Class of Love: Follow up

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Love is, Love is not, I remember when… // by Kate Hollett

If there is one thing clear from the Class of Love workshop held at Supermarkt, Berlin on April 14, it is that Berlin is an international collection of artists and thinkers. In a class of approx.. 25, the diversity of age and cultural concepts was apparent from the start. Over 80% of the class came from the arts, and the other 20% from the sciences. With 9 different countries represented, including Germany, USA, Canada, Brazil, Israel, Spain, Korea, Japan and Australia, and ages ranging from 20-60 yrs. old, discussion often reflected strongly felt opposing differences.

The first part of the workshop entailed personal reflections on love as an intellectual idea and a feeling, a memory of love. As part of the process, we looked at our media choices and the experience of media as an intermediary to emotional expression. What narratives of love does the class relate to? Where is the class connected in ideas and expression and what separated us? The class filled out the form and experienced saying “I Love You” to the camera as a starting ground for deconstructing love.

The results of the form were broken down into each specific area. Starting with ‘What is Love?’ How do you define love? According to the majority; Love is caring, attraction and affection. A few people pointed to self-love & acceptance, love as investment, love as an attitude and a biological fact, with one person suggesting it can be whatever you want it to be.

Memories of love where less varied with over 2/3 remembering family moments. Romantic moments ran second, followed by friendship and one person related to a personal moment in time rather than love involving another.

When it came to what was not love, the class went their separate ways with over 17 differencing opinions ranging from Hate, Anger, Violence, Fear, Guilt, Terror to Egotism, Attachment, Dehumanization, Obsession, Possession, and finally Discontentment, Apathy, Absence, Living counter intuitively and Settling in love. Biology was pointed to as both love and not love.

As the class came from different worlds often media reflected culture with several people listing linguistic favourites over mainstream media. The majority of media choices still come from Hollywood, with romantic stories of love trumping all. Love stories of lost love or self-love in the face of loss, came second with only a few relating to stories of family love.

When asked to upload an image that represented love to the class, the images showed a striking disconnect from thoughts and words. Over 50% of the class uploaded an image that was an object or objectified extension of love. For example, one photo was a meal on a bed. For the person who uploaded this, they told a story of connecting to their mother far away by sharing her dinner with her. Many used images of personal art or art that expressed a complex idea of love. Many images held private narratives only understood through explanation. Nature came second to personal object imagery. One person used an image that reflected loss and one person chose a image of family.

Discussion was lively and passionate with a clear line between women and men in the class. Often people would start talking in their mother tongue when frustrated; 2 German men and two Spanish women commented to each other when opposing voices became too loud. Images provided access to further insights through story telling. Some approached the topic intellectually and others spoke emotionally. The differences in attitude escalated the emotional output.

As an observer, it was fascinating to watch the process as people’s expressions and bodies during the experiments. Everyone was partnered with a stranger and asked to look into their partner’s eyes for a few minutes. The tension was thick when the one-minute mark was announced. Many people changed facial and body expressions starting with a polite smile to often to a drop in posture, sadness, and/or letting go, and then to one of welcoming warmth. It was very difficult to stop the experiment as the newly formed connections opened up conversation. Many people talked about the change and experience as both hard and moving at the same time. One notable experience came when one woman realized what her blocks were in love when faced with shared intimacy in the experiment.

With little time to cover the science, sociology, philosophy of love, knowledge bases were condensed into brief summaries so that conversations could be continued. Media was covered as a form of communication and connection, looking at the ways digital technology was changing our emotional expression.

The class went overtime and many mentioned being leery of a 4 hr. commitment only to feel that they wanted more, wishing it was a full day.

For me as an Interdisciplinary artist, it was social art adding to the social sculpture that is the “I Love You’ project; a continuously morphing connection of the experience of love with each definition and expression adding to the meaning of love. The process is educational adding to the research of the School of Thinking and Feeling (tsotf.com) and creating a form of emotional education. Can love be learned? Love is a collection of ideas and feelings that crosses boundaries of family, nationality, religion, identity, at the same time, love creates it’s own boundaries based on survival.

If Berlin is a city full of artists and thinkers, then the message that is uniquely Berlin is the visual depth of meaning in imagery. Ideas are manifestations of story-tellers rather than empathetic audience members.

Want to be part of the process? Take the quiz; fill out the form. Add an image of love, tell share your favourite love stories/movies/songs here. What is love? Add your voice.

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The Class of Love Workshop Video here: http://youtu.be/lJ8jE0INXVw

“Gemeinschaftlich gestalten statt konsumieren!”

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Im Interview mit den Netzpiloten spricht die freie Kuratorin und Produzentin Ela Kagel über ihr Projekt SUPERMARKT und die damit verbundenen Herausforderungen. // von Gina Schad

Auf der ganztägigen Veranstaltung “Komplizen”, organisiert vom SUPERMARKT und der Berliner Gazette, sprachen wir mit der freien Kuratorin und Produzentin Ela Kagel über das Projekt SUPERMARKT, das sie vor drei Jahren in Berlin mitbegründet hat. Für sie ist es keineswegs ausgemacht, dass solch ein Projekt zum Selbstläufer wird. Ihrer Ansicht nach bräuchten wir mehr solche Veranstaltungen wie „Komplizen“: Angebote, die Hemmschwellen gegenüber der digitalen Kultur abbauen, und die auch ein heterogenes Publikum ansprechen.

Gina Schad: Wer bist du und was machst du?

Ela Kagel: Mein Name ist Ela Kagel. Ich bin freie Kuratorin und Produzentin und habe vor 3 Jahren den SUPERMARKT mitgegründet. Ich arbeite hauptsächlich an der inhaltlichen Gestaltung des Ortes und stelle mit meinem Team ein monatlich wechselndes Programm zusammen. Davor habe ich mit verschiedenen Festivals und Organisationen an Veranstaltungen rund um digitale Kultur gearbeitet, beispielsweise mit dem transmediale Festival oder Public Art Lab in Berlin.

