Week 30: The Think Tank that has yet to be named


Male Speaker: Hey everybody.

Male Speaker: Hey Scott.

Male Speaker: Hello.

Male Speaker: Hey Christian.

Male Speaker: Hey.

Male Speaker: Cool so it looks like we got pretty much everybody if you get dropped and didn’t see my message earlier just go ahead and ping us on through the text chat and we will just add you. Thanks sailor yeah that’s what I need to. So welcome everyone to another another week of our series on plausible art worlds where we are looking at one, different another example of an art world each week that’s structured differently than one’s currently on offer in our estimation anyway. And this week we are talking with the think tank, we are talking with Jeremy Beaudry about the think tank that has yet to be named.  I guess I would say I don’t want to say ironically named but maybe paradoxically named. Think tank that has no affiliation with any large organization or municipality and anyway Jeremy thanks for coming. Would you mind, normally we jump right in to asking you to describe what it is for those people who don’t know, would you mind going ahead? I could give you a more flowery intro but we should try to avoid that.

Male Speaker: So I'm talking in a microphone to you out there and also to you guys in here.  I'm going to have to wrap my brain around that somewhat. Thanks Scott for having me out to talk about the think tank. I'm hoping you’ll help me and all of you here help me make sense of why we were invited to participate in this plausible art worlds extravaganza. So what ill do is kind of talk through somewhat historically about how the think tank came to be, why it is what it is, maybe I can talk about some of the projects and perhaps even can talk about how it might be changing. And of course when you guys have questions please just interrupt and let me know. For those of you who are in front of your laptops as many of you are, if you want to pull up the think tank website its It’s linked from the base camp site. That can, you can just tune me out and look through out if you want to see an extensive archive of a lot of our well a lot of our projects really. And also for the Skype folks if your having trouble hearing me anyway as I hold this microphone let me know, I want to make sure everyone can hear me clearly.

Male Speaker: [0:03:56] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: I'm worried about sound and hearing so I think I'm okay.

Male Speaker: [0:04:06] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: Okay. Alright so the think tank that is yet to be named, it began in 2006 and it was started by four of us here in Philadelphia, specifically four of us who were living in a neighborhood called Fishtown and sometimes also Kensington which is not in the center of the city it’s a neighborhood that’s kind of well, now anyway its on the very edge of gentrification that pushes up from center city and consumes a lot of neighborhoods that are now so called desirable. But before I get into the think tank it’s important for me to talk about my experience, our experience in the neighborhood again with the four of us and that helps me communicate why the think tank was formed.


So what’s really important is that the four of us were very much involved in some intense community organizing community activism around the proposal of two casinos for Philadelphia. At the time we didn’t know where they were going but we knew they were going to be five of them, and it turns out that three of the proposed casino sites were actually in our neighborhood in Fishtown in Kensington. You can read about that history somewhere else, I won’t go into it in too much detail. The point is that it was myself, Meredith Warner, Liana Helen, who were artists and another individual named Jethro Hico who is a long term community organizer. And we were very much kind of knee deep in really an intense day to day engagement with activism and community organizing around this particular neighborhood issue. And it was important, it wasn’t really about kind of not in my back yard attitude, it was more about things like transparent processes by which neighborhood development happens, good governance and really just giving the citizens of Philadelphia a voice into what happens to the city and how it happens.

So this time it was really intense for us.  I mean it was it was multiple community meetings a week in the evenings a lot of us were poaching time from our jobs to do the work; I mean it was a crash course and what it means to be a community activist.  We were doing media outreach we were doing public outreach we were lobbying here in Philadelphia and in the state capital, we were organizing our neighbors, we were building coalitions across the city networking other kinds of groups, civic organizations etcetera. And it was really exciting and it was really frustrating, it just about killed us. I can say that now because I have taken a step back from that particular issue I have made out alive. So that was just a really intense thing that was happening, it was a way to very intense way to experience the city of Philadelphia because I had just come back to Philadelphia in 2005, I had been away for five years and this was kind of like I was just thrown in the deep end so to speak. Okay so why is this important? Well as I said at the time considered myself an artist two others of us who started the think tank consider ourselves artists and we are really starting to wonder well one, as artists doing this work, this activist work this community organizing what were the connections the possible connections that were there. What did it mean for us as artists to be doing this kind of work and also was there any way to somehow you know perhaps bring those two worlds, art and activism next to each other in some way.

And so this was the question and I haven’t quite answered this question. But I kind of make sense of it as I go. The important thing here is to as I said this was a very intense period of doing this work I think we were also just wondering is there a place for so called art, is there a way to kind of do work like this and have it live in the world, not as kind of directly identifiable activist work but perhaps as something slightly different from that that might consider art depending on how it looks or not. So that’s kind of the the kind of context around which the think tank came about.  I mean we were curious about doing work as artists that dealt with the same kinds of content and issues that our work as activists did, but was slightly eschewed from that, purely instrumentalised activist organizing work.

So I think like if I can just interject one of the things we learnt on the way is that or  we decided is that we didn’t want a kind of total blurring of a line between art and activism. We actually wanted them to kind of maintain some integrity and live adjacent to each other. So our work as artists couldn’t inform how we thought about things and how we did our work as activists and vice versa, our work as activists could influence and inform the work that we did for whatever reason we labeled as art. And I don’t want to get in to the art, not art, art versus activism kind of discussion right now but this were just some things that were kind of in our minds.


Also important for us at this time was really kind of wondering critically about what our roles as artists in the project of gentrification meant because we were living in a neighborhood that was on the fringe of a gentrification wave and we were benefiting by that. We had, you know we had cheap rent some of us we bought houses for cheap relatively speaking but and we also knew that our presence there as artists was changing the neighborhood. I mean if you go into Fishtown this neighborhood there is this Frankfurt art, Frank wood art corridor and this is an economic development tool that the local CDC uses one to do things that I think are generally good and sincere and about improving the community but two may have unintended consequences, such as you know raising rent raising housing prices and ultimately perhaps displacing people.  So this was kind of a built in point of criticality in terms of how we were thinking about our relationship to the place we were living. So I'm I seeing questions, should I start answering questions.

Male Speaker: [00:11:43] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: Okay.

