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Diversions is a worksession inspired by the way versions are inscribed in software-practice, and wants to look at how they can produce divergent histories through conflicts and difference. This one week session is organised by Constant  and hosted by the Royal Museum of Art and History  in Brussels.
The Museum is an institution which, like all other federal museums in Belgium, will be in the final stages of digitizing 330,000 very diverse objects from its collection: clay tablets, tapestries, mummies, ancient jewelry, vases, coins ... The concrete practices of art-history and digitisation technologies will be put in relation with the prototypes, reflections and other types of experiments generated during the work session.
Version-control systems, wikis, etherpads and other digital writing tools save log files and diffs routinely, potentially changing linear relations between original and copy, redefining questions of authorship and the archive through technological conditions. Meticulously logged workflows allow users to reverse or repeat any action at any time, and offer the ability to correct mistakes if necessary. How can we use these timelines, histories, traces not just in terms of safeguarding production, but for other ways of inscribing multiplicity and variety? What types of collectivity do they make possible and impossible?
The worksession brings together collaborative practices, active archives and Free Software tools; each of them long time interests of Constant. By working through and with tools that operate on data both in time and social space, Diversions explores the potential for divergence within technological infrastructures. We want to experiment with conditions for multiple authorship (including machines as author) and explicitly make space for ambiguity. We want to speculate on digital practices that do not erase conflict and variation, and can work with, not against, misunderstandings between people and machines, and among machines and people themselves.
Worksessions are intensive transdisciplinary moments, organised twice a year . We aim to create conditions for participants with different types of expertise to temporarily link their practice and to develop ideas, prototypes and research projects together. We primarily use Free, Libre and Open Source software and material that is available under Open Licenses. Diversions starts on Sunday afternoon with a public event including lectures, performances and a video library. We will start from 5 different cases prepared by artists, designers, performers, programmers and historians that will no doubt mix and merge as the session develops.
11:45: The Architecture of collective writing (Just For The Record) http://diversions.lan/pad/p/just_for_the_record Wikipedia is an interesting playground for future collective uses of the more 'pragmatic' archives that are developed today. If we look at Wikipedia as an enormous architecture and consider every page as an office space, with a history, discussions and a permanent stream of changes up to the most radical gesture of deleting content, we can easily get a sense of the working atmosphere of each room. Some are enjoyable spaces where respect, dialogue and negociation rule; others can be war spaces where the 'truth' is hold by bots correcting each other every fragment of a second; or the winning word is held by humans, amongst which the admin seems to have the most power, although it is never clear who exactly is sitting around the table, nor how the people around the table are perceived. Most women are still 'wifes of', or categorized as 'men' instead of 'humans'. 'Separatism' and 'tea house' are words used for 'feminist' parallel spaces on Wikipedia. JFTR is looking for new tools that allow for interference in the atmosphere of a space, by looking f.ex. for patterns in the use of language in the talking pages, visualisation of the bots operating and what they're made of, a thermometer to indicate atmospheres, ... http://justfortherecord.space/
12:30 Histories of conflicts and confusions (Zeljko Blace) http://diversions.lan/pad/p/conflicts_and_confusions Established museums and archives are currently considering to re-approach or re-label their sedimented and consolidated collections through incremental interventions (changing labels and interpretations of post-colonial artworks for example) or even they invite artists and activists for special projects (queering the van abbemuseum). Newly established initiatives are struggling with incoherence and gaps (Gay Museum in Berlin). How do we come to terms with all this? Zeljko is not only interested in how we could produce divergent histories (of minorities) through supporting different interpretations, but also in how to produce histories of conflicts and confusions and make spaces for future antagonisms and divergences. This is especially interesting when oral histories meet material ones and when artefacts (as 'evidence') meet artworks (as 'subjectivities'). Their juxtaposition asks us to take unexpected confusions into consideration or even confluences of methodologies and perspectives. We could think of developing discourses that could be extrapolated from ontologies and vocabularies. He is particularly interested in participatory systems that could foster not collaboration, but contestation and multiple contextualizations in coordinated and parallel ways.
10:45: Different orders coexist (Michael Murtaugh + Nicolas Maleve) http://diversions.lan/pad/p/different_orders_coexist "Computational vandalism means working with this and other qualities of computing; the capacity for repetition, speed, interpretation by combination, the layering of operations and so on. In this sense, computational vandalism works with the aesthetic, social, material and imaginal forces that are gathered as compositional terms within computing." (Matthew Fuller in an interview with SICV, Vandalist Iconophilia http://editorialconcreta.org/Vandalist-Iconophilia) As the Scandinavian Institute for Computational Vandalism, Nicolas Malevé and Michael Murtaugh have developed a series of experiments in connection with the archives of the artists Erkki Kurenniemi, Asger Jorn and Guttom Guttorsgaard. Probing into large collections of digital and digitised collections, they employed Computer Vision algorithms as interlocutors, to explore alternative interpretations, different orderings and seeing through other eyes. The images started to masquerade as text, and texts start to behave as images. For DiVersions, Michael and Nicolas will turn the SICV toolkit onto the actual files and databases of the Cinquantenaire museum itself. Working on the archive as a whole, SICV will redraw relations and genealogies in the order(s) of art history. http://sicv.activearchives.org/logbook/
11:30: tour of the collections (Emiel Van Binnebeke) “During one of the preparatory sessions, the term 'umbilical cord' was used to characterise the importance of the Inventory books for the museum. I like that expression. By looking at the inventory books, you immediately understand how a museum starts its life, you get to grips with its growing pains, dark moments in history and its future destination”
14:00: One commit doesn't make a story (Alex Leray) http://diversions.lan/pad/p/One_commit Open Source Publishing is a collective of designers and programmers working with Free, Libre and Open Source tools. A few years ago, as part of their daily workflow, they started to use the versioning software tool 'git', and many other collaborative tools (etherpad, owncloud, ...). Each of these tools has its own way of keeping archives, logs and timestamps. The result is a treasure trove of very rich and at the same time fragmented traces that could potentially tell the story of their collective design practise, but always almost, or not yet. So far OSP made several attempts to knit together these fragments into stories, bridging gaps in temporality and materiality. There is a tension between capture and narration, between automatic logs and storytelling. What should be integrated in the story? How to account for the heterogeneity of processes and data? How can the context be made (in)visible? Maybe some visualisation might help? Or other generative tools? Alex presents us some of OSP experiments on rendering their practice legible and invites us to think together about how to tell stories between a collective of people, projects and tools. http://osp.kitchen/work/stories/
14:00 shorts (5 minutes):
plotting timescales (phil)
annotation as a parasite (cristina)
new objects (mia, an)
Presentations II + lunch 14:30 objects and stories (arianna, dona, loraine, mia, wendy) ->in the Méso-Amérique room
14:45 shorts (5 minutes):
1996 vision (gottfried)
printing/exporting the catalog, geneology (martino)