Wie ist die Idee des SUPERMARKTS entstanden?

Ela Kagel: Nachdem ich für die transmediale die “Open Zone” entwickelt hatte, ein Experimentierfeld für Themen & Aktionen rund um Open Source-Kultur, wollte ich das Experiment gern an einem eigenen Ort weiterführen. Den leerstehenden, ehemaligen Supermarkt in der nördlichen Brunnenstraße haben meine beiden Gründungspartner und ich dann zufällig entdeckt. Uns gefiel die Idee sofort: einen Supermarkt umzuwidmen zu einem Ort, an dem gemeinsam gearbeitet, geforscht und diskutiert wird. Also: gemeinschaftlich gestalten statt konsumieren. Der Name lag dann natürlich auf der Hand, da mussten wir nicht lange nachdenken.

Mit welchen Herausforderungen wurdest du im Laufe deiner Arbeit als Kuratorin konfrontiert?

Ela Kagel: Die größte Herausforderung bei solchen Unternehmungen ist die Tatsache, dass man sich kopfüber in etwas stürzt ohne vorher wissen zu können, was sich alles auftut an Tatsachen, Widerständen und vor allem an Komplexität. Natürlich haben wir ein Konzept ausgearbeitet, und vieles hat sich auch genau in die Richtung entwickelt, wo wir konzeptionell hinwollten. Aber vieles ist einfach auch über uns hereingebrochen, und wir haben es geschehen lassen oder mitgeholfen, die Dinge in eine Richtung zu entwickeln, die zu uns und dem Ort passte. Deswegen weiß ich auch nicht, ob der Begriff der “Kuratorin” meine Arbeit der letzten 3 Jahre zutreffend beschreibt. Ich suche eigentlich noch immer eine passende Jobbeschreibung dafür. Es ist vermutlich irgendwas mit “Führen, aber auch offen sein für Entwicklungen von außen, Programme gestalten, aber auch seine eigenen Präferenzen wiederholt hinterfragen und Struktur sowie Chaos so zu vereinen, dass ein Ort wie der SUPERMARKT lebendig bleiben kann.” Hm, macht das Sinn?

Wie lange hat es gedauert, all die Menschen an diesen wunderbaren Ort zu bringen?

Ela Kagel: Das dauert noch immer an. Ein Prozess, der vermutlich nie abgeschlossen sein wird. Die Tatsache, dass die Menschen heute da sind, heißt noch lange nicht, dass sie auch morgen wiederkommen werden. Das ist etwas, was immer in Bewegung ist. Und das wird nie selbstverständlich sein.

Du interessierst dich für digitale Kultur. Mit welchen Künstlern durftest du als Kuratorin bereits zusammenarbeiten?

Ela Kagel: Oh, da gibt es viele großartige Menschen, von denen ich viel gelernt habe und bis heute lerne. Wenn ich jetzt einzelne herauspicke, dann tue ich vielen anderen Unrecht, die auch genannt werden sollten. Aber es gibt bis heute ein paar enge Partnerschaften, wie mit dem Team der Berliner Gazette, dem reSource Netzwerk, Leuten wie Stephen Kovats, der bei uns im Studio 3 seine Agentur r0g_media aufbaut, den Leuten von OuiShare, dem Team der EU Freelancer Bewegung, und dann natürlich ein paar Events, die mir persönlich ganz wichtig waren wie der “Female Perspective Abend”, bei dem wir inspirierende Frauen aus der Berliner Medienszene vorgestellt haben oder der Abend mit Trebor Scholz im vergangenen November. Und wir lernen auch sehr viel von den engagierten Frauen von Förderband e.V. und überhaupt allen, die hier in der direkten Nachbarschaft etwas bewegen.

Was erhoffst du dir von der heutigen Veranstaltung “Komplizen”?

Ela Kagel: Einen guten, professionellen Austausch zwischen Aktivisten, Forschern, Organisationen und allen, die sich für das Thema interessieren. Das Wertvollste ist für mich immer, wenn es zu einem Gespräch kommt, bei dem verschiedene Standpunkte und verschiedene Zugänge zum Thema debattiert werden können und eine persönliche Verbindung entsteht. Das ist der Garant, dass sich die einzelnen TeilnehmerInnen auch nach so einer Konferenz noch zusammensetzen und gemeinsame Aktionen planen.

Welches sind die langfristigen Ziele für den SUPERMARKT?

Ela Kagel: Wir hoffen, dass unsere Arbeit als Kuratoren immer mehr in den Hintergrund rückt und der Ort verstärkt von verschiedenen Bewegungen und Gruppierungen als Basis definiert und eingenommen wird. Wir freuen uns, wenn unsere BesucherInnen ein gutes, anspruchsvolles Programm im SUPERMARKT mitgestalten. Nur so kann es auch langfristig eine Vielfalt und einen lebendigen Austausch im SUPERMARKT geben.

Brauchen wir deiner Ansicht nach mehr solche Veranstaltungen in Berlin? Und wenn ja – warum?

Ela Kagel: Wir brauchen viele solcher Veranstaltungen, zu denen sich auch ein heterogenes Publikum hin traut: wir wollen ja nicht nur die Nerds, die technischen SupercheckerInnen oder irgendeine digitale Elite ansprechen, sondern gerade auch diejenigen, die voller Fragen zu solchen Veranstaltungen kommen. Leute, die etwas beitragen können und wollen, aber noch nicht genau wissen, wie. Die Herausforderung ist, genau so ein Publikum abzuholen und die Menschen zu aktivieren, statt sie durch ein Zuviel an Exklusivität abzuschrecken.