Male Speaker: Thanks, my question about whether there was a place for so called, well activist practices within the realm of art, he says well, the answers definitely yes.  I guess that was more of a statement than a question that at least that’s something to connect with. I was, I was curious to know how sort of maybe even connected with Steven’s comment that you saying that your, your statement about not wanting to blur art and activist as professionally [0:12:37] [indiscernible]. Yet then again you kind of, you didn’t want to you didn’t want to blur them. You might be, you might disambiguating them but you at least see that they could have a relationship to one another and I was curious about how the practices were eschewed in order to achieve that and I'm sure you are going to get to that I just want to mention it and Chris was asking why keep them separate.  I think besides the last clarification point that’s really…

Male Speaker: I think those questions are related or those comments are related and if I, I think I’ll transition to talking about the think tank itself like its structure because it is a bit of an absurd entity in many ways and I think it gets to the heart of those questions. Okay so and I'm kind of going to this narrative I hope it’s not too tedious. So okay I’ve set that context we were artists, we were heavily involved in this community organizing and activism and someway we were looking for an outlet to deal with some of those similar issues but in a practice that was perhaps more located within a kind of art practice itself. We, I have to go back to some more information about the kinds of things we were doing or the kinds of experiences we were having as we were doing this community organizing work. As I said we were going to all these various community meetings, sometimes they were civic organizations sometimes they were with local politicians, state politicians and we kept running across these very curious things and these very curious positions. And all of these situations we would always find out politicians or community leaders who wanted to somehow be neutral or agnostic about a particular issue or a particular agenda. And so they would kind of play this ‘I’m a servant of the people’ idea as if they were mediators or didn’t have an agenda.


        What became really clear is actually no one in this situations is without bias or without agendas or without a particular perspective. And so this was just a really annoying thing. So we wanted within the structure of think tank to find a way that if somebody participated if somebody was involved they would by default have to sneak a declaration of what their particular bias or agenda potentially would be. And so this starts to get into this idea of the directorship. So the think tank that is yet to be named was considered as a kind of loosely networked group of individuals, there were no members, there would only be directors and each director would be the director of a department that had a member of one, them as directors. And so we developed this kind of formal almost full bureaucracy that could somehow in a way absurdly mimic some of the bureaucracies we were finding ourselves involved with and working within.  But at the same time we would have a mechanism built in whereby you just understand where people are coming from. So early on I became the director of the department for the investigation of meaning and you can look to the website for a number of other of these examples. There was, there is the director of the department for the investigation of metaphorical agency, there is the director of the department for the investigation of failure and so on and so on.

And this was again the mechanism whereby people who were involved in the project would be very kind of clear and transparent about, well this is what I care about, this is my position and in this situation this is kind of the perspective that I hold in this, in whatever the project was. Now I think let me move to answer a few of the questions early on about the ways in which maybe that line between art and activism was maintained and why we thought it was important. The, I think a very influential text for us at least for me and it was shared and discussed often in these early days was Hakim Bey’s  The Temporal Autonomous Zone. And I think the way the think tank thought about itself in setting  its work and itself actually into the space, the public space, the space of the city was very much dependent upon some of, some of the ideas from the TAZ whereby you would through our work and through the strange kind of structure that we had created and the kind of persona that we took on with these directorships, we were really kind of eking out a somewhat autonomous space within the public spaces that we were doing the projects and kind of within the space of activism and organizing in general.

So if only for a moment, if only for the life of a particular conversation or a particular meeting or project we were through this absurd structure and through just the shifting of the space and opening up something that again was as I say slightly eschewed from the everyday practices of activists and organizers within the city. I'm going to take a breath and just see if anyone has any questions right now about anything or needs clarification.

Male Speaker: [0:19:29] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: I'm still here.

Male Speaker: Looks like everybody is bugging out here. This is Allen Amber.

Male Speaker: Hi.

Male Speaker: Hallo.

Male Speaker: Yeah yeah, sorry I missed the very beginning you were involved in community activism organizing enrollment issues?


Male Speaker: Yes. I was for about two and a half three years very heavily involved in a citywide effort to stop the development of casinos, two casinos in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia and this also kind of led into just kind of general organizing around transparency, for public processes and land use and urban development. So that was kind of the context from which we started to think about what the work of the think tank might do. Somebody just fell to the floor; there is kungfu above us which you guys probably already know.

Male Speaker: Yeah the Dojo. Did think tank continue basically with this kind of an engagement with the community organizing or urban development issues?

Male Speaker: Not so, not so focused generally, I'm hoping everyone heard the question. The question was did the work of the think tank kind of continue to deal with these issues of urban developments and perhaps the casino issue itself.  And the answer is, well there were some crossover, I think we were much more, well actually, you know now that I think about it let me say at times the think tank addressed very specific and pertinent questions that had to do with the work we were doing as activists. So for example one of the publicly held private meetings that we did was on the site of the proposed Sugar House casino and this is a very, this is a very significant site not only for the casino project but just in terms of the history of Philadelphia its on the river front. It has a lot of layers of history that go back to pre-colonial times and this was a site that we held one of these meetings at in order to kind of investigate the ways in which metaphor are used by just about anybody who is kind of competing for the life of the city, or the right to the city if I could use that phrase.

        And because developers, politicians they use metaphors for their own means and also we as activists and artists we use metaphors sometimes appositionally for our own means, residents use metaphor. Metaphor is a very powerful tool that helps bring things, helps explain things helps frame things, helps position a number of things. So in that case yes we were kind of addressing the, some of the issues we were focused on in the community organizing and activist work. But what's important is again there was an adjacency, it wasn’t that things were overlapped but we found that using the think tank as a kind of critical lens we were able to kind of shed new light about how we had thought of the issue, how we had thought of the struggle, how we had thought of even its history. So in that case it was a good example of this kind of, this one informing the other where the, the work of the think tank could directly and indirectly inform the work that we were involved with as community organizers.

Male Speaker: And you maintained a separation between artistic practice or artistic inputting and the organizing work yeah?

Male Speaker: What was the question?

Male Speaker: [0:24:05] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: I think we can go on, go on to some other questions.

Male Speaker: [0:24:14] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: Okay. A question?

Male Speaker: [0:24:24] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: We are here.

Male Speaker: Oh yes you maintained a separation between your organizing work in the community and your artistic practice yes?

Male Speaker: Yeah that was, I mean that was an important kind of point we started from because we needed, we felt like it was more productive to keep them somewhat separate so they could inform each other and actually be useful from one practice to the next. There’s a question here.


Male Speaker: Yeah, can I interject here because I really don’t understand how that’s possible to do that. I mean either art is a kind of a formal and slightly, I don’t know, almost whimsical endeavor that has no impact on the community or else it, without even, without being instrumentalised it can also be a factor in social transformation. So I don’t understand how it is that artists would want to get involved as activists while keeping their art part of their lives so separate from their activists’ part.

Male Speaker: [0:25:42] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: It seems like as community organizing the particular perspective that would inform any kind of aesthetic practice that others don’t have.

Male Speaker: Well, what I would say is of course as an artist, I actually don’t like this, I don’t want to really get into this conversation and I, not because I don’t think it’s valid because in some ways it’s not productive. So if I frame things in a kind of binary I apologize because of course art has impact. It has significant impact. And what I would say though is in my experience, in our experience as activists and community organizers doing that work, the intensity level and the kind of rush to put out a fire on a daily basis did not leave ample time  for critical reflection, for even, a lot of times we didn’t have opportunities to develop long-term strategy.

