Nicolas Sanin art work sample

Alea iacta est series

Framed drawing white die drawing number 1.
Full drawing number 1
Detail
Detail
Full drawing number 2
Detail
Detail
Detail
Roll chart of drawing number 2 (will come as a small hand-drawn chart in the framed drawings)

30 Shades of gray series

Players (Las Vegas, Bogota, New York)

https://www.lensculture.com/nicolas-sanin

The Wheel of fortune (Roulette drawings)

Slow numbers video documentation

In this page you can find the results form the tested dice so far!

Each of them has been rolled in the latest reggaeton dice dancing mania machine for more than 6000!

https://github.com/nicosanin/Slow-numbers

Feel free to download the number sequences to use it in the most interests or fun way, or both! Please share your findings and experiments, if you manage to do or find something interesting!

More video documentation coming soon! (or not to soon!)

The die is dancing slowly, leaving a colored trace of important historical events. Slowly creating a ever expanding sequence of numbers. Which will the next number be?

Your new favorite color!

The assignment for this week was to create an interface to control lights, using a wifi method. The systems we tried where all based on the idea of using a server to connect the lights using wifi and phone or web browser application to send them instructions.

I looked at the LIFX system at first. It has a huge amount of documentation, and looks very powerful, but also very hard to use. It uses, as I learned from Tom Igoe, an old protocol called SOAP. So I decided to start with the other systems, that seemed a little bit more friendly, specially for a beginner like myself in this field.

With my friend Tushar, we tried the Wemo system, but ran into problems when trying to set it up. Errors that we couldn’t really solve or understand. So after a couple of hours, we decided to give the chance to the next system: The Phillips Hue Lights.

We finally encountered a system that works fine, with great and clear documentation. So after some time trying it and solving the network setting requirements, we finally were able to control the lights, using the well designed Debug user interface provided by Phillips. It is very easy to understand and to use. After familiarizing and playing with it I went back to The code examples from Tom Igoe. I took the example of using one light and decided to add a function that would change colors. So after not too much thought (I got to the point of understanding this enough to start very late in the week) I decided to use the idea of getting a color by surprise. With the idea of not picking a favorite color, but getting one. Kind of the opposite thing we always do!

So i included an HTML input element to receive the names of people in our class. The program will assign a specific color (or hue) to some of us, and to the rest of inputs that don’t match this six specific names a fixed color for any possible enter name value.

The code!

https://github.com/nicosanin/connected_devices/tree/master

var url = ‘128.122.151.172’; // the hub IP address
var username = ‘RCeylvI5FQMsab4Fs8VFgqvg8r9NdDRTQdgBiOM-‘; // fill in your Hub-given username var resultDiv;
var dimmer;
var lightNumber = 1;
var colorChanger;
var colores = [10000, 20000, 30000, 40000, 50000];

function setup() {
createCanvas(1000, 1000);
background(153);
text (“Enter your name and I will give you your new favorite color”,200, 360);
console.log(text);
text (‘Dont forget the Capital letter on your name!’, 250, 385);
resultDiv = createDiv(‘Hub response’); // a div for the Hue hub’s responses
resultDiv.position(10, 50); // position it
dimmer = createSlider(0, 254, 127) // a slider to dim one light
dimmer.position(300, 250); // position it
dimmer.mouseReleased(changeBrightness); // set a mouseReleased callback function
text (‘Change brightness’, 300, 280, 500);
colorChanger = createInput(‘ ‘); //connect to colores
colorChanger.position(300, 300, 500);

colorButton = createButton(“Give me my color pleaaase!!! :)”);
colorButton.position(275, 325, 500);
colorButton.mouseClicked(changeBrightness);

connect(); // connect to Hue hub; it will show all light states
}
/*
this function makes the HTTP GET call to get the light data:
HTTP GET http://your.hue.hub.address/api/username/lights/
/ function connect() { url = “http://” + url + ‘/api/’ + username + ‘/lights/’; httpDo(url, ‘GET’, getLights); } /
this function uses the response from the hub
to create a new div for the UI elements
*/
function getLights(result) {
resultDiv.html(result);
}

function changeBrightness() {
var huechange = 0;
var random = Math.floor(Math.random()*5);
var co = colores[random];
//console.log(co);
if(colorChanger.value() == “Arnab”){
huechange = 10000;
console.log(“it’s Arnab”);
}
if(colorChanger.value() == “Nico”){
huechange = 20000;
console.log(“it’s Nico”);
}
if (colorChanger.value() == “Tom”){
huechange = 30000;
console.log(“it’s Tom”);
}

if (colorChanger.value() == “Tushar”){
huechange = 40000;
console.log(“it’s Tushar”);
}
if (colorChanger.value() == “August”){
huechange = 50000;
console.log(“it’s August”);
if (colorChanger.value() == “Anna”) {
huechange = 60000;
console.log(“it’s Anna”)
}
else {
huechange = 35000;
}