Photo: Andi Weiland/Berliner Gazette (CC BY 2.0)

Performing the Media launched at Supermarkt on April 3rd.

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Net.Specific launch event at Supermarkt. Photo Morten Westermann/ Oncotype

Performing the Media is the second exhibition in the framework of Net.Specific, which is the platform for internet art from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde (DK). This exhibition deals with how identity can be constructed in online space and through the tools that the net gives the artists and users to work with. The exhibition frames a broad understanding of the topic and how personal representation takes different shapes, with the web functioning as a transformative and critical space for action. The exhibition was launched at an event at Supermarkt on April 3rd.

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Tobias Leingruber’s FB Resistance Workshop at Supermarkt April 3rd. Photo Morten Westermann/ Oncotype

The launch event started in the afternoon with the FB Resistance Workshop hosted by artist and internet activist Tobias Leingruber. This three hour workshop was divided into three parts, where Leingruber first introduced his own artistic practice, then the technology used to make the hacks and in the last part the participants tried this out in practice and created their own small interventions. Leingruber is in general very critical towards social media and works with the possibility for the user to gain more control over his/her own individual use of these services.

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Martine Neddam presenting My Desktop Life. Photo Morten Westermann/ Oncotype

The evening program started with an introduction to the Net.Specific project, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the exhibition by curator Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen. After this presentation, artist Martine Neddam introduced her new project My Desktop Life, which is a CMS Tool in development for the public to create their own narratives through alternative self-representation online.

Neddam gave examples of how to use this tool in practice and also showed films created with the tool. Additionally she also brought with her the programmer James Hudson. He introduced shortly how the system was created and the technical sides of the project.

In today’s overflow of tools and sites for self-expression, Neddam’s My Desktop Life creates a more illustrative and poetic, non-profit alternative to the well-known sites for self-publishing. The project centers around how difficult it is to find a visual identity, how this can differ into various ways of representation. The project also encapsulates how different contextualizations and visual combinations can create new spaces of communication and intimacy for the users.

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Tobias Leingruber presenting Social ID Bureau. Photo Morten Westermann/ Oncotype

The last presenter of the evening was Tobias Leingruber. He gave an introduction to his FB Resistance Workshop that had taken place in the afternoon. Leingruber also gave examples of his way of performing the media, including introducing his project Social ID Bureau, which is exhibited in the Net.Specific framework.

Social ID Bureau was actually an offspring of the resistance workshops and started as a performance series, where the first was held at Supermarkt in March 2012, where Leingruber made physical ID cards for the visitors. For the Performing the Media exhibition, the project website is shown with documentation and a generator. The site documents the cards that have been generated, where it is still possible to generate and print you own Social ID Card.

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Johannes P Osterhoff: The Map Is Not The Territory. Photo Morten Westermann/ Oncotype

In the Supermarkt space was additionally projected a remote performance by Johannes P. Osterhoff: The Map Is Not The Territory. In this new performance piece Osterhoff deals with alternative representations of tracking and location. These are shown via randomly distributed map tiles, showing Osterhoff’s real-time location. This creates a distributed and networked presence of the artist in the event space.

Visit Net.Specific and the Performing The Media exhibition on: netspecific.net

The exhibition is a project from Museum of Contemporary Art and is coordinated and curated by Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen

Follow-up post Capturing the Buzz

Documentation

A month and a half after the workshop Creating and Documenting in Templates I am thinking back about the gathering in SUPERMARKT and the preceding weeks of exchange and preparation. It is a while ago. Maybe the insights and memories have watered down a bit. But I don’t think that is a pity. Time has filtered out what is important and what is not.

In the months before the workshop Gretchen and I had been messaging and Skyping intensively. We were engaged about the subject – we kept discovering texts, art works, approaches – but our ideas where still very abstract. ‘Templated platforms’, ‘the transition from analog to digital’, what does it mean to us personally? Sure, those topics are contemporary and they should be discussed. But do they really influence our very personal ways of capturing the course of our lives? Only in the last days before the workshop, when we spent a lot of time together in Berlin, we figured out what we were really concerned about. We thought the words ‘Aufmerksamkeit’, or ‘attentiveness’ should be at the heart of the discussion. How to stay attentive when the tools you use try to lure you into a state of diffusion and indifferent consumption? It turned out that all the materials we gathered fitted this question perfectly.

On the afternoon of February 28 we gathered with ten people in the workshop space of SUPERMARKT. As an introduction we read two short texts. The first is a fragment from Marshall Mcluhans famous Understanding New Media. It recalls a story of Tsu-Kung, a pupil of Confucius. During his travels he encounters a man who irrigates his garden in a very primitive way. Tsu-Kung suggests using a technique that would make the work less laborious.

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We discussed how the structure and logic of the internet influences our behavioral patterns. When working with the internet, do we act according to the features of the internet? (hasty, transient, nonlinear…?)

The second is something I thought of when preparing the workshop at home: an excerpt from a column by the Dutch writer Kees Fens from the 1980s. It is a manifest against page flipping – the analog browsing. Fens deliberately permits himself to get lost in this sin, a decicion that burdens him with an intense hangover. This is ironical: aren’t books associated with peace, focus and attention these days? We wondered how much of our energy is lost in absent minded swiping and browsing our devices. And subsequently how much of our creative energy is lost in the use of these devices and their distracting platforms as tools.

These introductions were meant as triggers, and they did their work. Gretchen and I had the pleasant experience of moderating an enthusiatic discussion without teaching. A remarkable outcome of the discussion was, to our delight, that the digital nomad has found ways to cope with the distractions of the internet. The participants were quite self assured that they could use the advantages of their computers, tablets, smart phones etc. while keeping a pleasant rhythm of attentiveness and relaxation.

