Week 38: Groundswell Collective

Hi Everyone,

This Tuesday is another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.

This week we’ll be talking with James David Morgan from Groundswell Collective.


Since 2006, the Groundswell Collective has been producing work that fashions and furthers alternative modes of social organization in both visual art and folklore — thereby implicitly acknowledging that there is no one artworld but rather a multiplicity of them. As they put it, their interest is in “how art relates to social movements, especially in its capacity to compose new social relationships. Art as an insular phenomenon (if it ever really was that), where its main focus was itself, is no longer; what it concerns now is its relationship to society, how it is composed and how it affects.”

The very fact that many people continue to speak of an artworld, singular (however implausible), is revealing of the extent to which cultural production has been integrated, almost seamlessly and ever increasingly, into capitalist logic over the last half century. And it is this logic that the Groundswell Collective sets out to reverse:
“the once avant-garde aspirations of making art an everyday practice have been realized, and the terrain on which power is built and contested has a decidedly cultural composition – producing politics is a cultural endeavor, and vice versa. Taking this second claim first, we recognize that the knowledge economy, or cognitive capital, is a salient force against which the left has yet to develop an effective strategy. Activist art offers extradisciplinary critique, and a theoretical model for this task, for the necessary engagement of power on the terrain which it now inhabits.”

Bringing together artists and activists, the group draws self-consciously on the long history of imagination, desire, and creativity on the radical left — which they refer to under the umbrella concept of “affective composition” — to alter, disrupt, channel, or otherwise impact hegemonic, one-world discourse, through a mutual aid online store and barter network.



Week 38: Groundswell Collective

Dave: Hello

Scott: Hi guys, Hi Cassie and Base Kamp, Hi David, Matthew, Greg

It looks like we have an intimate enough group, at least via Skype, to do some quick intros, which is kind of fun, I think that would be a nice way of just checking in an saying hi.  Cassie, you guys want to start at Base Kamp?

Oh, she's going to type it.  Ok, that's good too.  

Cassie: Can you hear my correctly?

Others: Yes, I can, yes

Cassie: Ok, Hi everyone, we're here at Base Kamp just hanging out eating some banana chips, and sweet potato dip.  We're excited to talk tonight, we've got a couple of people here, Michael just walked in a few minutes ago, he's getting some stuff ready.

Other: Hi Michael.  Ok, we'll move on, who is this guys Scott Rigby?

Scott: Yes, here, present, I'm probably may need to mute my mic off and on just to keep that down, but David, it's great to have you, I've really been wanting to talk about, or to hear about Groundswell Collective.  [inaudible 0:02:12.8] stuff might come up a number of times, but we haven't already had much time to talk yet.

David: Matthew, how are you, and what are you doing, and what can we expect from you in the years 2010 and 2011?

Matthew: I'm doing too much is what I'm doing.  I'm based in [inaudible 0:02:40.2], we doing community organizing with some [inaudible 0:02:49.4] efforts, but the activism side of tonight's talk should be really great because a lot of what I'm trying to do is to try to interact with different kinds of cultural groups in the city, to kind of engage them in creating ways that they can voice who they are.  And then I'm also starting up a festival of some sort in the next year or two, that will support artist students in more practices so that's what I'm up to right now.

David: Awesome, thank you.  And you're going to be showing, or doing a workshop at Conflux with the project that you're working on Freespace right?

Matthew: Yeah, Freespace is like a collection, well, I'm asking people to provide images and some information about spaces that they [inaudible 0:03:47.8] connections with.  And then create an archive with those, and then eventually starting to program them, so we're still collecting them right now, I'm hoping in the next few months to start creating some tours or some kind of thematic ways of allowing people to interact with those spaces.

David: Awesome, that sounds great, I'm just adding Adam here to our conference call, so give me a second to do that.  Steven's with, us I'm going to add Steven.  Hi Adam.

Adam: Hello, how're you doing?

David: We're doing great, we're mixing it up today, we're actually doing introductions, do you want to tell us who you are and why you're here?

Greg: David, do you want to tell us a little about where you're calling us from, or where we're speaking to you from, and then maybe we'll get started.

David: Yes, sure, I just moved up to Toronto, been here for maybe three weeks, and before that I was living in Boston, calling from home at this hour the busy street outside people like to honk their horns quite a bit so I apologize if there's some kind of background noise in advance.  You're not allowed to turn left onto the intersection and people still like to, so they like to honk their horns at one another.

Greg: Not a problem, we contend with kung-fu upstairs at the Base Kamp space, so oftentimes you hear tumbling and rumbling from the Base Kamp space, so not a problem at all.  Well, welcome everybody, thanks for coming out tonight, we're really excited to have David, and to hear more about the Groundswell Collective.  Before we get started maybe I'll just copy and paste this link to your blog.  There we go.  And then, as I said before David, you can utilize the text however you want, or not at all, it's completely up to you.  But what I'll do is I'll sort of give a quick read of what we wrote about you, or what Steven wrote about you, and then you can fill in the gaps and sort of further elucidate some of the projects that we might be mentioning here.  

So and please correct this if any of this is incorrect, but I'm sure it's spot on since Steven wrote it.  Since 2006 the Groundswell Collective has been producing work that fashions and furthers alternative models of social organization in both visual art and folklore; thereby implicitly acknowledging that that's no one art world but rather a multiplicity of them  As they put it, their interest is in "how art relates to social movements, especially in its capacity to compose new social relationships.  Art as an insular phenomenon, if it even really was that, where its main focus was itself is no longer.  What it concerns now is its relationship to society, how it is composed, and how it affects. "  So I won't read all of it, but I think that is a good primer to some of the things you'll talk about, so please feel free to pause and ask us questions, or ask us to participate, or obviously just talk as long as you'd like.  The floor is yours.

