Tate Live Thought 4 'Beginnings and Endings'

2014-03-02 14.48.06 copy

The collaboration with Tate Modern Live Thought Workshops draws to a conclusion.A final public discussion had a great panel featuring Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti; columnist and author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, Owen Jones; award-winning poet and novelist, Ben Okri; and musician and creative director of the Radiophonic Workshop, Matthew Herbert. Together we explored and debated the poignant question 'if you had a year to change something what would you do?' with these high-profile speakers from a range of disciplines including art, science, culture, politics and society.  You can watch the video of this session here


Tate live thought Workshop 4 'Beginnings and Endings'

The culmination of 9 months of thinking, exploring, talking about ideas for change making was beautifully captured by writer and journalist Justin Hopper and illustrator Florence Shaw, photographer Yemisi Blake.   The Thought Workshops team will make be making a book of our year long project. As usual in these very intense and immersive experiences, synergies develop between people that may be continued in future projects.  I certainly left with the sense that this project was a platform for future collaborations with like-minded people. There are a couple of important learnings I will take from this experience.  Being in the field of working within sustainability thinking I often participate in hackathons which enable creative thinking around the problems we face in our everyday.  This project was special in the sense that it included a wider audience, extremely eclectic and diverse in backgrounds, age ranges, origins.  This enabled for a much richer dialogue, taking aside all "expert jargon" and just focusing on people, a group of people, with the common interest of being proactive towards creating the future, and the present, they envision to be better.



Tate Live Thought 3 'A Reality Check'

Evernote Camera Roll 20140119 21426 copy

This third workshop of Tate Live Thought had the participation of;  Andreas Lang, Katie Harris, Gemma-Tortella Proctor (School of Life),  Catherine McDonald, David Hoyle, David Cushman,  . Laurie Penny,  Prof. Scott Lash The most interesting part of this workshop was our contact with the Tate public.  It was the first time that we had the opportunity to publicly share what we have been doing and to get feedback from a more general audience.  A gallery was setup on Level 2 Poetry and Dream, a relaxed café-like atmosphere with tables and two chairs each, and the touch of an interesting lamp on each.  The ambience was made for an intimate 10min chat with individuals who happen to be visiting the Tate at that time.  It was my first experience of the sort and extremely interesting.  I had great feedback from the 8 people I chatted to about my ideas and their potential development.

The project I have been creating for Tate Live Thought Workshop focuses on a new take to defining sustainability - focusing on networked knowledge, "combinational creativity" and the concepts that "everything is a remix".  It has developed from the initial proposition and along 7 months, has turned to focusing on the mash-up ex(change) to preserve traditional ways of making from disappearing - joining up those who wish to keep a tradition alive with those who want to carry them on.


Talk of Florian Malzacher on "art and activism" Artistic director of Impulse Theater Biennale in Germany and a freelance curator, dramaturge and writer. He was co-programmer of the interdisciplinary arts festival steirischer herbst in Graz where he also co-curated the 170 hour marathon camp “Truth is concrete” that explored artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. What role does art play? The paradigm shift - art and politics Creating situations = creating new realities Art as Intervention, Participation, Education Art Activism or Design Activism? Definitions get less important weather its art or design activism.  Ethics and responsibility in contemporary art/design are very important.


David Cushman was my expert #1 I had the opportunity to talk to regarding my project. He explained about distributed knowledge - connecting dots.  Connecting different bits of the same story.  We need to be ad-hoc communities (David Weinberger).  The importance of share-ability - design for it to be in small segments, organic in ad-hoc way, capture the little pieces and re-mixable ways.  (ex: IBM connections)  Make it small and discoverable.  If there is no purpose, you're just dead in the world.  Messaging of all forms is emotional, not information.

Scott Lash was my expert #3  Focus on the wonderful ways of making / learning.  These are wonderful things.  For example Patricia Ribault on glass blowing design, Solo Barretto on basket weaving. Look into Schumpeter and Nelson+ Winter


Group discussion:  how does change really happen? is it bottom up to make sense?

Some of the thoughts that came out of this brainstorm were; People need confidence that they can make a difference through a sense of worth. The technical way of looking at change - when you take your hand off, does it still continue? Logic vs. emotion The ladder of participation If you're not curious will you not engage? Frame language to peoples understanding Manipulation vs. engagement Courage vs. stupidity Constructive disruption Grass-roots is fragile but top-down is authoritarian The ecology of changes in different scales Does an idea have to exist in reality to be potent?