In the extension of these observations we looked into the arrangement of online information. We read a text by American media scholar Lev Manovich, Data Stream, Database, Time Line, which explains the prevailing modes of data structuring during the short history of the internet. The data stream, applied by most contemporary social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, instagram), pushes ‘old news’ down, suggesting a temporal hierarchy of information. A timeline is a data stream which aims at capturing the important turns in ones life: you can scroll back to your graduation, your entrance into school and finally even your birth. We observed that social media platforms increasingly structure data chronologically and lineary. The Facebook, which started as a virtual yearbook where personal memorabilia were captures on a ‘home page’ now offers a passively enjoyed overview of the year in a sequence of pictures. Where does this longing for linearity come from? Is it in our human nature? Is hypertext too confusing when digital media become part of all our daily activities?

After discussing a sequence of artworks and internet phenomena that play with documentation, platforms, analog and digital (have a look at them here: http://docuworkshop.tumblr.com/links%20and%20reading) we proceeded to a short practical documentation exercise. The participants headed into the neighborhood for 45 minutes of documenting, with a small notebook and of course their mobile devices. The resulting projects share one thing: they are explorations of the unknown Wedding. Small antropoligical investigations, in a respectful way. Katerina and Michelle counted shoe types at the entrance of Kaisers Supermarkt, and made a humble beginning to a sociologic interpretation of their findings. Mario explored a foreign culture which is right in front of the door: the ‘Vulkan Stern Automatencasino’. Fabia and Dennis produced an amazingly detailed and witty photo reportage of stuff that people wear in their hands in Brunnenstrasse. Ela descended into the no mans land caused by gentrification: the gloomy ruin of an apartement block accros the street. It is left unobserved and being ripped empty by groups of men with mini vans. Fritzi made a set of associative sketches based on words and objects that she encountered in Brunnenstrasse.

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In retrospect I can say that myself (and Gretchen) learned a lot from the workshop and the weeks of preparation. I would hope that the participants feel the same. Documentation is a vital part of my work and off my life. It is very valuable to take the effort to think over, study and discuss its current appearances and what it could become. I really liked to see the small documentation projects that were made up and executed within one hour. For a future session I would propose devoting more attention to the practical part of the workshop. It would be nice to put more emphasis on the actual experience and documentation of everyday urban surroundings. As a workshop leader I want to develop clearer ideas about accompanying these explorations. Further it would be interesting to work on the processing of the objets trouvés. In this workshop we did not have time to make them into a finished product and find it an (on- or offline) home. We will continue exchanging documentations, texts and materials and search for new forms of collective learning.

We document the workshop and the process on docuworkshop.tumblr.com

The Study of Love: Drugs, Photographs & Philosophy

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On Sunday 13th April The Class of Love will take place at SUPERMARKT, hosted by artist and academic Kate Hollett. In this second part of a two-part blogpost she discusses the theory, practice and personal story behind this event.

Love is a Drug

To look at the brain and the effects on the body when we are in love, Psychiatrist Hector Sebelly studied 33 people who were happily attracted to a significant other. All participants told Sebelly that they were feeling great. All were found to have high levels of the PEA (phenethylamine) metabolite in their brains and urine too. He concluded that people in love produced hormones that made them ‘feel’ good. (Fisher. 66). Dr. Lucy Brown and Dr. Fisher confirmed the results based on MRI scans, that high levels of hormones were present when seeing “image” of someone they loved.

In a group of experiments, Dr. Lucy Brown, a professor in the department of neurology and neuroscience at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and her colleagues did MRI brain scans on college students who were in the throes of new love.
While being scanned, the students looked at a photo of their beloved. The scientists found that the caudate area of the brain – which is involved in cravings – became very active. Another area that lit up: the ventral tegmental, which produces dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter that affects pleasure and motivation.

Dr. Brown said scientists believe that when you fall in love, the ventral tegmental floods the caudate with dopamine. The caudate then sends signals for more dopamine. “The more dopamine you get, the more of a high you feel,” Dr. Brown says. Or as her colleague, Dr. Helen Fisher put it: When you fall in love, “exactly the same system becomes active as when you take cocaine. You can feel intense elation when you’re in love. You can feel intense elation when you’re high on cocaine.” (Cohen, cnn.com). In both cases, regardless of the physical presence of a loved one or a picture, the same effect happened in the brain.

My “I Love You” project research reveals a connection to our emotions through the use of media – words and pictures. Seeing and hearing someone say “I Love You” “feels” good regardless of a physical connection suggesting a separation of mind and body in emotional connection. This is similar to findings by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (Grohol/Master et al.). In the past, data has proven that the mere presence of a loved one – a partner, family member or friend – can help reduce one’s subjective experience of physical pain (for instance, during a medical procedure), versus experiencing similar pain to a greater degree while alone. The researchers wondered whether this would have the same effect if it were only a picture of a loved one?

The results proved that seeing photographs of loved ones may prime associated mental representations of being loved and supported, which may be sufficient to attenuate pain experience. The findings suggest that bringing loved ones’ photographs to painful procedures may be beneficial particularly if those individuals cannot be there. (Grohol/Master). In fact, because loved ones vary in their ability to provide support, photographs may, in some cases, be more effective than in-person support. (Grohol)

Love is a powerful thing. It is felt in an image.

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Caption: Family

“Where is fancy bred, in the heart or in the head?” - Shakespeare

Love and Philosophy

How do we “think” about love?

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Caption: 385 BC – Plato publishes the Symposium in which Phaedrus, Eryixmachus, Aristophanes and other Greek intellectuals argue that love between males is the highest form.

In philosophical, social and psychological terms, love is deconstructed into ways of loving. In an interview in the documentary entitled “Derrida” 2002 by Kirk Dirby and Amy Zierling Kofman, French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, talks about love in this way: “Is love the love of someone or of some thing?” “Do I love someone for the abso¬lute singularity of who they are? I love you because you are you. Or do I love you be-cause of your qualities, your beauty, your intelligence? Does one love someone or love something about someone? The difference between the who and the what are at the heart of love that separates the heart.” (“Derrida”). Derrida differentiates between unconditional love and conditions, by separating the concept of love into the abstract as in “qualities” and love in physical terms of an individual.

