasons that we can now use computers. We don’t know how to use computers because we learned it in school, but because we wanted to learn it and we were free to learn it in whatever way worked best for us. It is the saddest of ironies that many people now see the fluidity and effectiveness of this process as a characteristic of computers, rather than what it is, which is a characteristic of human beings.

In the modern world, unless you learn to read by age 4, you are no longer free to learn in this way. Now your learning process will be scientifically planned, controlled, monitored and measured by highly trained “experts” operating according to the best available “data.” If your learning style doesn’t fit this year’s theory, you will be humiliated, remediated, scrutinized, stigmatized, tested, and ultimately diagnosed and labelled as having a mild defect in your brain.

How did you learn to use a computer? Did a friend help you? Did you read the manual? Did you just sit down and start playing around with it? Did you do a little bit of all of those things? Do you even remember? You just learned it, right?”



"City kids who grow up among cartoon mice who talk and fish who sing show tunes are so delayed in their grasp of real living systems that Henrich et al. suggest that studying the cognitive development of biological reasoning in urban children may be “the equivalent of studying “normal” physical growth in malnourished children.” But in schools, rural Native children are tested and all too often found to be less intelligent and more learning “disabled” than urban white children, a deeply disturbing phenomenon which turns up among traditional rural people all over the world."



"Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species. It’s no accident that indigenous holistic thinkers are the ones who have been consistently reminding us of our appropriate place in the ecological systems of life as our narrowly-focused technocratic society veers wildly between conservation and wholesale devastation of the planet. It’s no accident that dyslexic holistic thinkers are often our artists, our inventors, our dreamers, our rebels. "



"Right now American phonics advocates are claiming that they “know” how children learn to read and how best to teach them. They know nothing of the kind. A key value in serious scientific inquiry is also a key value in every indigenous culture around the world: humility. We are learning."



"“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top,” a great artist once said. Science is a tool of breathtaking power and beauty, but it is not a good parent; it must be balanced by something broader, deeper, older. Like wind and weather, like ecosystems and microorganisms, like snow crystals and evolution, human learning remains untamed, unpredictable, a blossoming fractal movement so complex and so mysterious that none of us can measure or control it. But we are part of that fractal movement, and the ability to help our offspring learn and grow is in our DNA. We can begin rediscovering it now. Experiment. Observe. Listen. Explore the thousand other ways of learning that still exist all over the planet. Read the data and then set it aside. Watch your child’s eyes, what makes them go dull and dead, what makes them brighten, quicken, glow with light. That is where learning lies."
carolblack  2014  education  learning  certainty  experts  science  research  data  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  compulsoryschooling  history  literacy  canon  parenting  experimentation  listening  observation  noticing  indigeneity  howwelearn  howweteach  wisdom  intuition  difference  diversity  iainmcgilchrist  truth  idleness  dyslexia  learningdifferences  rosscooper  neurodiveristy  finland  policy  standards  standardization  adhd  resistance  reading  howweread  sugatamitra  philiplieberman  maori  aboriginal  society  cv  creativity  independence  institutionalization  us  josephhenrich  stevenjheine  aranorenzayan  weird  compulsory  māori  colonization  colonialism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Teaching Reflections: Design Ethnography #1 | Design Culture Lab
"But the real highlight came when she shared photos taken by schoolchildren at Talimi Haq School in Priya Manna Basti, Howrah (Kolkata). For this ethnographic research, Lorena used photovoice, “a collaborative participatory method where people in marginalised communities are encouraged to take photos of things they consider important in their lives, or that capture their lived experiences.” She provided cameras and training, and asked the students to work in pairs to photograph a ritual or activity that was important to them and arrange it as a photo essay or narrative. We then looked at the photos and Lorena asked the students what they suggest about the lives of the children and life in Priya Manna Basti. For example, the girls took photos of water–something that is very strictly controlled in the slum and integral to cooking and cleaning (considered women’s work). The boys took photos of school and street cricket, emphasising play (classes are voluntary and held after a full day of work). The students were very good at noticing gender differences, spatial contexts like domestic and public space, as well as the different poses of people pictured (i.e. some looked directly at the camera, but most did not).

This exercise sets up our second assignment quite well, but for now we still have to concentrate on practicing observation and interview skills, and then interpreting what was seen, done and heard. Students are still struggling with making assumptions about what they see and hear, although I’m very impressed by how few have got stuck on making judgements. The students are bright and sensitive, but I think it can be difficult to understand a point of view that we’ve never before encountered or with which we disagree. I had hoped that limiting their fieldwork to family and friends would reduce the amount of cultural dissonance encountered, but it seems to also make it harder for them to get past the taken for granted."
annegalloway  ethnography  designethnography  teaching  education  pedagogy  2014  observation  photography  photovoice  autoethnography 
august 2014 by robertogreco
"Fleeting pockets of anarchy" Streetwork. The exploding school. | Catherine Burke - Academia.edu
"Colin Ward (1924–2010) was an anarchist and educator who, together with Anthony Fyson, was employed as education officer for the Town and Country Planning Association in the UK during the 1970s. He is best known for his two books about childhood, The Child in the City (1978) and The Child in the Country (1988). The book he co-authored with Fyson, Streetwork. The Exploding School (1973), is discussed in this article as illustrating in practical and theoretical terms Ward’s appreciation of the school as a potential site for extraordinary radical change in relations between pupils and teachers and schools and their localities. The article explores the book alongside the Bulletin of Environmental Education, which Ward edited throughout the 1970s. It argues that the literary and visual images employed in the book and the bulletins contributed to the powerful positive representation of the school as a site of potential radical social change. Finally, it suggests that “fleeting pockets of anarchy” continue to exist in the lives of children through social networking and virtual environments that continue to offer pedagogical possibilities for the imaginative pedagogue."



"Paul Goodman’s work had particular relevance to the development of ideas expressed in Streetwork. Through his fiction, Goodman developed the idea of the “exploding school” which realised the city as an educator. Playing with the notion of the school trip as traditionally envisaged, he created an image of city streets as host to a multitude of small peripatetic groups of young scholars and their adult shepherds. This image was powerfully expressed in Goodman’s 1942 novel, TheGrand Piano; or, The Almanac of Alienation.

Ward quotes extensively from this novel in Streetwork because the imagery and vocabulary so clearly articulate a view of the city and the school that is playfully subversive yet imaginable. In a dialogue between a street urchin and a professor, Goodman has the elder explain:
this city is the only one you’ll ever have and you’ve got to make the best of it. On the other hand, if you want to make the best of it, you’ve got to be able to criticize it and change it and circumvent it . . . Instead of bringing imitation bits of the city into a school building, let’s go at our own pace and get out among the real things. What I envisage is gangs of half a dozen starting at nine or ten years old, roving the Empire City (NY) with a shepherd empowered to protect them, and accumulating experiences tempered to their powers . . . In order to acquire and preserve a habit of freedom, a kid must learn to circumvent it and sabotage it at any needful point as occasion arises . . . if you persist in honest service, you will soon be engaging in sabotage.

Inspired by such envisaged possibilities, Ward came to his own view of anarchism, childhood and education. Sabotage was a function of the transformational nature of education when inculcated by the essential elements of critical pedagogy. In this sense, anarchism was not some future utopian state arrived at through a once-and-for-all, transformative act of revolution; it was rather a present-tense thing, always-already “there” as a thread of social life, subversive by its very nature – one of inhabiting pockets of resistance, questioning, obstructing; its existence traceable through attentive analysis of its myriad ways and forms.

Colin Ward was a classic autodidact who sought connections between fields of knowledge around which academic fences are too often constructed. At the heart of his many enthusiasms was an interest in the meaning and making of space and place, as sites for creativity and learning."



