convocatoria | INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM. CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
Call for abstracts – Brief
Challenges and themes
Academic research and education are currently dominated by a measurement-culture and the proliferation of evaluation systems that comes with it. In response to this, the symposium aims to outline the possibilities for alternative, cooperative environments of knowledge, of creation and invention, of ‘making and thinking’. Its first and most important concern is to start a broad debate on the following subjects: (1) the consequences of the (monopolization of) efficiency-standards in the spheres of science and creativity – a tendency reinforced by the Bologna educational system – and (2) the search for viable alternatives.
Efficiency-driven systems of evaluation are less innocent as one may think. They often hide an ‘intellectual conformity’, having nothing to do anymore with ‘the animating spirit of discovery’ and tending towards ‘the mono-culture of a discipline grown too large and the accompanying failure of imagination’, in one word: to the ‘Big Creativity Deficit’ (Murphy 2013). The rapidly risen and universalized practices of evaluation-controlled knowledge-production are thought to have led, during ‘the past forty years [, to] a significant decline [of creativity] in the arts and sciences’ (Murphy 2013).
”The exhaustion of creative science and arts” seems to have a hard social and political counterpart in different forms of exclusion, typical of this ‘age of globalization’: knowledge-systems are increasingly, and anonymously, controlling us from above, whereas we actually need a ‘globalization from below’, where imagination – no longer being ‘a matter of individual genius, an escapism from ordinary life or just a dimension of aesthetics’ – rather becomes a manifold ‘faculty through which collective patterns of dissent andnew design for collective life emerges’ (Appadurai 2000).
Being part of a larger, already functioning project, this symposium seeks to initiate the debate, starting from the primarily architectural and artistic experience of working with concrete ‘matter’ and being, as a consequence, entirely involved in ‘processes of making’. However, we believe that these very processes of making and transforming matter are also crucial to the so-called hard sciences, and to the human and social sciences. That is why we would like to invite representatives of all of them to participate in this debate.
Poetics of Value. Using the – historical – familiarity with making and transforming matter of certain disciplines, we introduce the concept of a Poetics of Value. ‘Poetics’ itself refers to the ancient Greek practice of poièsis (producing, making, creating, composing), whereas the focus on ‘values’ stands for the desired reversal of systemic evaluation-practices in Academia. Thereby, Poetics of Value isn’t merely describing the relation between an individual (artist, designer, philosopher, scientist) and the matter she or he is transforming; it also takes into account the inventive collective effort communities all over the world will have to be engaged in as a ‘re-‘ and ‘transvaluing’ response to the challenging problems of our rapidly globalizing societies and economies.
Politics of Value. That is why we simultaneously call for a Politics of Value (following Appadurai, 1988), which is concerned with surpassing the possibly atomic relation between researchers and their objects, towards more complex meanings and frameworks of human transactions, attributions and motivations (Appadurai 1988, 1996). ‘Practicing value’ has an obvious ethical dimension we want to explore in these ‘Politics‘. The search for renewal, for originality and for the production of meaning, relates to the quest for the unexpected in making or transforming matter. This is essentially a culture-shaping activity which never aspires to reach stable knowledge or a fixed state, but strives for continuous evolving perfectibility. Hence, the creative processes involved lie beyond sheer knowledge-accumulation, since new or unforeseen artistic forms and designs do not necessarily increase or diminish knowledge, nor do they primarily seek to do so.
Worlding. Both the Poetics and Politics of Value are perspectives directed towards an intensive rethinking and redesigning of human relations with the world. In order to get a better view on both perspectives we propose two specific ‘lenses’: Worlding and U-topos. They represent a particular kind of practicing values that enables the enrichment and stretching of the concept of knowledge and the academic culture it creates. The idea of ‘Worlding’ refers to the fundamental task of research to ‘think and, somehow, start living new worldly shapes’ (Spivak, Nancy, White, e.a.). Using the lens of ‘Worlding’ we seek to conceptualize future alternative knowledge-creating practices and future alternative values, instead of merely evaluating existing knowledge procedures. This illuminates the very meaning of the Poetics and Politics of Value: to look ahead, to discover what remains hidden, to elaborate the speculative dimension of matter and material manipulation, engaging reality through the material (Harman).
U-Topos. The concept of ‘U-topos’ on the other hand is introduced as a place for utopian, speculative thinking. In contrast to preset images of ‘Utopia’, the U-topos encourages scholars and artists to think the not-yet visible and the not-yet valuable, a thinking/making propelled by individual and shared, collective curiosities, towards the formulation of future values and learning needs, allowing different topics, concepts, themes, perspectives to collide and combine. U-topos is meant to be an exercise in transforming both the ‘spiritual’ and ‘material’ working places of the future researcher – it represents university itself. The meaning, relevance and applicability of these concepts will be the object of debates during the symposium, from both angles: ‘matter’ (making, transforming, creating, designing) and ‘thought’ (critique, quest for alternatives, attempt to think the not-yet-available).
The overall project is called ‘Transvaluation’, designed to be an organized and, hopefully, energizing attempt to overcome the possibility of a scientific mono-culture that is actually threatening to sacrifice the whole of academic inventiveness to systems of calculable, quantitative measurement (creativity-deficit) and which is particularly harmful to many traditional creative disciplines, such as architecture, fine arts, philosophy, literature… The proposed debates are designed to be clear-cut: Can alternatives be conceptualized? Can they prove to be fruitful? If so, how should they be structured? Can architecture and fine arts, specifically, contribute to this effort? And how? Can the science – both the hard sciences and the human and social sciences make their contribution? And how? Can all these sciences and disciplines be convinced to join forces on this? Can university be effectively transformed in this sense?
Biggs, Michael, and Henrik Karlsson, eds. 2010. The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts. London: Routledge.
Dunin-Woyseth, Halina. 2006. “The ‘Thinkable’ and ‘Unthinkable’ Doctorates. Three Perspectives on Doctoral Scholarship in Architecture.” In Building a Doctoral Programme in Architecture and Design, edited by Jan Michl, and Liv Merete Nielsen, 149-174. Oslo: Oslo School of Architecture and Design.
Murphy, Peter (2013). Inaugural Lecture at James Cooke University, Australia, School of Creative Arts (Wednesday 25 September 2013).
Schiesser, Giaco. 2013. “A Certain Frustration…”. Paradoxes, Voids, Perspectives in Artistic Research Today. In Practices of Experimentation, edited by The Department of Art & Media, Zurich University of the Arts, 97-110. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Appadurai, Arjun (1996, 2005). Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press; (2000), Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination. In Public Culture, vol. 12, #1, pp. 1-19.
Harman, Graham, ed., 2011. The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Melbourne: re.press.
Preliminary schedule, May 21-22, 2015:
09.30 Coffee + registration
10.15 statement lecture 1
11.00 Salon 1 (maximum four groups of 25)
12.30 Lunch + walk
14.00 Salon 2 (groups of 25, A-D)
16.30 Forum debate 1
18.15 Statement lecture 2
19.00 Mingle + dinner
09.00 Statement lecture 3
10.30 Salon 3 (reshuffled groups)
13.00 Lunch + walk
14.00 Critical connections of discussions + wallpapers (to feed into Forum debate 3)
15.30 Forum debate 3
17.00 Summing up
17.30 End of symposium