Last October the 25th, I have the honor to present Cuentanos un Secreto in the Kingston University in London. The masterclass was divided in a lecture and small workshop during a day in the campus.
For this premier londinense edition, Tell me a secret project opened secrets coming from New York City Douglas Huebler’s collection. Those stories comes from New York City, 1969. They were exhibited during the Software project exhibition at the Jewish museum in 1970. Also years later, those secrets were printed as an artist book named Variable piece 4 published by Printted Matters in 1973. In 2017, the same art publisher did a second edition of the book .
The book provides a glimpse into the cultural, political, and social preoccupations of the time. Futhermore, Sofware project exhibition and Variable num 4 are piooner pieces in “New Media Art”, by crossing the fields of technology and language and combining cultural artifacts as machines with processes and data coming from Art practices, as Conceptualism.
Now a days , this thin line curated by Jack Burnham ask for deeper analysis regarding parallelism in Art and Technology manifestations as e-lit , creative coding, creative writing, and so on. (This will not be developed in this post, but I keep the eye open for future post here.)
Almost 50 years later, we explored secrets coming from this era. They might portrait one of the most vibrant generations in the recent modern human history. Some of these people were participant of the 1968 international student protests. Students from New York, London, Rome, Paris, Mexico city, Madrid, Sao Paolo, among other cities around the globe were demanding diverse civil rights as another understanding for our democratic systems.
Sadly, some of those protests end up with government repression as in Mexico, Brazil or even in Scandinavia.
Who were these people? Are they related to our every day life? Does these people were connected by internet or any other communication system? Why do these protests almost happened at the same time? How the world has changed due to this generation?
Does it exist any story in Douglas Huebler’s collection that tell us more about this generation or about the time when those events happened ?
For this edition explored narratives that can be hosted into a single HTML button. Reviewing 3 basic states of the interactive objet: link, visited, hover, and active. All buttons trigger an action
What event does it buttons triggers?
How does this states relates each other ?
All these buttons will be hosted in single website (Ofrenda) honors Douglas Huebler and the students protest of 1968.
Here you can find some pedagogic material I have developed for this project
Bonjour! First I would like to thank ELO team organizers in Montreal, The University du Quebec and ELO organization, for hosting us in this gorgeous city.
I am privileged and honored for having the opportunity to share this paper withthis delightful audience of academics, thinkers and artists. Mercy Beaucoup
Thanks Lori Emerson for sharing her presentation “Against ‘Lab’ as Free-Floating Signifier” with me. Kathi Imman Beren and Rika Colpeart for her suport and feedback.
My name is Vinicius Marquet, I am independent designer, researcher, author and so on. All previous features and my name, both can be attached to my cv and to my passport, respectively. Today I prefer being called just as Nosotros (we) or as Nadie (nobody):
Nosotros make this project possible.
Nadie is the owner of this project and the secret collection.
This presentation is called “Secrets, a pedagogic tool for e-lit practices”this paper aims to contribute a theoretical framework model for workshops and accessible pedagogic tools regarding electronic literature theories and art practices.This proposal is based on memories of “Cuéntanos un Secreto ” project – Tell me a secret project– .It focus in two different objets: the workshop, that is probably the most valuable element of the project since this activates the social cultural exchange of experiences.And two samples of pedagogic material used during the workshop while we explore e-lit practices and digital culture.
Those theories and art samples are coming from Ulises Carrión and Augusto de Campos. Both of them, fundamental artists and thinkers that question written language and its dissemination.
Finally, I’ll present Los discretos collection, a self contained secrets collection as a way of conclusion.
1.I ll be your mirror Nico and the Velvet Underground
Tell us a secret project (TuSp) is a secret sharing project between communities during a visual communication workshop. The workshop explores visual depiction in form of illustrations, animations, videos and electronic objets that enlighten text stories in form of secrets.
As result, the project holds an extensive archive of popular storytelling, composed by text and graphic elements. Both of them, the original text and its depiction are considered a secret.
The project, itself, is a tool for self explorations and expression
The project was born in 2012 when I was the leader of the design workshop at Faro de Oriente in Mexico city. Since then, the main objective of the project was to link communities by sharing their secrets during the workshop.