}

//random between o and 65535 ——> int(random(65535))
var brightness = this.value(); // get the value of this slider
var lightState = { // make a JSON object with it
bri: brightness,
on: true,
hue: huechange
}
// make the HTTP call with the JSON object:
setLight(lightNumber, lightState);
}

/*
this function makes an HTTP PUT call to change the properties of the lights:
HTTP PUT http://your.hue.hub.address/api/username/lights/lightNumber/state/
and the body has the light state:
{
on: true/false,
bri: brightness
}
*/
function setLight(whichLight, data) {
var path = url + whichLight + ‘/state/’;

var content = JSON.stringify(data); // convert JSON obj to string
httpDo( path, ‘PUT’, content, ‘text’, getLights); //HTTP PUT the change
}

Simple server assignment #1

For this assignment, the idea was to create a simple server, similar to the class examples, with 3 different functions or restfull Apis. I looked at different example by Tom Igoe and some by Shawn Van Every. It made me a bit more familiarized with the code language used for this purpose, even if I still don’t understand some parts of the code of the more complex examples. So I chose the example of the “age checker” by Tom Igoe, to built my aplication around it (This, after a great deal of anxiety and confussion about how to get started).

So what I managed to do was simple but allowed me to understant the basics of what we saw on last class, and to realize I should learn about HTML and CSS, and also about web sockets.

The functions for the server I wrote are 3:

  1. Selecting a color in terms of text.
  2. Changing the color of the background.
  3. Loading an image to the background. (still does’t work 🙁 )
  1. The first asks you to put a color input by typing a)http://localhost:8080/check/color/red or b)http://localhost:8080/check/color/green, http://localhost:8080/check/color/blue, c)http://localhost:8080/check/color/(or something else). There is a bug I haven’t figured out when I enter blue. It doesn’t show a text message it’s supposed to show.
  2. The second is for you to change the browser’s background. You enter a)http://localhost:8080/check/imageBackground/:imageBackground/change b)http://localhost:8080/check/imageBackground/:imageBackground/(something-else-other-than-change
  3. The third function is for uploading an image. By entering the word image, an image will be loaded in the browser.

The first two work, but the third, It still doesn’t at this point.

The code at this point, without the image load function working properly for the mean time:

https://github.com/nicosanin/connected_devices/blob/master/colors.js

Past work, playing and silly experiments

WWW.NICOLASSANIN.COM

Since my first semester as a student of art in Chile, I’ve been curious about dice. O or you could say I fell in love with them. I started looking at them as a perfect case of design. The concept and the form matched perfectly, and there is nothing that is not essential in their physicality. They “speak” without using words or traditional numbers. I would strongly bet that they would make sense to any possible alien intelligence existing out there in the universe. Their language speaks to all in a very straightforward way, but I wouldn’t say what they have to say is as simple as one could think at first, or is it? Maybe… They are also so beautiful… irresistible for some like me!

Denial of Saint Peter. ca 1615-17.Oil on canvas.

So one day I decided to draw a die. I had of course seen many drawings and representations of them. But in this case the goal was to try to capture their spirit as full as possible, not only a drawing of how they look. So I made a drawing that would represent a dimension a had never seen in their representations: time. They are meant to be used over time, not only once,( but why not?) So they idea was to draw them many times, after rolling them, as we are supposed to do. So I got a large piece of white paper, a black marker, a pencil, a ruler, and started to draw. I decided to make a grid with many squares, each with the size of the dice. It sounds simple, but it’s not that easy! Then I started rolling the dice and making a drawing on each square, based on the face that was on top view on each roll.

The process was very slow and tricky. There was no room for mistakes. So I had to be focused and be sure that my hand was very steady and confident. In the process the randomness of life got in the way, I got very sick. That slowed the process, but it didn’t stop me from rolling the dice and fill the grid, after rolling the dice for more than 2300 times. I got dizzy because I had viral A hepatitis, but the process was very enjoyable other than that: I lost track of the noises of the world and the worries, hopes, and fears on my mind, while my eyes and head jumped between the dots and wondered what the next roll would be.

The result was this kind of drawing:

ALEA JACTA EST, very unlikely.

The resulting image after rolling the dice so many times was very shocking for me. I had never done anything like this ever before. I was just a witness of the dictate of the die. And what the die dictated seamed at the same time in complete randomness or chaos, but somehow organized. It had at the same time a geometrical and organic look. It gave a static feeling, but also a dynamic one.

