Angie Williams-Van Steenberg SP

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Week 1

Blows Against The Empire

This article discusses the concept of detournment created by the Situationists. The Situationists sought to dismantle spectacle of the modern urban life. Capitalism has created a system in which we passively consume and interact with the objective of gaining wealth. Determent is the "trangressive act" of gift giving. Objects, services, and skills are given set monetary values. When a person desires on of these things they are expected to provide currency in exchange and nothing more. Detournment aims to create social bonds. By offering a gift, one breaks the passive spectacle with our surroundings by forcing someone to actively acknowledge engage with their surroundings. Purves states, "the transfer of gifts produces returns and consequences, rather than value." The objective of the exchange is to have a social interaction rather than to gain material wealth. "Gifts are not free. Neither are they the products of generosity. Gifts are offers. They produce bonds." The Diggers, for example created a space where people could receive food without the expectation of currency or any other form of material trade. In return for food people were only asked to provide the cooks company during this meal. The emphasis here is on interpersonal exchange rather that formal transactions. The objective is community building.

Conversation Pieces

This article discussed works that aimed to create an honest dialogue between disjointed parties. It is interesting to notice how creating an "art" space for these conversations to take place as opposed to a "political" space creates a (relatively) neutral space for these interactions to occur. The text discusses relational aesthetic as being art centered "round communication and exchange." The text emphasizes that conversation and social exchange has aesthetic value that cannot be judged in the same way that paintings and sculptures are critiqued.These pieces cannot be devalued because they do not meet a certain aesthetic standard, their objectives are entirely different than classic fine art. The "banking" metaphor is especially interesting. In this style of art making, the artist creates an object with certain meanings that the viewer must extract. There is no interaction between the two parties and their ideas about the meaning of the piece will be very different. While diversity of interpretations is good, this distance between the artist and the viewer is what the Situationist sought to break down through detournment.


I began by biking down towards Staples and continued on that road past where I usually turn to go downtown. A residential street, mobile homes and houses with huge backyards. I stopped to sit under this weeping willow and noticed this tireswing down the road :) :)


I continued on the road until I came to a bridge crossing a big rocky river. What a beautiful view!


I decided to check out the scene so my bike and I climbed down the rocks and hung out by the water for a bit.


Eventually I climbed back up the rocks and crossed the bridge. I noticed a path that went into the trees.


I followed the trail until it came to someone's house so I turned around.

I got back on the road which eventually led to main street where I found these badboys!!


Danggggggggg !!! There was a creek behind where the bikes were parked so I went to sit by it.


Found this in the water...


The + or - was washed away. I wonder what the verdict was...

I started to head back to Bennington when I noticed this window!!


I continued down the road and saw a sign for a tag sale. I turned down the road and found the woman who was having the garage sale. Her name was Harriet and she said she likes Bennington girls because they are so "poised and sweet and funny". She gave me student discount and for $5 I got a a derby helmet, a lil sewing kit, and a white long sleeve polo shirt (to be dyed black don't worry!). :) :)

Week 2

Social Accupuncture

In the beginning of this piece, O'Donnell presents a cynical view on the effectiveness of activism. He admits, "I enjoy demos because they are nice social opportunities. I prefer chatting to chanting, and I hate being cold." The allure of political actions, such as protests, is the environment that is created. It is a body of strangers who move together towards a common goal by expressing their disdain for a common enemy. This is a moment where it is acceptable to converse with strangers who become less foreign to us when we are able to see our common interests in action. O'Donnell explores this concept in his work, specifically in Beachballs41+All and his Q+A series. Beachballs41+All was a project in which pool toys were donated to be played with and inflated by the participants. The participants were, for the most part, children of color who frequented the pool and intellectual/ professional white adults. These two groups interacted with each other and the inflatable toys in the swimming pool. O'Donnell discusses the fear of strangers that our culture has ingrained into our psyche. The piece aimed to bridge the distance between the children and adults by putting them in water, where their physical power and ability to control is compromised. He points out that "safety" and security" are rules set up to ensure "social control". In this case, the emphasis on steering clear of strangers breeds skepticism and distrust of those we do not know, creating space for us to fill this gap with assumptions and judgements of the unfamiliar other.