"Fleeting pockets of anarchy and spaces of educational opportunity

The historian of childhood John Gillis has borrowed the notion of the “islanding of children” from Helgar and Hartmut Zeiher as a metaphor to describe how contemporary children relate, or do not relate, to the urban environments that they experience in growing up. Gillis quotes the geographer David Harvey, who has noted that children could even be seen to inhabit islands within islands, while “the internal spatial ordering of the island strictly regulates and controls the possibility of social change and history”. This could so easily be describing the modern school. According to Gillis, “archipelagoes of children provide a reassuring image of stasis for mainlands of adults anxious about change”.

Since the publication of Streetwork, the islanding of childhood has increased, not diminished. Children move – or, more accurately, are moved – from place to place, travelling for the most part sealed within cars. This prevents them encountering the relationships between time and space that Ward believed essential for them to be able to embark on the creation of those fleeting pockets of anarchy that were educational, at least in the urban environment. Meanwhile, the idea of environmental education has lost the urban edge realised fleetingly by Ward and Fyson during the1970s. Environmental education has become closely associated with nature and the values associated with natural elements and forces

If the curriculum of the school has become an island, we might in a sense begin to see the laptop or iPad as the latest islanding, or at least fragmenting, device. Ward and Fyson understood the importance of marginal in-between spaces in social life,where they believed creative flourishing was more likely to occur than in the sanctioned institution central spaces reflecting and representing state authority. This was, they thought, inevitable and linked to play, part of what it was to be a child. The teacher’s job was to manage that flourishing as well as possible, by responding to the opportunities continually offered in the marginal spaces between subjects in the curriculum and between school and village, city or town. They believed that such spaces offered educational opportunities that, if enabled to flourish through the suggested pedagogy of Streetwork and the implications of the exploding school, might enrich lives and environments across the generations. It was in the overlooked or apparently uninteresting spaces of the urban environment that teachers, with encouragement, might find a rich curriculum. Today, we might observe such “fleeting pockets of anarchy” in the in-between spaces of social media, which offer as yet unimagined opportunities and challenges for educational planners to expand the parameters of school and continue to define environmental education as radical social and urban practice."
colinward  cityasclassroom  anarchism  tonyfyson  streetwork  2014  catherineburke  education  unschooling  deschooling  1970s  society  theexplodingschool  children  socialnetworking  pedagogy  johngillis  urban  urbanism  islanding  parenting  experience  agesegregation  safety  anarchy  sabotage  subversion  autodidacts  autodidacticism  criticalpedagogy  childhood  learning  paulgoodman  freedom  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cities  resistance  questioning  obstructing  obstruction  revolution  lewismumford  ivanillich  paulofreire  peterkropotkin  patrickgeddes  autodidactism  living  seeing  nationalism  separatism  johnholt  youth  adolescence  everyday  observation  participatory  enironmentaleducation  experientiallearning  place  schools  community  communities  context  bobbray  discovery  discoverylearning  hamescallaghan  blackpapers  teaching  kenjones  radicalism  conformity  control  restrictions  law  legal  culture  government  policy  spontaneity  planning  situationist  cocreation  place-basededucation  place-basedlearning  place-based  place-basedpedagogy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
BBC News - The slow death of purposeless walking
"A number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking - just for its own sake - and thinking. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk?"
walking  thinking  2014  flaneur  wandering  charlesdickens  georgeorwell  patrickleigh  constantinbrancusi  thoreau  thomasdequincey  nassimtaleb  nietzsche  brucechatwin  wgebald  johnfrancis  fredericgros  geoffnicholson  merlincoverley  observation  attention  mindfulness  rebeccasolnit  finlorohrer  vladimirnabokov 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Ethnography, magpies and shiny things - Stripe Partners | Stripe Partners
"This is the first of a three posts exploring the rise, fall and possible futures of ethnography in commercial settings.

This piece explores how ethnography fell victim of the enduring quest for fashion and the need to differentiate in market research. It’s not just a lament – but a call for reinvigoration.

The second piece will explore contexts in which ethnography has been used to greater potential – and chart the threats it now faces. The third will attempt a resolution of the first two posts – charting a course for the future. "



"Ethnography got lost in translation

Dating the arrival of a shiny new things is always hard but ethnography probably emerged into the world of market research in the late 1990s.

When ethnography met market research there was a sense of excitement that it might change the industry and how served its clients. But it soon became a fashion. Market research turned ethnography in a commodity by modelling it on existing product categories, merging it with techniques and force fitting it with existing theories of how consumers think and what makes them tick. Ethnography became a ‘sexed up’ way to do more of the same without thinking differently.

Doing an quick interview in someone’s sitting room became ethnography. A selection of video clips become video ethnography. In the hands of some a 20 minute call on Skype claimed to be ethnography. Ethnography become all method and no thinking – all mouth and no trousers.

Ethnography became just another route to documenting ‘needs’ or generating a needstate map. It became a part of the market research toolkit and just another product to sell.

The result: the potential of ethnography got lost in translation. The shine came off ethnography.

Ethnography –different but the same?

Ethnography as product was not accompanied by a wider interrogation of research industry assumptions: For example, how might ethnography change how we understand people, their social worlds and cultural processes. It didn’t question if the principal focus of our investigations should be individuals (or ‘individual consumers’) to the neglect of any broader social systems or groups.

But most fundamentally, the question that didn’t get asked was this:

How can ethnography change how we think about people?

Ethnography became, in my view, a methodological novelty that didn’t deliver much extra beyond a new way of doing research. It was a chance to encourage new thinking about how to understand the relationship between individuals and broader social and cultural forms.

Ethnography’s arrival on the scene offered an invitation to question assumptions about what market research could deliver and what it was for. That invitation was declined.

In a recent interview, anthropologist Danny Miller said the following about ethnography: “I really do believe in it as the best form of social enquiry that we have ever discovered.”

Ethnography as a mean of understanding the world was discovered a long time ago. It may not be new, and may no longer be shiny. But it works and it creates value. It’s time to reinvigorate and revive ethnography."
ethnography  2014  via:anne  anthropology  business  dannymiller  research  culture  understanding  observation  interviews  socialinquiry  inquiry 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Fast Path to a Great UX - Increased Exposure Hours
"As we've been researching what design teams need to do to create great user experiences, we've stumbled across an interesting finding. It's the closest thing we've found to a silver bullet when it comes to reliably improving the designs teams produce. This solution is so simple that we didn't believe it at first. After all, if it was this easy, why isn't everyone already doing it?

To make sure, we've spent the last few years working directly with teams, showing them what we found and helping them do it themselves. By golly, it actually worked. We were stunned.

The solution? Exposure hours. The number of hours each team member is exposed directly to real users interacting with the team's designs or the team's competitor's designs. There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces."

[via: http://tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/episode-sixty-we-have-always-been-at-war-our-independence-day-spimes-duh ]
design  research  usability  ux  observation  understanding  empathy  2010  learning  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  attention  exposure  exposurehours  organizations  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
6, 4: Block quotes
"So! In some of NASA’s actions you can detect a flavor of institutional hypervigilance against controversy. For example, most of what I’m in contact with is EO (Earth Observation, under what to my great pleasure was once called MTPE, Mission to Planet Earth), and for them climate change is a big, big deal. But they have to bend over backwards not to say anything that could be interpreted as even a little partisan, which is a tough move when simple, contextualized facts are very partisan. Likewise, two different people have politely reminded me that their communications are subject to FOIA, giving me the impression that they feel they have to avoid volunteering opinions outside narrow technical topics, even when they’re squeaky clean of any bias that could possibly affect the quality and independence of their work.