David: Cool thanks, well, hi everybody, again, for the sake of introduction, David Morgan.  I'm one of the co-founding members of Groundswell, and Ryan [surname 0:07:53.3] is the other founding member.  We started in 2006 I believe, we were living in western [place 0:08:03.5] at the time, and sort of studying how art and politics intersect and thinking about cultural production as a port of activity etc, and just came together around a bunch of conversation that we were having.  So, in the five or seven years that have transpired it's been a really interesting path that we've been on , it's been primarily way-finding and I'll send around a link to an article that I wrote recently for [inaudible 0:08:42.4] an online magazine, and I started it off with saying what is it that Groundswell does, that was the point of the article, and our gathering here today and my answer was that we don't know, and that we're happy that we don't know.  Also I remember guys just had a conversation with a think-tank that has yet to be named, and they have their directives yet and whatnot; I was on an excursion with them once upon a time and I was the director of not yet knowing, and I think the title is still pretty apt.  We are constantly becoming something other than we were and shifting, not just in form, or philosophy, but in space.  I mean obviously I just moved here, from a place that I had been set up for a number of years, Ryan moved from Newfoundland where he was to Portland Oregon, which was a move back home, and we had a guy we had been working with who was moving to Peru to work on the [inaudible 0:10:00.7] per child projects, it was his transition out of the States, and simultaneously mine that precipitated a whole bunch of changes and I guess I can talk about that later on.  So, with that, fluidity, with that kind of geographical separation and what not; I mean to be honest it's been really difficult, Ryan and I have lived in different places for almost the full five years that we've been working together, and it's been...

David: I guess we are primarily based in Boston since Ryan was more removed, I mean he was working with local theatre groups, he was doing work with a local radio station, and also some work with a local fishing community, and that kind of gave us the framework for the journal that we produce, and I'll talk about that more later too.  But it's weird, you know it's definitely done primarily over the internet and we star, our communication is, so... who's coming on? [phone ringing]

Female: Hello

David: Hi, I'm David

Greg: Dave, we'll be adding people throughout as they join us, so just continue at your normal pace, we'll manage that in a bit, and welcome to all of our callers, to all of our participants.

David: So, we gathered this past summer, and the one before that to try and hammer out some more details about what we're doing, you know, we gathered in person, is what I mean to say.  So, that's where we came up with the idea that it is directly the relationship to social movements that we're interested in, and how that can comprise new social relationships and reiterate what our mission statement is but that doesn't really elucidate much, so what does that look like?  I guess some examples from the work that we've done and that we think is particularly interesting, or successful, or just stuff that we choose to concern ourselves with anyway, I've been organizing the [inaudible 0:13:01.5] festival that I mentioned earlier in our chat.  The festival of radical marching bands that happens once a year in Boston, and for anybody who's interesting, it's upcoming it's [called Mystic Weekend 0:13:15.4].  There is a sort of genealogy that you can [inaudible 0:13:26.6] in that phenomenon, and for what it's worth, it came from earliest Dada, surrealism, definitely this situationist kind of thinking, and that got filtered through punk, and it got filtered through other sort of underground sub cultural sorts of phenomenon and in the 90s, I might contend that that's sort of train of thought or radical imagination, or however you want to refer to it, found it's fruition in [inaudible 0:14:11.5], anti-globalization and those gatherings that happen reclaim the streets being one that frequently gets pointed to and honk bands were a part of that.  So, that kind of basis in social movements, you know being the anti-globalization movements specifically is a very good example of what we're talking about.  Other folks within the Honk community would point to a different kind of genealogy and that's totally fine and fair and valid, and I also agree with it; the [inaudible 0:15:01.0] of these sort of folks were a huge inspiration for Honk bands as well, so it pulls from a lot of places, a lot of sources.  Again, that's a project that I've been personally involved with, and sort of tangentially Groundswell itself has lent a hand too.  One that we're more involved with is a group called Sprout, and they're sited in [inaudible 0:15:43.1] article.  They've been using the models, it's somewhat like Base Kamp's chats to gather folks and, I mean they eat spaghetti together, they have this sort of critical conviviality that happens, and it's a great, lovely little catch phrase that some folks have used to describe that kind of phenomenon of gathering, and with Sprout we put together a couple of events.  The way that happens is they get together and they eat spaghetti once a months, and they have a performance and a lecture series that's ongoing, [inaudible 0:16:32.8]spaghetti and we have presenters and the likes come and talk while we eat, and it's a wonderful little environment.  So the stuff that Groundswell helps put on was, or rent public space, particularly around transportation, public performance, and sort of linking up those local threads that we were touching upon in those presentations and performances, sort of combining for the evening I guess, just the... I've lost my train of thought.

Anyway, Sprout, it's a wonderful organization, you should check it out.  

Scott: Oh, yeah, I'm looking at it right now.

David: Cool, I'll mention a third, the design studio for social intervention, I think you guys at least tried to connect with, I don't know if they came off, but they have been focusing on using design thinking as a category for revitalizing the non-profit sector in the United States, and that's their overarching mission.  So, to take and use the existing infrastructure, the existing networks, and to sort of infused that with some new thinking about the social relationship that we can compose by using this same old stuff, I mean it's not dissimilar to the dismantling the master's house with the master's tools kind of argument, but I mean, they draw from so many different sources that that's not really a fair characterization, it's something that they've been working on for decades prior to their coming together in the past year, so to do that kind of works specifically.  In their case, it's using the social movement infrastructure that we've seen rise in the past 50 years, and on questioning we're going into that infrastructure with a new plan; linking social movements, new social relationships, and this aesthetic-affective thinking.

Groundswell, in that sort of milieu has been working in between, primarily we've been working with and for those guys, like I said, organizing those events at Sprout. [inaudible 0:19:51.1] we're kind of a cousin of the design studio and they're all quite good friends of ours and we focused all this effort around Boston, all three of the organizations that were mentioned are head quartered there, and so we were supporting their particular art words.  We recognized at the outset that there are various art worlds, and that each of these organizations, including our own,  comprises of public, and that that's a very important facet of doing this kind of work, the networking that could happen between those sites and organizations where we can help develop one another's power for lack of a better word, and how to be together in such a way that we're effective and... it's a primary task for us.