In the Q+A series, O'Donnell is attempting to break the divide between strangers and engage in a dialogue that has no predetermined outcome. These interactions are examine how the questioner perceives the answerer and vice versa. By having an interaction that is not motivated by capital, only social capital, there is a possibility to deconstruct our expectations. O'Donnell points out that most of our social exchanges take place in capitalist spheres where we must "pay to play". This creates an exclusive standard in which social engagement must be earned.

In Q+A In The Classroom, fear is the unifier between the questioner and the answerer. The questioners are "frightened of silence" and the answerers are "frightened of judgment". Both parties share the fear of failure and insufficiency. This fear becomes imbalanced when it is not reaffirmed by appreciation and attention. This deficiency will soon transform into resentment and critique of the other. The metaphor of acupuncture emphasizes the interconnectedness of our physical and mental selves. When one aspect of our being is undernourished there are repercussions in other parts of our mind and body. The same is true for the collective mind and body of our society. We are often taught that our society is made up of separate parts and people who are inherently different. In fact, this is an illusion created to perpetuate hierarchies and "social control".

Week 4

I Am Searching For Field Character

Beuys explains that a "human being experiences himself primarily as a spiritual being". He makes specifies this to include the "active" impulse of "feeling", "thinking", and "will", and their"higher forms". These impulses are "active" because they are constantly moving and changing, they are never immobile even if our physical body is still and passive. Their "higher forms" implies a connection to a higher spiritual realm to which these impulses are intrinsically connected. These human mental functions have the capacity to evolve into higher states. They can make "supreme achievements" in the form of art. Beuys' performances make strong reference to this spiritual real through his use of metaphor. The physical manifestation of these impulses is sculpture which can take form in "definite", "movement", or "indefinite" elements. Sculpture can be fixed, moving, or transforming. This theory informs the three part political model he introduces.

Beuys describes as FREE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM. This is made up of three parts: freedom, socialism, and democracy. He associates democracy with "laws", freedom with the "cultural sphere" and socialism with "economics" Democracy is the way policies are set up and socialism would be the way that money is distributed. Buys specifies that freedom must include "self-determination and participation". One needs to be self-determined, the catalyst from their personal "cultural sphere" as well as a full participant in the collective social sphere.

Public Space in a Private Time

Vito Acconci makes 20 observations about public space as well as four design proposals for public spaces. Acconci makes many references to time in his discussion of public space. Space and time are connected as one unified space-time, yet there is a difference between private space + time and public space + time. In 9 he discusses "historical space" vs the "virtual space". Historical spaces imply that "there's no space without time". The virtual space implies that there's no time without space". These places evoke either "memory or imagination". Memory recalls what has happened at a fixed time where imagination speculates what could happen at an unknown future time. Space is real in both visions but not tangible. Space has the capacity to shift forms as memory twists and fades and imagination builds and elaborates.

In the digital age we are presented with the ability to be in multiple times and spaces at once through the internet. The cyberworld is omnipresent, existing in all spaces and times at once. Time is no longer connected to space as it was when all stores had clocks in them. With watches time has become something personal, strapped to your wrist. Thus "public time was dead" as it is no longer connected to collective spaces. These collective spaces, such as the plaza, no longer serve the same function as they did in the "nineteenth century". We connect through cyber space primarily rather than physical spaces. This point is even more relevant now with the prevalence of smart phones.

Acconci makes an interesting point in 12 that "public space is an analogue for sex". People venture into public space when their private lives are unfufilling. They become aware of others when they are seeking something, sex or even plutonic physical connection. He proposes that public space allows for people to pursue polyamory and free love because of its anominity. However we are "infected" wether this be with information or disease". We are too sick physically, with AIDS, to connect to each other physical. We are too preoccupied with the infinite information that is available to us in order to mentally connect to each other.

