Instructions for uncommon situations
Marina Abramović is making a deck of cards. Each card bears instructions to be carried out by the reader.
Seated silently at a wooden table across from an empty chair, she waited as people took turns sitting in the chair and locking eyes with her. Over the course of nearly three months, for eight hours a day, she met the gaze of 1,000 strangers, many of whom were moved to tears. (MoMA Learning)
Many of Abramović’s performances involve extremes of endurance, or pain, or danger.
Do not do this.
…I wonder if these cards are dangerous?
I don’t want to have my life in control. I like to put myself in very uncommon situations.
Which reminds me of,
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty. (Erich Fromm)
The crucial requirement is for the self to allow the other to “speak back” and to accommodate the unexpected so that self affects other, and other affects self. Avoiding requisite variety, both get partially “out of control” in a mix of positive and negative feedback, thus conversing along non-determinable trajectories to arrive at previously unknown destinations. (Fischer, Herr eds., 2019, “Design Cybernetics”)
Also, Grapefruit: “a book of instructions by Yoko Ono”.
Grapefruit is an artist's book written by Yoko Ono, originally published in 1964. It has become famous as an early example of conceptual art, containing a series of “event scores” that replace the physical work of art—the traditional stock-in-trade of artists—with instructions that an individual may, or may not, wish to enact. (Wikipedia)
Event scores—instructions that an individual may, or may not, wish to enact.
Where is the art? Is it in the instructions, or is it in my enacting those instructions? Is the music in the piano?
The beautiful thing is that an event score can be simple, fanciful, even nonsensical. In some ways, ambiguity opens up more room for interpretation.
Back in 2017 I built a little Twitter bot called Concept Collider that randomly mashes together tech ideas. The idea is to use the prompts it generates as a starting point from which to spin up new ideas and scenarios. “Disruption by random walk”.
Sometimes the bot generates something that really connects with me, or with others. From my Twitter DMs:
The bot is absurdly simple. It’s essentially a big bag of words, plus randomness. But it doesn’t take much to provoke the creation of meaning.
The brain is a machine for jumping to conclusions. (Daniel Kahneman)
I’d love to have a bunch of Geists like this haunting my Subconscious. Little performance artists, generating event scores—instructions that I may, or may not wish to enact.
Working on it.