Greg: Dave, not to interrupt, but I was intrigued as you started to talk about, your transition from Boston to Toronto, and I wonder if you could talk about aspects in which you see the work changing based on your new location, or also currents that will continue regardless of geography, you talked a little bit about the local art community that exists in Boston, and I know that's going to be vastly different than that of which is happening in Toronto.  Maybe you don't really know about what the specifics are in Toronto, seeing as you've only been there three weeks, but maybe you can talk about things that you foresee changing or developing in a different way, but also threads that will continue.  

David: Yes, absolutely.  One of the things that I wanted to do is to spread out the geography a bit, we've been working in such a way that we're in distinct locations, and this is an opportunity where we're both relocated and have this blank slate to... it's true that I don't yet know what Toronto's lay of the land is, but treating it in the same way, certainly going to lend Groundswell as a support organization while we figure out what is possible here.  Already we've met with Toronto free-gallery, which is a social-justice concerned gallery, and we might do some programming there, and there's a couple of other folks, Toronto's School for Creativity who are also doing much more of a [inaudible 0:23:12.8] series kind of track, and so the lending a hand is certainly a primary consideration of our, and is one that we will pick up in our new locations.  It's also a question of whether we'll continue to work together in the same way; obviously I mentioned earlier, we put together this journal that was based on Ryan's experiences in Newfoundland.  To say a little more about that, he was working in a fishing community there, and was basically doing folklore anthropological kind of work, and noticed the community was facing the Canadian government closing down the town in which they lived, it was an argument that they couldn't the infrastructure any longer, and so this meant a dislocation for all of that community.  It's part of the reason that Ryan had to relocate.  His being so very embedded there means something has changed drastically in the way that we have been thinking for the past year, the journal was a process that took at least a year to pull off, we're onto new lines of lead I guess, with our new locations as well.

To mention another one of the projects that we've set up; we have an online store, and we've set it up in a mutual way of fashion that we could syndicate the work of other artist activists, and give a location for resources that we found interesting, or good, or what have you.  So now we'll be developing relationships with different groups around that particular site, we've worked out a partnerships with Half Letter Press to syndicate some of their stuff, and we may find the same is true with Toronto's School of Creativity.  I guess I'll go back to the journal in a second because that's a good example of working in those in between spaces and finding connections and being able to give voice to the kinds of work that we're focusing on.  We had, as I said the work Ryan was doing was around folklore, and he was gathering stories of the folks that were being displaced, so we recognized that similar displacements were happening on different scales and in different ways in different places.  To describe some of the similarities and differences, we wanted to dig into this same kind of story telling from those other locations.  The title was "Crisis [Folklore? 0:27:16.9] and we solicited both real and imagined stories, folklores to describe that phenomenon; that dislocation.   We pulled from a climate change intervention in the U.K, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination wrote a piece about the bike-lock which was their intervention there, Team Colors did a piece somewhat differently about the non-profit industrial complex, and a friend of mine, John [surname 0:28:07.8] was working on anti-eviction blockades of [inaudible 0:28:16.6] houses, and he's developed a  piece telling a story about those particular sites through shadow projections on actual house that's been foreclosed and where the eviction is actually happening, so they'll set up and do its presentation, this intervention while the family is being evicted, and before and after, to tell the stories of what went on in that house, both personal stories, and the ones related to the financial crisis that they found themselves in.  there are some other imaginings about what to do with empty property, there's what to do with this sort of network in which we find ourselves, as activists, public practice, bulletin.  So, a couple of examples of making those linkages a little more clear, and giving space to the folks  that are out there in the world doing them.

Greg: I'm really interested in the crises who are narratives, are these accessible somewhere other than ordering the booklets?  I mean, we should do that anyway, but I'm just curious

David: There's a PDF that you can get from our store, but we should at this point probably just free that up for everybody and post it on [inaudible 0:30:05.7] or something so that it's out there in the world.

Greg: I guess you could still tell people who want to buy it and make it available on [inaudible  0:30:17.7.  As a way of supporting, and I am really interested in the [inaudible 0:30:32.0].  I was curious about part of the way you describe the Groundswell [inaudible 0:30:44.1].  

When you catalogue this other work, that's how I came to know about you guys was [inaudible 0:31:18.7] before that.  [inaudible 0:31:20.6]

[Other talking]

Maybe to tag a little bit on to that question is [inaudible 0:31:50.4]

[Other talking]

David:  It's been referred to as unregulated discourse, and I just put that little saying on our website the other day that that kind of cataloguing is a way of doing... I guess referred to also as extra-disciplinary critique, this act of creating work, and I see it in a parallel way that the cataloguing the coming together, understand, criticize, re-work, have conversation about, performs the same function.  The extra-disciplinary critique thing is sort of a political philosophy also about creative capitalism about [inaudible 0:33:36.3] economy and what not, and how one can go about addressing those circumstances.  How to play with the levers of capitalism and I see that those two things share some common ground and to the act of cataloguing, I think is--on a good day I'd say it's close to an artwork in and of itself, but it's not creating in a similar way; it is art work, like it's labor that involved affecting aesthetics etc, but I don't know whether we can consider it a practice and I went back and forth on it.  I'm open to hearing other people's opinions about this because to me it just seems like a curatorial role, and that is art labor.  Does anybody have opinions about that?

Greg: I think we all should, it's whether or not we can formulate them in a cohesive manner, but do people have strong feelings about that? I mean I don't know if Stevens--not to put him on the spot-- if he's in a place that he can talk I imagine you have a fair amount to say about the process.  I think that's what we're kind of teasing out in terms of what makes up or what concepts [inaudible 0:35:22.7] art world.  I think these are definitely questions that we may not have immediate answers to, but rather that we're looking to tease out further and investigate and flesh out and try to understand better.  But if anybody else who has ideas and wants to join...