Week 5

Art and Social Change

Lippard states that Conceptualism is more political in form than in its content. Conceptual art, "Like Minimalism's 'neutrality', 'non-relationalism', and industrial fetishism, Conceptualism was part of rebellion against the (male) artist-as-hero syndrome of the Abstract Expressionists (who had submitted to exploitation for the official United States cold-war agenda) and the formal obsessions with surface and edge of 'post-painterly' abstraction." A component of the Abstract Expressionist movement for artists is the performance of painting. The movements and personal performance of the artist in creating the piece is just as important as the final outcome. The painting is no longer focused on depicting subjects but highlighting the individuality of the "(male) artist-as-hero".

Minimalism's "neutrality" and "non-relationism" implies a disconnect between this emphasis on the movement of the artist. Instead, the focus is only put on the object's most essential features. Instead of fetishizing the artist himself, minimalism is fetishizing "industrial" aesthetics of non human structures and machines. However, this is potentially still a very masculine aesthetic. Conceptual art emphasizes the ideas behind a piece more than its physical form. This breaks the masculine "artist-as-hero" approach to art making because the art focused on the intellectual process of the work rather than the physical movements and gender of the artist themselves.


Kaprow discusses the role of the audience in a performance. Performance art aims to break the traditions of theater by stepping away from strict roles and scripted scenes. However, the critique of many Happenings that took place in lofts and other indoor spaces is that while these actions were provocative there was still a disconnect between the audience and the performer. Kaprow felt that "audiences should be eliminated completely". Kaprow prefers participants that are"authentic parts of the environment" as opposed to people who go to theater and/or art events. These participants do not have any preconceptions of the performance and their actions are genuine. Capri uses the example of the butcher who may or may not be aware that his actions are a part of a greater piece. The butcher is participating in the performance but is not acting nor is he performing. Kaprow also mentions Happenings that were "scored for just watching". In these pieces the performer observes everyday motions of their outdoor environment. By doing a "watching" Happening, one becomes both the audience and the performer.


This summer I made a zine called Afrofuturistic Moviemaking. This zine discusses a book I read this summer called Framing Blackness by Ed Guerrero and a conference on Afrofuturism at The New School I went to this past spring. Farming Blackness examines how black people have been portrayed by Hollywood since its inception. These images are extremely biased, skewed, and profit driven but have dramatically shaped our collective conception of who black people "are". This book also has notes from speakers I heard at the conference, such as Ytasha Womack who wrote Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-fi and Fantasy Culture. This book is a manifesto of the multifaceted manifestations of Afrofuturism. I printed new copies at the library and sold them for $1 each. I felt weird about selling them for money. While it was nice to have some benefit for the hours and hours I put into making the zine, it felt almost counter intuitive to be asking people to pay for this knowledge. I would much prefer to share my work with people I felt deserved it, whether or not they had the funds to buy it or not. I found myself not giving zines to people who really should have gotten one because I needed to find someone who had the $1 to give me.. I much prefer offering the zine as a trade, for another zine, patch, discussion etc.


Week 6

bootcamp bootleg

The proposes a way of approaching design in a way that is human-centered. This is different from many design approaches which have profit motives. The objective here is the advancement of interpersonal relationships as opposed to capital. Empathy is not physical but intuitive and emotional. Can we be truly empathetic when we are moving towards a goal that is to create a product? Do the financial intentions of the designers hinder the capacity for their empathy? Is this the same when the collaboration efforts are not intended to create capital? articulates the objectives of empathy work as such: • Uncover needs that people have which they may or may not be aware of •Guide innovation efforts •Identify the right users to design for •Discover the emotions that guide behaviors

The Define mode serves to create the POV. Define mode allows the designer to formulate their own perspective where as the empathy section focused on other people's perspective. Empathy establishes an understanding of the needs and interests for the people you are engaging with. The Define stage combines these needs with the interests of the designers to approach action in a meaningful way.

