Confinement Day 38 :: my practice

Honestly, writing about ‘my practice’ at this time doesn’t come easily. It feels out of place and so far away, almost unimaginable, when I’m up to my neck in hands-on caring, domestic logistics and working out how to pay the bills/rent over the coming months. Like who am I kidding that there is anything more important than the wellbeing of my nearest and dearest, and keeping house and home together. It’s wierd, like there is actually a part of me pushing ‘my practice’ away. OK, I’m pushing through and promising myself to get somewhere today in this post.

Like I mentioned a couple of days ago, I realised I hadn’t written the blog for 19 days. It really didn’t feel like 19 days. Hands and head were so full that had to get into a bubble at home to work out a more functional daily routine and get werk done. The work is really interesting (gender equality) so I’m familiar with some of these dynamics at least, and I know I have to resist and re-examine these feelings, and somehow get out of the vicious circle.

Initially I wasn’t writing because ‘my practice’ didn’t feel important, it was more that the daily routine didn’t feel interesting enough to write about. I suspected that this was somehow significant although the words never made it onto the page. I.e. that daily life of ‘social exclusion’ (or whatever is a better word) is drudgery, repetition, ‘not interesting’ and somehow that’s partly how it works. It grinds you down, makes you (feel) uninteresting to others, builds up walls, keeps u isolated. So I can see how that could lead to feelings of even rejecting your own agency or practice. Along lines of: remembering there is another way (another you) makes the drudgery harder to bear. I read other women talk about the grief of lost work during confinement due to caring responsibilities. It kind of makes sense that you could also get to the point of wanting to push that grief away.

I was pushing myself to write today because I need to get these thoughts down. It feels essential to integrate an intersectional dimension into my work, and if I can try and articulate these aspects of my experience, maybe I can be more empathetic and sensitive to others’ experiences and knowledges too.

There have been some good developments. Some more (paid) work coming in. Building connections to other carers and trying to tune into/build a better understanding of how these social dynamics work. Some lovely times with little one and older one as well. Some lovely little growing and flowering plants in our home.

So, my practice. In the darkest times over these past weeks, literally the work of Jo Spence has kept me strong and kept my connection to my practice alive. I guess because her work, and the creative collectives she worked with, very overtly and very strongly incorporated the female experience, caring, drudgery, work, politics-and-art together, creativity in struggle and the collective coming together. And this body of work took place in London in the 1970s and 1980s which were the formative years and place of my youth.

My practice has this very visceral embodied side (a la Jo Spence), combined with hugely transformative experiences I had in multi-scale networks and collectives from around the turn of the millenium (online and offline). In particular, when living in Spain, with the Indignados movements that emerged after the 2008 financial crisis. These movements combined face-to-face practices and cultures (e.g. public assemblies, local associations linked in networks and platforms) with similarly structured online networks, groupings and technologies. A very potent mix of the embodied and a range of digital sensations/tools/spaces with a different kind of ‘body’ (suggesting but not actually being immaterial). The constant use of digital space yielded a lot of large scale data, which allow us to see the collective body – and ‘the Collective Intelligence’ – through data visualisations. All of which was very visceral, as people’s guts, hearts and minds were all out there, online and face-to-face.

The idea of Collective Intelligence came out very strongly in the Indignados experience and broader tecnopolitical international networks. I’ve been researching this for some time and I feel the term ‘Collective Intelligence’ is the most intuitive way to express a complexity of creative, analytical, active and distributed practices. For example, there are ideas like ‘the Hivemind’ of social media and the Wisdom of the Crowd seen in Wikipedia which are already out there in daily life. Working from these most intuitive points, the first video piece in my Collective Intelligence project will be coming out soon, entitled ‘La Colmena’ – Spanish for ‘The Hive’.

So… my practice… I love all the tecnopolitical work with data visualisations and big processes, but I guess my take on it will always bring me back to the micro-pratices of how do we do it? What are the hands-on embodied practices to make Collective Intelligence happen? How does the individual relate to the collective? How does the micro inter-relates with the meso and the macro and vice versa? How can I as an individual work within a collective? How can we as a collective work within an even larger network?

How do we ‘do Collective Intelligence’?

Remembering the full body of practice: the culture, creativity, analysis, the data, policy, community, life and politics altogether.

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