Scott: The kind of art worlds that people are setting up usually have something to do with the infrastructures that comprise those usually have some role with rethinking relationships that help to make those up.  How people conceive the role, other roles that are [inaudible 0:36:11.7] I think the role of the most common notions of curatorial world aren't very stable either, they've been shifting too, and it really wasn't that long ago, if you think about it where [inaudible 0:36:30.0] almost like how [inaudible 0:36:40.9] describes the director in relationship to the actor [inaudible 0:36:47.4].  Describes how actors at a certain point [inaudible 0:36:54.2] but also because of the film industry lose a relationship with the audience that they once had, and also understanding of their own place within whatever narrative they're helping to build [inaudible 0:37:09.9] they're co-construction, they become more [inaudible 0:37:15.0] because they're unaware of whole set-up, so really the director of that also the editor has more say than the actors do.

Greg: Scott, I find that a really interesting comment because it's also very much about when he talks about the difference between the painter and the cameraman, and the magician, and he sort of compares the painter to the magician; you go away and you come back with this great work, but there's no real understanding of how it came to be, whereas the camera man is integrating himself into daily life and penetrating reality with the camera and such, but beyond [name? 0:38:10.6] I think what's interesting is how the creative practice is shifting to one which includes is what Matthew Slats talked about when we were doing intros which was community building, community activism and I think obviously Dave is working with aspects of that as well, and so the creative practice is redefined or broadened if you will.  I think that's an interesting comment, I don't know if David has thoughts about that?

David: I do, it's hard to tell because usually when people ask me if I practice I say no, I don't really, even with this critique that we bring to art and to philosophy and what not, it's difficult to describe one's personal practice and I can point to a couple of collaborations that we've done in print that are visual art, poster art kind f things as a practice, but I do have difficulty even with this critique talking about this curatorial role as practice.  I don't know if I can elaborate on that, but it's an ongoing question I guess.

Scott: I think the reason that I mentioned this critique of the director and relationship to the actor in the same breath as the curator and the artist as role anyway; I was just thinking it wasn't that long ago where curators and contemporary artists have had assumed this position where they become authors, or at least that's how they are often perceived, and I think to be fair, that's really the way a lot of curatorial practices are shaped, or at least it has the effect.   But I think more and more artists have been talking through strategies in their work, for quite a while now, partly as a way of reclaiming that loss of agency in their cultural role, but also there's some kind of upstaging going on and stereotypically artist [inaudible 0:41:14.8] can't stand that.  In a way there's something else I think about certain kinds of curatorial strategies that I don't really see necessarily to try and [inaudible 0:41:40.8], in a way it kind of lends us more towards a shared, or distributed attention [inaudible 0:41:51.1] if you wanted to describe it that way, being aware when you're referring to the work of their peers often it's not so much that you're actually trying to throw your authorial [inaudible 0:42:02.7] around them, but depending on how it's approached, more that you're attempting to somehow put yourself and other people in context  and just acknowledge that you're working within a share of social field, not necessarily a social network in the sense of social network of [inaudible 0:42:22.8] but in some kind of a world where alienation isn't one of the goals where you're not really trying to [inaudible 0:42:38.0].  I get the sense that the way you guys approach it it's more like that than it is that you're trying to adopt a strictly territorial role.

David: Yes, that's a good description and the unregulated discourse, if you put the emphasis on unregulated thereby mean at least less mediated than the alternative I think that lends itself to the same thing that you just described, so yes.

Greg: Actually I'd like to follow up on that, it's a basic question, but  I feel like to some extent I-- not that I knew who you were Dave-- but I felt  like following your timeline via twitter, or reading your blog; there's a certain level of connection that one can make through social media, but it can also be that cool detachment of knowing but not being active and I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit more about the role that social media plays for Groundswells, obviously you utilize it, but to what extent? and do you see if any, a transformative power, or any potential power in social media?  Obviously the days of using text messages to avoid police in terms of rioting, how do you see social media, to what extent do you invest in it as a tool for getting out information?

David:  Obviously we use it quite a bit given that we're in different places, and that we're comprising an audience online by keeping this catalogue, choosing to keep this catalogue in that kind of virtual space.  I don't really know if it was a conscious decision, it wasn't the democracy of the social web that lured us in, it was just finding ourselves in that environment, it was a convenient tool more than it was something that we considered at length and decided to use after much deliberation.   I think if anything we'd be more prone to say that there are a number of... it's hard to say it has had a democratizing role in my opinion, and I think that Ryan would agree, I don't know if we're using strategically to achieve that kind of an end to have an audience, or community or that have reached a center of resources that functions; I can't say that it was conscious and to be perfectly frank, the reason that I do use twitter so frequently is that I have a desk job, and that seems to be the tool that's literally right in front of me, so it's somewhat circumstantial I guess.

Scott: David, earlier you were talking about doing programming where you are, did you mean event programming?  or did you mean code programming?  

David: I meant event programming.  But actually, I guess I wouldn't be telling the whole truth without saying that when we were first considering what shape Groundswell should take, was tending towards a more traditional design studio format,  and some of the work we did early on was for movement organizations that needed these tools put together; ways to communicate via the internet, and so we did do quite a bit of work early on with that explicit focus.  

Scott: Got ya, that's interesting, there does seem to be an entrepreneurial [inaudible 0:48:14.4] even though I feel like it's almost always somehow [inaudible 0:48:20.0]because it's encapsulated in [inaudible0:48:23.9].

David: One of the things that we did was to recognize that we had that going on, that we had this energy, and that we wanted to move in that direction, and we didn't have the same critique that we do now.  We were totally... sorry I'm looking at the text...

