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Thought-Provoking Meeting of January 30, 2023

On January 30, 2023, SMRN had another warm meeting with a group of members, including Mansoor Behnam, Niusha Hatefinia, Jessika Kenney, Mena El Shazly, Laura Marks, Juan Castrillón, Radek Przedpełski, J.R. Osborn, Nezih Erdogan, Gustavo Furtado, Waèl Allouche, Farshid Kazemi, and Nina Czegledy.

In the first part of this meeting, Waèl Allouche presented his work-in-progress entitled "Meta-Heuristics: A Narrative of Discovery," which focused on embodied navigation. Allouche's project explored the impact of AL-Technology on everyday life, including the use of navigation systems like Google Maps. He explained that these systems use AI algorithms to assist users in finding the most efficient and expedient routes to their destinations. However, there are other significant aspects of AI that come into play when utilizing these navigation systems, such as the relationship between devices and the human body, as well as the narratives they produce. In this research project, the primary objective was to investigate how to embody the human within a spatial context and the surrounding environment by leveraging the data that users carry or generate during navigation.

In the second part of the meeting, we had a wonderful discussion regarding the Crystalist manifesto. This engaging discussion began with a brief introduction to the manifesto, which was then followed by the members' thought-provoking interpretations of the concept. The members of the group posited that the Crystalist manifesto presented the crystal as a paradox that straddled the realms of science and qualitative experiences such as pleasure. While the scientific community regards the crystalline structure as highly ordered and precise, with patterns that repeat in a tightly packed fashion as observed in crystallography, the manifesto seems to emphasize energy fields and intensity, which are not entirely scientific in nature.

Some members stressed the importance of considering the political context of crystallism. Originating as a reformist movement in Sudan, the movement aligned itself with liberalism and prioritized pleasure as a response to socialist materialism that placed greater emphasis on quantity. This political backdrop resonates with similar conceptual movements in other socialist countries, such as the quest for the retrieval of pleasure against dogmatic socialist materialism.

The members also stated that Gilles Deleuze's concept of the crystal image in Cinema 2 from the 1980s aligns with the Crystalist manifesto. This notion of an infinite sequence of semblance and essence echoes the Crystalist's assertion that there is always a sort of infinite sequence and an interplay between the crystal's different faces.

In addition, the concept of transparency or translucency is another term that the members introduced to the vocabulary of crystallism. They drew attention to the contrast between looking at oneself in a mirror versus in a crystal. While a mirror reflects an opaque image of oneself, a crystal presents a different perspective. The members argued that we should strive to see ourselves in a crystallist manner, where we cannot claim to know who we are or whom we think we are. This perspective serves to demonstrate the infinity of the unit as we attempt to look beyond ourselves.