Tate Live Thought 2 'Rehearsal for Utopia'

IMG_1780 copy

BMW TATE Live Thought Workshop 2 "A Rehearsal for Utopia" happened at amazing Victorian Hoxton Hall in London  

This post comes a week late, sometimes it takes longer to digest a really fulfilling event and understand how it contributes to current projects and ideas..  Such was the case of this second Tate Live Thought workshop, where we continued to develop each of our "ideas for change", this time specifically focusing on the concept of "Utopias".

Lunch and dinner was prepared for us by Mazí Mas, a roaming restaurant that creates employment opportunities for migrant and refugee women.  An amazing project by founder Nikki, advocate of social justice and women's rights, giving an opportunity for these women to share with the London public their traditional home cooking and story-tell their own lives.

“Utopian Consciousness wants to look far into the distance, but ultimately only in order to penetrate the darkness so near it, of the just lived moment, in which everything that is, both drives and is hidden from itself. In other words, we need the most powerful telescope, that of polished Utopian consciousness, in order to penetrate precisely the nearest nearness.”  Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope, 1954-59

A talk from Dr Richard Noble, Head of Department and lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths with a background in political philosophy, also editor of the Whitechapel Gallery publication Utopias, presented the concept of Utopia and how artists and philosophers have approached it.  The main points I underline:

- Utopian ideas can be used to critic the way things are in the present. - Utopias challenge the myths that sustain our existing reality. - Utopia means not giving up hope. - Utopian projects in history have failed because these were independent 'utopianism': it fails to understand the conditions under which revolution is possible in large scale.  Failure of Utopian projects can also mean naive dreamers with good intentions, which deliver, naive solutions (Marx). - The thought of utopia in symbolic realm, it cannot be achieved but it can be present in creative art:  aesthetic production not political activity (Adorno).  In the process of creating is the representation of utopia not in content of what is said but in capacity to make things take shape.  "What happens if...?" - Critical utopianism can be a strategy for understanding the world, through projecting a better future it allows us to understand the present. - Utopia is a way of getting out of the trivial life, it resists conformity.


The practical workshop for the day was led by Andreas Lang of artists and architects Public Works.   We thought through our individual projects in 3 stages:

Now - Participants introduced where they are at present. my project 'Sometimes Change is Not about Changing' focuses on preserving traditional ways of making and producing, through knowledge transfer between old makers and new innovators.   I will be developing the tools to generate this conversation and eventually allowing for a knowledge transfer method.

Far - Scenario modeling in groups, visualizing and speculating on how ideas will develop over time and a collective future scenario. my project links well with Abby's (focusing on generating new Polymaths) and Chris' (focusing on a time-banking system).  We developed a future scenario where our 3 projects interlink in a story of a 'day in the life' in year 2500.

Near - Take action individually. The action that I chose to take was to begin writing a manifesto for 'Sometimes Change is Not about Changing' and the importance of preserving traditional ways of making and producing things - with out hands.  Using technology to allow for a time-capsule of these traditions so future generations can access, and present innovators can 'innovate from'.


As in the previous workshop, the group spirit and enthusiasm maintained, and as we grow to know each-other ideas begin to link together.  The wonderful phenomenon of collaboration begins to happen when someone is willing to let go of their own idea a bit, in order to make the group's collective idea work better.  The inter-cultural, inter-generational, inter-background gap we initially had, now begins to become common ground to develop ideas.   Regardless if they are accomplished or not, it is the notion that we all share, a common vision of the future we want as people, that is what will remain.

You can follow the official Tate Live blog here And Twitter #BMWTateLive



Tate Live Thought 1 "Change"

IMG_0908 copy

35 Strangers In A Room

This week I had a very interesting experience.  It was the first session at Tate Modern for Tate Live Thought workshop series I will be taking part, facilitated by Richard Gregory and Renny O’Shea, Artistic Directors of Quarantine.

With a group of 34 we met in Tate Modern's East Room to discuss our ideas for change and collaboratively think of how to resolve them.  On this first session we debated how “thinking has to stop and doing has to begin”.  Philosopher Dr Michael Brady from the University of Glasgow talked about ‘What We Might Think About When We Think About Change’.

What I will share here for now is limited until the content is made public by the Tate.  For now, I can say that it was a magnificent experience to be part of this extremely eclectic group of people, of all backgrounds, ages, country of origin, for an intense 10H Saturday where we debated all kinds of ideas for change ranging from gender issues to food sustainability.

You can follow the official Tate Live blog here And Twitter #BMWTateLive