Scott: What do you think actually instigated that; what you're describing almost sounds like the process is becoming radicalized, would you describe it that way?  Has your involvement with looking into the work of other people had an impact on what you guys do and how you approach what you do?

David: Yes, I think it's taken quite a number of years to develop a particular [inaudible 0:49:28.3] it's through the work that we've found most appealing, and through this process of cataloguing it that we've been able to arrive at this stand point I guess you could call it.  I don't think that calling it becoming radicalized it too far off the mark, I mean that's pretty spot on actually.

Greg: Dave, is there a difference between cataloguing and archiving to you?  And it's not a loaded question, I'm just curious in terms of; I think we've had a fair number of discussion about the archive, and its potential usefulness and its potential dangers if you will; but I'm just curious when you say cataloguing, should I be thinking along the same lines as archiving or creating an archive?

David: It feels like that, but with more breadth to is, and more of a living phenomenon as in what we're comprising becomes something more than itself; like you can talk about constituent power, congealing energies towards an end, or many ends; that feels more like a  better comparison for cataloguing I guess than the archive, the archive just feels older I suppose, not like something that one frequently updates.  That's an [inaudible 0:51:44.1] response, it's not one that we've considered, it's more in this effort of sharing that we chose to use a blogging software and that by default becomes a catalogue, an archive, whichever word you choose to refer to it, it has the effect of indexing.  

Scott: It's definitely an interesting issue for us because  some level, if I'm talking about revising or mixing different traditional roles within art worlds, archiving is really similar to the act of collecting, at least some times it is, and I feel like oftentimes there's a danger there because in collecting there's a kind of violence, there's different approaches, but often there's an accumulation to that, there are different benefits that we all get from archiving and having this kind of internal ownership.  On the other hand archiving is really crucial for the kinds of things that interests us, or at least that are the central focus of this particular series of [inaudible 0:53:34.0] we're engaged with right now.  One of the main kinds of art worlds that we want to look at was people that are engaged heavily in archiving collective practice in particular because it hasn't really until recently been something that's had much attraction, although there's been a lot of activity, and so I wonder why that is, or at least that's something we continue to ask, why is that?  Is it sort of a mean, are there other effects of this?  We kind of assume that because something's happening a lot that there's a specific reason for that, sometimes it's just because things snowball or become a fad, or whatever-- I think in the case of archiving where practice is that there are some things that are going on, and I'm curious as to what different people think about that, because I have my thoughts about it, that I don't want to endlessly hypothesize you know?  Or somehow imagine what I feel is important is somehow important for everyone else so that's the reason that they do it.

David: Maybe the one direction that we've gone in lately is thinking about the idea of care, and in fact off the record it's likely to be the next issue that comes out of the journal, and I think that it's an interesting question, the archive question is an interesting one to raise in the context of care; the way that we get at the idea of care is that there are these sort of art worlds, there are these connections between them, they overlap,  bump up against one another, repel etc, they have relationships, and how do we lend a hand to that, the longevity of that relationship?  How can we build infrastructures that support that network that doesn't capture them, but permits them to function further, and  thinking about the archive there, is an interesting one.  I think we could talk about it in terms of infrastructure at that point, building a common pot to draw from, having...

Scott: Yes, let's definitely talk about that, I mean let's keep talking about that.

Greg: Now, let's talk about it now.

It's encouraging though I think Scott, and everybody would agree, that this is something that we somehow continually come back to,  I think  it's a really intriguing aspect that we don't prompt necessarily in what we  would say is plausible art world, or even the categories that we defined, although I guess we do archive creative culture right... actually I'm lying, so never mind, I'll shut up.

Scott: No, for sure, you're right, and I think David, what you're saying about focusing on care is... I mean it's pretty important often in critical conferences, some of them will bring up the etymology of the word curate and that's derived at some point from Latin, specifically what [inaudible 0:57:57.1] to care for, or to take care of them or whatever and if you think about how at least in colloquial definitions of, or ideas of what curators are, often people aren't thinking about art per se, they think about a library curator, because that's what it is often used as, [inaudible 0:58:22.5] than it was some sort of grand architect of ideas; and I think a number of people are attempting to reclaim that because they find some value in caretaking, not necessarily purely in a curatorial role, but more like active care like you were describing.  And I think it's really appropriate not just because of some academic connection, but I think it seems to be an apt word, or an apt term to keep using, and practically speaking for art and certainly the people I'm working with, I think it makes a lot of sense to reclaim because it's a really confusing role.  It's also confusing in what your relationship with the [inaudible 0:59:18.6], whether you study curation, or got into it in practice, or that's your day job, or whatever, if you're super involved in [inaudible 0:59:34.8] it's like it really effects the creative practice of that art world how people see your role as a curatorial practice within it.  I think that these ad-hoc curatorial teams, or people who at least adopt curatorial strategies to attempting to redefine it through different types of activity, not necessarily definitions in terms of dictionary definitions, but just like when people do something different that you start talking about it in a different way, thinking about it's almost like another tool in your box to use, or something else, if you know what I mean, so I guess I would definitely would like to keep hearing ideas about how that kind of activity can be useful.

Greg: Yep, I kind of have a follow-up to that Scott, if you don't mind, just in terms of David; and this is a loaded question; what is the end goal?  What is the end goal?  What do you want to see achieved through Groundswell Collective?  Are there actual changes, are there actually actual things that ideally, in a perfect world, you would see as being the instigator of the initiator of the glue that brings together a variety of artists, activists, different disciplines, are there aspects to the works that is very tangible?

David: In terms of an end goal, I would say probably not, it's difficult to have result come from all of this, but then again that begs the question of efficacy, is this even worthwhile to do.  That's one that's been circulated in the activist circles for, as long as I've been paying attention anyway, I mean, does the work that we're doing just preach to the choir, and is that choir one that's already assembled, or does it need to be assembled?  Those are even heretical questions sometimes for somebody like me, but they're the ones that are most important.  In terms of attaching Groundswell's name to something, we certainly don't have that kind of drive, I think that we in the much much longer term see the role that we're playing is one of-- as I said before-- pulling the levers on  a much larger systems and seeing what the result is; what kinds of social relationships we can put together, cobble up from this kind of work, what that change is about, our lives and about the social movements that we've found ourselves involved with; it's a much much larger answer and result I suppose.