The impression that one sometimes gets is of a sticky note on the monitor frame reading “Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear read out in Congress by someone who intends to defund your program”.

It’s a shame. You add friction to people’s work when you make them second-guess themselves and not express even well-supported, carefully framed, intellectually honest, professionally relevant opinions.

I wish the squint-inducing sunlight were felt in agencies whose failures cause secret murders, foolish wars, and the creation of surveillance states more than in an agency whose most salient failures so far – seventeen suited astronaut deaths – were caused by institutional lock-up more than by anything else. It should scare us how much Columbia was a repeat of Challenger: in both cases, a good understanding of the problem and solution was diffused within NASA, but it never converged on the point where it was needed. Too little jidoka. It’s not that transparency causes Crew Module Catastrophic Events, but there’s a chain from “we need to make sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth” through “let’s make sure we have solid procedures for everything” to “no, don’t just say ‘STOP! I see a problem that could kill the crew.’ to your boss; write up a nice report in rock-solid formal language” that has to be broken somewhere.

Astronaut deaths are the most salient failure, but to my mind the much bigger one is the failure to go further, which is the fault of the Executive and Legislative branches. One illustration of the problem is the Landsat program. As a series of satellites, you might assume it would be NASA’s responsibility to manage the space side of things. Nope. Obama reached over with scissors and glue to move Landsat to its own authority within the Geological Survey, because we was rightly counseled that Congress (and the presidency) cannot be trusted to fund NASA consistently enough to let it run Landsat. The consequence is very good: USGS’s Landsat operation is one of my stock examples when folks ask about doing open data right. But it bodes bogus of our handling of our primary space program when we have to take satellites away from it because we can’t trust ourselves to let it run them.

And so I see the hypervigilance as another face of the imposed institutional conservatism that has made NASA an anxious genius of an agency, never sure whether it will have the funding to do anything ambitious even after it’s been promised, tired of being scolded for not finishing what it doesn’t have the mandate to start, trying to get through a few short-sighted decades while doing justice to its domain. It’s amazing it’s as sure-handed as it is.

This, then, I think, is why we don’t see even more radical innovation from NASA: because Congress hates funding costly failures, even ones that are small and necessary parts of hugely worthwhile successes. And that’s why I doubt we’re anywhere close to the fail-hard/win-big r strategy program that Maly envisions. NSF grants are one good back door. Universal healthcare and a better social net in general is another: read Bill Gates’s “half” story and go ask a single mother who can’t afford daycare how she thinks the US economy is doing at letting her best ideas compete. I bet we’ll get there, but what happens between now and then still counts. America is waiting.

One of many causes for hope is that, even as its funding for outreach is cut, it’s NASA’s figured out how to put on a show on the web."
charlieloyd  2014  nasa  bureaucracy  universalhealthcare  healthcare  research  government  failure  science  hypervigilance  observation  imagery  congress  funding  landsat  usgs  remotesensing  earth  satellites  satelliteimagery 
march 2014 by robertogreco
anthropology + design: anne galloway. | Savage Minds
"[This post is part of a two-week series featuring interviews with designers reflecting on anthropology and design.]

ANNE GALLOWAY. designer. ethnographer. archaeologist.

ANTHROPOLOGY + DESIGN.

My sense of anthropology is very materialist so I think it made a lot of sense for me to gravitate towards design. I originally trained as an archaeologist and did ethnographic fieldwork on Andean textile production, so I’ve always been interested in the things that people make. Of course, as anthropologists we’re taught the importance of context and I think that bringing anthropology and design together really stresses contextual meanings. For me, the most interesting connection between anthropology and design can be found in how each practice enhances the other. Anthropology provides a kind of thick description that contextualises design processes and products, and design offers anthropology creative means of exploring and representing what it means to be human. I also enjoy the explicit combination of thinking, doing, and making—of blurring boundaries between analytical and creative practice, between rational and emotional experience.

Sometimes, in design, we talk about research about, for, and through design—and I think that anthropology is well suited to contribute to each endeavour. As we know, ethnography (including material, visual, and discursive culture) can tell us a lot about the roles of design in everyday life. Ethnography also provides us with valuable information that can be used to design “better” things—or to design nothing at all. And although research through design is perhaps less obviously related to anthropology, I think that every kind of anthropological research could create and employ objects and images with as much nuance as we’ve come to use words.

PEDAGOGY.

My teaching is focussed on issues-based design, which means that my students have proposed everything from community recycling services and conservation activities to publicly curated museums and stray animal sanctuaries. My students also often work in the tradition of critical design, where they create object and image-based interventions or provocations into more culturally fraught issues, like euthanasia and immigration.

WHAT I DO.

My recent research has focussed on seeing how speculative or fictional design can be used as a public engagement strategy. Critical design has sometimes been criticised for a lack of nuanced politics and failure to engage audiences outside of gallery settings. So I began to wonder: what might happen if I applied my background in anthropology and science studies to practice? My “Counting Sheep: NZ Merino in an Internet of Things” research project was conceived as a means to explore possible human-livestock-technology futures, and each fictional design scenario currently exhibited on our Counting Sheep website is based on actual hopes and concerns voiced by research participants.

Inspired by cultural interests and artistic provocations rather than corporate or government forecasting activities, we created a series of speculative “everyday” objects, images, and narratives that we hope will challenge people to critically examine common assumptions and expectations about livestock animals and near-future technologies. (If you’ll forgive me for getting a bit more academic here—) By making the familiar strange, and the strange familiar, we were interested in learning how “what if…? ” scenarios might act in the present, especially in terms of constructing multiple publics and co-producing knowledge. We were also interested in better understanding how these scenarios might support and hinder understanding assemblages of people, places, animals, and technologies as moving processes rather than as static things.

invitro.culturedlamb invitro.meatballs

HOW I SHARE.

In addition to grounding our creative work in substantial empirical research, one of the things we wanted to do was systematically assess people’s responses to our designs—to see if and how they resonate. Since the scenarios were designed as prompts for reflection and discussion, we’ve created an anonymous online survey that anyone can take (Please take our survey!) before the end of April 2014. We’re also following up with our earlier research participants to have more in-depth discussions about the different content, our intentions, and their expectations. The project winds up at the end of June 2014, so we’ll be writing up our research results for both academic and popular publications after that. What I can say now is that things are looking pretty interesting—and not least because of disengaged or disinterested publics!

MY TOOLKIT.

It turns out that I’m compelled to get out and witness the goings on of the world, so despite working in design for the past five years, I still consider my primary tool to be fieldwork through participant observation. And, like all fieldworkers, I have a set of things that I use to collect what I see and do.

These days I never do fieldwork without my iPhone, iPad, an extra camera, a notebook and set of pens. I tend to use my phone’s camera as a sort of external memory device, and my other camera for presentation and publication-quality shots. To be honest, I’ve always found that cameras interfere with my ability to be present (and that’s a real problem during participant observation), but photos help me catch things I miss or to see things a bit differently, and that’s very helpful.

I record all my interviews with an app called Highlight, which I like because I can flag interesting points during the conversation and return to them later, without interrupting the flow. I do a lot of note-taking, using a regular paper notebook or an app called iA Writer (because that’s where I do most of my writing these days, including right now). I also try to post regular field reports to my research blog (http://designculturelab.org), but that’s not always possible or practical. I have quite limited drawing skills but I always map where I am and make sketches that are too ugly to share with anyone but are useful to me. Design work is much more varied and collaborative, and the tools we use are highly dependent on whether we’re creating objects or images.

METHODOLOGY.

