Panel 4: Ideoplasticity, Narrative and Healing.

Transtechnology Research Slow Conference. 16th May 2018.
Papers presented by Claudia Loch and Stephanie Moran. Session chaired by Agi Haines.

Stephanie Moran
Narrating love and trauma: claims of collective healing in mixed reality art practices

This paper examines collective claims of collective healing in narratives produced through mixed reality art practices that use social media and online broadcasting as a medium.

Starting with a recent symposium at Res. Gallery in London, Virtual Embrace , the paper examines therapeutic, spiritual and mystical healing claims of practices where love and trauma are invoked or generated by collective narratives. Are they doing what they claim, or are they performing something very different? What effects do these technologically mediated group experiences have on the mental health of the artist producers, participants and viewers? I suggest that these practices in fact produce and deepen trauma, while often enacting forms of identity politics and activism.

Virtual Embrace constructed connections between Roy Ascott’s text Is there Love in the Telematic Embrace?, Sherrie Rabinowitz & Kit Galloway’s live broadcast work Hole in Space (1980) and live-streamed works produced by contemporary artists. Considering Ascott’s claims for networked communication’s potential as a superconnective network consciousness for a new planetary community, linked to his idealization of Native American ritual practice, I examine social media and online broadcasting art practices through the lens of therapeutic concepts from Jilek’s Indian Healing, and Durkheim’s On Suicide, which he references. Specifically: ‘collective suggestion’, anomie [absence of societal norms, and lack of coordination of means to meet societal norms], anomic depression, relative deprivation, psychodrama and cathartic abreaction [liberation from emotional tension through affectively charged act of remembering and reliving a situation]. I will also refer to Daniel Shaw’s ‘Traumatic narcissism in cults’, which focuses on the dynamics of narcissism in interpersonal relations in cult groups, and ideas around ‘hyperempathy’ in relation to identity politics.

This will be examined through the work and contexts of contemporary artists Elizabeth Mputu, Ayesha Tan Jones, Clare Price, Annabelle Craven-Jones and Kate Durbin, via the accounts of the artists or artist participants in the work.

Wolfgang G. Jilek, Indian healing : shamanic ceremonialism in the Pacific Northwest today (1997)
Emile Durkheim, On suicide (1897)
Daniel Shaw, ‘Traumatic narcissism in cults’, Traumatic narcissism : relational systems of subjugation (2014)
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, ‘Virtual reality is no match for the empathetic generation’, The Observer. (24 September 2017)
Rebecca Wanzo, ‘Apocalyptic empathy: a parable of postmodern sentimentality’, Obsidian IIILiterature in the African Diaspora. Vol. 6-7, Iss. 2-1, (2005 Fall-2006 Summer)

fortuneBox: Art as a method for ideoplasticity
Claudia Loch

In this text I will be talking about the artwork fortuneBox from the idea of ideoplasticity. In this article we consider ideoplasticity as those artistic processes which are supposed to be modified by mental impressions or suggestions.

The fortuneBox is a little acrylic box with a button. When the button is pressed a small piece of paper is expelled from the box. Surprisingly, the paper has a phrase printed on it. This phrase can be an aphorism, a motivational message or a prophecy about everyday events. The messages have positive connotations.

The idea behind fortuneBox was to utilise everyday objects, like the thermal printer that is used frequently used to print receipts for card transactions. The main objective is to create a satisfactory user experience. In this article we will consider the user experience as the affective, experiential, meaningful, and valuable aspects of the relations between humans and objects. The user experience also includes a person’s perceptions of how easy it is to use an object and the effectiveness of the system. With the fortuneBox we can discuss ideoplasticity and, with playfulness in mind, we can humanise everyday objects with art and technology.

* The fortuneBox has been accepted for the exhibition on the 16th International Meeting on Art and Technology #16.ART, a web stablished conference that will take place in Porto, Portugal.