hmmm. I agree on principle Simon, and at the same time at SCANZ found that emergent as opposed to formally moderated or facilitated group dynamics were the most productive element. These were favoured not so much by a facilitator as by a large, airy space with network access which we didn't have in our university residency rooms. There was something very convivial about going and plugging in one's laptop at these tables. Often the room was very quiet and the energies of all the individuals (anything from 1 to 10 or more at a given moment) were palpable. At other times it was a gentle buzz (e.g. when we had a workshop learning to weave harakeke/ flax) and at others happily noisy (including the evening when Dominic Smith had the excellent idea to project Alphaville - there was also a video projector in the room). For some reason this room for me stands out as the heartland of our residency, even though I thoroughly enjoyed fun and games in the large communal kitchen where we cooked up our evening meals.
If I were an ethnomethodologist I'd hasten to point out that the room had a small but rich pile of books, including library books with that slightly hallowed "look after me and pass me on because I'm borrowed" feel as well as leaflets highly relevant to the residency theme, a printer (which people used sometimes to produce hard copies of work that were then left out as reading materials), a fridge (useful in Taranaki summer), a table on which people left vaguely edible things at times, couches and beanbags and huge siesta floor cushions (invaluable - even if you don't use them, you literally get and are rested by the idea), and large whiteboards which served as an information watering hole for all of us - mobile phones, schedules, messages etc.
We didn't have a moderator as such. Though Trudy Lane, SCANZ co-organiser, tended to be fairly discreetly and effectively present, helping people (including yours truly) to wade their way into the SCANZ website and generally looking after us.
Melinda Rackham had a part of a wall in the room, plus a couple of mobile screens, on which she kept constantly evolving weaves of customised jewellery she generously designed for us and gave to us at the end of the workshop. Her presence quietly working with her hands was another kind of reassuring, eminently digital presence.
We self-facilitated so to speak. And for me it really worked beautifully. Though I admit it's pretty rare. I didn't expect to spend in that room nearly as much time as I did. But it was a productive, unobtrusive
social space. Essentially characterised as noa - a busy personal "lay" space - as opposed to the tapu - formal knowledge seeking space - which it became when Te Huirangi, our remarkable mentor and mischievously venerable elder, came to talk with us for a few hours one morning and memorably explained these nuances to us.
People skills in this setting maybe consisted of listening and tuning to each other. And it's quite certain that our incitations along those lines were powerfully conveyed at our welcome, our formal powhiri, at the Owae marae on the first morning. Those who sadly were not able to attend I'm sure benefitted from others having experienced this deep lesson in listening. And the heady responsiblity of speaking.
ps - I forgot the mosquitos - they were dreadful. so maybe a source of solidarity - different kind of buzz!
From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Simon Biggs [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 02 March 2009 12:38
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Lab/Time-based residencies and Environmental Response
The most valuable aspect of a residency is possibly not time, nor space nor
technical resources it is the interaction between people whose knowledge
domains and skills are distinct. In order to facilitate this process of
engagement the role of facilitator is terrifically important. The most
productive residencies I have been involved in featured a facilitator
ensuring that everyone meets everybody else in appropriate circumstances and
that brief conversations that showed some potential are followed up with
vigour and rigour such that effective collaborations can be brokered.
Facilitators have their own special capabilities and in some respects these
are not dissimilar to the qualities required to be a successful curator. Key
amongst these must be people skills.
On 2/3/09 11:46, "Sarah Cook" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> i welcome posts from others about the necessary conditions for
> weaving people together (technological or otherwise)... [during] a
> time-limited residency in a specific environmental and geographic
> place, and the stories of the successes and failures - what has
> worked and what hasn't - which could be useful to other media arts
> curators developing residencies and geographically-specific
> commissions and projects.
edinburgh college of art
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Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201