Slavic philosopher Slavoj Žižek believes love is unconditional and grounded in realistic belief of an absolute. In “Examined Life”, (Astra Taylor) He talks about our separation to our world in terms of ecology, if we truly love others, and ourselves we need to love our world in the same way. We know that we face insurmountable dangers, yet we are able to continue enjoying the very lifestyle that has created it.

We are separate, disconnected from the fact that we profit from disaster, pointing to oil as a natural resource that comes from the sledge of ‘dead life’. He suggests that we don’t need more connection to our natural world but that we need more alienation so that we may be motivated to work on ideas of survival from a more realistic place. He suggests finding poetry, spirituality from this new age of abstract dimension, accepting our disconnections; for example, loving substances like trash to show true love for the world.

“What is Love? Love is not idealisation… If you really love a woman or a man, then you don’t idealise him or her. Love is that you accept a person, for all its [their] failures, stupidities, and none the less, the person is absolute for you, everything that makes life worth living. You see perfection in imperfec¬tion itself, and that is how we should love the world.” (Žižek, “Examined Life”)

Both Derrida and Žižek point to a separation of matter. Who (the person or world) or what (ideas of love or characteristics) do we love? Žižek believes we need to embrace imperfection, yet with the Internet, choice has enabled the “what” of love to become more predominant. We can choose from literally millions of people to “connect” with, so qualities that we love can be found in many people not just one. We can find what we love theoretically bringing us to the question of “who do we love?”

Why limit it? We are learning to love outside of traditional ideas of partnership and possibly expanding the way we define love in the 21st century to include many in a shared global existence.

“Turn your love around” - George Benson

On Sunday 13th April The Class of Love will take place at SUPERMARKT. Hosted by artist and academic Kate Hollett, this workshop focuses on exploring love as it is projected and expressed in the arts, sciences and communication. For more info on the event and registration: supermarkt-berlin.net/event/class-of-love

Main image: Happy Pills shop, Barcelona. Photo by Kate Hollett

Komplize Post Snowden

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Ein Blogpost über KOMPLIZEN von Gregor Sedlag. 

Am Sonntag, den 6. April war ich zur Workshop-Veranstaltung KOMPLIZEN der »Berliner Gazette« im SUPERMARKT eingeladen. Die »Berliner Gazette« hat einmal 1999 als Mini-Feuilleton in Form eines E-Mail-Newsletter begonnen und agiert so geschickt unterm Radarschirm der Medienöffentlichkeit, dass es zu ihr nicht einmal ein Wikipedia-Eintrag existiert.

Dafür entwickeln Magdalena Taube und Krystian Woznicki mit ihren Mitstreitern von der »Berliner Gazette« aber immer wieder bemerkenswerte Konferenzen und Formate, wie z. B. Anfang diesen Jahres die viel beachtete Veranstaltung »Einbruch der Dunkelheit« in der Berliner Volksbühne: einbruch-der-dunkelheit.de

Eine Besonderheit der Redaktionsarbeit der »Berliner Gazette« sind ihre Jahresthemen, bei denen sie sich mit langem Atem Themen und Inhalten jenseits des Mainstream-Journalismus verschreiben. »Complicity« – für das deutsche Ohr sehr unvertraut, weil es »Komplizenschaft« bedeutet – war ihr Jahresthema für 2013. »KOMPLIZEN – Workshops & Public Talks« vom letzten Wochenende knüpfte daran an, indem es auch als Launch-Plattform für eine Buchveröffentlichung bei iRights.Media zum Thema »Complicity« diente: irights-media.de/publikationen/komplizen

»KOMPLIZEN – Partner, die eigentlich gar nicht miteinander können, weil sie so ungleich scheinen«

Ich bin bisher noch nicht überzeugt, ob das unter »Complicity« verhandelte Organisationsprinzip der temporär miteinander kooperierenden Ungleichen wirklich ein neues Bild auf das Weltgewirke und -gewebe ergibt. Als Socialising-Plattform für potentielle Komplizenschaft funktioniert es aber gut.

So hatte ich mich in den Workshop »Das Netz nach Snowden: Wie sollte es gebaut sein?« einbringen wollen und war dort auch von vertrauten Menschen wie lizvlx (ubermorgen) und Moderator Pit Schultz (reboot.fm) umgeben. Was mich an der zusammen mit Pit Schultz von Michael Krömer (Think Fabric) sehr ruhig und zielgeführten Gesprächsführung erfreut hat, war eine nach über vielen Monaten der Enthüllungen zu Tage tretende unideologische Nüchternheit eines konstruktiven Post-Snowden’schen Netzbewusstseins.

Die durch Snowden erfolgte Erkenntnis-Schock über die wahren Machtverhältnisse des irrtümlich fünfzehn Jahre als utopisch-emanzipative Freiheitssphäre gefeierten Netzes, war in unseren Planspielen über globale Mindeststandards im Netz schon eingepreist. Die Idee gegen die Überwachungsmacht der Supermächte frontal anzurennen spielte in den Überlegungen der Gruppe keine Rolle. Unser Ansatz war eher der einer zivilgesellschaftliche Einhegung und einer nur langfristig wirksamen Strategie der Marginalisierung des militärisch-informationellen Überwachungskomplexes.

Das wir in der abschließenden Plenumsrunde aller Workshop-Gruppen mit diesen Aktionsüberlegungen nicht mit Constanze Kurz, Sprecherin des Chaos Computer Club, übereinkommen würden, war wenig überraschend. Aus Perspektive der an der Frontlinie kämpfenden Aktivistin mögen unsere Vorschläge weich gespült klingen. Das von Constanze angeführte Gegenmodell einer »Crypto-Resistance« ist meines Erachtens keine befriedigende Alternative.