So this got me into the rest of the experiments I have done as dice and roulette lover or visual artist. This are some of the experiments I have done so far in the same spirit, thinking about playing and the concept of randomness and different ways of “creating it” The key question behind this silly experiments is related to the following questions:

“Is there such thing as randomness?”

“If there is such thing as randomness, can we understand or control the levels of randomness?

“How can we produce systems to produce random outcomes?”

“How can they be improved or controlled?”

“Why can’t we be sure about the next roll of the dice or roulette when we have a database with past outcomes and the tools of probability to help us making a prediction?

“Could there be a perfect probability tool to predict the next roll of the dice?”

Take a bus, while you are sitting(if you get a seat) take a pen and place it on a piece of paper. Let your hand move as the bus travel. Let it drift through the paper. Try not to look at the paper. When you reach your destination remove the hand from the paper. Repeat whenever you feel like becoming an artist on the bus.

The bus drawings

It’s a Sony!

An interactive installation. A broken cd player that works with the open lid invites you to draw on top of the white cd, while you listen to a song. You can take the cd home or place it with others done by people.



Color Bingo

The Wheel of fortune!

The idea in this case was making drawings out of different toy roulettes. By repetition, triying to reveal how each of them was biased towards certain numbers. And off course, to produce beautiful crazy vibrating and almost hallucinating compositions.

The Reflex project

A photographic game about randomness, memory, imagination and the city.

Soldiers Playing Cards and Dice(The cheats) . Detail. Valentin de Boulogne. ca 1615 Oil on canvas. National Gallery of art Washington D.C.

30 Shades of Gray.

The Traffic Jam!

An interactive sound toy to pretend you are a musician, and to enjoy or torture others and yourself with sounds from cars!

The natural randomness oracle.

Put natural things like rice or beans or lentils inside the container. Click the mouse, and recieve a picture. Relate the image to your current thoughts about your life.

The Sandman Oracle

Mark Sandman was a very talented musician. He played in different bands. He died on stage in Italy, while playing with Morphine. “His spirit now lives inside this computer. If you give him pepper for his ghost french fries, he will tell you what’s on his mind”

I started realizing that rolling the dice by hand is not enough to get as many results as by doing it with an automated system. So I started thinking seriously about making a system to do similar drawings as I was doing but in an automatic and more efficient way. This is why I came to ITP. Now that I’ve been here, I’m thrilled with the possibilities offered by technology that I never imagined. I’m very surprised to see this, that once I thought to be impossible for me to do is finally happening. I have considered different aproaches and directions, that offer different kind of posibilities around this concept of natural or physical randomness and the aid of computers and electronics for this purpose.

Postmodern Tragedy

Postmodern tragedy:

How can we use randomness to produce positive change?

“All theater is necessarily political because all the activities of man are political and theater is one of them.” – Augusto Boal

 

That was the initial question. A very difficult question at first, that haunted me and made my mind blank for about two weeks. I couldn’t think about any idea or answer. Then, I brought the idea of playing and chance. How could we use the idea of play and the use of chance could create change in an individual and society? So then I started to have conversations with friends at ITP about the subject.

From there, I decided to use randomness as a way to think about issues that we face in our context. Problems that affect us, or others. To use randomness to bring some of those problems that others face, so we can think about them by a process of empathy with them in a playful but meaningful way.

In the process of thinking about this question I also decided to address something, I’m concerned about. The quality of our daily conversations. I often find myself talking about very trivial and boring things, that don’t move my mind, or the person I’m talking to, and don’t leave us anything to learn. It’s ok to have stupid conversations once in a while, but interesting conversations really change our minds and lives.

Thinking about conversations and their quality, the topics and also their limitations, I thought that there was an important thing to think about: our own beliefs, backgrounds, sets of values and egos. These often get in the way of a good conversation. Very often I find myself defending ideas because at some point I decided they were right. I think this is common. I’m not Freud or anything close to that, but I suspect that in order to keep our sanity, we have a mechanism to create a narrative about who we are and what we believe, our values, rules, things we like/dislike, are part of that. We feel comfortable playing our own character. But sometimes we get stuck with the character, and we need some conflict to make the character change. We need to force the character to look in a mirror, not only to recognize himself, but also to realize what’s good to change, and what to keep.

So then I decided to make a game to trigger conversations. I thought about the idea of the game of life. But I didn’t want a narrow and conventional narrative as we find in that game. I wanted the players to have more room to imagine and create more complex, weird and why not absurd and funny narratives. Narratives that would also address issues that as citizens and responsible humans, we should think about and bring into our thoughts and actions. The next question is what good can this bring us?