TuSp rather of being an objective or a destination. It has been always a process and playful placeto experiment visuality. As the project advanced, our archive grew up.Then it became necessary to preserve and distribute the secrets by using diverse methods and techniques: printing small publications — as posters, flyers invitations and digital zines —A website, that I haven’t updated yetAnd doing small exhibitions and presentations about the secret project.
Until this moment,we have done communities as, internet user, military young scholars, nurses schools , art schools, women in jail, retired old people, galleries and so on.
The project holds, mostly, secrets in Spanish from Mexico city, but the collection owns, few samples in english, italian, dutch, turkish, portuguese and korean as well. This international collection or “Encryptor (prototype)” are even a secret for myself, a Spanish native speaker
The project has three main objectives:
Explore visual communication through narratives applied in diverse visual manifestations
Build communities by exchanging anonymous hidden experiences
Preserve and distribute popular story tellingin form of secrets.
Generally, as introduction to the visual communication workshop, we explore visuality by drawing. Those visual exercises are most of them based on Betty Edwards theories “Drawing on the right side of the brain” while, as principle, they explore visuality to understand reality rather than looking to draw a good copy of reality. Her theories far to understand drawing as a virtuoso gift, find in drawing a way to explore, communicate and validate your visual world
Some other exercises comes byreviewing elemental concepts of design and visual communication as: format, size, direction,texture, color, readability and so oncoming from Bruno Munari or Wucious Wong .
Nevertheless, as you previously have seen, we have used secrets depiction to explore a big array of objets and activities in diverse communities: from 5 years old kids to women in prison . Each community is contextualized by its own needs and characteristic. Thereby the workshop looks to adapt and develop content for the community needs and characteristics.
For the project framework,I call this flexible feature of the study content ESO or Exchangeable Study Objet. This allow the secret project being always open to the visual needs of the community.
Besides the community rules, throughout the workshop there is only two guideline that rules :
” you don’t choose the secret . The secret has chosen you”
We randomly distribute the secrets, enclosed by a white envelop. Each secret is unique as the experience of open it.
By this guide line, we also mean that the secret is trying to tell you something, that you need to enlighten. Observe what does the blank space of the letters saids.Perceive the manners of how the author is telling you the story?Who do you think is this anonymous author ? Where does the author lives ? What is the authors gender?How old is the author?Do you have similar experience in your experience repertoire?Etc.
The secret has chosen you to be depicted, listen the secret story.
As the secret has chosen you, you need to respectthe story and finish its depiction before you open a new secret.
The other guideline isthat all secrets and their depictions are anonymous.At the end of workshop we ask volunteers to donate an anonymous secrets in order to continue with the workflow. This is done by Nosotros.
This anonymous feature looks to preserves the originality of the secret and the ownership of the collection. This belongs to Nadie.
Sharing a secret creates an intimate experience that easily last in the memory of participants And therefore it can bound this experience with any knowledge that workshop offers . By this I mean the pedagogue works comes by creating unique experiences that links knowledge with participants
“Ya lo dijo Freud no me acuerdo en que lado
Solo la experiencia que he experimentado” “It is said by Freud, I don’t remember exactly where, It is just about the experience that I experienced”
El profeta del nopal
In the book the Great didactic, Comenio, the philosopher and pedagogue appeals to our sense as the bastion for modern teaching. He saids ” Everything should, as far as posible, be placed before the sense. Everything visible should be brought before the organ of sight, everything audible before of the organ of hearing . Odours should be placed before the sense of smell, and things that are tastable and tangible before de sense of taste and touch respectively ” (Comenio, 1638)This is not only a sensual approach to reality,In fact, and from a materialistic perspective, this is the only way for us to communicate with reality, by our sense.So, How can we learn if we are not connected with our environment or the other?How can we teach if we don’t experience the materiality of our study objets ?
So practice has been the most primitive and effective way for learning and teaching. As an example , Looking at my nephew Mateo… – a 6 month old beauty – I would say if tasting, making and imitating is not the oldest pedagogue method, it might be the most natural and primitive way to experiment with the vast outside world. In this moment of his short life, everything is eatable, his mouth is constantly looking for a new experience. Maybe, in his short memory, everything still being just a big breast for him.
Here, under the umbrella of experimenting and doing sensorial the learning process, I would like to talk about the workshop.
