The most significant actions of early societies were performed and then literally translated as symbols onto objects of daily or ritual use, creating both an ephemeral and lasting narrative. These symbols and performed actions were part of a belief system that brought joy and hope to often perilous situations. Jessica Smarsch explores the negotiation between performance and symbolism from a historical and contemporary perspective.
When we look up into the sky and see a flock flowing harmoniously, we could fall in the trap of thinking of it as a body with its own will. There might not be a brain behind the act, but surely there is a strong pull towards communality. Any organisation of entities is defined by the relation between the parts, and the social space of exchange. Looking back at the sky, we are still mesmerized by the fact that there is no collective intention; no collective brain that defines what we see. Just the iterative result of individual intuition 1.
There is no better universal language than organizations. When we forget our differences and focus on the similarities, we can talk of people, atoms, dust or the Internet of things; all use the same common, network-based narrative. The consequence is that we can find common land in the fields of physics, social sciences, technology, birds or dots. At a certain point of the metaphor, we stop and think about the empty space of a net, the knots and the transitions, and we see the undeniable connection between all entities of our universe; the universal laws that transcend matter, ideology, or time 2.
The most effective way to materialize our political distrust is with happy people in a parade. A controversial thought comes to mind: bond of a social contract that permeates the democratic system has broken. Those who hold the power, those who have been given trust, lost the reason d’être while annihilating the social mass and overriding the common from the equation. When one realizes this, the only possible answer is to fight disrespect with cynicism and irony; with joyful disrespect as a countermeasure of political disconnection. People easily find logical, alternative routes to channel their aspirations and identity in an era of big data. There is no need to waste a second of energy on anger. New organizational discourses appear while old paradigms get stuck in their own constrains. Joy appears as a common answer, a consequence of a social organization, and an outburst of distrust.
You find yourself standing in front of a mirror. There is no way you will rationally think about yourself as an antenna, a molecule or a stone thrown into a pond. In any case, we are that simple. Much less will you rethink your social behaviour, or have searched any answer to political distrust in the sky. Scale enlarges the coastline while zooming in, or makes birds as dots while setting distance. Looking for universal rules requires simple relations and we are, again and again, taught by nature that those are hidden behind complexity in the iteration of simple rules. Simple relations can create complex structures and networks, and bodies as complex and ever-changing as the flock of birds. But again, in front of the mirror, you tell yourself that there cannot be logic behind the universe or ratio.__
BUCHANAN Mark 2007. The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You. USA: Quebecor World Fairfield.
LATOUR Bruno 2010. Networks, Societies, Spheres – Reflections of an Actor-Network Theorist. [Keynote lecture.] Annenberg School of Design, Seminar on Network Theories, February 2010. Published in the International Journal of Communication special issue edited by Manuel Castells Vol 5, 2011, pp. 796-810. (31 March 2016).
THE GREATEST BIRD SHOW ON EARTH. YouTube. (27 March 2016)
Joan Vellvé Rafecas is a designer with background in technical product design. He was born in Barcelona, and now lives and works in between Amsterdam and Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Vellvé Rafecas’ work is based on process, and it presents outcomes as products, furniture, interventions or strategies. He established his practice after finishing Master of Design degree in Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven. He strongly values teamwork and social understanding, which has brought him to engage with Fictional Collective, Collaboration-O and Stordes.