And so what the think tank provided for us was a way to build in a space in which we could address some the issues we were dealing with as activists and organizers, but kind of put them in a different context again using base language create a kind of temporary autonomous space in which to kind of think through what these issues were, what some of the underlying problems are.

I mean ultimately you might think of it, the think tank as a research group in many ways and a lot of our recent projects have been focused on research and even the question of can research be a practice, an artistic practice or even an activist practice.

So it’s not my point to exclude one from the other, our point in the early days of the work was to find a space in which we could have these different kinds of conversations about the issues we were facing as organizers without having to necessarily, instrumentalize them down to the day-to-day operational activities, operational necessities, or that kind of organizing activist work. I mean I don’t know where everybody is coming from; I was totally green when I got into these issues and this work as an organizer and it subsumed my life like completely. And so the think tank was a way that kind of again eke out this space where I could start to make sense of things but in a way make sense of it through a language that I understood, which was coming from  you know an art and even architectural background. So I hope that clarifies the point a bit. Does it clarify?

Male Speaker: Yeah I have great respect for community organizing missions of US City, the present visiting in the amber and yesterday I had a discussion with the [0:29:11] [inaudible] it’s the group behind [0:29:14] [inaudible] the of development of a park really in the tip of the city and commercial interest and who are capitalists center of the Hansiatic League [0:29:28] [phonetic words] they curved out this park. First they were going to cancel [0:29:31] [inaudible] of the strength of Open Bus planning movement [0:29:38] [inaudible] and it was the 15 year long commitment really invent kind of an urban planning, for example, for example with the community and would sort of revive and [0:29:54] [inaudible] several years ago.


So kind of became kind of para dramatic type of urban development from below as it were. And I just want to [0:30:11] [inaudible] impossible in the states in urban situations Philadelphia you described like putting out a fires. To what extent does one fall into through like kind of habitués community organizing [0:30:32] [inaudible].  I'm just going to do what everybody is doing then you step back and analyze it, is there any way that you can bring aesthetic strategies to bare on kind of permanent problems that confront community organizers or are they kind of too over whelming in terms of shrinkage of any kind of caretakers they just too too too overwhelming to see any space for development, community development from below, sorry to blubber on.

Male Speaker: [0:31:23] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: Going on some other way?

Male Speaker: Yeah for sure that is definitely a super interesting line up questioning. I hate to derail it, we could definitely, we could definitely get back to it I just want to answer some of the, maybe not answer but bring up some of the questions that people had mentioned.  And Allan I'm not sure if you actually got them in the text chat because think you’re the only person right now that’s in the chat that has like three different chats running. I'm not sure what to make of it, it’s like a Skype blip but I'm so sorry about that but three, basically three other questions or sort of comments that people brought up in texts I said we would at least try to address. Christian and Jessica’s are very similar. Just trying to get to the nuts and bolts of what's actually happening with the think tank I think. Christian is asking if these are mainly a bunch of conversations or what else does the think tank really do, Jessica is asking if we if they still produce artifacts or if it’s you know primarily social behavior negotiation or role playing etcetera.  And I’ll just mention them all because the chats kind of gone on beyond this. And so I had mentioned that the light to the city life, the life of the city could be spoken in the plausible art worlds context too that’s a powerful idea. There’s been some more conversation below so we can get to that after the first two, which I think are kind of similar.

Male Speaker: Yeah so what does the think tank do and I will, I will try and communicate that. We started off very much again focused on this kind of temporal performative actions that would take place in the space of the city where they could be seen, where they could be happened upon by people in the city and again I’ll point to this influence from the TAZ, Temporal Autonomous Zone, where we could eke out these spaces in the life of the city to all hold these kinds of conversation. So many of the events we have done are called publicly held private meetings. These are generally called by a single director who poses a particular topic or question or set of questions that they would like to discuss in a site that is directly related to the content of the meeting itself.

So I mentioned this example of having one of these at the site of the proposed casino, there have been others held on subway trains held in the courtyard of City Hall and so on and so forth. I mean it was which, it was very much intended as a project, a series of meetings that would address issues where we find them in public space. Now this, the along the way of course many other forms and formats and even artifacts have evolved. One of our more long term projects has to do with the creation of so called readers and we have produced six readers today. The readers are anthologies, collections of texts around a particular topic, particular issue. The first one that we compiled was on I believe art and gentrification, artist and gentrification and you can look to the website for all the other readers.


        This was well we were doing a lot of reading as we were thinking about our relationship to the issues that were coming up for us in the city of Philadelphia and we wanted to make these accessible, we wanted to curate them and then have them available for others to use. So the reader was a really kind of proactive way to share our research with so much wider audience.

Male Speaker: [0:35:34] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: Yeah, yeah, all the readers are available online as a PDF download. Sometimes we print the readers out and make them available in exhibitions and other kind of public venues but I think primarily they are most valuable as you know electronic documents, PDFs that people can access. A related kind of smaller scale project to the readers is what we have called a prototype for pedagogical furniture. This was something that we designed and built for an exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center in 2007 which was called Pedagogical Factory. It was organized Jim Digdan, at The Stockyard Institute in Chicago. And this was again I think one way to make substantial or make even more accessible in public space the readers themselves so we decided to construct this piece of furniture.

Most recently that piece of furniture was taken to a gallery exhibition in Geneva and was kind of touted around the city and used as mobile furniture for the readers. I would say a lot of the work is temporal, is performative. It’s about initiating conversations, it’s about bringing, identifying the right people that we’d like to have, difficult perhaps conversations. Another recent project I would point to is one we did in Boston a couple of years ago where we organized the kind of a walk in conversation in Summerfield Massachusetts around the kind of controversial proposal to extend one of the train lines into a long standing kind of working class neighborhood.  

In this case we go together a number of stake holders who had some vested interested in that issue and we just explored where the train line was being proposed and along the way, all the issues that come up came up and we had conversations around them and actually I think in some ways brought people together to understand various points of view around that issue. So that’s, I mean I think historically those are the kinds of things that we’ve done. I would say the think tank is a transition right now. One thing that’s important is we started very much as a group of people rooted in Philadelphia. It’s since become much more distributed than that and so the kinds of sites specific things that we’ve done in the past perhaps don’t make as much sense to us right now. And the work has tended to become more focused around the reader, around research and I think that’s kind of an open question for us as to what the future of the work is.

I mean also to the somewhat absurd structure that we have invented for ourselves, well I particularly like the idea of the directorships that perhaps changes as well. And it may not make sense moving forward because new people come in, they have different relationships or expectations about what the work is. And so it is important for us to evolve and if something doesn’t make sense, I mean we’re not going to be slaves to the original structure that we developed. We want this work to be kind of full of life and full of relevance so it changes as new people become involved with it.