Greg: Definitely, I mean, like I said, it's a pretty loaded question to begin with, but sometimes that can result into some interesting insights into what you see as role that Groundswell is playing, and it doesn't have to be in one particular arena, and as we know it's not, but here are things that obviously sustain our creativity, our interest, motivations, and it's just curious to hear sometimes, what constitutes a success for Groundswell, is it simply existing in this economy, society, whatever, or is it more than that?

Scott: Isn't part of what Groundswell hopes to do... when you describe what Groundswell ultimately as some kind of mass of people doing something, and so I mean kind of like we're doing with the plausible art worlds initiative, it seems to me that especially because what a lot of what you do is trying to find people doing a certain kind of things [inaudible 1:04:37.9]it's almost like proof.  that not only [inaudible 1:04:44.2] for however long, but it's also showing a literal Groundswell activity and I guess I'm just curious, similar as Gregg was asking, how much proof, well, I don't know what kind question to actually ask about this; but I was curious about how you felt about that, that on some level what you're doing, not just representing yourself, but in some way trying to plug into the larger [inaudible 1:05:21.0] a part of that, and specifically the part that says "Hey, there's a lot of this going on".

David: Yes, one of the things that I've been thinking about recently, and that I just saw come up in the text there is the idea of comprising in public.  I've come back to this a couple of times now in this conversation, but whether one can create work of this kind that does presuppose the audience is already put together, and what it means to function in a way that does cobble those things together in the doing of the work, and I suppose that's how I see Groundswell's roles.  I mean we say participating in and commenting on, providing a narrative about, and participating in activist efforts, social struggle etc, so I guess that we do suppose that does; we assume that there is a public and we point to it.  But the ones that we point to are ones that are comprising a different set of things, and that's done in relationship to social movements kind of [inaudible 1:07:14.2] whereas we're just at this nether-level commenting on the things that are doing that.  Does that answer your question?

Scott: Sure, totally.

Greg: Is it now a good time to see where we're at, chime in, see how Base Kamp's doing there, the space that is, are there any questions that people are kicking around, sometimes as you talk Dave, we are often times are talking behind the scenes with our muted microphones, but now maybe is a good time if anybody wants to pose those via audio or text, whichever.

Dave, we usually record these, is that ok?

David: Yes

Scott: One reason why  I asked was how much proof you needed, is just because one of the things we were trying to determine in setting up this particular series of chats was like well why should be even bother doing was the more informal, non-directed, series of talk, already got enough, do we really need to focus on plausible art worlds per se.  We decided yeah, we do, just because there is a certain range of something that we wanted to see more examples of because we think there's [inaudible 1:09:34.8] and I just want to see them somewhere.  We were also thinking each of these examples is a kind of proof we were describing them even as exhibits in the sense of exhibits in the courtroom; Exhibit A, Exhibit B etc.  They help to prove that something's happening we decided just for fun: why don't we give a whole year so that's going to be 52 of them, and I'm just curious; I mean to us we were already thinking about how much is enough, how much is too much, maybe a [inaudible 1:10:25.8] format would have been even better because then there would be no limit, we wouldn't even have limits of [inaudible 1:10:29.8].  So I'm just curious about how you felt about that; as an ongoing research tool for you guys in shaping your own perspective, is this something you think you would probably continue on with, are you interesting in getting others to help, and if so, I guess in either way whether you want to continue it yourself, or with others, I was wondering if you had shaped any set criteria; I'll stop my question there, but it's like a two-part question.  One is, do you have a sense of how much compiling will actually be helpful for what you want, and also if that's the case, and you want others to help, what should they be looking for?

David: Yes, we do plan to continue, we are always interested in hearing from other folks, we've had a number of guest bloggers who have posted about efforts that they're involved with, efforts that they see happening, and it's always just good to connect with... I mean there's two of us, and for the most part, I've been doing a lot of the organizing, being in [inaudible 1:12:02.6] centre and all that, so it's great to have relationships with other folks outside of the collective.  As for the criteria as to what would get  indexed or archived, or catalogued, I always used to refer to is as that's definitely a nebulous things, I mean we haven't codified any sort of things like that, we have our personal ideas about what might work and what might not, recognize that how the contextual, I suppose and can be problematic because it's sort of a; they're frequently time-based, temporal in the sense that they expire rather quickly, that's like, it makes it difficult to characterize the thing that just kinds of pops out seemingly spontaneously, works in some cases, doesn't work in others.  but at the same time, there is a sort of... it's almost a theory, it's so hard to condemn what would be an activist artwork, or meet that definition.

Scott: Yeah, for sure, I think that's pretty good; sometimes you can only really give an attempt your, I guess what instigated it, wanting to do this in the first place, your motivations and just the process of who helps to shape that I think that's enough.

Greg: I was just going to say, were you going to go to the text Scott?

Scott: Yes.  Cassie was just asking, you were saying that the microphone isn't the best do you want me to just read that out Cassie?

She was just saying do you contact the people or groups in advance when you posts on the websites, Mallory was just wondering that as Base Kamp and there's another question after that; what's the purpose of [inaudible 1:14:58.7] a catalogue, what's your focal outcome?