I think I’ve already touched on where I see the most potential for design and anthropology to come together. In terms of more academic methodologies, I’m quite inspired by Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford’s 2012 edited volume, “Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social,” because they point out clear paths already being taken by interested researchers. I also hold out hope that speculative design can be stretched and strengthened by more explicit engagement with empirical research—not least because it may make it easier for us to explore a less anthropocentric anthropology, or tend to the nonhuman in new and exciting ways. I’ve also written about a bit about this recently—”Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design“–and there’s more to come!

RESOURCES.

Galloway, Anne. 2013. Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design. Ethnography Matters Blog. September 17.

Lury, Celia and Nina Wakeford, eds. 2012. Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge.

ME.

Anne Galloway (@annegalloway) is Senior Lecturer at the School of Design(Victoria University of Wellington,) and Principal Investigator at Design Culture Lab. Her research brings together social studies of science and technology, cultural studies, and design to explore relations between humans and nonhumans. She is particularly interested in creative research methods for understanding—and supporting public engagement with—issues and controversies related to science, technology and animals. Her current research, supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund, combines ethnography and speculative design to create possible future scenarios for the use of wireless technologies in the production and consumption of NZ merino."
annegalloway  2014  anthropology  design  ethnography  speculativedesign  methodology  fiction  observation  fieldwork  howwework  making  craft  friends  research  fictionaldesign  speculativefiction  criticaldesign  everyday  objects  provocations  context  pedagogy 
february 2014 by robertogreco
▶ Ideas at the House: Tavi Gevinson - Tavi's Big Big World (At 17) - YouTube
"She's been called the voice of her generation. The future of journalism. A style icon. A muse. Oh, and she's still in high school.

Tavi Gevinson has gone from bedroom blogger to founder and editor-in-chief of website and print series, Rookie, in just a few years. Rookie attracted over one million views within a week of launching, and has featured contributors such as Lena Dunham, Thom Yorke, Joss Whedon, Malcolm Gladwell, and Sarah Silverman.

Watch this inspiring talk as Tavi discusses adversity, the creative process, her outlook on life, what inspires her, and the value of being a 'fangirl.'"
tavigevinson  2013  teens  adolescence  rookie  writing  creativity  life  living  depression  frannyandzooey  books  reading  howwework  patternrecognition  procrastination  howwelive  teenagers  gender  feminism  authenticity  writer'sblock  making  fangirls  fanboys  wonder  relationships  art  originality  internet  web  fangirling  identity  happiness  fanart  theideaofthethingisbetterthanthethingitself  culture  fanfiction  davidattenborough  passion  success  fame  love  fans  disaffection  museumofjurassictechnology  collections  words  shimmer  confusion  davidwilson  davidhildebrandwilson  fanaticism  connection  noticing  angst  adolescents  feelings  emotions  chriskraus  jdsalinger  literature  meaning  meaningmaking  sensemaking  jean-paulsartre  sincerity  earnestness  howtolove  thevirginsuicides  purity  loving  innocence  naïvité  journaling  journals  notetaking  sketching  notebooks  sketchbooks  virginiawoolf  openness  beauty  observation  observing  interestedness  daydreaming  self  uniqueness  belatedness  inspiration  imagination  obsessions  fandom  lawrenceweschler  so 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Peter Buwert Research » Georges Perec – Questioning the habitual
“The daily papers talk of everything except the daily. The papers annoy me, they teach me nothing. What they recount doesn’t concern me, doesn’t ask me questions and doesn’t answer the questions I ask or would like to ask.

What’s really going on, what we’re experiencing, the rest, all the rest, where is it? How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recurs every day: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual?

To question the habitual. But that’s just it, we’re habituated by it. We don’t question it, it doesn’t question us, it doesn’t seem to pose a problem, we live it without thinking, is if it carried with it neither questions nor answers, as if it  weren’t the bearer of any information. This is no longer even conditioning, its anaesthesia. We sleep through our lives in a dreamless sleep, but where is our life? Where is our body? Where is our space?

How are we to speak of these ‘common things’, how to track them down rather, flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what are.

What’s needed perhaps is finally to found our own anthropology, one that will speak about us, will look in ourselves for what for so long we’ve been pillaging from others. Not the exotic any more, but the endotic.

To question what seems so much a matter of course that we’ve forgotten its origins. To rediscover something of the astonishment that Jules Verne or his readers may have felt faced with an apparatus capable of reproducing and transporting sounds. For that astonishment existed, along with thousands of others, and its they which have moulded us.

What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we open doors, we go down staircases, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed in order to sleep. How? Where? When? Why?

Describe your street. Describe another street. Compare.

Make an inventory of your pockets, of your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out.

Question your teaspoons.

What is there under your wallpaper?

How many movements does it take to dial a phone number? Why?”

Georeges Perec in Everyday Life Reader. p.177-178

[See also:
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8520-what-we-need-to-question-is-bricks-concrete-glass-our
via http://o.izziezahorian.com/post/3130120776/what-we-need-to-question-is-bricks-concrete ]
anthropology  banality  defamiliarization  everyday  familiar  georgesperec  habitual  research  tools  comparison  thewhy  criticaldesign  observation  noticing  reevaluation  unschooling  deschooling  why 
november 2013 by robertogreco
A book for winter / Snarkmarket
"As I read, and after, I found Hild’s way of thinking seeping into my brain. She is a scientist before science, a flâneuse before Paris or anything remotely approaching it. She is a watcher, a pattern-finder, a naturalist growing into a politician. In an email, I told Nicola that after I read her book, I found myself
paying more attention the natural world, & not just in passing, but with patience. I thought specifically of Hild the other afternoon when I was in my backyard & saw a giant spider on its web. I bent down close, inspected it, watched it for a while. It really does require patience, and a conviction that, you know, this is a totally legitimate way to spend your time.
"
robinsloan  2013  books  nature  noticing  observation  slow  patternfinding  flaneur 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design | Ethnography Matters
"So how do I teach ethnography to design students? First, I tell them that if they’ve ever wondered why people do things, or how things got to be the way they are, then they’re already part ethnographer. I say that my job is to help them get better at asking and answering social and cultural questions, because understanding and building entire worlds is a huge challenge that no single discipline can accomplish on its own. And I tell them that I believe the best designers are those who understand that what they’re doing is cultural innovation, which requires them to move beyond both personal impression and expression, as well as any self-righteous desire to ‘fix’ the world. My approach to design ethnography binds us to others, and I place a lot of emphasis on the need to develop a social ethics, rather than relying solely on personal interests and beliefs.

Over the years I’ve observed that design students often have much better observation and documentation skills than sociology and anthropology students do, but they appear to struggle greatly with how to interpret the information and represent this knowledge to other people. On the other hand, anthropology and sociology students often have superior analytical skills but are terribly limited in their desire or ability to communicate in anything other than the written word—even when their topic is visual or material culture. Consequently, I’ve come to think that ethnography makes design better as much as design makes ethnography better, and in that sense I believe we can serve each other equally.

Design ethnography, in the context of our classroom, is about trying to understand how people use words, images and objects to build worlds—and creating new combinations of words, images and objects that help us, and others, understand these worlds in different ways. All of our projects involve empirical fieldwork and analysis, along with the production of creative works that critically engage the subject of fieldwork. Because so many students attempt to do the creative work first, and use their ethnographic work to justify their ‘solution’ to a perceived (but rarely demonstrated!) ‘problem,’ I tend to be a bit more dogmatic about doing the ethnographic work first than I would otherwise advocate. The important thing I’ve learned, though, is that the best work always treats design and ethnography as complementary activities that are done in an iterative fashion that actually makes them difficult to separate in the end.