Von den praktischen Hindernissen zu ihrer Durchsetzung auf Massenbasis einmal abgesehen, die mit einigen der von den NSA-Machenschaften auch nicht erfreuten Webgroßdienstleistern sicherlich durchsetzbar wäre, ist der Ruf nach »Crypto for the masses« nur auf der in Strafprozessen wirksamen Seite der gerichtsfesten Beweissicherung eine Bank. Das ist jedoch noch nie das Geschäft von Nachrichtendiensten gewesen. Ihre »Kill descisions« werden außerhalb der Strafgerichtsordnung gefällt und im weltweiten Drohnenkrieg der Vereinigten Staaten auch exekutiert.

Uns so kennt auch der CCC die Antwort auf die Frage: »Wer hast uns verraten?« Die Metadaten.

Alles weitere zu KOMPLIZEN hier bei der Berliner Gazette: berlinergazette.de/feuilleton/jahresthemen/komplizen

Photo: Andi Weiland | berlinergazette.de (CC)

What’s the big deal about Mindfulness?

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SUPERMARKT presents a Mindfulness and Meditation Workshop on Monday 14 April from 6-8pm, in collaboration with The Peace Revolution.

It’s a busy world. We go to sleep thinking about plans for the next day, while having lunch with a friend we’re texting someone else, as we exercise we prepare the argument we are going to make during our next team meeting. We might call this efficiency, but the downside is that the ‘now’ – the present moment – dissolves, and we function most of the time on auto-pilot without acknowledging our thoughts and feelings, and without enjoying the experiences of the present.

The pressure to succeed, the desire to be the best, the constant yearning for love, happiness and acceptance; we’ve all been confronted with and still we strive to achieve them though in reality it might be the quest for the impossible. The practice of mindfulness and meditation helps us become the best version of our selves, acknowledge and indulge in the most of the present moment.

Mindfulness, as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, means “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Welcoming mindfulness and meditation in your life implies boosting your happiness by practicing acceptance and letting go of negative emotions. By practicing acceptance of your experience during meditation, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way throughout the day.

Research has shown that mindfulness reduces stress, increases attention, creativity and productivity, develops self-awareness, improves sleep and lowers blood pressure. In daily life, this translates into being able to master your emotions even in the most challenging situations. In both professional and personal contexts, mindfulness helps you improve your leadership skills, build self-confidence and master the discussion by putting pertinent arguments on the table, in a positive and constructive way. Through the regular practice of mindfulness and meditation, inner joy builds in time on equanimity, defined as the evenness of mind especially under stress or when dealing with a difficult situation. What this means is that you will be able to feel joy without relying on external factors or empirical senses to produce pleasure or validation of the ego.

On a professional level, it means that you no longer perceive power, wealth and success as mandatory. Being set free of the desire to succeed does not mean that you are less focused or not as much eager to perform at your best. It just means that your intrinsic motivation prevails and helps you carry out your work of the desire to achieve great things and attain outstanding results not out of the need of external validation from your boss. A professional that performs exceptionally and doesn’t feel the need to compete and harm others on his way to success greatly inspires the ones around him.

Cultivating mindfulness makes one become more compassionate. At this point the focus shifts quickly from “me” to “we”. Being able to see the greater picture and integrate your work and your contribution in it without ego makes you a better and more compassionate leader. You become interested not only in the best outcome for you, but also in the impact that you have on the world and how it could contribute to the well-being of others. In summary, practicing mindfulness and meditation increases your intuition and reinforces your connection with your true potential. By gaining this clarity of thought, defining your life goals and the way to achieve them become much easier. Plus, you are happier along the way.

With this information to mindfulness, you are invited to a special workshop at SUPERMARKT on 14 April at 18:00, organised in collaboration with Peace Revolution. A Buddhist monk will lead the workshop and you will gain insight into how to enhance your creativity and productivity, work better, be more focused and develop better relationships on a personal and professional level. You will also have the opportunity to find out more about the scholarships Peace Revolution offers for two weeks mindfulness and meditation retreats in Thailand, Europe, Latin America and Africa.

Join the Mindfulness and Meditation Workshop at SUPERMARKT on Monday 14 April at 6pm. The number of places is limited, so please register your attendance on Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/1gukl53.

The Study of Love: From the Personal to the Scientific

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On Sunday 13th April The Class of Love will take place at SUPERMARKT, hosted by artist and academic Kate Hollett. In this blogpost she discusses the theory, practice and personal story behind this event.

What exactly is love?

To begin, Wikipedia describes it this way: The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to intense interpersonal attraction (“I love my wife”). “Love” can also refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros (cf. Greek words for love), to the emotional closeness of familial love, or to the platonic love that defines friendship, to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love.  This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.

An abstract word, love can mean something different to almost everyone. Love can be understood in ways that far outreach our bodies, like spirituality, it is an energy force yet in physical terms, we feel it in our bodies. Love connects us to each other and our world, and many would say we need it to survive.

How do we (individually and collectively) define love? What shapes our definitions?  What part does media play in this definition? How do we communicate love? How is science informing love? How does art and culture reflect and inform our ideas of love?  And ultimately, how do we communicate love in a world increasingly connected digitally?

“The moment we indulge our affections, the earth is metamorphosed.” — Emerson

In the Beginning… 

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Image: ’I Love You Simply‘ by Kate Hollett

Throughout my career as an artist, and even before this, in my career in design and advertising, I have studied the concept of emotions and communication. How do we feel and express love? How does this affect our relationship to each other and ourselves?

