[ISEA2016] Workshop: Anastasios Maragiannis & Janis Jefferies — Interactive practice in writing: Entering private human encounters

Workshop Statement 

The world is in flux, and so is writing. As creators in a networked world, we can sit by the shore and wait for a defining text…” [1]

Since its popularisation in the late 1970s, the screen has acted as a gateway for easily communicating with other ‘people’ and on any topic. However, in recent years, its status as a ‘tool’ for knowledge extraction has been far surpassed. The screen has become an engaging space and through the various communication apps, people choose to spend time: socialising, living and dying. With the advent of Web2.0, the screen has moved from informational navigation tool to a community and this marks a new form of social phenomenon. This workshop aims to provide participants with a framework to understand how social media and the daily updating of the self is challenging our preconceptions of screen-based communication and influencing the development of our cultural/ personal identity(s) and sense of self. The so-called herbivore or “grass-feeding human. [2]

As practitioners we aim to highlight and encourage interest in this area as a rich space for engaging visual communication and creative writing practices. Personal interaction and narration of the self is surrounded by anticipation as well as apprehension and anxiety. Digital innovative augmentations of human/human or human/technology communication have created a lively and restless online/ offline environment. We are currently at a crossroad between being completely overwhelmed by mass ‘non-communicative’ communication and trying to be involved with reproductive technologies as much as we can. In this workshop we would experiment with these ideas and will debate that the tacit nature of communications online cannot be understood from a purely technical perspective (search algorithms) but must instead be approached creatively. To this aim we will address the cultural implications and imaginative opportunities of recent innovations in creative practices of writing and how these practices are entering into the private human encounters.

This workshop is the final of a trilogy. The two previous workshops took place in London [3] and Vancouver [4] and the outcomes and data will be published online and in print.

  1. Penflip. T. Abba, This is not a book penflip.com/TomAbba/this-is-not-a-book (accessed 22 Dec 2015)
  2. newstatesman.com (accessed 2 Jan 2016)
  3. DRHA 2014 – Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts, International Conference, London drha2014.co.uk (accessed 27 Dec 2015)
  4. ISEA2015 – Vancouver, isea-archives.org/?page_id=33920

We are looking for participants interested in writing and reflecting on their personal experience of the process through social media. No previous experience is required. They can be artists, designers, scientists, academics, students, or from any other discipline with an interest in creative practices, creative writing, and visual communication. They should have basic knowledge of internet and social media. Participants will be asked to present a recent online experience that shows some intercourse with ‘real’ or robotic entities as an example that demonstrates how advanced technologies enter private human encounters. Then creatively will rearrange/deconstruct/randomize all of the words and re-construct a short narrative, prose or poem using the words in any order they like. Afterward will spend about 30 minutes individually or in pairs or in groups and think about making the piece of writing up to around 140 characters so we can further discuss in the workshop. This exercise is based on Oulipo, or Workshop of Potential Literature. This is a group of writers and thinkers interested in the notion of “constraint”. You can think of constraint as something like the rules of a game. For example, the rules of the sonnet game result in the creation of a sonnet. The rules of the short story game result in the creation of a short story. Are there other rules? New games? New things to create? By asking those questions, the Oulipo has become a workshop of potential literature.

Participant background/profession/prior knowledge/age: Any age, with an interest in Arts, design, creative writing, social media.

  • Anastasios Maragiannis is the Academic Portfolio Leader and Principal lecturer in Design Theory & Practice, in the department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts, University of Greenwich, London, UK. He convenes the Design Roast Open discussion group for anyone interested in creative design practices and theories of cross-disciplinarity, interactive design, new media technologies, visual communication and philosophies of the state-of-the current and future design. His work has been shown in various places including the BFI London and the V&A museum. Anastasios is also the Deputy chair of the DRHA International organisation and the research leader of the “Digital Grand Challenge”, a series of research projects that investigates how theory can shape digital practice and vice-versa; as a way to enhance multiple interactions across numerous disciplines, including, Architecture, Arts, Design, Computing, Humanities and Mathematics and other Sciences. gre.ac.uk/ach/study/cpda/staff/anastasios-maragiannis
  • Professor Janis Jefferies is an artist, writer and curator, Professor of Visual Arts in the Department of Computing, Goldsmiths University of London, UK and Director of the Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre in Textiles and Artistic Director of Goldsmiths Digital Studios. GDS is dedicated to collaborations among practicing artists, cultural and media theorists, and innovators in computational media, who together are expanding the boundaries of artistic practice, forging the future of digital technologies and developing new understanding of the interactions between technology and society. As artistic director of Goldsmiths Digital Studios, Jefferies convenes: the PhD in Arts and Computational Technology. Janis is also the Associate Pro Warden, Creative and Cultural Industries, her interests are in emergent business models and artists cultural rights (CREATe). gold.ac.uk/computing/staff/j-jefferies