In teaching design courses, particular ethnographic methods became unappealing to me. Take auto-ethnography, for example: at its best the students continued to privilege their own thoughts and experiences; at worst it became a self-serving exercise in psychoanalysis or confession. And although performance ethnography can be interesting, I lack the expertise to assess it and worried that the students would again turn design into a form of privileged self-expression that could be difficult for others to understand. I needed something more accessible, that could more effectively trouble the opposition between subjective experience and objective fact—and I found it in fiction, which I think is rather beautifully both and neither."



"I think that the research environment for exploring these ideas has been crucial to their development. For the past few years, I’ve been working on a project that re-imagines NZ merino sheep in the (imagined) context of an Internet of Things. Note that I’ve not been tasked with designing possible software applications, but rather to imagine how different technologies could shift relations between livestock production and animal-product consumption. For this research I’ve combined traditional ethnographic methods of participant observation and qualitative interviews, with speculative design practices including fictional object and image-making—and I’ve given them both ‘life’ through creative writing. We’re about to launch these design scenarios, and will spend the next six months following up with more participant observation, interviews and online surveys to see how different audiences interact—or do not interact—with them.

For me, creating ethnographic fiction and speculative design has most often been a matter of material choice: both literally and figuratively. When the research subject matter is wool and meat-producing livestock, it was easy to start by imagining weird and wonderful things made of wool and meat! All the contexts for these fictional things (a government ministry and public programme, a host of consumer products and services) are plausible because they’ve been based on ethnographic research of people’s actual interests and concerns—but none of them are possible or even particularly realistic. To be honest, I really felt I was on the right track when I started talking about getting inspiration from contemporary urban fantasy novels—especially favourites by Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs—and both my design and ethnography colleagues just laughed. (It was like Joanna Russ had never written How To Suppress Women’s Writing!) But the important bit is that I came to understand that although fantastic ethnography and speculative design don’t have to derive their plausibility from realism or rationality, they should move people—because the space of the fantastic and the speculative is, after all, affective space, or the space of potential."

[Related (lined within): http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2011/08/28/why-you-need-read-designing-culture-anne-balsamo
and http://www.designculturelab.org/2012/08/17/on-fantasys-green-country-and-the-place-of-the-nonhuman/ ]
annegalloway  2013  ethnography  designethnography  fiction  designfiction  writing  speculativedesign  design  ursulaleguin  margaretatwood  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  ilonaandrews  patriciabriggs  plausibility  rationality  realism  research  speculativefiction  worldbuilding  imagery  words  images  objects  fieldwork  noticing  observation  listening  wondering  ethics  documentation  interpretation  autoethnography 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Interrupt the program — Medium
"Spoiler alert: I am about to tell you what to do.

1. Talk to a stranger

It’s simple, and harmless, and generous, a beautiful interruption. You can do it without even slowing down your pace. Catch someone’s eye, smile in passing, say “have a good day,” or “how’re you doing.” These are mundane utterances that are also deeply profound. They say to someone: I see you there, we are both people walking down this street or through this lobby, we are both real and it’s worth a nod to that. If you are still smiling for two seconds after you pass by, you are doing this right. You have created a moment of street intimacy.

2. Fall down a rabbit hole

Ignore the kerfuffle about what the internet is doing to your attention span. There are kinds of distraction that are deeply focused. There are many clicks involved in this. Someone, somewhere on your internet has posted something that intrigues you, that you want to know more about. Read it, watch it, wonder about it. What questions does it leave you with? Dig deeper into it. Or, what does it remind you of? Follow unexpected tangents. You are not scattered, you are on a quest. You are looking for answers. If what you find are more questions, you are doing this right. You have been distracted from what you were doing when you started all this. You have been curious.

3. Do nothing

Sit by yourself somewhere in public for 7 minutes without looking at your phone. It has to be somewhere without a TV. Neither of these are bad, I like them too. Do it anyway. This may make you uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Unless you choose to sleep, you will find that you are forced to look at something. What is it? Are you reading signs or looking at things in store windows? Are you looking at other people? Are you looking at trees? Water? Sand? Cement? If you start talking to yourself in your head, you are doing this right. I should have said at the beginning, take a pen in case you want to write something down. You can write on your hand, it’ll wash off. You have been awake."
kiostark  strangers  2013  intimacy  conversation  idleness  stillness  distraction  internet  attention  focus  depth  messiness  curiosity  advice  solitude  awakeness  slow  time  noticing  mindfulness  observation  engagement  people  life  living  interruption 
august 2013 by robertogreco
About | Turner Contemporary
"Turner Contemporary is a dynamic visual arts organisation that believes in making art open, relevant and fulfilling for all.

Inspired by JMW Turner’s sense of enquiry, we offer a space for everyone to embrace their curiosity and to discover different ways of seeing, thinking and learning.

We do this by offering a stimulating programme of temporary exhibitions, events and learning opportunities. This programme enables intriguing connections to be made between art from 1750 to the present day.

On Saturday 16 April 2011 our landmark new gallery, designed by Stirling Prize Winner David Chipperfield Architects, opened. Admission to the gallery is free. Watch the opening ceremony here.

Situated on Margate’s seafront, on the same site where Turner stayed when visiting the town, our gallery is the largest exhibition space in the South East, outside of London.

We are at the forefront of Margate’s exciting revival as Kent’s new cultural heart.

With the help of our funders, community and supporters, we stimulate change and build a warm, vibrant cultural space for everyone."

[See also the "learn" page: http://www.turnercontemporary.org/learn ]
turnercontemporary  uk  kent  art  inquiry  museums  thinking  learning  free  observation  ncmideas  davidchipperfield  education 
june 2013 by robertogreco
News from the Executive Suite, Los Angeles Bureau | Near Future Laboratory
"they are projects and they reflect the more complete aspects of the Laboratory as a practice. They are a reflection of our additional interests, curiosities and explorations. Some of them are exercises of a more proto-professional nature, to explore ways of studying the world around us, short probes into a field of practice about which we want to understand by doing rather than by idle observation. In sum, they represent ways that the Laboratory is always curious, always learning, never set or fixed in what it does and how it does it. This makes me understand the Laboratory as a practice. A bit like a studio. But, I understand now even more as we grow and as more people join in, that it is better to communicate the multivalent character of the Laboratory through more aspects of what we here do.

There are no “side projects” in this practice. There are we all who are always following our curiosities."
julianbleecker  2013  projects  creativity  curiosity  curiosities  nearfuturelaboratory  learning  howwelearn  glvo  understanding  learningbydoing  observation  iteration  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject 
march 2013 by robertogreco
note found in a copy of The Cosmic Code | the m john harrison blog
"Stop reading. Stop being anxious about your relations with books. Assume your skills are adequate. Assume you don’t know who you are. Go away to another town. When you get there, don’t “write”: instead begin recording what you see. Describe a life you can only be on the edge of. Get those people down. Get down what they do, what they say, how they say it. Aim for observational accuracy but understand that you can only ever proceed from emotional & moral judgements you have already made. Never try to resolve that opposition. Never think beyond the problem of getting things down. Keep everything. After two years go back to where you came from, if you any longer believe that to be possible, or if you believe yourself any longer to be the you that went away. You can start trying to “write” again now."
mjohnharrison  reading  writing  books  2013  noticing  observation  listening  accuracy  judgement  outofplace  difference  perspective  travel 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Experience Passports | Design | Alex Egner's Log of Web
"…a list of life experiences…we feel budding young designers should have in addition to their in-class studies. We want to occasionally push students away from their computer screens and out into the world. I formatted this list of experiences into a series of four passport books, one for each year of our degree program. Students can work through the list—visiting museums, viewing films, listening to the news, etc.—and collect passport stamps along the way. At the end of four years, each student will have hopefully learned a tiny bit more about that ‘everything’ and, by extension, about design.

