It was a pleasure to visit a good media arts festival, with good people speaking about things that they have thought about, that they care about, and that they are working with. Our partners in Changing Weathers, Sonic Acts, have been running their festival for over 20 years, with a continual development of their approach and interests. This year they took on the Academy, dealing with questions of academic work and artistic research, what it means to be an institution and what it means to be an activist.
It would be futile to attempt to summarise the ideas that came together, but two are worth sharing immediately. As we are looking at near futures, where so many aspects of what have been normal are changing, Heather Davis reminds us that the plastics in the ocean will change things, but that perhaps the changes in reproduction and other ways of living can be thought about and interpreted by using queer theory to look at what is, because we are not only involved in a process of global warming, changing weather and suchlike, but also in a process of global weirding. It’s a process, one where we know things are changing, but cannot yet see wite how. But perhaps the global queer can help us out.
Sally Jane Norman kicked off the two day symposium and wrapped it up at the end with another call for us to pay attention to the weird, the queer, the unusual, reminding us about the danger of “the need for academic legitimisation for artistic research [that] is often at odds with needs to pay attention to the unexpected.” Within this world of precisely planned research and development, Just-in-Time deliveries and complete control, it is good to remind ourselves that there is value in being surprised, that honest research and development does not simply carry out what was planned. If we know what is going to happen, it is not research, it is simply implementation.If we demand that all claims are completey true, no one will speak, no one will speculate, no one will wonder.