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways.”  — Elizabeth Robert Browning

My mother was dying of Leukemia. I wanted to understand what the meaning of love was, after losing the one person in the world who truly gave me unconditional love. Who was I without that love in my life and what ultimately was love, what did it mean? Her death also was the catalyst for my decision to become a full time artist. I wanted her to know how much I loved her, and I wanted to understand what her loss would mean. I was scared. At the same time, I wanted to surround her with love as she faced death.

I started working with the words “I Love You”. With paint and the text, I created a form of visual language to deconstruct the different ways I felt love and the various forms of meaning the word love could mean in a relationship of two. This work included using various forms of technique and colour in paint, and visually using the text to create meaning. There were works titled “I Love You in the Summer”, “I Love You in the Winter”, “I Love You to Death”, “I Love You Freely”, “I Love You in the 50’s”, “I Love You Simply”, “I Love You, is it OK?” and “I Love You Still” to name a few. The work deconstructed the meaning of this phrase, breaking it down into individual components with the hope of redefining meaning.

“What we feel and how we feel depends to a large part on language and images. Emotions may support or constrain our language acquisition; contrariwise language competencies influence our emotional communication abilities.” — Language of Emotions website homepage, Frei Universität, Berlin

The more I opened up to the idea of love, the more I had to work with. There were many ways to mean “I Love You” and feel love. With over forty canvases completed, I realised that there was so much more to be understood. The work provoked responses from the viewer, with people sharing their ideas of love and offering up different titles as candidates for creation.

This was no longer a personal search but a social interaction. I was limited by my own interpretations. What was once a personal search for answers about the meaning of love became a door that opened up to an endless quest for a universal meaning. Research went from poetry, theatre, music, film and scientific data to history, anthropology and much in between.

The Science of Love

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The study of love is a relatively new science with few experts. It is hard to find much beyond an ocean of self-help advice. Anthropological study focuses on heterosexual relationships and drives much neuroscience research. Can this research be applied to other forms of love relationships? I leave it up to the reader to decide how the research affects their relationship.

What happens to us when we fall in love? Dr. Fisher tracked the brain and monitored body chemistry levels in clinical tests to see what happens when we are aroused, when we fall in love and when we are in a long-term love relationship.

  • Lust: driven by androgens and estrogens, the craving for  sexual gratification.
  • Attraction: driven by high dopamine and norepinephrine levels and low serotonin, romantic or passionate love, characterised by euphoria when things are going well, terrible mood swings when they’re not, focused attention, obsessive thinking, and intense craving for the individual.
  • Attachment: driven by the hormones oxytocin and vaso pressin, the sense of calm, peace, and stability one feels with a long-term partner.

Recently science has been able to track the process revealing the speed and direction data travels when we fall in love. Dr. Fisher, anthropologist and author of Why We Love – the Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, goes on to say; there are chemical reactions that go off in our brain very quickly when we find a possible love partner often far faster than our rational mind can process. She theorises that concepts like ‘love at first sight’ as plausible. According to Dr. Fisher, love is one of the most primal physical forces of our survival. Dr Fisher points to the idea that romantic love is not an emotion but a basic primal condition — it’s a drive that’s based deep within our brains, right alongside our urges to find food and water (Cohen, cnn.com).

Nature vs. Nurture

Human beings have multiplied across the planet making over population and depleting natural resources a real threat to the future. Statistically we are living more healthy and longer lives. Our rate of survival has increased dramatically over the last 100 years. Fear of death is less a factor of living yet so much of society is driven by fear. We don’t need love to survive as we once did in a primitive sense; still, it is the basis of our existence. Reproduction is no longer a factor for the survival of humankind. Seeds have been sown and the crops have multiplied. If love is not required to ensure our survival through reproduction; then why do we love? Is the definition of love evolving paralleling a natural evolution process? Is love some kind of addiction, or do we actually need love to survive?

On Sunday 13th April The Class of Love will take place at SUPERMARKT. Hosted by artist and academic Kate Hollett, this workshop focuses on exploring love as it is projected and expressed in the arts, sciences and communication.

For more info on the event and registration: supermarkt-berlin.net/event/class-of-love

Feature image: LOVE, an iconic Pop Art image by American artist Robert Indiana. The original image, with green and blue spaces backing red lettering, served as a print image for a Museum of Modern Art Christmas card in 1964.

Internet nach Snowden mit berlinergazette.de

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Edward Snowden hat nicht nur Überwachungs- und Spionagepraktiken von Geheimdiensten enthüllt, sondern dadurch auch die Wahrnehmung des Internet grundlegend verändert. Medientheoretiker und Berliner Gazette-Autor Felix Stalder wagt eine Bestandsaufnahme.

Nach Edward Snowdens Enthüllungen scheint klar: Normale Alltagskommunikation wird fast vollständig von den Geheimdiensten aufgezeichnet. Dabei ist keine Informationsquelle zu banal, Computerspiele, ja sogar Spiele wie Angry Birds scheinen ausgewertet zu werden. Die oftmals betonte Unterscheidung zwischen den Inhalten der Kommunikation und den Metadaten, die die Kommunikation beschreiben, ist im Hinblick auf die Überwachungseffizienz weitgehend irrelevant.

Das Arsenal von Möglichkeiten, das den Geheimdiensten zu Verfügung steht, geht aber weit darüber hinaus und ermöglicht, mit mehr oder weniger großem Aufwand, auch verschlüsselte oder anderweitig geschützte Kommunikationskanäle zu überwachen.

Das Bild, das sich daraus ergibt, übertrifft selbst die Befürchtungen der meisten PessimistInnen. Dass wir nun alle wissen und nicht nur vermuten, dass unsere Kommunikation abgehört wird, sollte eigentlich die politische Debatte darüber tief greifend verändern und zur Stärkung der gesetzlichen Grundlagen zum Schutz der Privatsphäre führen.