The experience passports were distributed to students simply as black & white print-ready PDFs. Each student could then select a paper stock of their choice and complete the printing and binding. Not only did this approach save on printing costs, it enabled each student to customize their books. Faculty can confirm that the various experiences were completed using a series of 12 ink stamps…"

[See also: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671484/a-student-workbook-for-observing-life-like-a-designer#1 ]
culture  customization  observation  noticing  graphicdesign  typography  booklets  books  suggestions  exploration  experience  learning  2012  alexegner  guidelines  glvo  stamps  passports  classideas  design  teaching  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
Watching Huell, Reading Ada | Gelatobaby
"I don’t think it will come as any surprise to people who know me when I admit that I aspire to become a Howser-Huxtable hybrid in the course of my career. I can’t just watch Howser or read Huxtable, I find myself studying them. Because although their approaches were wildly different, they both used their strong and distinctive voices to help us—their loyal, hungry audience—to see, appreciate, and protect the places where we live."
noticing  observation  wherewelive  lookaround  exploration  appreciation  local  adalouisehuxtable  huellhowser  2013  alissawalker  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
acts of Frankenstein | the m john harrison blog
"Brutalise all plans & conceptions. Lose patience with last 10 years of ideas, now seen as prison. Bolt wrong components to wrong components! Sustained acts of Frankenstein & self-piracy! Address current emotional issues not 5 year old ones! New observations/notes; new philosophical/political insight; new structural problems/solutions. New imagery. Sense of adventure. Sense of risk in the material. Explore & affront your hopes for yourself. Glee at breaking own definitions & taboos. Carnage in the files. Parameters missing at the outset may be the things that writing will show you. In the end you have to get frightened enough to push down the pillars of your own establishment."
examinedlife  progressivism  progressive  deschooling  unschooling  perspective  self-examination  criticalthinking  mindchanging  mindchanges  notetaking  observations  observation  frankenstein  rebirth  establishment  disestablishment  fear  writing  radicalism  taboos  challenge  change  freedom  self-piracy  exploration  risk  2012  via:robinsonmeyer  yearoff  cv  shaking  canon  mjohnharrison  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Swedish School De-emphasizes Gender Lines - NYTimes.com
"What has become a passionate undertaking for its teachers actually began with a nudge from Swedish legislators, who in 1998 passed a bill requiring that schools, including day care centers, assure equal opportunities for girls and boys.

Spurred by the law, the teachers at Nicolaigarden took the unusual step of filming one another, capturing their behavior while playing with, eating with or just being with the center’s infants to 6-year-olds.

“We could see lots of differences, for example, in the handling of boys and girls,” said Lotta Rajalin, who directs the center and three others, which she visits by bicycle. “If a boy was crying because he hurt himself, he was consoled, but for a shorter time, while girls were held and soothed much longer,” she said. “With a boy it was, ‘Go on, it’s not so bad!’ ”

The filming, she said, also showed that staff members tended to talk more with girls than with boys, perhaps explaining girls’ later superior language skills…"
via:litherland  neutrality  gender-neutrality  criticalfriends  change  egalitarianism  egalia  egaliaschool  nicolaigarden  nicolaigardenschool  sweden  2012  observation  preschool  education  gender  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Design Ethnography Field Guide - Helsinki Design Lab
"An essential part of any design activity is understanding the context one is working in, particularly the social context. Eventually when proposals are made, these too must be measured by their likely impact on the people who will use and live with them.

Ethnography is one way to get closer to the everyday reality that design proposals will be situated within. Design ethnography is generally considered to be a light-weight version of established practices in the social sciences. Below we've collected some resources that may be a useful starting point.

We've also provided a sample "field guide" which is a booklet that participants of the HDL Studios use when venturing into the field to see the reality of a system as it is lived and experienced on the ground. It is intended to be the minimal starting point for this kind of activity. We supplement this document with group discussions to prepare participants and adjust the booklet as needed in different situations."

[+Other resources]

[Now here: http://www.helsinkidesignlab.org/pages/ethnography-fieldguide ]
socialcontext  noticing  observation  resources  research  tools  design  designthinking  fieldguides  helsinkidesignlab  designethnography  ethnography 
november 2012 by robertogreco
What I Learned Building A Startup like Dogster, Inc. — What I Learned Building… — Medium
"If doing what you love…allows you to make a business out of it, you’ll end up hating what you created because all you get to do is manage a very complex, challenging business.

Once I created a successful service and business out of nothing I became a lot more scared of blowing it than anything else, when really I should have just been content that I succeeded at all. It’s important to yell to no one in particular “I did it!”

If you do not prioritize friends, family, loved ones, pets, plants, hobbies while working on a start-up they will all decay and all you will be left with is a startup. …

If you have enough courage to run your own business, it is roughly 1,000,000 more rewarding than any job available, assuming you can make enough money and value out of it. …

Don’t believe anything you whiteboard. Ever. Only believe what you see customers enjoying.

Treat your employees as you wanted to be treated at your first jobs. …"
2012  tedrheingold  scaling  scale  observation  empathy  administration  management  entrepreneurship  relationships  priorities  business  dogster  life  work  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
The (new) Book of Questions.
Described here: http://nomadicity.tumblr.com/post/34543891539/what-if-it-was-the-body-that-gives-meaning-to as:

"In 1974 Pablo Neruda published his best-seller “The Book of Questions” : poems in the shape of questions, observing whatever surrounded him , with the wonder of a child. Is in this spirit that the proposal "The (New) Book of Questions" is founded: to observe , discuss and question the “territories in process” we live in, rather than to “answer” them. This questions will lead the author and reader into the realm of further observation and, if lucky, further questioning. The aim of this “book” is to become a device or tool for thinking, observing and understanding the city and landscape. Through the questioning of others we can see how the space is conformed somewhere else, or how others perceive the same space we live in.

You are the author of “The (New) Book of Questions.”"

“The (New) Book of Questions” is an on-going project."
2012  territoriesinprocess  urban  urbanism  landscape  cities  city  understanding  observing  thinking  classideas  questioning  observation  territory  territories  thebookofquestions  questions  pabloneruda  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
The City from the Valley, 2012 | Stamen Design
"Fundamental shifts are underway in the relationship between San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Historically, workers have lived in residential suburbs while commuting to work in the city. For Silicon Valley, however, the situation is reversed: many of the largest technology companies are based in suburbs, but look to recruit younger knowledge workers who are more likely to dwell in the city. An alternate transportation network of private buses—fully equipped with wifi—thus threads daily through San Francisco, picking up workers at unmarked bus stops (though many coexist in digital space), carrying them southward via the commuter lanes of the 101 and 280 freeways, and eventually delivers them to their campuses.

What does this flow tell us about Silicon Valley, and the City it feeds?"
privatebuslines  privatebuses  process  walkingpapers  observation  shuttles  googleshuttles  movement  commuting  alternatetransportationnetwork  buses  design  siliconvalley  transit  transportation  mapping  maps  2012  stamen  stamendesign  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Why we should leave our fingerprints for the future. - Do Lectures
"Robin [Sloan] tells us how and why he writes. And how to get the most out of what you do."

"Lightness of inspiration [TCS example, collecting for unknown future needs]
Lightness of motion [walking when stuck, solvitur ambulando, lightness of the mind and body]
Lightness of digital [enabling a start]
Lightness of dependency [this AND that, not this OR that]
Lightness of heart [because dwelling on death can lead to depression]"

"Time is the ultimate body shop."

"When you are light you are best able to answer the deepest and darkest questions."