Prototyping is getting ideas manifested in a physical way. This can be as simple as sketching the idea out with pen and paper. A prototype represents progress and advancement towards a larger goal. Test would be the implementation of this larger goal. The test engages a community outside of the design space, where the prototype was created. The test is a more concrete continuation of the prototype, not a final product.

he camera study is an interesting way to approach strengthening one's empathy. Allowing the user to control the camera, they are providing a perspective the designer does not have. It is interesting that questions are designed to target the way the interviewee feels. Focusing on feelings and emotions is the key to being really empathetic. The text says, "Don't judge". It is impossible not to judge unless we are aware of our biases. Assessing those biases must be the first step.

An empathy map is broken up into four sections: SAY, DO, THINK, FEEL. The Think and Feel portions are speculative and assume a lot about the interviewee/user. Are we able to accurately interpret these complex feelings and thoughts through observing actions and listening to words? Is it too imposing to ask about the person's feelings and thoughts, or is this futile as they will never truly reveal them to us in full?

Another interesting point is that needs and verbs and solutions are nouns. Needs are changing and moving while solutions are finite and definitive. Asking why leads to general statements and asking how leads to specific statements.

"We bodystorm to create empathy in the context of possible solutions of prototyping." Can we really be empathetic through understanding one's physical place and condition? Is empathy even grounded in physicality or is it the feelings created by these conditions?

Is something empathetic if it is connecting you to users from a perspective that is not your own? There is a difference between collaboration and empathy, be it a fine line. Collaboration occurs when two or more people come together to create something that is influenced by each individual yet different than anything they would have created alone. Empathy is not goal oriented as prototyping is. Empathy is a process to understand another person's feelings. Collaboration falls flat without empathy yet a collaboration does not imply the presence of empathy. What is the line between connecting with others vs connecting to their feelings?

Design Thinking

The reading discusses design thinking, specifically invention that is human-centered. The text mentions Edison as mastering the intersection of "art, craft, science, business savvy, and an astute understanding of customers and markets. Design thinking is a lineal descendent of that tradition." The tradition here is a capitalist one. The designer or inventor is a business man whose objective is to present their ideas on the market. Thus, while their ideas are naturally inspired by human needs and desires, they are operating with a profit motive. Are their designs then really human-cantered with profit motives or profit centered with human motives?

An example of this is on page 2 when nursing staff shift changes are referred to as "innovation 'products'". Time is the "product" worth money in salary. Another place where the profit motive is alarming is on page 8 in the subsection clarifying the human centered approach. "Along with business and technology considerations, innovation should factor in human behavior, needs, and preferences." Business and technology allude to capital, progress, and development. Is it possible to have human-centered design plans that are also rooted in the advancement of capital which does not take the human component into consideration? The preferences and needs of the consumers are different than those of the producers. If moneymaking is the objective, how can the needs of the designer and user be equal? Is this really a mutual exchange?

On page 8 A Whole New Mind is referenced. "Abundance has satisfied, even-oversatisfied, the material needs of millions-boosting the significance of beauty and emotion and accelerating the individuals' need for meaning." While desire is a feeling and emotion can this really be equated with meaning? Beauty, emotion, and meaning are concepts that can be found in objects or triggered by them. But they are not intrinsically physical qualities. Materialism can increase one's awareness of what is possible through aesthetic inspiration. However, it is not possible satisfy one's emotional quest for beauty and meaning because these extend beyond physical forms that can be designed. Surplus and profit do not equate satisfaction or significance.


Relations in Public

The text defines how the individual operates in public space. People move as Vehicular Units or Participation Units. Vehicular concerns the individual's movement while Participation references the individual's social Vehicular Unit is defined as "a shell of some kind controlled (usually from within) by a human pilot or navigator." The word "shell" implies obedience whether this be a machine's obedience to a pilot or a human's obedience to rules. The text uses traffic laws as a metaphor for the regulation of motion. The purpose of these rules is to avoid collision and chaos.