Male Speaker: I’m actually not sure how to best negotiate the, all of this text discussion with what’s been talked about because I mean a lot of it is being addressed but since they’re not all sort of two second answers and there’s a lot more, sort of contributions and texts that’s come up. I wonder if a few of the people either that are listening to this recorded later who don’t see the text immediately or who just can’t relate easily multitask that way, visually might be getting lost about between the two a little bit. And it’s interesting enough that I wanted to try and bring it in quickly if possible if that’s okay with you guys.  I just wanted to kind of go through a few of this even though a lot of it has been addressed since then.

        Let’s see. I think with one of the questions that was brought up before, one of the statements before, between politics and art is you Adam asked if, sort of addressing Steven’s question about maintaining a distinction between art and community organizing and what he asked about that in the audio track.  Adam had said this is curious position so if I volunteer for a campaign or I take on a role to help organize people for a local issue I have to volunteer my art practice question mark? And he said you know there is no more need for an artist to become a political artist when engaging in politics than there is for an accountant to become a political accountant.  Ellis in the same breath says, think tanks are often political tools. Is it possible or has the work of one been utilized by activist groups, of this one sorry been utilized by activist groups.

Jessica thumbs up research; I’m just going read this through real quick. Steven response to Adam saying right it sounded a bit like I was supposed to remain autonomous from politics organizing “life” why not? Why not actually? But do we, but how do we culminate that double consciousness is also is sort of responding to Selim’s not really question but point earlier about the right to the city of the kind of plausible art world. Yeah Sam is also interested in the nuts and bolts which I think, I’m sorry Jeremy is getting into and Selim if he really hasn’t addressed it enough maybe you let us know the actual nuts and bolts of how it works specifically because I think that was like the meat of the last kind of run right. And we were just sort of going back and forth a little bit about whether the right to the city of the built environment or the sort of negotiated environment can be a kind of plausible art world.

I don’t mean to get into every micro detail but just sort of bring up the bits of points that we probably want to address is just sort of this phrase of accommodating the double consciousness again between an interest, I’m sorry an interest in art competencies and being politically active. And I don’t this is a topic worth discussing maybe Jeremy you can talk about how it’s addressed in the ongoing think tank work even. I think you did a little bit Adam maybe let us know if you’d like clarified a little bit more,  you know whether there is art without politics and politics without art occurring or is it all these Nicks now. Well I mean there is definitely more discussion but I think sort of more of these addresses that question. Christian is also asking about how people get involved in a discussion, even you know how do local people get involved and let’s what else wasn’t brought up. I think a lot of that is just responses to that.

I think the only other thing is we’d like to at some point talk about the directorships, a little bit more. Both in terms of naming and in terms of forming different kinds of maybe non managerial or non hierarchical relationships, it seems like that’s part of why you set that up or maybe there were some other reasons too. And that would interesting to talk about.  Clarissa asked also if you could a little bit about the ask me about gentrification project and the Davis Square Tiles project, what was the expected outcome, what assumptions or plans did the think tank have for the results and how was the work funded. I can help to like keep track of those few things. So a lot of those were grouped in similar but at least now for the people listening to you and reading the chat there is some connection between the two.


Male Speaker: Okay where should I start? This is somewhat anarchic, that’s good.

Male Speaker: [0:45:24] [inaudible]

Male Speaker:  So by the way I want to say hi John O’Shay, I think you remember meeting me in Belfast last year, I hope you will. I’m going to answer your question. The think tank…

Male Speaker:  Am I on right now?  Can you hear me now?

Male Speaker: Yeah. Yeah.

Male Speaker: Hi Jeremy it’s great to meet you in Belfast.

Male Speaker: Yeah it’s good to have you. Well in terms of funding we, I’ve actually not received any funding really. Occasionally because I am a university professor I can get support from my university for like travel. We’ve not applied for any grants. I mean as you can see the work is pretty immaterial so a lot of the work just costs as time and maybe travel. When we can get donations for things like printing costs for the readers and so on we are happy to accept it. But we are a fairly lightweight group in terms of the resources we need. I would think that we would have to have serious conversation about what happens if we started to get funding or seeking funding because one we’re a group that is somewhat is unsolidified in terms of our membership, people come in and out, it’s not clear who has authority a lot of the time. These are issues that perhaps need to be resolved but certainly if we were going to be receiving funding we would have to resolve them in a hurry.

So I think for us to go for funding raises a huge question for us and one that we have not wanted or had to answer yet.

Male Speaker: Okay okay that’s cool. I suppose the reason brought it up is I find in my own practice that we work with housing associations and councils and even contractors but also lots and lots of other groups.  And it’s funny how you’ve kind of built this structure of the director who declares the agenda because what we found is because of working with money as well what tend to do at the beginning of a meeting is have each of the partners declare their agenda which seems like exactly the same thing in a way.

Male Speaker:   Yeah that’s really…

Male Speaker: Just to say you know what actually that it is that you are saying that you want from this, you know I think is a really important thing whenever you’re getting money from somebody. Is that involved in any scenario actually?

Male Speaker: I think it’s a really important point and it speaks directly to again this experience we’re having and these ranges of meetings we’re going to whether they were with City Council people or developers or non profits in the city. It just was never quite clear exactly where people were coming from, like what their position was and that…

Male Speaker: It’s interesting when you get into these sorts of money related scenarios it’s just to give one quick example; we’ve been developing a project for some time which involves temporary installation of cinemas in empty spaces in small towns actually. And in one small town this, town had a cinema for 25 years. And so the project was to install the cinema for one day. And the city council were totally behind it but once we started to knock on some doors and speak to people in shops and other types of buildings, it actually turned out that pretty much this town didn’t own that town anymore.


        You know there weren’t any spaces that were open for any kind of civic activity and that was actually quite disturbing even for on the ground council workers. They were quite shocked at actually the total lack of power they had in their own town.

Male Speaker: Yeah I mean just to kind of quickly comment on that I think in the beginning the public nature of the work that we wanted to do these conversations, the other kinds of projects was also about finding exactly where public space is or could be and could actually happen there. Now I wouldn’t say that was an overt or an even emphasized part of the project but for me like coming from in my other work kind of thinking about public space and the way public space is used and what public space means to different people I think that was embedded into the way we thought about doing the work in the space of the city in public.

Male Speaker: Sure yeah.

Male Speaker:  So am I back tracking now to another question?

Male Speaker:  Thank you, yeah.

Male Speaker: Thanks John.

Male Speaker: How do people get involved in the projects, well I think this is where our work is very problematic? And it’s speaks to perhaps the larger problem of participation within the art world but within politics and I would say like we always felt, well I think in the beginning we had very ambitious ideas about participation. Who participates, what participation means, whether or not participation is a kind of marker of success of a project, which I don’t think it is especially in terms of numbers. We wanted again to intervene into the life of the city, we wanted to hold these kind of curious conversations, meetings and we wanted people who just happened to be sharing that space with us to be curious to ask what we were doing, to start talking with us and even declare directorships themselves.