"Since death alone is certain and the time of death uncertain, what should I do?"
mindbody  motion  ephemeral  ephemerality  dolectures  doing  making  fingerprintsforthefuture  ambition  purpose  time  whywedowhatwedo  why  craigmod  ebooks  digital  friction  resistence  collectingforunknownfutureneeds  future  collecting  observation  noticing  howwework  meaningmaking  happiness  and  thisandthat  haiku  2011  normalheights  mrpenumbra  living  buddhism  death  life  meaning  lloydalexander  reading  howwewrite  cv  ego  tcsnmy7  tcsnmy  italocalvino  walking  small  slow  lightness  creativity  writing  fingerprints  robinsloan  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Writing Live Fieldnotes: Towards a More Open Ethnography | Ethnography Matters
"I just returned from fieldwork in China. I’m excited to share a new way I’ve been writing ethnographic fieldnotes, called live fieldnoting…

At one point in time, all ethnographers wrote their notes down with a physical pen and paper. But with mobiles, laptops, iPads, and digital pens, not all ethnographers write their fieldnotes. Some type their fieldnotes. Or some do both. With all these options, I have struggled to come up with the perfect fieldnote system…

…the problem with a digital pen, notebook, and laptop is that they are all extra things that have to be carried with you or they add extra steps to the process…

I still haven’t found the perfect fieldnote system, but I wanted to experiment with a new process that I call, “live fieldnoting.” …

…updates everyday from the field. … compilation on Instagram, flickr, facebook, tumblr, and foursquare. I made my research transparent and accessible with daily fieldnotes. Anyone who wanted to follow along in my adventure could see…"
mobile  signs  research  flashbacks  moments  rituals  customs  location  travel  participatoryfieldnoting  socialfieldnoting  johnvanmaanen  ethnographymatters  rachelleannenchino  jennaburrell  heatherford  jorisluyendijk  gabriellacoleman  janchipchase  lindashaw  rachelfretz  robertemerson  photography  iphone  china  noticing  observation  transparency  2012  foursquare  tumblr  facebook  flickr  instagram  triciawang  howwework  process  wcydwt  notetaking  designresearch  fieldnoting  fieldnotes  ethnography  ritual  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
aesthetics of joy » Blog Archive » Writing retreat
"When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn’t matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn’t matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life’s many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we are. It probably doesn’t matter if a passerby sees us dipping a finger into the moist pouches of dozens of lady’s slippers to find out what bugs tend to fall into them, and thinks us a bit eccentric…"

[Quote from "Diane Ackerman’s breathtaking A Natural History of the Senses": http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0679735666/ ]
moments  observation  nature  via:tealtan  life  watching  curiosity  living  noticing  children  wonder  howwewrite  writing  senses  dianeackerman  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Learning How to Eat Like Julia Child : The New Yorker
Julia learned how to eat. She did not preserve and shelter her plain, perfectly good Pasadena palate by moving to France and then cooking there, then writing books. She let herself taste and smell differently. She took seriously the smells and rhythms around her, and noticed how they changed her perception—and she came to like them.
thinking  food  cooking  juliachild  noticing  taste  smell  observation  presence  hwotolive  howtolisten  howtonotice  children  curiosity  attention  2012  via:litherland  senses  seeing  feeling  tasting  smelling  touching 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Quote by John Green: I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I t...
“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is inprobably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?”
quotes  2012  intelligence  consciousness  elegance  ephemerality  observation  noticing  universe  thefaultinourstars  johngreen  ephemeral  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Reinvention of the Self § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Marmosets are the ideal experimental animal: a primate brain trapped inside the body of a rat."

"The structure of our brain, from the details of our dendrites to the density of our hippocampus, is incredibly influenced by our surroundings. Put a primate under stressful conditions, and its brain begins to starve. It stops creating new cells. The cells it already has retreat inwards. The mind is disfigured.

The social implications of this research are staggering. If boring environments, stressful noises, and the primate’s particular slot in the dominance hierarchy all shape the architecture of the brain—and Gould’s team has shown that they do—then the playing field isn’t level. Poverty and stress aren’t just an idea: they are an anatomy. Some brains never even have a chance."

"The genius of the scientific method, however, is that it accepts no permanent solution. Skepticism is its solvent, for every theory is imperfect. Scientific facts are meaningful precisely because they are ephemeral, because a new observation, a more honest observation, can always alter them. This is what happened to Rakic’s theory of the fixed brain. It was, to use Karl Popper’s verb, falsified."

"Neurogenesis is an optimistic idea. Though Gould’s lab has thoroughly demonstrated the long-term consequences of deprivation and stress, the brain, like skin, can heal itself, as Gould is now beginning to document, finding hopeful antidotes to neurogenesis-inhibiting injuries. “My hunch is that a lot of these abnormalities [caused by stress] can be fixed in adulthood,” she says. “I think that there’s a lot of evidence for the resiliency of the brain.”"

"The mind is like a muscle: it swells with exercise. Gould’s and Kozorovitskiy’s work reminds us not only how easy it is to hurt a brain, but how little it takes for that brain to heal. Give a primate just a few extra playthings, and its neurons are capable of escaping the downward cycle of stress."

"Neurogenesis is a field that doubts itself. Because it has been scorned from the start, its proponents talk most emphatically about what they don’t know, about all the essential questions that remain unanswered. Their modesty is accurate: The purpose of all of our new cells remains obscure. No one knows how experiments done in rodents will relate to humans, or whether neurogenesis is just a small part of our mind’s essential plasticity."
uncertainty  trophins  childhoodstress  children  childhood  lizgould  biology  geniakozorovitskiy  resilience  resiliency  neuronova  jonasfrisén  fernandonottebohm  robertsapolsky  serotonin  prozac  antidepressants  depression  pharmacology  psychiatry  psychology  ronaldduman  michaelkaplan  josephaltman  paskorakic  brucemcewen  christianmirescu  neurogenesis  howwelearn  science  permanence  adaptability  change  ephemeral  observation  scientificmethod  research  stress  poverty  surroundings  environment  primates  marmosets  brain  neuroscience  elizabethgould  via:litherland  2006  ephemerality  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Society for Exploratory Research
"The Society sends out a variety of exploration assignments on a semi-regular basis. These assignments are designed to encourage non-traditional exploration of your immediate environment, or an environment of your choosing. Assignments are completely optional."

"…began as an underground organization sometime around the beginning of the 20th century. While it is still a relatively unknown entity, the Society is rumored to have included some of the most brilliant thinkers of the last century as members.

Despite the organization's amorphous nature, it's central preoccupations appear to be a dedication to the non-conventional exploration & documentation of unexplored, unnoticed or unused landscapes within a local or wider community, as well as the development of new, non-conventional exploratory techniques. Members believe that learning is best accomplished through direct experience."

[Guide: http://www.societyforexploratoryresearch.com/tactical_guide_sfer.pdf ]
observation  place  landscape  research  yi-futuan  learning  societyforexploratoryresearch  noticing  situationist  psychogeography  local  edg  srg  glvo  exploration  kerismith  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
Moving Day | ListServe Meta
"Since the email from the nice people at The Listserve caught
me on the morning of moving day, I’m filling this email with
fragments from journals I found during the move, flipping
through them at random and typing out what I find interesting
until I hit the word limit:

…I am most impressed by those who can find the signal in the
noise. People like David Foster Wallace, W.H. Auden, Amy
Hempel, Rob Greco, my sister, Matthew Weiner, Sherlock
Holmes, Deron Bauman, Al Swearengen, Frank Chimero, Ira
Glass, Noah Dennis, Patrick Rothfuss, Ze Frank…

Book idea: How to Look at People…

Matt Thomas: “To live in Iowa — and to stay sane
– requires the cultivation of a vast inner geography.”
– yes, exactly, that’s how I survived, isn’t it?…

“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way
they have to live than other things do.” – Willa Cather,
O Pioneers!…

careworn = best adjective"
thoughts  commonplacebooks  noticing  observation  adjectives  trees  notetaking  notebooks  friends  2012  thelistserve  willacather  mattthomas  patternrecognition  patterns  cv  careworn  ego  lukeneff  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
Drift: an app for getting lost in familiar places | Broken City Lab
"Finally launched and available in the iOS App Store! [http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/drift/id524083174 ]

Drift helps you get lost in familiar places by guiding you on a walk using randomly assembled instructions. Each instruction will ask you to move in a specific direction and, using the compass, look for something normally hidden or unnoticed in our everyday experiences.

