When: 16th of November, at 4:30 PM, in the Baroja auditorium of the Bizkaia Aretoa ((Av. Abandoibarra 3), Bilbao.
What: Defense of the thesis "TRANSART. Collaborative art practices, relational technologies and social performativity".
Who: researcher Saioa Olmo and director M. Concepción Elorza of the Art and Technology Department of the UPV-EHU University of the Basque Country.
Web: http://transarte.wordpress.com

TRANSART. Collaborative art practices, relational technologies and social performativity

TRANSARTE is a research work on artistic relational projects created through participatory and collaborative processes, and about their capability to generate transformations and exchanges in the context in which they happen. It is an investigation rooted in artistic practice and discursive reflection, at the intersection between art and social science theories.

The objective of the research is to experiment and assess whether art can influence society and if so, to think about in which ways, to what extent and with which tools we could empower ourselves as artists to do so; moreover, it also aims to ask which conditions should be put in place in these contexts to facilitate this assembly of artists, art and context, to benefit all the agents involved. Starting from the hypothesis that art can affect people socially (to a greater or lesser extent, in different directions and irrespective of whether we have tools for confirming it), this research suggests that part of the challenges we currently have as a society have to do with our ability to relate to each other, to other forms of life and to our environment; on a macro and a micro level; and that art can be an interesting field from which to experiment and delve into it (for its ability to connect improbable elements, its tendency to push the limits, and it ways to reach people).

During the period of the TRANSART research project (2012-2018), the methods that have been employed have been varied. On the one hand, projects of this type collectively carried out 2000 and 2014 were compiled, in order to consider the state of the question by using the intuition of artistic creation itself. This collection has been made by publishing the book Biotracks and the audiovisual creation Hamaika urte dantzan (Dancing eleven years away). In practice, we have made collective, participatory projects and actions such as Transnational, Behavioural Choreographies, Assault!, You don’t, Toast, Your Cheer up Message Here, Eromechanics, Participation on Trial, Soft Technologies (performance), Playing with, Globosonda, Rut, and Whispering the Future. Through these projects, we have experimented with group dynamics, the distribution of roles in groups, the assignment of tasks, peer collaboration, accomplice-participation, forced participation, direct action, invisible actions, unconscious perception, the use of mass media, communication codes and spatial organization.

On a discursive level, we have covered reflections ranging from art about the social and ethnographic turn to the policies of spectatorship, the gradient of participation, the various forms of authorship, the autonomy and heteronomy of art, emancipation and alienation through art, and the desire to be useful (or not) in different artistic practices, among other issues. Taking ideas from the field of social psychology, we have considered the theory of camp, transactional analysis, psychodrama, the method of the operative group and the psychoanalytic theories of transfers and counter-transfers, object-relations and transitional objects. From sociology, special interest has been placed on the idea of habitus and micro-macro relationships. From anthropology, we have drawn on the theory of the gift, disquisitions on the agency of art and the actor-network theory. Feminist philosophical discourses on situated knowledge, gender performativity, the intelligibility of identity and feminist economics have also fuelled this research.

Likewise, as part of the research process, we have taken part in different artistic groups (EPLC, A Platform and 770OFF) and in informal research on collective processes (the Group of Contrast of Psychodrama, The Impossible Community, Wikitoki, Meetcommons, LoRelacional and Tecnoblandas). Being part of these groups has been useful for collectively approaching the topics of the research, and in many cases, it has meant being simultaneously the subjects and the objects of our study.

As other tools, we have used interviews of specialists in the subject; an editorial collaboration for the issue of the Ausart journal dedicated to soft technologies; laboratories such as Skylab, Group Matters or The Line; workshops like Urban Interdependencies, Urban Explorations and Whispering the future; the summer course Soft Technologies; creative pills like The Stono Mountain and Erain-Community Psychology; and the work with students of performative and contextual art of the UPV / EHU in connection with the contextual programme Gau Irekia in Bilbao LaVieja.

The results generated by this research include the artistic projects themselves, influenced by the discourses and theories that were consulted (art formats that bring into play transactions, transfers, transitions, behaviour, communication, organizations...) and also the reflections revealed within the present document, which are derived from a logic and mode of research that is influenced by the particular forms of practice of the arts (being guided by forms, intuitions, desires, affections, conflicts...). The original hypothesis about how suitable the participatory and collaborative processes are for artistic practices that aim to have a direct influence on certain contexts is argued and also nuanced throughout the document. Likewise, an approach is made towards the concept of soft technologies and an attempt is made to analyse them thoroughly by extracting the mechanics and strategies of various artistic projects.

An initial compilation of soft technologies of relationships has been made, which, despite its incipient state, can serve as a toolbox for art projects, research and workshops. On the other hand, a compilation of machine logics and affects is also targeted for later developments, to allow us to expand the focus from the relationships between people to relations between diverse agents, more in accordance with problems connected to the current excess of human agency over the ecosystem.

As well as generating production that can be shared, the research has been carried out with the idea of personally enabling greater empowerment and sophistication in the discourses (at the crossroads between different spheres of knowledge), in the languages (artistic and idiomatic) and in the art techniques (relational).

TRANSART is an artefact for continuing to do art, a game whose rules are constantly rewritten and which consists of knowing and not knowing exactly what is being done. In the short term, TRANSART will feed eromechanical transactions, whispers aimed at the future, inquiries into machine logics and affects and a repertoire of relational, contextual and performative experiments.