Last month I attended a delightful talk called “Against ‘Lab’ as Free-Floating Signifier … “by Lori Emerson at DH18. The talk inspired to me a couple of thoughts regarding this tendency to call everything a Lab. –Just here in front of this facilities of UAQM there is a bar named Lab.–
My first thought, it was about the next image.
This image is coming from the Act Lab in Austin Tx.The lab was directed by Sandy Stone, The image illustrates the term “codeswitching “, meaning in words of Stone ,”the umbrella translates experimental, Trans-ish language into case words, institutional language”
Somehow, this describes perfectly the main idea about Cuéntanos un secreto workshop. – and perhaps of education – So I did this new image trying to illustrate some socio cultural differences.
In essence it still being the same: the work of the umbrella/ lab/workshop is to create a neutral and open space for experimentation bytranslatingthis “experimentation” into administrative and institutional words. Also this means to neutralize the outside world, allowing the fellows participants to study.
Safe the students from crime, cartels, weapons, drugs but also from money loans and a huge list outside reality objets and stories .By this, I mean far of being a protective space, this is a space where imagination needs to happen: as white sheet of paper.
Tell me a secret workshop is the golden bastion of the project : It is during the workshop when we do community and we build trust based in daily experiences. As a docent Iwonder to my selfHow can I provide with meaningful experiences with lack of trust?How dare I ask for confidence if I don’t create a human experience ? How can we forget that the learning process is based on the experience with the otherness ? Without otherness We just don’t exist.Our learning process is based on sharing experiences with the other and , therefore, building community. We are Nosotros.
The workshop and the lab, both are places to do community by creating knowledge. It is an umbrella that provides a free and neutral space to experiment with knowledge.
My second thought, it was about looking for difference between labs and workshops, or atelier.This predominant scientific validation of Reality provokes a fashionable idea of calling everything a lab, while not everything is Science and science is not Everything. Nevertheless, when we look at the history of the AtelliersWe find a substancial element of the society from the medieval times until the beginningof the industrial revolution, previous to the mass production of students at the schools.The workshop was not only a place where knowledge and work was happening and distributed, it was the community ensemble for society.Surely, this deserves deeper thoughts and discussion.
Looking forward for the next years, in this transitional historical context, I wonder How different could be a workshop and labs ?
As my sister said: What it is not practices and experienced, does not exist.
A workshop is a free and neutral space to experiment with knowledge
Love is New Love is Old
or nothing is old , nothing is new
There are diverse samples coming from book history and written language that can provide with phenomenological contextto understand the mutation of the book andwritten language into the Networking and programable media.
Johana Drucker in her book “Grammatology” provides diverse samples coming from graphic design, book history and cinema theory . Also in “Uncreative Writing” Kenneth Goldsmith brought an extensive framework of samples mostly coming the visual arts.
Those samples rather than exemplify e-lit practices or digital culture into the futuristic new land of never ending tech. It contextualizes digital culture into the critical eyes of history. And place the computation practices into the ground of culture, where technology is a result of the human being.
Those examples are simple but in deep they condensed complex linguistic and media theories as the concept of the eventualize text by Katherine Hayles or Marshal Mcluhan ideas about” The medium isthe message.” Among some others structuralist theorist.
By instance,The New Art of Making books by Ulises Carrión and the Concrete Poetrymanifesto by Augusto de Campos. Both examples coming from the Art field – as manifestos.
Here, I want to clarifythat both of them don’t use scientific method, in fact they don’t look to demonstrate nothing at all. They manifest; that is the beauty. – AlsoBoth “theories” are far of being just theoretical frameworks for reading. They are visible, tangible, usable and playful in diverse art pieces. So they ensemble theory and practiceThereby, they can easily betracked, analyzed, compared, usedand played as pedagogue material.
Élika Ortega, in her essay “Not a case of words: Textual Environments and Multimateriality” (Ortega, 2017) , provides diverse examples about the impact of Carrion’s work for the textualities in the programable and networked media.
The new art of making books framed a fantastic cultural phenomena during the 60s, the Avant-gard practices for artist books or book-works, term named by Carrión to call those practices.The innovation of Carrion essay is by conceptualizing the ontology of the book , language and artist book practices.The new art of making books in an essential theoretical framework for all those who wants to question the book as an objet and as cultural institution.
