The pandemic has brought global travel to a halt, conveniently proceeding the repercussions of the climate crisis and triaging the necessity of post-carbon social formations. Like all aspects of society, the university has only begun to rock from turbulence in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic. As members of this adventurous scholarly community, we face an unclear future. Arundhati Roy has called the pandemic a portal that our world will step through; she asks: what will we leave behind? And what do we want to build on the other side?
Academic conferences provide opportunities for intensive sharing, experiential learning, and critical discussion. They also aim to foster intellectual growth and comradery building. For many, conferences serve as a shot of energy and inspiration to bring back to the lab. In effect, the (pre-Covid) conference was a “working” vacation: a retreat and a deep dive: a third space that was not the lab and was not home.
Zoom and analogous formats struggle to replicate many facets of these events. How can we design an experiential, engaged, and enacted event for MOCO stakeholders (long-time presenters, former organizers, founders, new participants, students of MOCO both present and future?) The temporally diffuse SloMoCo event affords:
In part, it may be that the intensity of the co-present event and the physical and mental stamina it demands of attendees, presenters, and organizers is not easily transposed to synchronous, telematic gatherings. Our private home economy interjects itself into our social and working lives, clamoring for immediate attention, disrupting the professionalized visage we curate for our zoom call: dogs barking and muddling the audio algorithm, an exercising roommate rippling through the virtual background. The caffeine-fortified manic energy of the co-present conference seemingly evaporated, the Zoom conference demands the same stamina we have for all our meetings: Ignore the fatigue of prolonged sedentary activity and screen-bound social performance just long enough to avoid betraying exhaustion. Virtual backgrounds and mute buttons are bandaids on the fissure that’s erupted and elided public and private.
SloMoCo asks: how can we co-design and develop research and practice events that treat virtual and telematic engagement as a feature and not a bug? What does this third space look like? With its penchant for observing and prototyping embodied experience, technical know-how, know-what, know-when, we believe the MOCO community is uniquely situated to respond playfully to this speculative invitation. For the last seven years, MOCO has convened research-practitioners with diverse metier in dance, somatic practice, theory, education and learning science, HCI, engineering, design, and neuroscience to share insights, findings, and provocations at the intersection of movement and computing. The community seems to return to a generative tension and complexity between the moving body as experienced and as represented. With SloMoCo, we return once more with a difference to ask how these insights can inform the presentation and performance of our work in this experimental setting. How can this attention to representation and abstraction of movement play a role in telematic, collaborative, and relational artistic practice? How can attunement to embodiment and facility with real-time movement analysis generate new modes of engagement? Through a series of events, opportunities, and endpoints, this reformatted conference/series will provide season, solstice, celebration, and structure as we head forward in order to produce a collective sense of time and a collective sense of possibility.
Garrett Laroy Johnson, SloMoCo-chair
Hannah Tardie, SloMoCo archivist
Madoka Clark, Design and Media
Will Hallett, Seminars and Design
Shomit Barua, Social Media and Practice Works
Ri Lindegren, Practice Works and Micro-residencies
Frédéric Bevilacqua, IRCAM
Sarah Fdili Alaoui, LRI-Université Paris-Sud 11
Thecla Schiphorst, Simon Fraser University
Cumhur Erkut, Aalborg University Copenhagen,
Sofia Dahl, Aalborg University Copenhagen,
Grisha Coleman, Arizona State University
Gualtiero Volpe, University of Genova
Marco Gillies, Goldsmiths, University of London
Sotiris Manitsaris, MINES ParisTech