David: We do have an exchange pretty frequently with the [inaudible 1:15:10.1] we network with or involve ourselves with, comment on, etc.  It's not done [inaudible 1:15:19.9] usually it's kind of our understanding of what went on from the documentation and in a lot of ways that's a lot of second hand forest that we turn to, I wish that we could be there an involved with all of the stuff that we're dealing with, but it's not possible.  So we don't do it any less frequently than folks will see that we have written something and it will carry and exchange from there.  Cassie's question about the purpose; I'll admit that I began writing stuff like that, somewhat selfishly to gain a better understanding of what we were talking about, and like I said, it gave us a sense of direction to see everybody else's sense of direction and what we like, what we didn't like, what we saw that worked and so on.  In that way it was, it sort of outstripped our capacity to digest everything in a  meaningful way, so I suppose that it mutated and as it took on its own energy, had a different purpose, which was the archiving function which was  providing the forum for visibility and conversation around this subject, if I could put it somewhat succinctly, I would say that is the purpose.  Cassie asked did it begin with one purpose and change; yes, absolutely, the blog format is a somewhat public one, by nature, I suppose it was available for the same kind of [inaudible 1:18:36.0] to be the same kind of resource it is now but at the outset it was more of a chronicling of who our friends might be, for lack of a better way of saying it.

Scott: Yeah, maybe the people who you met and like to get involved with; I don't feel the sense that it's a closed clique of friends.

David: It's led some very good friends, and good collaborations and what not.

Greg: Dave, I'm curious, we often talk about how plausible art worlds is not just anything that's not the art world; oftentimes we talk about having  a foot in the art world and a foot outside the art world, whatever that might mean, but you get a sense of some of the things that we're addressing in terms of the [inaudible 1:19:46.9] art world.  Are there activities that Groundswell's involved with in term of more traditional art practices that is in exhibition, or things that are housed within white walls and roof, ways that you're involved, other than the sort of more grassroots activist end of the creative practice?  

David: To date, not very much, the first thing that I did that was in a more traditional territorial role if we can call it that; we did a show for [name add art? 1:20:28.6] the [ibeam? 1:20:30.9] add replacement plug in, I'm sure many of you are familiar with, that we focused on the subject of care, and that was considered more traditional curatorial role, but in a totally not-white walled, non-gallery kind of setting.  So that being the first [inaudible 1:21:00.9] into the... something we can point to as an exhibition, that evinces how removed we are from the four-wall kind of gallery...

Greg: That's great; many of the people that we've spoken with do work outside, but often times there is some overlap with the more traditional practices that involve gallery or museum spaces.

David: I mean, we do overlap in a lot of places, we comment on it quite a bit, we have friends that exhibit there, and we exhibit outside of it, we do work in a similar way.  I guess it's a direction that we are familiar with and that we might head with in my move to Toronto here, doing programming for a gallery in Toronto would be an activity that I could take on now, have an opportunity to do and I suppose it's a more traditional role one that has specifically the social justice focus.

Greg: That's great, thank you.

David: I'll give an example of one of the projects we did recently, the People's [inaudible 1:22:56.9] of Greater Boston, that probably most of you are familiar with the Experimental Geography Exhibit that was curated by Thompson and Independent Curators International, people's outlet was a project begun in Chicago that toured as part of that exhibit.  It was done in Chicago to start, and that is what [inaudible 1:23:42.7] in the Experimental Geography Exhibit.  So the one that we did in Boston was rather recently, it was kind of piggy-backing off of that, that successful Art world circulating show, and a little bit more of a description I can just send to the text here.  I believe that's the right link.

So that's ours of Greater Boston and essentially we circulate a blank map of the political boundary of the Greater Boston area and ask the individuals fill it in with their version of the city, whatever that means, it could be their favorite ice-cream shop, it could be relationships of power within the city, where people go of a certain type of class or something of the sort, so there's a lot of room to play with this in a very explicitly; also just allowing of amateur photographers to sort of define the city vis-à-vis this map is another inherently political activity.

Greg: Although, if I'm looking at the right map, it's shall we say open, or vague?

David: Right, it's totally not labeled.  Boston's kind of a confusing city though, so the slashed side of it with diagonal lines on the right-hand side is the ocean, and dead centre is downtown Boston and we've left the north, west and south rather open because of the nature of Boston, I mean people commute in from the suburbs quite a bit, it's a rather sprawling kind of area, so we wanted to permit a lot of variance in that, that actually was a successful choice, that was a, this guy David, I can't remember his last name; he was the designer for this map, and we had an event at the design studio for social intervention that was Daniel Tucker presenting on this specific thing that he and [name 1:27:02.7] had started and we got together and assembled these maps.  The coolest p[art of the night for me was that there were three different generations of this one family who came together, a grandmother, a mother and a son; and the son was from the suburbs.   He's a teacher who wanted to take these blank maps and have the kids in the suburbs have their conception of Boston, and it's very cool to hear from the Grandmother how racism has changed over the course of her life, she did a map etc,

Greg: Yeah, as I posted in the text, I think the fact it doesn't venture into the hyper real that a Google map does in terms of specific location and three dimensional architecture, which in and of itself is really interesting and compelling in a weird way, but this is really subtle and poetic and open and I think allows for a greater degree of interpretation and how one approaches this; not to mention it's beautiful like the outlines are really beautiful, they're also very geometric which I find pretty interesting too in the sense that certainly the coastline in of Massachusetts, or in this case Boston and Boston harbor and that area certainly I don't think has those right angles but at the same time it really is compelling and you don't even really sp[end too much time there beyond wanting to know your relationship in that space.  I don't know w, it's really interesting, I think it's; I would have liked to have been  a participant.  I also see that [name 1:29:16.8] project launches in Boston, it makes me think about that in terms of dealing with school children, or lending a voice to people that wouldn't otherwise necessarily have it, specifically obviously in his case of children not being able to vote.  But here, like you said, engaging the image or cartographer, or the nonexistent cartographer I think it's great.

David: Yes, I mention that in relation to the questions about the Art world and where we touch on it and we don't.  I remember reading once upon a time the-- I can't remember the name of the exhibition-- but Martha Rosler had, it's democracy I think-- does anyone else know what I'm talking about?  like 1980s housing rights, New York exhibit... anyway, Martha Rosler had commented on this exhibit and had said something about opening up Art world and the function of all of these exhibits that they had curated would be to do precisely that and -- I don't' think that's it, I actually have the book, somewhere...