What makes a book book? What is a book ?What is language? Does a rose means a rose or it is just the typical rose ?
Just by opening the door to these questions, it is a tremendous advance for understanding the book and language beyond print media.
As Ortega also pointed in her essay,the contribution of Ulises Carrion for understandingthe textualities in the network and programable media is by conceptualizing “the book asan autonomous space-time sequences ” This definition brings an alternative for diverse cultural expressions: some of them literally genders but some others expressions thats appeals to its own symbolic language, as an ordenadour of symbols.
By instance, on 23 May 1983, Ulises perform an organized sight seeing tour around the dutch city of Arnhem and its surroundings countryside. The tour was based on the “real” love story from artist and his wife:Ton and Ina.The people who signed forthe tour were visiting the most important places of Ton and Ina’s love story : ” the first time where they met ““when Ina’s father banned their love “” the first kiss” etc .During the tour you were going from point A to point B and so on .
Acording to Harry Ruhè in “Love Story” ( Ruhè, 1992) Ulises Carrion said: ” the city as organized chaos imbues the story with a clearand perceptible structure . A tour around the city , along the story’s most important point s, as an aesthetic experience. ”
Based on Carrion’s definition of a book “an autonomous space-time sequence,”(Carrión , 1975) then, Love story is an organizedsequence of moments contained in the city of Arnhem, fixed in time. The book as an autonomous reality close in time: May the 23, 1983
As a parallelism, this can easy be translated as sketch for user experience journey into the city.A geo locative narrative app using augmented reality technology for tourism would do a similar approach to Carrion art piece: go from point ato point band Tell a story .
Next, in the concrete poetry manifesto the Brazilian Augusto de Campos described concrete poetry as “Tension of things-words in space-time”(Concrete poetry Manifesto, 1956)
One of my favorite example to illustrate this statement comes by experimenting the collection of Poémobiles (1968-1974) . In particular, a poem calls In/comunicable
Base on paper pop-up technology,In-comuni-cable (1968) is a folded paper card within it holds 3 paper-cuts layers .Each layer, has it own text-content that shows itself in a consecutive order during the performance of opening the paper card. Inside the card, in the background layer is printed with red typography the word “in”.The next layer saids “Comuni” And in the last layer is written the word “cable”. This last layer, cut by the horizontal axis, allows the layer to show the content of second layer ” Comuni” . This will only happen when the paper card is entirely open. By that moment, it is already too late,the content of “cable “will not be readable any more.
In fact, the piece,it’s only “communicated” when the paper card is close .By that moment,the reader can’t know the cards content. Once again the card cannot communicate.
In contrast , the art piece will not have any meaning without the active interaction of the reader. Only when the reader plays the poem, it finds its own meaning . Yet it is the “tension” linked between the consecutive 3 layers and the interaction that shows in- communicable as meaning, a metaphor.
In 2006, in Time of digital poetryKatherine Hayles (Hayles, 2006) named the cyber text being “eventualized” being less discrete and self contained.This eventualizedtext is procedural: it is the result of processes and it can trigger processes, as well byhuman or non humans actors.It is self contained text in space time.
From this perspectiveDe campos Poémobiles seems to be a UX paper prototype ofKatherine Hayle’s eventualized text.In-comuni-cable is a self contained system and poem that signifies while it triggers its own process .
3. Los discretos (The discretes)
This is an old digital collection named Los discretos. It was produced in Faro de Oriente end 2012. Back in those days, I was trying to replicated Anacrón structure to explain participants, and my self, the constitution of a digital buttom with 3 diverses states: normal, over and trigger. The main idea was to regard the semiotics relations between those states used for narratives
At the end , We, Nosotros, were so happy to regard the trans-button result of the experimentation. The same year it was exhibited in Faro de Orinete two times in Exponencial12 and Hoy mañana no se ha ido.
A year later in the Netherlands, reading for the first time Dr Katherine Hayles in Time for digital poetry,(Hayles, 2006) she was constantly mention the discretes refering to those characters in print text media. Some how the idea facinated to me and I find an accurate name to contrast with that other “eventualized” text wich indedd means proceess.
