Master-Workshop «Sympoieses»

by Armin Blasbichler

Despite the many means and avenues to express ourselves freely, the scope of the speakable has narrowed notably in recent years. Fuelled by sentiments of fear, injustice or susceptibilities, the lures of political correctness have invaded the realms of western society. In order to mitigate controversy, pc culture waters messages down so that on the surface they appear safe, non-offensive, of good intentions. Provisions like top-down regulation and policing of the use of language, nation states credit-scoring its citizens behaviour by mass-surveillance, the removal of artworks in public spaces because of inappropriateness, to name a few, appear to be measures rooted in mutual distrust and as such undermine the core values of an open society.

In order to overcome the adversarial narratives of belief/disbelief and inclusion/exclusion, Donna Haraway invites us to employ an approach of response-ability. Namely a collective praxis of kinship, care and response in multispecies environments in order to make them liveable again. The capacity to sustain in such complex environments is a capacity to be prepared for the bold and the erratic, to embrace contradictions and paradoxes and to respond with a combined effort in mind. Merging the act of bringing something into being (poiesis) and the long-term interaction between two entities (symbiosis) brings us to the the notion of «sympoiesis». A process of collectively-producing systems that do not have defined spatial or temporal boundaries and in which information and control are distributed among its components. These systems are evolutionary and have the potential for surprising change.

In this sense the workshop series aims to imagine scenarios of sympoieses in the wider techno-socio-economic field by crosslinking three core abilities, namely the ability to speak under conditions of uncertainty (speak-ability), to respond with change propositions (response-ability) and to weight in with notions of resilience (sustain-ability).