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Phantom data in our bodies and imagination

The workshop was held in Kepler Gardens (JKU campus), as a part of the program of the JKU’s Institute of Women's and Gender Studies (IFG) of Austria’s interdisciplinary Gender Studies university department within the program of ARS ELECTRONICA Festival 2020 under the topic How to become a high-tech anti-discrimination activist collective.

LINK to JKU/Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies FG@Ars Electronica Festival 2020. program

In this LAB ON STAGE workshop, undertaking a performing arts´ approach to the question „How to become a high-tech anti-discrimination activist collective“, we turn to one of the origins of the creative process - imagination. Our departure point lies in the embodiment of imagination and perceptual processes. With somatic exercises and performative games, we take notice of the data that flows in from our bodies, whether it be sensation, image, emotion or memory. Observing these contents, we address the notion of „default“ contents - bits of information that are present but escape our attention and are not communicated, yet affect the outcome. We practice the art of asking questions as a way to call out the default in our imagery.

Assuming that imagination has its own training dataset - our experiences, memories, emotions, knowledge, beliefs - therefore a specific priming/bias/imprint, we look for practices of becoming aware of HOW we imagine things and what escapes our field of attention. We approach the act of creation not as an expression of individual capability but as initiating a dialogue in the collective imaginary. Relating to Ruha Benjamin´s account that „imagination is a field of action“, we give importance to that stage of the creative process, whether in art or technology, understanding that it defines what the outcome will be.

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Statement of a Workshop Participant

I did not think so much about the bodily aspect of collectivity before the workshop. But now I am convinced that collectivity has to be established not only through mindful discussion and verbal exchange but also via bodily trust and bodily connection and the feeling of material intervention. It was such a pleasure to be guided by you through this adventure. I normally do not participate in body workshops. But your guidance was never too intimate or too violent or too touchy. Trust is a material thing, I have the impression now. The part were s.o. had to listen and draw the description of a situation of anti-discrimination activism of the other was a great experience. And the part when we shared each other's visions for a world better than this was very surprising and amazing. And the part when at the end we formed an anti-discrimination-activist-machine all together was also great - unique experience! Thank you so much!


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