— Cultural Sources of Newness

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März 2013 Monthly archive

Lucy Suchman, the second-order-observer from PARC, will be a visiting scholar at our unit for the next couple of weeks. To test the water, she will talk about one of her recent papers, Anthropological relocations and the Limits of Design (2011)“. I just read the paper, and since several of the researchers in the unit will be abroad on April 3, the blog might be a good way to start some discussion on the text.

“The future arrives sooner here.” The starting quote comes from Silicon valley in the mid-90’s. Today, one might hear that claim – in Berlin. (p.2)

A critical anthropology of design “articulates the cultural imaginaries and micropolitics that delineate design’s promises and practices.” (p.3)

“Innovation is embedded within a broader cultural imaginary that posits a world that is always lagging … a world, in sum, in need of design.” Then comes a precise analysis of Herbert Simon’s design palette in 1969. (p.5)

Design seems to lead to interventions. Three kinds of interventions are described: (1) accounting for procedure, (2) working across, and between, the formalisms of situated logics, and (3) prototyping. (p.6-8)

Ingold writes that things are alive because they leak, and Lave argues that learning is an irrepressible constituent of aliveness. Suchman refers to her earlier relocation in a place “posited to be a central and superior site of knowledge.” The current, postcolonial position is then one of acting in “a series of local economic accomplishments.” (p.13-14)

The “valorisation of newness is a local preoccupation” – I’m curious to find out more about the “performative metaphysics of the new.” Also, I plan to find out about A. Tsing’s friction as a way of “figuring encounters with difference.” (p.15)

The design science that emerged in computer science and management seems to have changed into a design culture, still around the task of dealing with “change, breaks and ruptures.” That is the potential in our studies of the practices of product designers, in the widest interpretation of products. (p.16)

Suchman closes with a recommendation for “modest interventions within … landscapes of transformation.”

The lines I picked out were those in which the resonance with ongoing threads of discussion within our group was the strongest. I see quite a few such resonances – which makes it fairly probable that Lucy Suchman’s modest intervention into the routines and the self-awareness of our unit, within the larger landscape of the institution WZB, will leave its marks.

 

 

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Echoes from the opening keynote of the Creative Clash conference we held at the Goethe Institute in Brussels yesterday (March 19) resonated at the end of the day in the closing poem. From talking about artistic interventions in organizations to experiencing one. In between: presentations of three research reports and panels with policymakers (Members of the European Parliament, representatives of Directorate Generals), managers, and members of the art world. The program was punctuated with discussion opportunities to involve the ca. 150 participants who were seated in four sections according to the sense they preferred to learn with that day: feeling, hearing, seeing, or thinking. And half way through: the opening of a select exhibition that Mari Linnman curated of artworks from artistic interventions in organizations in Sweden and the Basque country.

The research reports prepared for Creative Clash by the WZB, TILLT and KEA are/will be available on line (see info below*), so I will focus here on the keynote “Artistic interventions in the creative economy” that Michael Hutter (WZB) presented and the poem that slammer Sebastian 23 composed in situ and performed for us.

Materials at Creative Clash Conference March 19 2013

Materials at Creative Clash Conference March 19 2013

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One of the things that has occupied many of my days and nights over the course of the past two years is the Creative Clash project on artistic interventions in organizations. I have been participating as the research partner,  together with several colleagues in our  research unit at the WZB. Our role was to collect evidence of impacts of artistic interventions in organizations on the basis of existing publications—the project specifically excluded conducting new research, a somewhat perverse situation, given the paucity of available data and the difficulty of conducting such evaluations.

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The man standing in line in front of me at the Jeu de Paume theater in Aix en Provence tonight bought the last ticket to the concert “Leçon de jazz d’Antoine Hervé: Keith Jarrett.” I was about to turn away in disappointment, but the young woman at the ticket counter disappeared for a moment, then came back with a few slips in her hand: I was in luck, she said, the prefect would not be using his official box tonight so I could buy one of the best tickets in the house. So I was soon ensconced just to the left of the stage, overlooking the piano that awaited Antoine Hervé. The house was indeed completely sold out—to hear a famous French jazz pianist play and explain the art of Keith Jarrett.  As a great lover of Keith Jarrett ever since a friend gave us a recording of the Köln concert (and since hearing about the story behind that 1975 concert), I was ready to experience a magical evening.

Theatre du Jeu de Paume, Aix (photo ABA)

Theatre du Jeu de Paume, Aix (photo ABA)

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The dean of the department of education of Philipps-Universität Marburg welcomed the participants at the conference Organisation und das Neuewith the observation that we were taking on a topic that is „widerspruchsvoll und brisant“. Can “organization”, i.e., that which orders and maintains, generate newness? He did not add “and can it do so here?” but that question was definitely on my mind as I looked around the venerable hall in the ancient university of Marburg, reminiscent of a cathedral with its organ and decorated windows. (The university was founded in 1527 and is the “oldest protestant university in the world”/Wikipedia).

 

Opening session in Philipps-Universität Marburg (photo ABA)

Opening session in Philipps-Universität Marburg (photo ABA)

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