Re-Thinking Education as Conversation – Peer Reviews

Review One - Mika Conradie

My review will focus on the visual work of the submitter, with a focus on the formal, lived and cerebral work of diagrams and maps. Below are associative responses and questions that have emerged from my engagement with the use of digital diagrams and maps.

Middling Immediacy

I can never help but to start with Brian Massumi when faced with diagrams, with maps, with the confluence of the visual and activism. In Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts, Massumi begins:

"Something’s doing. That much we already know. Something’s happening. Try as we might to gain an observers remove, that’s where we find ourselves: in the midst of it. There’s happening doing. This is where philosophical thinking must begin: immediately in the middle."

And continues:

"To begin to think life, we must begin in the middle with an activist sense of no remove: in the middling immediacy of its always 'going on'."

Much later, in the same book, Massumi calls the diagrammic form and gesture a “technique of existence”.

Movement

In the beginning of its word-life, ‘diagram’ suggested a ‘writing through’ (from the Greek etymology: dia ‘through’ + graphein ‘write’). More motion (gesture) than content, writing moves in from one side, and out the other side (of): creating openings, forming channels. The transversal, the angled approach, - confluence of form and movement.

Forms of Orientation

Mapping attempts to imitate territories, events, situations and phenomena as they are or have been, and so is temporally embedded in either representations of the present or the past. Diagramming is utilised to organise that which in the present is still at the stage of imagining - an imagining of the organisation of future relations. As such, the diagram sets a space of potentiality – of what could be. The diagrammatic is draft or it is embryo or it is dormant. The diagrammatic is a yet-to-be-completed. The diagrammatic might never be completed. Whereas mapping distils existing orders and systems and attempts a representation that will aid in the navigation of what already is, diagramming attempts a navigation of a space and of relations that is yet.

Despite distinctions, what is at stake in both mapping and diagraming is the ownership of an imaginary of spatial unfolding and relations.

Fugitive Lines

In “Re-Thinking Education as Conversation” the map and the diagram interrelate.
The map locates and provides the references, the practice of diagramming retains openness, valuing systems of transference over closed structures. Together they reveal what has been elided and attempt to recuperate and claim that which exists but is ignored - through placement, proximity, palimpsest. To map in order to distil on one's own terms is to subvert the colonial foundations of mapping (i.e to desire to understand and thus control a territory - land, body, ideology etc). The fugitive does not only organise, they reorganise. To be in the immediate middle constantly. To act on, always. To be unknowable and perceived, at the same time.

Could the map-diagram be an ideal formal gesture of representing how fugitive potentiality operates?

Questions for fugitives who diagram:

How to sustain the projective, generative, radical sense of the map-diagram against a regime of calcified structures that seek to appropriate it? How to do so while still getting things done? How to continue living it as a sensibility beyond its aesthetic or representative form?

References:

Massumi, B. 2011. Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts, MIT Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Review Two (anonymous)

I am confused by this work, is it a digital expression of sorts, does it move-not yet, so it is then an artwork- or perhaps a homage to Mignolo and a reflection on the author's experiences as an academic at a south African university, so for now I imagine it is an interface and then it has enormous potential that means the digital slide on the art-work expression and that would mean a development of this proposal but it also means making the written work accessible to the practice. As a work it is not yet clear.

What are we looking at? The artwork? The authors journey though very strong but often confusing politics, this thought feels incomplete.

In terms of the usability of the interface and the user's experience of the project, here there is enormous potential, the work is called re-thinking education as conversation so have a conversation find a way that the essay and then the artwork talk to each other.

This is Conceptually strong and very interesting. Undoubtedly this project has an excellent interdisciplinary conversation, (but its not yet conversing between the visual and the academic), rearing it back to academia, the work could have connection to a multi-disciplinary art and an emerging discipline of studying the tertiary.

The online manifestation of the work is certainly original. It is most definitely challenging, but the work needs some further clarity and conversation around who is talking to whom, and if it is a binary, which has for the last twenty-five years been challenged as a word that could insert itself into the conversation, so how does then this first challenge of your thought find its way back to the artwork and to your reader who maybe be multiple? The written introduction is good but perhaps needs to have stronger connections to the mapping process.