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Notes Towards Day 9 (Tuesday, 10/1): "Going Down a Path..."

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I. 11:25-11:50--Meet in sections to discuss our selection of artists who "play critically":
review of Flanagan's key terms-->
Play/Critical Play/Games/Technology/Subversion/Intervention/Disruption/Activist Games...
radical game design for artistic, political, or social critique,
unlocking the unconscious (making the surreal part of the real),
in order to start conversation, change behavior,
to undermine/shift paradigms, the boundaries of what is permisable, "a spirit of revolt":
"art...provokes a breach...where the world is forced to question itself" (Foucault)

and yet?! in tension with/contradiction of "the aim is play itself,"
"unproductivity" is an essential aspect of play;
"play is an occasion of pure waste,"
"critical games are open actions,"
non-linear, artificial, but with "real alternatives" and players' agency

...and the not! unrelated! question of WHO GETS TO PLAY?

how do you understand these artists' work, in this framework?
(how does their work support/unsettle the claims Flanagan is using them to make?)

from Mark's class:
Louise on Cadere: stick carrying...
Natalie on Gutai.
Cordelia: Matisse's sculptures
Pia: Duchamp and Kandinsky
Grace on Arp & chance
Yijing on Braque
Thea on Duchamp and dada

from Anne's class:
Yancy on Dadaism--> nightowl on Hannah Hoch,
Evelyn on SophieTaueber-Arp, Cathy on Marcel Duchamp-->
Tessa on Surrealism --> Tomahawk on "exquisite corpse"-->
Juneau on Sol Lewitt (conceptualism)

Dadaism and Surrealism:
Dadaism, launched in 1916 in Zurich: a direct reaction to the slaughter, propaganda, inanity of World War I,
a rejection of idealism, aesthetic conventions, rationalism, progress, nationalism, capitalism,
using absurdity to mirror the world's absurdity, a rejection of logic and conventional systematic thinking,

André Breton's Manifesto of Surrealism, 1924: creating a more programmatic version of the same critique,
building on Freud's psychoanalytical theories about the irrational and instinctual drives of the unconscious

 (grew out of Dadaism, Surrealism):
1960's questioning of what is taken for granted, the meaning of art itself,
w/ idea mattering more than physical representation, w/ political, formal, and spiritual dimensions.
Embracing the inherent value of all objects/experiences, accepting a diversity of attitudes to "art"
and "play"--not just serious ones, investigating the nature of artmaking,
playing at "art" and "artist" (after Duchamp)

Cf.Tomahawk and Jessica (via Jane McGonigal) on video games/
epic wins inspiring collaboration/solving the world's problems
(due to urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, epic meaning-->
believe they can change virtual worlds...we now use games to escape,
but we can use them to model the real world, and make it more like gaming...)
"we can make any future we can imagine, and we can play any games we want"

II. 11:50-12:30--reconfigure into writing groups (spread out into both classrooms)
ou have brought with you copies of two responses you wrote to your partners' essays.

(hopefully!) focusing not on what they intended, but on what they did:
what they selected, both from their city experience, and from Flanagan,
and on how they used these things:
how they structured the relationship between the two,
and how they structured the essay as a whole.

How does their representation accord with your own
experiences (of the city and the text)?

What 2-3 questions do you have for the writers?

Read these descriptions to one another.

Instructions for the Writers:
you don’t get to talk about intention (i.e.: that's what I meant to say/what you "should have" seen!);
your job is to hear how your essay was received (differently?) by two readers.

Instructions for the Readers:
your job is to have a conversation with each other,
about what’s different/overlapping in your interpretations--
and then to bring the author into a 3-way conversation about her writing-->
how might she add/substract/multiply/complexify/divide/simplify her representation?

spend a good 10 minutes on each person's writing. If you happen to finish early, you'll have time to compare your experiences of being "readers" and "authors". Ask each other...and yourself: what are you curious about in each other's papers? What would you like to see investigated further? What could be "thicker?"