Now what I will say is that this happened. People were interested, people of a certain temperament thought it was curious, somehow they understood it and often times we had at least one or two people with a given kind of publicly held private meeting joining in the meeting on the site, declaring a directorship and having interesting conversations.  Now if you want to talk about numbers it was a small small percentage. I mean these were not incredibly well participated in events.  I think what’s more effective and what we started to do later on was actually to identify different kinds of people, different individuals that we wanted to discuss certain things with in the specific places.  So we’d reach out to individuals who we thought had something to offer, we reached out to people who were potential stakeholders around an issue we were looking at. For example if it was in a particular neighborhood and that was how we started to think more about the ways in which we could get people to participate.

All these we’re still being open to anyone to be curious enough to happen by and join in.  But that was, I mean it is a much more useful, if you want people to participate you should probably think about inviting them, it’s the way to put it. Now I don’t know if that’s so important anymore and what it means moving forward but that’s how we began. There’s a question in the room.

Female Speaker: I read you piece in the I can’t remember which reader it is, the one about gentrification I guess. And you talked about going to all these meetings and how there was all this participation in the meetings and sort of rah rah filled off is great you know. And that participation I thought you were characterizing as some sort of anesthetic and I guess I was curious about how to differentiate participations between the anesthetic and the wakening the beaver you know.


Male Speaker:  I mean for me this question of participation is really hugely significant and important and there are a lot of people who are really questioning this notion of participation. The writing that you just referenced I think that way that we started to think about delineating or differentiating different modes of participation was and this is provisional and it’s of course it can be elaborated, but we started to think about it in terms of thick versus thin participation. Thin participation was the kind of participation that we were seeing in a lot of these community meetings whereby you get people to show up, they put their email address on a list, you give them pizza, you sit them down in small groups and you talk about some stuff and you show your funders or you show your politicians you know look ho w many people we had out, is this great? And actually it turns out the decision was already premade and the participation was pretty much meaningless. So this is thin participation.  This is the kind of aesthetic participation as she phrased it, it’s very superficial.

Thick participation of course is much harder, it’s much messier. It actually takes longer than a night for people to participate and contribute meaningfully to something. It takes months, it takes an investment of time and energy and resources. This kind of participation is very rare because it is so, I mean it’s inefficient, I mean this is like real kind of in the trenches democracy you might say when people are engaging on a kind of equal footing and actually listening to each other and really producing something that interactional exchange that has substance and has meaning. So just to take this kind of back to the think tank we were okay with doing a meeting a public space and having one person come by and kind of understanding what we were doing and having a conversation and hearing them and then hearing us and making a connection. I mean those are very small things but they become really meaningful. I mean they let you know that you’re not alone that you can be understood. They also change your perspective because you hear other perspectives and this is the kind of participation I think that is really important and significant and if you scale it up becomes the foundation of a really healthy society, a civic society.

So I mean I think that’s what I’ll say about participation right now but I think it’s so important to thinking about. The last point I’ll make is I’ve been kind of working with, collaborating with to some degree an architect named Markus Miessen who’s just finishing a third book in a series of books about participation, the latest volume is called  The Nightmare of Participation. And I think it’s just, he looks critically at participation and I think that’s something that we need to be doing especially after coming out of the, I don’t know the hangover of relational aesthetics. Participation is, it needs to be reformulated in some way.

Male Speaker: Yeah Jeremy I totally agree it needs to be reformulated. How would you like to reformulate it?

Male Speaker: Can I just ask you how you would like to reformulate it? No. I mean I…

Male Speaker: Yeah you certainly can, you certainly can because I mean it’s kind of a value laden question when I ask that. I’m very critical of participation but even more critical of passive spectatorship. And what I’ve proposed as a solution to that is or what I think is more inclusive and more intensive category of political subjectivity which I call usership.


Male Speaker: I haven’t thought of that in that way but it sounds like an interesting approach. Do you think that comes from a kind of recent focus especially within interactive design I would say where the user becomes such, you know the primary focus of experiences with technology or experiences with services? Do you feel like or would you locate that usership perspective in that area or in that terrain?

Male Speaker: For sure. But I would also locate it within the terrain of drug usership, of users all sorts of services and goods which are all very easily dismissed by expert culture as being near consumer self interest and so on which I find in a particularly cheap and underhanded way of dismissing citizenship actually within a consumer society. But yeah this is something which I’ve talked about not enough I mean you know one of my little obsessions. But what interests me is that users have a particular relationship to the goods or the services which they use. Which is not that at all of expert culture, nor is it that of spectator culture and it cannot, whereas I think participation can be relatively easily assimilated into or am I’m afraid it can be assimilated into the regime of creative capitalism. I think usership actually poses a different kind of a problem although I acknowledge that it also is a double edged sword and can perhaps which is also what makes it interesting.

Male Speaker: Scott were there other questions that we might jump to? He’s mid type.

Male Speaker: Yeah there were here. Let’s see. I think we’re on to the second one out of five.

Male Speaker: We just answered that. Participation.

Male Speaker:  We just sort of [1:03:06] [inaudible] sorry just in case no one else can hear me but people in the room. I think maybe we can save like that three for just for a little bit you know you can kind of look at those specific projects in detail. But because we already started talking about it I mean I feel like it kind of flows right into the rise to cities, don’t you think? And the question of usership kind of flows very nicely into the question of, I mean usership and participation anyway flow very nicely I think into ideas about collaboration and community and sort of co working as other phrases that are often abused you know. At least from my point of view and I think from some of the other people that are here, those terms are used really loosely sometimes you know in order to imply some kind of liberatory strategy or some kind of democratization or something. When in reality, that’s not, most of the time that’s not really happening when those terms are used it just means that multiple people are given some kind of agency to play along by the rules of that someone else set up for them within a certain context.

And it seems like what you guys are doing often is questioning that really directly at least from what I know that of what you had done a couple of years ago and also from looking over these readings and stuff that I haven’t been able to read yet or be involved with you guys on yet. But it seems like that’s something that you’d really question. I was curious about that because I feel like those tie together probably. Can you be more concise? Yeah I think if you had any thoughts on how this discussion about participation, the idea that somehow participation itself leads toward a more equitable world or even it’s just a democratizing principle that you’ve definitely have a problem with you’ll also feel the same way about ideas of more intensive participation that are often referred to as collaboration or co working and co design like Christian mentioned that’s a more sort of maybe more current term in the design world.