Kontroverse rund um Echelon

Viel ist den letzten Monaten darüber diskutiert worden, dass das Internet jetzt kaputt sei, dass es nicht mehr »uns« gehöre und so weiter – gerade von Leuten, die sich als Social-Media-SpezialistInnen darstellen. Da fehlt mir etwas das Verständnis. In welcher Welt haben die denn gelebt?

Meine erste Auseinandersetzung mit dem Internet fand zeitgleich mit der Kontroverse rund um Echelon statt, jenes Überwachungssystem, das den privaten und geschäftlichen Datentransfer über Satelliten überwacht(e). 1996 brachte der Neuseeländische Journalist Nick Hager die Debatte ins Rollen, 2000/2001 wurde die Sache vom Europäischen Parlament untersucht, heute ist das alles im Detail in Wikipedia nachzulesen. Gut, das ist auch schon eine gefühlte Ewigkeit her, und die meisten, ich auch, haben das etwas aus den Augen verloren.

Dass wir in großem Umfang überwacht werden, war aber allen schon klar. Wir dachten nur, dass das in erster Linie die kommerziellen Anbieter seien, Facebook, Google und all die anderen Social-Media-Firmen, gemeinsam mit allen Datenaggregatoren und Datenhändlern im Hintergrund, die sich für unsere Daten interessierten. Das schien irgendwie nicht so ein Problem zu sein, denn, so das Argument der Consultants: erstens wollen die uns ja nur einen Service andrehen, den wir eh gerne hätten; zweitens geht es ihnen ja nur darum, Werbung, die uns eh nicht beeinflusst, zu schalten; drittens geben wir ja die Daten freiwillig her; und viertens ist der Markt das Gegenteil des Staates, also können wir diesen Firmen vertrauen.

Verlogene Argumente der Consultants

Diese vier Argumente sind bei genauerer Betrachtung vollständig falsch. Die Social-Media-Firmen bieten uns nicht Dienste an, die wir eh wollen, sondern sie schaffen neue, durchaus attraktive Möglichkeiten, indem sie primäre Bedürfnisse wie jenes nach sozialem Austausch ansprechen, aber nie richtig befriedigen (sonst würde man ja aufhören sie zu nutzen). Dabei lenken sie unser Denken und Handeln in Formate und Richtungen, die für sie nützlich sind.

Entsprechend ist Werbung nur ein kleiner Teil dessen, was sie machen – und Werbung wirkt. Sie beeinflusst unser Verhalten, nicht zuletzt dadurch, dass wir meinen, sie zu ignorieren. Die Freiwilligkeit der Nutzung dieser Dienste ist rein formal, und in der Praxis so freiwillig, wie die Entscheidung, sich für acht Stunden pro Tag ans Fließband zu stellen. Unsere alltägliche Wirklichkeit ist heute so strukturiert, dass es mit so hohen Kosten verbunden ist, diese Dienste nicht zu nutzen, dass die Wahl für oder gegen sie alles andere als frei ist.

Die Trennung von Markt und Staat, gerade auf so strategisch wichtigen Feldern wie Medien, Kommunikation und Informationstechnologie, war immer schon sehr schwach. Die libertäre Grundhaltung, die von vielen IT-Entrepreneurs an den Tag gelegt wird, steht dem erfahrungsgemäß überhaupt nicht im Wege.

Der Nachtwächterstaat braucht auch einen Wächter

Man kann gleichzeitig mit den staatlichen Sicherheitsbehörden kooperieren und für niedrige Steuern sein. Denn auch der Nachtwächterstaat braucht noch einen Wächter. Meine Vermutung ist, dass Facebook über die absolut überwiegende Zahl von Menschen mehr weiß als die NSA. Gut, Facebook schickt im Fall der Fälle keine Drohnen, aber es hilft dafür zu sorgen, dass es gar nicht notwendig wird, Drohnen zu schicken.

Der Punkt hier ist nicht, den allgemeinen Zynismus zu fördern oder ein müdes »ich hab’s ja schon immer gesagt« (was in meinem Fall auch nicht stimmen würde) abzugeben sondern zu betonen, dass es notwendig ist, die Kontrolle über die Kommunikation wieder zurück zu erlangen, von der NSA und von Facebook etc. Das sind zwei Seiten derselben Medaille. Dass dies möglich ist, hat auchSnowden immer wieder betont, wenn er sagt, dass Kryptographie wirke. Nicht indem es im Einzelfall 100 Prozent Garantie bietet, sondern dadurch, dass es Massenüberwachung unpraktikabel macht.

Ähnlich wirkt auch Dezentralisierung. Je mehr Punkte es gibt, an denen Daten gelagert sind, desto aufwendiger ist es, sie alle anzuzapfen, besonders wenn der Transit zwischen ihnen verschlüsselt ist. Es gibt bereits viele Kommmunikationstools, und neue werden aktuell entwickelt, etwa das Project Mailpile, das Verschlüsselung in Webmail einbaut. Wichtig ist, dass jedeR weiß, dass für gewisse Formen und Inhalte der Kommunikation spezielle Tools notwendig sind. Man muss nicht jede Email verschlüsseln, aber es ist wichtig, Email verschlüsseln zu können und auch mal banale Emails zu verschlüsseln, damit nicht die Benutzung des Tools selbst auffällig wird. Aber auch die besten Tools alleine nützen nichts ohne eine Perspektive der Freiheit.

Am So. 6. April veranstaltet die Berliner Gazette unter dem Titel KOMPLIZEN fünf Workshops im SUPERMARKT, darunter “Das Netz nach Snowden: Wie sollte es gebaut sein?”. Hier das vollständige Programm.

Source: http://berlinergazette.de/internet-nach-snowden

Das Foto oben stammt von Mario Sixtus und steht unter einer Creative Commons Lizenz. Die Print-Fassung des Beitrags ist in ak – analyse & kritik verfügbar.