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Fascinating SMRN Meeting of May 2020

SMRN had another warm and fascinating meeting on May 30 with our members joining including: Steven Baris, Mansoor Behnam, Carol Bier, Juan Castrillón, Millie Chen, Nina Czegledy, Gareth Davies, Siying Duan, Jan Hendrickse, Somayeh Khakshoor, Lynn Marie Kirby, Laura Marks, Minoo Moallem, Katya Nosyreva, Sheila Petty, Radek Przedpełski, Kalpana Subramanian, and Joel Slayton from Post Pandemic Provocations Group.

First we spent a most pleasant hour catching each other up on what we have been thinking about lately. Unfortunately, most of this did not get recorded because Laura had pressed pause. For example, around breath: Lynn noted that the topic of breath that interests several SMRN folks means differently in the time of Covid-19; Jan mentioned the respiratory aesthetics he is working on (like Juan, in relation to wind instruments); and Juan reminded us that he and Kalpana are completing a podcast on respiratory ontologies.

Then our member Nina Czegledy and guest Joel Slayton presented the Leonardo Post Pandemic Provocations (PPP). PPP is a collaborative initiative originated by Roger Malina, Joel Slayton and Nina. The primary aim of PPP is to rethink everything in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as inspire actions that serve to emphasize positive consequences of the pandemic. PPP embraces the concept of Slow Emergence and Abrupt Transition Design as working methodologies to identify and leverage provocations by artists, scientists, and others. Principles embraced by PPP include Trans-lateral mentoring; Trans-national (including Nina’s point to turn away from Euro-America in favor of, for example, Santiago); Trans-disciplinary, and Trans-geneous. Joel proposed many interesting and thought-provoking provocaelogy examples such as low intensity impact; tolerating the strange; locally informed experimentation; confronting closed systems; unbelieving the believable; and working towards an epistemic regime change, among others. The presentation of PPP provoked enthusiastic and sometimes moving discussion, particularly on the concepts of tolerating the strange, slow emergence, and provocation. For example, Siying asked what toleration means at a time of hardening international boundaries. Ideas for how these provocations might occur ranged from research centers (Azadeh) to stealth methods (Laura) to anarchy (Kalpana). Juan and Kalpana both expressed pessimism about the “post,” with Juan urging we set a less positive horizon in order to “move slowly along with others.”

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