III. 12:30-12:45--re-gather in Taylor D for coursekeeping
A) paying up! (who hasn't: Agatha, Ava, Cathy, Kate, Louise, Natalie, Sara, Taylor, Yijing)

B) day long event on art and social change @ Temple on Saturday

C) newspaper distribution
--last week, we asked you NOT to read the whole of Flanagan's Chapter 5 carefully,
but rather to select one artist she mentioned to learn about more thoroughly

--we are going to repeat that process again this week,
using The Philadelphia Inquirer to "read" toward one select part of the city

--this is an exercise of "going down a path of research":
start by reading through the newspaper: follow your curiosity-->
attend to what interests you, and/but don't forget the
"architecture of serendipity" that Cass Sunstein taught us about:
in other words, attend to the ENTIRE newspaper (there are a thousand
points of entry into a research path here--identify several...)
let yourself notice things that lie nearby the ones you select

--then  select some dimension of the city represented in the paper
about which you are particularly curious AND which you want to find out more about,
and take your research on-line:
learn more about this topic/place/person/event-->
that learning might lead you, in turn,
to explore another topic/place/person/event...

Let yourself be provoked to look further, following what will become a "research path,"
--a chain of your directed curiosity. Allow the path to "thicken," to focus,
and let yourself steer it a little so that...

--this wandering direction needs to lead you, before midnight tomorrow,
to a place in the city that you want to visit (and want to convince someone else
to visit with you, that will invite her to learn more)

--you can loop around all you like
(you might even try out multiple pathways from multiple starting points) 
but by 12:00 a.m. you need to have landed somewhere

--you have no other reading to do for Thursday,
so give this process some time--a coupla hours

--find out where your destination is, geographically; look on a map of
the public transit system to be sure you can get there from Bryn Mawr...
adjust, if necessary...

Pause to say that with this assignment we are uncovering one of the Big Things of the course.
You almost certainly came here believing that knowledge is what you hold,
and that Having The Answer is the mark of wisdom.

We are saying almost the opposite: knowledge is what you do.
We don't write to display the knowledge that we hold,
but to open the questions that are important to us.
Having (and shifting) the Questions is the real virtue. 
The work of this exercise is to find and refine in your self
the capacity to provoke your curiosity, and to follow it.
To focus your curiosities towards the opening up of a question...
to follow that question and allow it to open other questions.
There may have been a time, maybe, when there were facts/knowledge
that it was valuable to have in your possession. But we live in the middle
of the Information Super Highway. Having facts is so easy. Knowing what
to ask for and how to ask in a way that provokes a meaningful feed of responses
(within yourself and within the Machine) is the work of our time.

Let's do it!

D) instructions for Wed night posting
by midnight, post a paragraph describing what caught your interest, and why,
trace @ least 5 steps/critical links in the path you took, and end by saying
where you propose we go this coming weekend to pursue that interest further

E) come to class on Thurs having practiced a one-minute "elevator speech":
be prepared stand up in front of us all and explain why we might want to go
with you to your selected site: what might we find of interest there?
how might that trip enlighten us? what questions will we bring? what questions will we bring back?

we will be brutal in monitoring the time: you have 1 minute to "sell" your idea to the rest of us,
to pitch a visit that is interesting: what do you have an appetite for?
we need to "taste the curiosity" in your research path, as you tell us why we would go there...

E) this exercise is modeling how a good line of research gets pursued:
a dance between being focused and being open,
between following your own curiosity and noticing what surprises emerge nearby
examples: Mark on the school crisis,
Anne on how Philadelphia buries its dead:
page of obituaries in The Philadelphia Inquirer-->
googled "Philadelphia cemeteries" (strikingly sectarian);
settled in to learn about three very famous ones:
the unexpected history/untold stories of Laurel Hill, Woodlands, and Fairhill Burial Grounds
went further afield to learn from Rebecca Greenfield about
 Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries. The Atlantic. March 16, 2011-->
Thomas Laqueur. Spaces of the Dead. Ideas from the National Humanities Center. 8, 2 (2001)-->

will propose going to Woodlands, because we can reach it by getting off @ the 40th St. stop on the  El,
taking a picnic, using it as a park in the 19th c. way,
and watching how else the space is used by others in the 21st c....

IV. More from Benjamin, “The Author as Producer,” Reflections, p. 224:
the newspaper…denies itself any other form of organization than that imposed on it by the readers’ impatience…the man on the sidelines who believes he has the right to see his own interests expressed….nothing binds the reader more tightly to his paper than this impatient longing….readers are instantly elevated to collaborators…the conventional distinction between author and public…begins…to disappear. For the reader is at all times ready to become…a prescriber….the mighty process of recasting… revises even the distinction between author and reader (224-225).