The symposium of this year's edition of DEAF was themed 'Feelings are Always Local', which turned out to give rise to some, as V2_ director Alex Adriaansens called it, 'productive misunderstandings'.
On the first day of the symposium, speakers were invited to speak within the context of open systems about their own field of research or works of art. Neurologist Karim Nader explained that fear systems have to be thought of as an emergent property of the interaction between the medial temporal lobe and the amygdala. Arjen Mulder introduced us to the father of general systems thinking, the twentieth century biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, and he pointed out what is involved when thinking of openness and closure in the consumption of art. Biologist Tijs Goldschmidt spoke of numerous species of cichlids living in Lake Victoria and the dramatic changes that occured with the introduction of an alien species into the 'closed' system of the lake. Seiko Mikami and Sota Ichikawa elaborated on their artproject 'Gravicells' which aims to audio-visually represent gravity by measuring one's weight, speed and postion.
The second day addressed social and technical aspects concerning open systems. Anthropologist and sociologist Christopher Kelty explored in a Latourian way how the infrastructure of science and scientific communication, being the network of the internet, is actually intertwined with several assemblages that format the very practice of science. Alex Galloway presented his radical position that internet has always been a site of protocological control and he warned for obvious polarizations that treat networks as heroes and hierarchies as enemies. This related to the work of the last speaker of the symposium, economist Lauretta Napoleoni, who performed an economic analysis of terrorist networks.
It took moderator Manuel DeLanda very little effort to put all the different talks into a proper, coherent context. One of the main misunderstandings that DeLanda tried to render productive was that openness and closure proportionally relate to some moral values of good and evil. Spinozist experimental ethics should resolve this misunderstanding; we should examine for each specific case what is effective and what is not. It's what enters through the openings of a system and what flows in a closed system that attributes value to the system and not the plain fact that the system is open or closed.
This is a first impression of the symposium, some first thoughts on 'Feelings are Always Local'. Stay tuned for a full-length report!
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