Goffman writes, "The more protective the shell the more, on the whole, the unit is restricted to simple movements." The bigger the vehicle the less power the pilot has. Thus, the vehicle must have restricted movements for the pilot to stay in control. The text also refers to the individual pedestrian as pilot with "a soft and exposing shell, namely his clothes and skin." If "the more protective the shell" the more controlled the movements, then humans should have the ultimate freedom of movement. As individuals we are our own pilots. However, our freedom of direction is regulated by social rules. In the case of traffic, laws are in place to avoid collision and death. As drivers of bodies we are able to deviate from the set course without the same consequences we would have if we were machine drivers.

The freedom of direction extends to the way that different vehicular units move. Driving is usually from point A to point B. The driver's consciousness is concerned with the road before them and perhaps the other cars next to them. This is scanning area is referred to as an "elongated oval". Less attention is paid to the driver's surroundings, they are more focused on what is ahead of them and what is following them. A pedestrian does not necessarily move from point A to point B. There is the possibility to be a flaneur. Their scanning area would be a circle.

Communication between individuals happens through "critical sign" and an "establishment point". The "critical sign" is a signal from one individual to another relaying what they intend to do. The "establishment point" when a the mutual understanding between the two individuals of what is about to occur. Goffamn also mentions "externalization" as the process an individual uses to visually understand the other without verbal communication. This is scanning or clocking, the reading of one's body movements and physical attributes in order to understand the person's course of movement. By understanding the direction of the other "he becomes something to which they can adapt without loss of self-respect." Do we really lose "self-respect" if the other is unreadable?....

Participation Units are the way that individuals interact with other people as "interactional units". These are social structures as opposed to institutional or legal ones. People can either be "Singles" or "Withs", alone or in a group. Singles "make an effort to externalize a legitimate purpose and character that is, render proper facts about themselves easily readable". Singles are more conscious of the way that others view them and thus make more of an effort to make their intentions transparent. Withs have the other members of their party to fall back on. Individuals in a With get away with more because their actions are not associated with only them.

Goffman makes reference to women with no one to "claim her" or "respectable" females. Women do not have the freedom to operate as singles without being conscious of how others are reading them. This scanning has more serious social implications than it does for men. Men also have the freedom to be individuals even when they are in a With. Women are not individuals in a With but an extension of their companion.

A Manifesto for the Present

1) "Nostalgia for our past and utopian dream for our future prevents us from looking at our present." "Nostalgia" implies a desire to return to the past, missing what once was. "Utopia" implies a desire to move forward towards something that is unlikely to ever exist. These preoccupations with unachievable states, only accessed through memory or imagination, derails our attention from the reality of our everyday lives.

3) This point discusses the possibility of "knowledge" and "thought" no longer being connected. This results in "helpless slaves". Knowledge is understanding what has previously happened where as thought is the critical analysis of what is currently happening and the imagination of what could come next. They are wisdom and perception, one is not gained without the other. If we are unable to consciously unpack our present, our lives will be dictated by outside forces such as gadgets or governments. If we are unable to retain "knowledge" our histories will be erased and we are unable to learn from our pasts.

11)"We need to honor the Other within and the Other next door as much as we do the exotic Other that lives far away..." The Other is one that is unfamiliar or not assimilated to our home culture. This may be an ethnic "exotic Other" whose customs are different than ours. This can also be parts of ourselves or community that do not fit within the expectations of our society. These are scandalous qualities we attempt to hide in ourselves and disapprove of in others. While we exoticize the glamor of difference on vacation in a foreign country or its assimilation in material products, we are not able to deal with difference in our home communities and minds.

12) "The world already possess the dream of a time whose consciousness it must now possess in order to actually live it." Dreams are a reflection of our subconscious fears and desires. The faces we see in our dreams are real people we have encountered in our woken state. Thus, "the dream of a time" implies that our fantasies of a future cannot be disconnected from our present. Dreams are not separate from our woken state, as our subconsciousness and consciousness are connected. "The world" has seen a broad spectrum of human behavior. This history is humanities subconsciousness.