Male Speaker: I guess with anything you have to ask why or for what reason or to what end. Because then you always end up in this kind of participation for the sake participation or anything for the sake of anything. So for me it’s, or what’s it’s hard to even like abstract or generalizing, I mean what are we talking about? What’s going on? Where are you living? What do you have a problem with? What do your neighbors have a problem with? What’s going on with this country that we don’t like? I mean how do you start to change something?

Well there are many ways about it. A lot of them probably mean you have to participate in something or work with other people or at least understand where other people are coming from. So it’s really hard to kind of answer it in a general way I mean.

Male Speaker: Yeah I mean so just to make sure I understand you, your suspicion of the language around that leads you instead, I mean primarily to say okay well this is just too abstract to really tackle purely with language, let’s actually talk about the specifics of a thing and kind of work our way out from there. Yeah I definitely understand that. I mean maybe that would lead to one of those other questions that I asked you to identify another project and talk about that in depth because maybe that would lead a conversation that might start feeling a little bit abstract and might ground that a little bit again.

Male Speaker: Well the challenge is what are the motivations for the work that the think tank does. So okay we make a reader, why we make a reader? And we make a reader because we’ve been investigating something, a particular issue, a particular topic and that investigation for us often means collecting a number of texts that help us understand the particular topic or issue. And it’s important for us to share that knowledge, share that research in some way. So that others could use it, it’s a quick way to kind of access material. Often times it takes texts that have been locked in books in obscure libraries or they’ve been locked behind copyright protections and we make them freely available. Thank you.

is that I mean, that’s not really, I wouldn’t frame that as any kind of participation, I would just say there is a reason why we did something, there is something we wanted to accomplish by doing it and it’s fairly simple on that case.

Female Speaker: [1:09:00] [inaudible] by giving those texts to the public you enable a participation of those texts don’t you?

Male Speaker:  Yeah I think that’s a good point as well to point to something, to distribute it, to share it so others can participate in that knowledge, participate in that research of course on their own terms and for whatever reasons they do. Yeah. So where should we go? Does anyone want to pose another question? Is there something I missed, something that doesn’t seem clear? Can I tell you more about the think tank specifically? Is that important? Tell me.


Male Speaker: Well Ellis was asking more specifics about how you distribute the readers.

Male Speaker: Well the readers are sometimes distributed at specific events like an exhibition or a conference. Just recently two of our directors attended the Open Engagement conference in Portland and they contributed the texts, the readers to the library that was created there. I mean there are always available online to be downloaded and generally there is a kind of informal distribution network that just kind of happens through linking on the web. I wouldn’t say we have a very rigorous distribution project. In fact we don’t even have a mailing list. But it’s just things get out and find their way to people who seem to be looking for them.

Male Speaker: I’m sort of biting my tongue because I think some people have, there is a lot of interest going on in the conversation and I don’t want to just kind of push the questions that I have. Steven was just asking maybe if he could describe some of the departments. If all you do, maybe you could possibly keep in mind this question I have. I was really interested the aspect of naming and so I think so is Steven in I guess in how you’ve, well I guess in how you came up with the particular department titles. I have a sense of at least what you said, your, I don’t know where I’m standing here but I have a sense of what you said your motive, you guys motives were for starting that. I mean there’s a lot of things to discuss about why you departmentalize that way and only had directors and no one below you and so on. But what was the naming about in particular; maybe if you don’t mind getting into that while you explain a few of the departments.

Male Speaker: Well I can explain any department other than my own because the departments they’re created by the individual directors. So I can tell you that I have had two directorships. One is the director of the department for the investigation of meaning and the other is the director for the department for the investigation of radical pedagogy. And I can tell you where those come from if you’re interested. As far as the other departments, again the individuals determine the nature of their investigations, the nature of their perspectives and they self declare their directorships. And this is not, this was never and isn’t an academic exercise. And we quickly learnt that as we started to take the project outside of, well it never really lived squarely on the art context. But as we moved, as we did things out in the city at various events and we ran into people who were not artists, not even academics, they knew exactly what we were talking about somehow and they declared their directorships.

And they were always really interesting and really they did what they were supposed to do. They told you something about that person, what that person cared about at that particular moment in that particular space. And that’s why I still feel that they are useful in that case because they position people. And it allows people to position themselves like people we’re always interested that, people are really excited about that opportunity to say, hey this is who I am at this particular moment, this is my department. I’m a director of this. So it was always a very effective mechanism I thought.

Male Speaker: Can anyone make a department [1:14:53] [inaudible]

Male Speaker: Well this is something that unresolved because we started; well we started with the assumption that basically there were an infinite number of directors and departments in the world and beyond. And they were directors that we didn’t know of, there were directors to be that didn’t know they were directors to be.


            And so it was this very kind of naïve idealistic like, oh everybody is a director and the think tank that is yet to be named has billions of members. That’s very funny and charming at a certain level of thought but when you get down to it, these issues of authorship and authority start to come up. So I’ll just speak historically what has happened. Often times people who come into the think tank to do projects have been invited by existing directors to work on a specific thing and perhaps that leads to a relationship and that newly invited director kind of comes in to the culture and sticks around and then initiates his or her own project. Personally with what’s been invested in the think tank as a project, a sustained project I’m not so much interested anymore in the kind of anarchic distributory rhysomatic model of everybody is a think tank or potentially could be a think tank. And I’m kind of just saying that now I haven’t thought too much about it.

But I think as is the case, when you invest time in something and develop something you do start to feel ownership and authority and a desire for control. So if I was to say, how does the think tank structure work now? It’s very exclusive in terms of like member directors who, it’s between four and six people. It’s certainly open but as you can see this is a huge question that if we go forward needs to be resolved I think. And it’s actually a question that we’ve started discussing if only very recently. We’ve said we wanted to discuss. Yeah, it always creeps in. Since I can see people in the room, do you any of you have a comment or a question?

Female Speaker: Is a desire for, is a desire to expand is that necessarily a bad thing?

Male Speaker: I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. To expand. But I think for me it would be something that is deliberate and strategic and well considered. So whereas initially we had this kind of funny ideas the think tank is as big as how many people are on the planet, theoretically speaking when it comes down to practice, I don’t know what the structure of the think tank looks like beyond what it is now with 46 people who know each other doing projects more or less together. I don’t know how that becomes distributable. I certainly think it could and it might. But for those of us who are doing the think tank work now we haven’t had that conversation and we don’t know what it would mean.

Male Speaker: Jeremy can I?

Male Speaker:  Yeah go ahead John. Go ahead.

Male Speaker:  I wanted to ask a question about the naming issue which has got referred to previously but which is just the first thing that really struck me when I heard about the name of your, I mean the paradoxical anomalous name of your think tank, The Think Tank that doesn’t,  that has yet to be named. Because it made me think about the whole politics of naming and the whole politics of naming with reference to the production of knowledge because of course naming can be a real powerful political act. You know when you name something which was not supposed to be there, when you name a body which was not, when you use a word which was supposed to be a reference without reference to anything and infact you name a body which was there but was unauthorized it’s very powerful.