The same year – a bit later – I was reading Roberto Simanowsky idea’s about the contradiction of Electronic literature in his essay “What is and to What End Do We Read Digital Literature?” (2009). He provided a great example using a buttom , Bomb, in the hiperficcion Zeit für dieBombe by Susanne Berkenheger wich I found a funny gestesture because it is the name of the famous and constant poem of Augusto de Campos. Bomba
This performative idea of using digital buttoms states as a semiotical space regards the principles of concrete poetry manifesto : Tension of things-words in space-time. Those states works in a systematic underastanding of the whole poem with the interaction – or action – as part of the poetic language
Between both, I understood the relation that I was facing in the electronic secret collection of Faro de oriente . Since then I prefer to call this collection Los discretos ( the discretes) . Those self contained objet wich in performance aims to find or understand “thetext”. –or what ever does that means. –
“there will not be literature any more. There will be , perhaps , new ways to communicatethat will include language or will use language as basis. As a medium of communication , literature will always be old literature” Ulises Carrión
Ortega Elika (2017) “Not a case of words: Textual Environments and Multimateriality in Between Page and Screen” in Electronic Book Review Journal [Online] Available in : http://electronicbookreview.com/essay/not-a-case-of-words-textual-environments-and-multimateriality-in-between-page-and-screen/ [Acceded:19th August 2018]
Comenio, JA (1638) The Great Didactic Translated into English by by M. W. Keatinge, M.A. New York: Russell & Russell. (1967) [Online]Available from: http://urweb.roehampton.ac.uk/digital-collection/froebel-archive/great-didactic/index.html [Acceded:19th August 2018]
Campos, A ( ca.1968) Incomuni/cable [Online] in Poemamobiles Concreate poetry poem Brazil Available from: http://www2.uol.com.br/augustodecampos/05_05.htm [Acceded 19th August 2018]
Carrion, U (1975) The New Art of Making Books in Kontext 6-7. New York: Center for books arts [Online] Available from http://www.arts.ucsb.edu/faculty/reese/classes/artistsbooks/Ulises%20Carrion,%20The%20New%20Art%20of%20Making%20Books.pdf [Acceded: 19th August 2018]
Carrión, U (1983) “Love Story.” Video – Performance [Online] Available from http://www.li-ma.nl/site/catalogue/art/ulises-carrin/love-story/533 [Acceded: 19th August 2018]
Concrete Poetry Manifesto (1956) [Online] Translated from the portuguese by Jhon Tolman . Brazil, São Paolo Available from http://www2.uol.com.br/augustodecampos/concretepoet.htm [Acceded:19th August 2018]
Ruhé Harry, (1992) “Love Story” in We have won ! Haven’t we ? Ed. Guy Schraenen. Museum Fordor, The Netherlands, Amsterdam.
Emerson, Lori (2018) “Against ‘Lab’ as Free-Floating Signifier: From Appropriation to Counter-Cooptation and Codeswitching” presented in Digital Humanities 18 “Puentes/Bridges” ADHO, Mexico city .
I am so happy that this workshop was possible . It is the first time that “Cuéntanos un secreto” -Tell us a secret project- is developed for english speakers. Secrets coming from Netherlands and randomely distributed with students at Rutgers University-Candem in New Jersey . Most of those dutch secrets were provided by friends and colleagues through the website for the english version of the project .
Tell us a Secret-Candem was a workshop based in two main activities :
– The lecture, “Tell me a secret, an historial sketch” This was aiming to explore different historical example that question the tautologies of the text and the book . What makes a book “book”? What is the text ? How to understand literacy practices in the networked and programable media? . The lecture was focused by understanding concepts and theories as “the eventualize text” (Hayleys 2006), The New art of making books ( Carrion, 1975), “Rebus principles” and Skething interaction: the bifocal display (Buxton 2007). Download presentation [here]
-The workshop: sketch for interactivity and paper prototype.
The objective of the workshop was to encapsulate a secret in an “eventualized object”. We discuss a lot about each hidden experience. -or secrets- We did some sketches and one student did a quick prototype -working –
I hope others students accept my invitation to continue with the develop of the object by web sessions.
Thanks a lot to Jim Brown and Robert Emmons who did possible this wonderful experience in Candem
Hopefully, this project will find outs its own route in “all languages ” . This is about sharing hidden experiences.