Week 8

Relational Aesthetics

Bourriaud defines Relational Aesthetics as "art that takes as its theoretical horizon the sphere of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an autonomous and private symbolic space". The "autonomous and private symbolic space" is referring to the traditional art space. This is a place that is specific and separated, creating very distinct interactions between people as they view the works in the context of the gallery space. Relational aesthetic is and "observation of the present", a direct reaction to the human interactions taking place in the given moment.

Bourriaud references the term interstice. Marx defined this word as communities that employed methods of trading alternative to capitalist monetary exchange. Interstice within the social sphere "suggests possibilities for exchanges other than those that prevail within the system." The intention here is to create exchanges outside of the ones we traditional experience in our everyday lives. Bourriaud considers the art space to be an interstice because it creates an interaction between the viewer-peice and viewer-viewer. The exchanges in these spaces run on their own "rhythm" of time. However, Art "being a human activity that is based upon commerce...its only function is to be exposed to that commerce." While at spaces break the pace of the everyday, they are "trading communities" that redefine value.

The Situationist's "constructed situation" is an act that aims to "replace artistic representation with the experimental realization of artistic energy in everyday environments." These exchanges are calling into question the "exchangeable time of labor" and "consumable time" which structure our lives within capitalist society. A "constructed situation" should operate outside of this structure and "representation" as a one dimensional facade.


Laurie Jo Reynolds

Laurie Jo Reynolds is a legislative artist from Atlanta, Georgia. In 2008 she began Tamms Year Ten, a coalition between artists, activists, prisoners, family members bringing awareness to the inhumane practices at Tamms C-MAX prison in Southern Illinois. Through political and artistic action Tamms Year Ten was able to convince the State of Illinois to close Tamms C-MAX in 2013. In 2013 Reynolds was awarded the Leonore Annenber Prize for Art and Social Change by Creative Time. [1]

Tamms Year Ten

TAMS C-MAX prison was a prison designed for total solitary confinement. It began in 1998 as an experiment designed to give prisoners a year long "shock". However, the prisoners' stay lasted for a decade. Tams year ten Creative Time [2]
Creative time Summit 2, On systems [3] 1:00-3:30

Capaign's organizing principles:
1. Let the men of tams speak for themselves to break the myths about superman prisoners
2.Every event had a political goal to ask for a concrete political action

volunteered w decision makers to build relationships !!

"As an artist with real world political goals, I needed to engage with government systems. Prison policies are made by governments so you turn to governments to change them. That's legislative art."

Taking Action [4]

Tamms Poetry Committee

1. Organizing mailings to send letters and poems to each man in Tamms.
2. Compiling testimony concerning solitary confinement and sensory deprivation.
3. Filling requests for books and poetry.
4. Collecting the names of people who need pen pals and trying to find writers.
5. Planning and coordinating events of the Year Ten campaign to publicize and protest the conditions at Tamms.

Photo Requests from Solitary 2009
What would a person in solitary confinement want to see? [5]

Photoville 2013 [6]

The photographs requested by Tamms inmates were shown in Photoville in 2013 at Pier Five in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photocell is a pop up space in New York City to show photography in repurposed shipping crates. The show was curated by Laurie Jo Reynold, Jeanine Oleson of Parsons The New School for Design, and Jean Casella of Solitary Watch. This was a collaboration between Tamms Year Ten, Parsons The New School for Design, Solitary Watch, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

Mud Stencils
Mud stencils in Madison, Wisconson outside of UW Library Mall 2009 13:00 Art v Activism

Space Ghost

Space Ghost is a 27 minute experimental video comparing prisoners to astronauts. Reynolds juxtaposes audio of prisoner's phone calls with imagery of astronauts and space travel to explore themes of isolation, physical deprivation, and villains/heroes.
Physical comparisons such as the close living quarters, the intensity of the immediate environment, and sensory deprivation soon give way to psychological ones: the isolation, the changing sense of time, and the experience of earth as distant, inaccessible and desirable. The analogy extends to media representations that hold astronauts and prisoners in an inverse relationship: the super citizen vs. the super-predator. Astronauts, ceaselessly publicized, are frozen in time and memory whereas prisoners, anonymous and ignored, age without being remembered.