But of course what happens is then you fix that body in an identity and so it can turn out to be counterproductive. And it seems like by finding a ploy that you will be very elusively named but not named but named with a name that reminds that naming is a problem. You kind of wanted permanently to address that with your permanently provisional name. Can you say something about that?

Male Speaker: Yeah that’s a really good, your point question. What I’ll say is that at the beginning we were very concerned about the problem of identity I guess or more crassly, branding, meaning that we wanted to avoid it. And also there was a degree of anonymity built into the project from the beginning I mean we’re all, we were these directors of these departments. We didn’t necessarily broadcast our real names, certainly not on the website. And as just, I guess we didn’t want the question about identity or naming to get in the way of work that we just wanted to get down and do.

So that The Think Tank that has yet to be named was a kind of dumb solution. I mean we had kind of decided on the think tank as a kind of structure which we could loosely form around with this kind of absurd bureaucracy and you know we didn’t want to think of a name. We didn’t want to lock something in a particular way. It’s kind of like the problem of you start a band and you have to think of a name and that’s probably the hardest part of starting a band maybe. So I mean we just didn’t want to deal with this question and in fact I mean we were very skeptical about even building a website for the project, for the think tank because of this same issue like you lock things in to a specific representation and it starts to lose the kind of energy or verve or flexibility. Ultimately we built the website because we wanted to document the work and we wanted to communicate the work to a much larger audience.

So I actually appreciate how you have interpreted and commented on the name itself I think that was really really well said. And I think it’s still a concern although I don’t think it’s as important as it was when we first began.  Yeah. What is the community, that’s a question that we took up in the fourth reader and that reader was developed. And that reader was developed around the other project that we did in Boston in Summerville.

I mean that was another thing that I think we learned from the community organizing activist work and even from like you know, whatever, participatory art practices, social practices, is this word community, it just gets thrown around like as if it was the most natural thing in the world and everybody knows what you are talking about when you say, I am work with a community or we built a community. It’s a question that I don’t have an answer to like what constitutes community. But somehow we always seem to know what we are talking about when we use that word, when I think it warrants investigating much further.

And that reader on community was an attempt that needs to be resumed and that is you know problematizing what community or communities are and how we talk about them especially. Because I think that is another idea like participation that gets used by lots of different kinds of people for a lot of different reasons. So I don’t know the answer yet. Love to hear some of weigh in.


Female speaker: I guess going back to the thought that you said you were skeptical about starting a website, half the question is what were you skeptical about happening? And did that happen or did anything positive happen, did anything negative happen? What, I guess was anything expected and then unexpected later?

Male Speaker: Well the skepticism about even creating a website for the project, well the first thing that you need to do when you say, I want to build a website, is you have to choose a name, right? A domain name and this again got to this point of we don’t want a name, we chose this thing, the think tank that is yet to be named is kind of a dumb solution to the problem. And the website and all it represents is really about fixing an identity or fixing a brand if it is in the commercial realm perhaps. And we were just really nervous about that because, so some of the things we considered like okay, could we have a website could it built in such a way where there is a new domain name every day, maybe the website changes every second so it’s not fixed? But that just gets kind of a little bit annoying.

So I think for us the importance of documenting the work overtook any concern about the problem of a website or a website name or identity. It was more important for us to be able to archive the work and hopefully make it available for other people to use and look at and all that. I mean I am pleased that we have a website. Because I think it allows us to share the work with a lot of people that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

Male Speaker: I am really just mentioning Christopher’s question about whether these readings, oh dear, I was just reading Allen’s comment about, yeah; whether they are available online I know you mentioned that earlier but...

Male speaker: Yeah all of the readers are available online. Go to readers link and that’s the link, they are all there. So Scott’s going to post a link. That’s it that should be it. I think so, no it’s not. Okay, so correction, it is possible that the most recent reader doesn’t have a link but I can make that available. But all the others I believe should be there. Well I know the first four are there, so the second, the last two I will have to make available. If anybody is desperate for one, feel free to email me.

Male speaker: Hi Jeremy, I have a quick question if I could chip in?

Male Speaker: Sure.

Male Speaker: I just, I am kind of interested in the decision because you have spoken about all of, and the fine decision name to do with the name, to do with the website, to do with the roles that people play. But I suppose just kind of stepping a level from that I just curious, I am really interested in your decision to get involved in instituting this kind of formalized structure for this kind of art or activist activity as opposed to just having discussions or just making work or why and to the point where you have almost, I hate this term, where you have almost fetishized sort of corporate structures, if that’s fair?

Male Speaker: Yeah that’s a really good question and I thought of the word before you said it so no worries. It is a really, really valid point and it is something that we are starting to actually discuss amongst ourselves especially with a couple of people that came in much later to the Think Tank Project.


For me I go back to what I think I gleaned from my reading of the Temporary Autonomous Zone. It is one thing to get interesting smart people together and have a conversation. And it’s productive and it’s meaningful and it does something. I think for us, we wanted to do that but we wanted to do it with a more distinct or heavy frame around it. So the kind of absurd bureaucracy of the think tank the kind of, the slightly off, I don’t know off but weird you know titles of the directors and the departments, for us this was a way to draw a frame around what we were doing such that it wouldn’t necessarily bleed into all the other great wonderful productive conversations that people were having amongst themselves and even in ways that are similar to how we do it.

Now as far as fetishizing corporate structures or bureaucratic structure, I think this is a line that we are kind of playing with. I think in the beginning we actually were much more kind of adherent to a formal rigid bureaucracy. Even if you look at some of our email communications from those first few months, it’s like; wow do they have a soul? I mean we were really like buying into this full bureaucracy that we had set up. I think we’ve eased off on that quite a bit so that really what remains for me is just like the essential stuff to still maintain that frame around the work that we do to make it distinct.

So I think, I guess my opinion is it doesn’t fetishize corporate bureaucratic structure.  The potential is there I feel for me what it does is that again it draws a frame around what we do to make it decipherable or legible in a different way.

Male Speaker: Yeah that’s cool I remember as well I see what can be a very interesting texts which sort of brought up some of the pitfalls of less formalized organizations and the tyranny of structure.

Male Speaker: Yeah, yeah that’s a good one.

Male Speaker: Cool thank you,

Male Speaker:  Thanks for the question.

Male Speaker: Have you guys, have you thought about integrating it all with Org, just because I mean you know a number of the texts probably all of them are there if they are not you can probably upload them?