Greg: Yeah, I'm at a loss as well, that's the only one that came to mind.

David: But anyway, we kind of started-- yeah that's it, I'm pretty sure that's it.  Since we weren't working with the Art world, neither Ryan nor I have in our background even, I mean we came at this from our interest in politics, in our interest for social change we're infusing this with our interest in art, but one that we weren't like necessarily trained in, or really had that kind of official background, so we'd assumed that we weren't going to be part of  the Art world to begin with, and so in creating these--to use the Base Kamp word: Plausible Art Worlds-- Martha Rosler talks about it in a sort of post-modern opening up of big art.  I see that as... it works, it describes to some extent our approach, and I think that we had assumed it at the outset.  

Greg: Just keeping an eye on the time, if there's anything that people want to ask, or have been thinking about and have been chomping at the bit to ask Dave, or if inversely, this is also the time when I ask the question of What's next for Groundswell?   What's in the works?  I know you certainly have a new location so is it just digesting what Toronto has to offer?  Of what's next?

David: Like I mentioned, the care things is on our mind, and working out this way of talking about it in terms of affect and trying to put together a good enough synopsis of those varied thoughts that we could put out in the world and maybe call some responses to, like a call for papers basically for the next version of the journal.  It's usually a several-month endeavor at least...

Greg: Has that call gone out?

David: No, it hasn't yet, I'm still thinking about it.

Greg: Feel free to keep us informed too, either by e-mail, twitter, whatever, just so that we can; we like to also keep tabs on all the people we talk to obviously.

David: Absolutely yeah.

It seems like that's an inappropriate subject, it seems like it's taking hold the subject of care is taking hold in a number of activist circles and also I've seen it recently in a good deal of work recently, this success of a Domestic Workers Union in New York was one that catapulted that into the public eye to the font of newspapers and what not, and sort of riding on that wave that's appropriate to be thinking about...

Greg: I think there's also a sort of poetic in just the work, just as your map was; gave us a loose definition of a coastline, the word care can be interpreted in such a vast variety of ways and I think the potential response to that could be really, I'm sure intriguing, in terms of the differences but also the overlap.

David: Absolutely, and I mean, we are working up this caliber, it's one that will still be a survey-approach and I agree it is a very nebulous term, it's four letters-- how much can you really insinuate with that?

Greg: Well, four-lettered words though, you know...


David: Sure, I mean like the Team Colors folks we've been in communication with them about this subject and others and they have a particular definition that I'm particularly fond of, but probably won't be limited to that in the call.  So in a more background--in my undergrad I went to Hampshire College and I studied Disability Activism and so this idea of care has pressed me in that way too, I've been thinking about physical illness, about networks of caretakers, relationship between taking care and giving care, and so on for quite some time, so just to underscore how varied the concepts can be, it's like those that I just mentioned, plus unpaid work, the care that we take in curating, we've talked about that...

Greg: Yeah I mean, or even just thinking about healthcare, just generally, where we're talking about the threat of socialized medicine and then of course now you move to Canada, I mean, even just being in a new location where you are guaranteed healthcare, or I imagine you are right?

David: I'm not because I'm just on a temporary residence

Greg: Something tells me that they wouldn't turn you away though.

David: True.  So yes, I mean, if anyone has ideas about people who are working in these kind of area-fields, send them my way.  I'd be very interested to talk with them, and perhaps they would be looking for a platform to put some ideas out into the world.

Scott: Yes, for sure, let's continue to share info...

Greg: I don't know that we have time, but I'm also really curious about when you put these calls out, and I think you talked a little bit about this already; but how do you decide what not to include?  Because that's the down and dirty process that you have to deal with right?

David: It's true, fortunately it's been somewhat self-selecting in the last process; we were limited to a number of pages and happened to make do with the final copies of what actually came in, I mean we had slated for more and some of those didn't get delivered, so we wound up just being able to fit it what did come in; so kind of de-facto way of curating I suppose, but I guess one of the things that we emphasize is putting it out to a variety of audiences, and specially with this care subject, we really wanted to hit up the folks that are front-line, I mean like ranking-file activist individuals, organizers that are thinking about this work in their context, whatever it might be.  So there is like an audience selection process that happens, in terms of actually putting the thing together it's been much easier.

Greg: That sounds great.  Well listen, are there any other final comments or questions that have been floating around out there?  Either at the Base Kamp space, Scott, Steven, Adam?

Scott: It's been really great having you here and talking about Groundswell, I think there's definitively a gazillion overlaps between our work and interests and yours, and we may as well... our mutual goals are to coordinate with people who have overlaps and to try to amplify each other's practices in some levels, we've got to think of a slightly more focus, or direct way of doing that, you know?

David: Yeah, absolutely.  I see in the text a couple of ideas about folks for the care subject, which is great, just drop a line...

Scott: Awesome, so when are you putting out the call for entries, or whatever it is that you want everybody to distribute widely?

David: By the end of October, I should hope, because that should have given me a couple of weeks to, I mean after the Honk festival to recoup and...

Greg: Well, beep beep!

Scott: Absolutely, have a great night everybody, sorry am I cutting out too short?

Greg: Not at all I think we've reached a natural end to things.  Dave, it's been great, and really fun and illuminating and has certainly made us think about a lot of the questions that we think about a lot anyways, but in a new light, so that's exciting, and thank you for sharing that with us.

David: Likewise, I appreciate it.

Greg: And again just to echo what Scott generally says which is certainly stay in touch with us and we'll certainly help to promote the call for entries for the care subject matter, that sounds really interesting as well.

David: Awesome, thank you.

Greg: Alright everybody, thanks a lot for coming, good night Base Kamp, good night everybody, see you next Tuesday.