Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Environment as a System of Interaction and Simultaneity (intro)

One reason that you should consider your projects as environments involves some of the nature of interactions.

An assumption is that interaction occurs between at least two entities. These entities may be subsystems of the same systems, parts that may function as wholes that then also (likely simultaneously) function together within a larger subsystem that in turn may function as part of an even larger system. Consider parts of the human body and human families and human communities that of course interact with non-human subsystems and systems. Such consideration establishes or helps enable awareness of an environment underway. A dynamic set of behaviors and circumstances in an environment host, shape, and are shaped by interactions of environmental membership, including temporary memberships such as visitors or intruders or those evicted (in various ways on various scales).

Interaction assumes occurrence, event; something happens in an interaction. There is some form of exchange in interaction, any possible form of exchange which can include domination, subjugation, extermination. There have been incredibly brutal exchanges in Japan, Libya, Syria, Egypt; forms of occurrence persist as reconfigurations happen again and again. These interacting systems are also interacting with other systems around the world. There are global ripples of impact that vary in intensity; geological, psychological, meteorological, emotional, political, economic, sociological, motivational, religious, galvanizing, etc. ripples and shock waves. The intensity with which you feel yourself hit with any of these ripples help configure some of the nature of your response, of your participation in the interaction with the shock wave; some of the nature of your role in a transaction with systems and subsystems of ripples, some of which continue from out of Haiti, and some of which mingle to dilution in the recency and comparative (ouch) enormity of current (the breaking) news events.

This is to say that there is still hunger in the world in locations not specifically mentioned in this post. Still people and communities without proper access to proper water and proper toilets (including some First Nation reserves in Canada). (image from CoteGauche)

Constituents of interaction play (configurable and reconfigurable)roles in interaction. There are variables that help determine the nature of these roles from moment to moment. Some of these variables include your own choices. Though there is marking by interaction on participants in interaction, the configuration (including intensity and duration of marking) varies according to determinable (to a certain extent) factors. Prior interactions help to prime responses of participants in a moment of initial participation in emerging interactions that do further shaping, marking, priming for subsequent interactions.

Denial and indifference are possible responses, possible (in)actions within a temporary system of interaction. Intensity of denial, apathy, hostility, indifference, compassion, etc. are variable, fluctuate, according to what is marking, how marking happens, etc. in emerging interactions.

Listen to Exploding Angels (music & lyrics by Ansted Moss, arranged and sung by forkergirl, 2006; also available from the Limited Fork Music podcast):

To participate in interaction is to risk a possibility of being marked in the exchange in a way that can reconfigure perception on some scale for some duration of time.

Context and interpretation are two of many variables that operate as a factor in shaping response. Context is highly variable, in a range from the subtle to the profound. Anything may form a center of context through which an allness or everything may be (temporarily) accessed, the movement outward or inward from that center as ripples and shock waves that eventually, with some form of distance (usually), dissipates to where marking and effects, though still diminishing (perhaps infinitely diminishing) becomes apparently immeasurable, apparently inconsequential.

Please watch again or the first time the ripples of Powers of Ten from the Eames Office:

Involvement in interaction is a form of collaboration. You and the subject(s) of your project system are co-participants in a system of interaction in which the roles vary and are reconfigurable, according to rules that are also variable and temporarily in place from moment to moment, each configured according to interactions with information that arrives and departs with varying intensities. Participants in your project environment may be transient. Status may fluctuate. Alliances may form and disband. Etc.

Please try to determine what the roles are, in moments (at least three) of interaction within your collaboration with your project system, for at least three participants in the collaboration. Do also try to identify as many of the participants as your can. As many as all. This determination of roles in the transaction and identification of participants in the transaction may take on any form, including written list, paper model, map, flow chart, clay, video, sound work, game, etc.

If you configure your project system as an interactive game, for instance, what might be an objective of this game? What would be the role of the project participants/players? What might be the rules of this game? How does one play it? How does one win it —if it may be won at all. How many levels? What happens on each? Perhaps a purpose is not to win, and if not, why play this game? Etc. Maximum number of players? Minimum? Remember that in most video games, the environment is not static. A dynamic environment where anything there is potentially active —Myst anyone? The environment participates in the action, moves the game along, sometimes determines outcomes, presents consequences, alternatives, dead ends, delays, traps, rewards, etc. Anything at all like Jumanji?

Feel Free to make a board game, if you like or set up some kind of (crude approximations are fine) online community experience of (some of) the game elements.

Have you played Darfur is Dying? Play September 12 here & now Then play Madrid. Read about the Global Conflicts computer games —imagine content for history, economics, political science, and other subjects experienced with decision-making and other forms of active participation instead of a textbook. Here are some examples:

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