Male Speaker: I am going to give a quick shout out to Heath who is in the Skype audience because this question concerns him as well. Heath is another director in the think tank and of course they are a number of ways in which really interesting important texts are distributed online, org being one of them as well known and one of the most useful. At one point Heath and I were having discussions about whether or not we might want to initiate a similar kind of project to make all these great texts we are finding  and somehow consolidate them into a single place and perhaps make them more available or filtered in a different way like the way I would phrase it. And this was an idea that was initiated by Heath actually. So we didn’t end up following through on that project I don’t know if it is necessary or not.  Perhaps it is I mean I think a lot of the texts we were finding weren’t necessarily online they were being pulled from books, actual books that we had in our libraries or school libraries. So yeah that was something we considered at one point but haven’t moved on it.


Male Speaker: So we are reaching kind of far and wide with Skype and well I was wondering if all your directors are local and if you are interested in pushing beyond geography and stretching out?

Male Speaker: Yeah. We started very much like super local I mean we were in the same neighborhood and we came together in a very specific context around a very specific situation. But of course as with all of you, we know a lot of really amazing smart people and they don’t all live in Philadelphia believe it or not. I must say, and so we reached out to people who were not located in Philadelphia, currently one of our directors is in Iowa City the other is in, actually two of them are in Iowa City and then another is in Chicago and some of them more or less occasional directors are also not in Philadelphia. So it certainly is a possibility and again the problem I have here is we don’t know how we expand or if we want to expand we don’t understand how to deal with things like authority, things like perhaps funding if it comes to that in the future. So I think I am a little bit skittish about you know saying, open the flood gates, let’s get in as many people as we can because I don’t know how to handle it or address it yet, yep?

Male Speaker: Oh yes, I am from Jamaica. I have a plantation loft next to the Bob Marley [1:37:19] [indiscernible] and there is a lot of movies shot there. The Weather Burns are my first cousins and they are professors at Spanish Town University, the caste system over in Jamaica. I have many credits over in the caste system, liberal and professional sciences but Film, Photography and Directing is something that I try to achieve more. Because I am so close to the Marley’s over there it’s like we can do a lot of like celestial, transcendental type things right? Most of it is movie shots like trailer shots but we can’t really get into more than beyond the music video or documentary. So I am at Costa the cousin of the Weather Burns and yeah I am from the caste. I can call up the Weather Burns anytime to get like grands and directors come down from Jamaica because they are like head of the University in Spanish Town. I am from Oltoris, Jamaica.

Male Speaker: Yeah nice to meet you, welcome, cool. Does anyone have any other, we have got you know like under ten minutes to go.

Male Speaker: I think the discussion that we have got is pretty interesting I would say, a few different projects were mentioned that kind of that refer to academia. I think Allen described as for academia, I was maybe wrongly but I think possibly rightly just saying that we were describing something very similar as autonomous information production with kind of less of a focus on whether or to what degree academic institutions are being mirrored. You know there usually there is some degree of that but really sometimes there are high levels, sometimes low level. And there was a discussion about the United Nation’s plauser project and the college arts association and panel that Allen was on and I guess one thing that has got to be worth mentioning because now we are talking about the realm of education on some level we can either avoid the subject or bring it up. I think it might be interesting to bring up.


Here is a question. Do you feel that it is a challenge at this point that ideas about alternative education have entered the, I guess realm of art practices with such a force and that you are probably doing that kind of work you have to at the very least deal with the fact that that’s becoming a kind of, well in one hand a groundswell on the other hand a fad.  And how do you sort of negotiate that the opportunities and the dangers there. And by dangers I don’t mean professionally but dangers in terms of maybe the effectiveness of what you are doing?

Male Speaker: Yeah I mean that’s relevant question because and I see Heath agreeing, yeah. We became really interested in education as a part of our practice in the think tank that is yet to be named. And I think it was one because many of us were involved in academia for example I myself I am a university professor and of course all of us went through the university education. Others were also faculty members at other universities and colleges. And so I think an interest in what other models are, what other kinds of alternative education forms might exist and this is partly out of frustration with academia and higher education.

We are of course interested in that question as a lot of artists are. I mean you are right; everybody makes an exhibition as a school now right? And I think I would like to defer this question to Heath but he is doesn’t have a microphone. He is a director for the department for the investigation for tactical education. He is of us all been perhaps most invested in trying to understand the relationship between art activism and education and he has typed if he’d like to join in in some way.

I think you can’t help but come to education through the door of community organizing and activism and if you are making an art work that also kind of lives adjacent to those practices you are going to arrive at education as well because if you want to change the world or if you want to envision a world perhaps different from the one that you live in the way to get there is through kind of building that world through the sharing of knowledge, the sharing of experience.

        And certainly a lot of us in the think tank have read people like Paulo Ferreira and other names that I am blanking on right now alternative education thinkers and writers the last 40 or 50 years. Yeah, so it is something that we are interested in and that we care about. I won’t say  I have any kind of strategically formulated ideas about it to share right now but if you’re going to build a world instead of in addition to the one that you feel you’re in, education is a way profligate that world.  And Heath is starting to comment a bit.

Male Speaker: I promised to read out loud what he had said. What kind of accent does Heath have? Chicago? Can anyone do a Chicago accent? 1:44:49[inaudible] still on? Chicago. Well Jessica you’re working on it? Can you give it a shot? Well I’ll just quickly say.


Well I’m always interested in these art projects like United Nations or whatever as opposed to perhaps military research or popular education many of which 1:45:11[inaudible] above. Yeah I mean we can definitely have an ongoing conversation about this and yes Friar we had long discussion that stem from Paul Averick’s book, Francisca Friar in the modern school movement which outlines Friar Anarchist schools in New York by Emma Goldman and others. Yeah I think if Heath if you’d like to join any of these future chats and I only parenthetically say that because  we  have like kind of two minutes till closing, we’ll try to keep it fairly structures for the next event and the people who are, it’s 2:00 am for them now.

Then I personally would love to continue this discussion because not only does it comprise one sixth of this year long series, a focus on education, on some level or at least on autonomous information production as we call it. But also it’s just an ongoing interest for sure by me and I’m sure a lot of other people here. So I think probably one of the questions that I have is you know kind of why, what can we really, what art competencies can we really bring to that or what benefit can we have in merging this with a so called creative cultural context in any way or connecting them in any way whether it’s merging or parasiting or making use of or camouflaging or whatever. And that would be, I think those are some of the conversations we’ve had in the past. But in any case I don’t know if you had any other burning things to say Jeremy? Shaking your head.

Male Speaker: To those of you in the room and to the many of you out in Skype land I really appreciate the time you spent with us and hearing me and asking questions. Always love to continue these conversations. So my email is an open email for any of you to use, yeah Yeah there it is. So again I appreciate the time that you spent with us.

Male Speaker: Awesome, and yeah it’s been great. Anybody with closing music? Anybody want to beat box?

Male Speaker: I was going to do a poem tonight and I was going to do a song from Axel Rose, Sweet Child of Mine. But, should I do it here? [1:48:23] [indiscernible]

[1:49:26]        End of Audio