On March 7,  The Programme in Experimentation in Art and Politics (SPEAP) , an MA programme recently established at Science Po (Paris), visited The Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) at Goldsmiths. The day was part of a longer Concentration Week that SPEAP students and staff spent at Goldsmiths, visting different departments. The week was dedicated to a specific research theme: If nature is no longer a mere background for human acitvities, what change does this entail for art and the social sciences? The theme was communicated to participants in advance, and during the workshop they engaged with it through presentation, film and discussion. Here follows a brief report of the day in 7 photos by Jorge Castillo.

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It may be somewhat complex to capture the remnants of a day marked by the momentum of collaboration between two groups whose main quality is precisely the question of borders and boundaries of the traditional social and political categories. SPEAP (Sciences Po – Expérimentation en Arts et Politique) and CSISP (Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process) were part of an additive experiment during the morning and a section of the afternoon on a Wednesday in March. The support for this –as mentioned– was the idea of nature as part of the processes of social research and artistic action. Here are schematically some moments of this day. As is more often the case, the most important would be what is not said. Time indicated is relative.

At room 143

10:00-10:15. Having crossed Goldsmiths’ labyrinths, the groups from Paris and London are distributed across the room.

Laurie Waller10:15-11:00. After the presentation by Alex Wilkie and Tobie Kerridge (Goldsmiths Interaction Research Studio) about energetic communities, it was the turn of Laurie Waller, a PhD student in CSISP/Sociology. His talk revolved around notions of publicity and assembly at the Science Museum, and the use of electronic music to facilitate immersion in tissues of public and everyday life.

SPEAP at 12th floor.

12:45-14:00. A group of students from SPEAP enjoying the view of London during the lunch hour, on the roof terrace on top of Warmington Tower, outside the CSISP seminar room.

Afternoon Presentations

14:15. After lunch, presentations continue…

David Moats

15:00-15:30. David Moats presents his research on controversies about race and intelligence and the stablization ofi knowledge on Wikipedia. Noortje Marres, of CSISP, is also in the image.

Latour in action

17:45-18:15. After the workshop, a lecture. Bruno Latour during his presentation (Latour in action…). More details here.

Bruno and Noortje

19:15. Bruno Latour, of Sciences Po, and Noortje Marres, of CSISP/Sociology, at the end of the day.

Probably the conclusions of the day were fragmented according to the different reflections that were figured in each presentation. And after this wednesday at CSISP , SPEAP  continued its concentration week with a visit to Politics/Cultural Studies before returning to Paris. I would like to think of our day itself as an initial scaffolding and we hope that a similar event would happen sometime again.

As to the workshop, each presentation was in its own way conducive to the possibility to think and perform nature and place as spaces that transform the political and artistic, which are potential entities themselves, becoming in various ways and acting on these formations. While the process of “naturalization” is understood as tending to block or hide the controversies involved in each certainty or “will to truth”, nature itself escapes these constraints and presents itself disorganized. However, nature is explained, socialized and used as an argument again and again, to be part of the assemblages not only scientific but also political and aesthetic. Nevertheless, the planes of formal representation of the space that constitutes the natural can be subverted, extolling the time -temporality- as a dimension that organizes social, political and rituals practices, in an environment that exceeds the human, objectifying it. Here, nature is not only a support, but an assembler,  linking the living and the inert, being both, and serving as a resource to explicate the social and material, outside the order of the formal and leading us back to being animals or ants…