As you find these hidden or unnoticed things, you will be asked to document them with the camera, creating a photographic record of you walk. Drift also keeps track of where and when you took the photos and makes your documentation optionally available for others to view through the Drift website.

Drift was made possible with the generous support from the Ontario Arts Council Media Arts Grant for Emerging Artists.

Drift was developed by Justin Langlois in collaboration with Broken City Lab.

This project was generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council Media Arts Grant for Emerging Artists."
2012  observation  documentation  photography  justinlanglois  psychogeography  experience  everydaylife  everyday  compass  cities  brokencitylab  drift  iphone  ios  applications  noticing  exploration  walking  situationist  flaneur  derive  dérive  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Looking, Walking, Being | Design Culture Lab
Looking, Walking, Being

“The World is not something to
look at, it is something to be in.”
- Mark Rudman

I look and look.
Looking’s a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.

The eyes
dig and burrow into the world.
They touch
fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor.
World and the past of it,
not only
visible present, solid and shadow
that looks at one looking.

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
That’s
a way of breathing.

breathing to sustain
looking,
walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.

~ Denise Levertov
eyes  language  walking  2012  deniselevertov  observation  annegalloway  poetry  poems  markrudman  noticing  looking  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
The Most Dangerous Gamer - Magazine - The Atlantic
"Thoreau…“With a little more deliberation in the choice of their pursuits,” he proclaimed, “all men would perhaps become essentially students and observers, for certainly their nature and destiny are interesting to all alike.”

Blow clicked off the stereo and turned to me. “I honestly didn’t plan that,” he said.

In so many words, Loud Thoreau had just described Blow’s central idea for The Witness. Whereas so many contemporary games are built on a foundation of shooting or jumping or, let’s say, the creative use of mining equipment to disembowel space zombies, Blow wants the point of The Witness to be the act of noticing, of paying attention to one’s surroundings. Speaking about it, he begins to sound almost like a Zen master. “Things are pared down to the basic acts of movement and observation until those senses become refined,” he told me. “The further you go into the game, the more it’s not even about the thinking mind anymore—it becomes about the intuitive mind."
literature  narrative  taylorclark  miegakure  marctenbosch  interactivefiction  asceticism  storytelling  payingattention  attention  observation  noticing  intuition  myst  littlebigplanet  money  belesshelpful  fiction  jenovachen  flow  tombissell  gamedev  chrishecker  einstein'sdreams  alanlightman  invisiblecities  italocalvino  jonblow  deannavanburen  art  2012  thewitness  thoreau  srg  edg  videogames  gaming  games  braid  jonathanblow  if  cyoa  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Jane Jacobs Walk
"Jane Jacobs Walk is a program of the Center for the Living City, a nonprofit organization created by people who knew Jane Jacobs and were fortunate enough to call her a friend. As an organization we celebrate her life and legacy by helping people organize walks in their communities around the time of Jane’s birthday in early May…

We honor Jane Jacobs by helping people leave the isolation of their homes to come together to experience areas of their city outside of the automobile. Our mission is to help people walk, observe, and connect with their built environment. We make a difference because a Jane Jacobs Walk enables members of a community to discover and respond to the complexities of their city through personal and shared observation."
sharedobservation  events  notiving  observation  builtenvironment  walking  neighborhoods  cities  community  janejacobs  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Sagashitemiyo! | Benesse’s new iPhone app for little explorers | Spoon & Tamago
"I love the idea behind this new iPhone app for kids called Sagashitemiyo! (さがしてみよ!), or Let’s Search! The simple interface starts off by prompting little explorers to search for objects based on certain criteria like something “round,” “white” or “sparkly.”

The kids then set off on an expedition, capturing objects with the phone’s camera.

The app then allows you to catalog your discoveries into a virtual field guide of things around you. You can even share your discoveries with friends who are also using the app."

[See also http://kodomo.benesse.ne.jp/enjoy/iapl/search/ AND http://itunes.apple.com/jp/app/id484416695 ]
viewfinders  cameras  photography  seeing  looking  benesse  virtualtinboxes  search  searching  sagashitemiyo  observation  2012  noticing  emptytins  discovery  japanese  japan  children  applications  ios  iphone 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Borderland » A Good Day
"So my focus in the classroom has lately shifted from teaching practice to thinking about more interesting things, like human consciousness (my own, mainly) as I ask myself all day long, day after day, What the fuck am I doing now? And why? This is not really such a bad thing. The upside of it is that I spend way less energy worrying about curriculum and method, and more time watching my own interactions with the kids, trying to be as helpful and even-handed as I can be. It occurs to me that if a person was looking for a working model of resistance to reform, they really ought to spend a few weeks managing a sixth-grade classroom. It’s a test. Every day."
teaching  dougnoon  2011  noticing  humanconsciousness  consciousness  perspective  howweteach  observation  introspection  whatmatters  cv  bestpractices  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
Tucker Nichols Bravo Commission - YouTube
"Short documentary of the mural at the Bravo TV offices at 30 Rockefeller Center by artist Tucker Nichols."
tuckernichols  art  murals  glvo  classideas  text  embedded  listening  observation  storytelling  bravo  workplace  officeculture  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
Represent / from a working library
"But there’s a point just a few steps beyond belonging that is perhaps even more important: advocating. Belonging to a community means participating, observing, and generally being in attendance (either physically or virtually). But being an advocate requires stepping forward and helping to articulate that community’s needs, or advance their interests, or—when necessary—protect their rights. You need to both amplify and clarify the values of a community, not merely share them.

In practice, this means identifying what your community needs to prosper, and either providing that directly or advocating for its provisioning. There are many ways to do this. You can lobby for changes the community needs (…); you can facilitate discussions (e.g., by hosting and supporting safe, productive forums); you can challenge the status quo (e.g., by bringing in ideas from outside the community and fostering discussion); and so on."
advocacy  community  belonging  tcsnmy  presence  commitment  participation  observation  understanding  lcproject  organizations  leadership  administration  publishing  mandybrown  audience  internet 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Future Perfect » Mimic, Rote Learn, Evolve
"This photo may not seem like much – just another shot of Omotesando kiddies giving it the “niii”. Except that this was taken by my 22 month old daughter, using a Canon dSLR. That she can lift something that heavy, look through the viewfinder, align the shot, find the button and press it with enough force to trigger the shot, and then peers at the back screen to view what she’s taken is at first glance pretty amazing. Like a kid cocking a Magnum. This is not proud parent post – it merely follows in the wake of many parents commenting about their babies/infants use of tech – swiping/jabbing/drooling on touch screen devices, the ‘my kid can use an iPad’ moment.

This are the tools that make up our children’s landscape – and they are as natural as forks and electronic calculators and electric car windows are to you and me.

At that age we mimic, if there’s enough pay-off we rote learn, and if there’s enough payoff we evolve that learning."
janchipchase  technology  absorption  mimicry  learning  children  cameras  ipad  digitalnatives  observation  copycatkids  2011  evolution  rotelearning  rote 
november 2011 by robertogreco
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