I have been also thinking about that for some weeks. Talking to some friends we realized that we are all the time facing what we sometimes call “random events”. Things that happen and come out of the blue, not out of our Google calendar. We have to embrace this “random events” in life and try to harmonize them with the ones on our Google calendars. We accommodate them in the best possible way. That skill is gained with the passing of time and what is often known as experience. So maybe by playing a game that makes us face random events and circumstances we probably would never consider to be close to our life paths, we could gain skills to face the ones that will certainly come our way. At the same time, this could lead us to understand why other people react in ways we could condemn or question. We could also ask what could we do from preventing people to face these difficult situations. Even when we are talking to others we are making predictions, we are calculating the effect of our words and gestures, and the tone of our voice. We try to read their gestures, attempting to predict what their reaction to our words will be. We also make our phrases trying to anticipate what others will think about them. This makes us think about another important question: how do we make decisions?

It is difficult to decide, isn’t it? Maybe… Let’s flip the coin!

We are aware that our decisions will produce an effect, but we never know the total reach of their effect. We calculate as much as we can, and then make the decisions. So how free are we when we make decisions? Another interesting question! Considering this last points, I thought about the idea of negotiating with someone else, to create a fictional person that can create a distance from both people, and will force them also to negotiate, and to think in a slower way about how they will act and react to the “random events” that they will face. By playing someone else they will have to adopt other problems that are distanced from their experiences. They will have to practice the art of decision making, but this time, their consciousness will have to negotiate with another one. In this process, they will have to face another way of thinking about decision making, other moral values, and beliefs, other ways of reaching logical conclusions, etc.

As I mentioned in the previous reflections about this project, the random conversations, led me to hear about the Theater of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal. A theatrical experience created to produce social and political change, by means of making people think about particular circumstances that are problematic in different contexts, and need to be addressed urgently. In very short terms, Boal’s idea is to hack in the traditional structure of theater and use it as a subversive tool to create the dominating narratives that are leading to the oppression of individuals and/or groups of society.

“Theater is change and not simple presentation of what exists: it is becoming and not being” – Augusto Boal

In the process of deciding what to do I took the theater of the oppressed as the main reference for the game to be created. But the goal was to take some of its strategies into a game that could be played by small groups of people, between 2 and around 8 people at most. The goal here is creating a flexible and easy platform to create an experience that would be as engaging and meaningful as the one they successfully accomplish in their performances. The difference I want with the Theater of the Oppressed is giving more room for the participants to keep thinking about the questions that came up during the experience. I wasn’t absolutely convinced about the possibility of creating a fast agreement, as seemed to happen in the experience of the theater of the Oppressed experience (or the illusion of it). I think that the process of assimilating new beliefs and ideas, arguments, etc, take some time to be digested and assimilated.

The part of creating the game is the current state of the project. I found the Story cube dices to be very effective to trigger the imagination of players to generate narratives. I also found how engaging the Oracle of the eight can be. People would start rolling them compulsively and would start asking questions about their lives. I decided to use this tools as components of the conversation game. Something else I liked, was the game cards form the workshop by Sarah Rothberg. The cards would also allow interesting dynamics and associations. The other component to be introduced would be a bag with a list of topics to be addressed in the game. This, taken from the Bingo games.

The instructions of the game:

For each player, pick the roll to play in the game between this two: 

The Event Cards

When Fate hands you the Time to die card follow these instructions:

 

The story cubes (Pick one and roll it to get an icon) 

The Oracle of the Eight (Roll each of the three dice and make a number, then look for a message)

 

 

“We may become a part of our local community by sharing stories but we discover who we are through the narratives of our family. Some stories take on the status of the written word. They have been told so often that they cannot be altered. “

Elizabeth Grugeon and Paul Gardner

 

(Commercial break)

What did I learn?

I learned how to narrow my disperse interests into a particular one, that includes that most important aspects. That means making decisions after thinking and analyzing the ideas and goals. Clearing things out is not an easy task, but now it’s better with the tools I learned, like the way of making maps and diagrams, from different kinds, that allow us to see and think about our projects in different ways.

What would I do differently?

I would follow the idea of making and then thinking and not the other way around. Both are valid, but I got stuck in the process by thinking too much and leaving the designing for later. I found out that I’m very shy for playtesting, and need to solve that, given it’s importance. Also how central that is when you are designing games. The players or users are the bosses. They have all the power, and it’s better to make things easier for them for the game to work. Then you can adapt to that, and insert your interests in the experience.

  • What critique/feedback did you receive?

I should test and playtest and test…

Something that was criticized by different people, was how difficult and complex the rules of the game were. I had to struggle to make it as simple as possible, to clean up the experience to keep the most important aspects. To make it easier for the players, while keeping the central goals intact. I’m still in that process. The audience for the project is not clear. Why would people be interested in playing this game? Who would be interested? In which context? Those questions still remain unresolved.

  • What was inspiring? What parts?

Thinking about the purpose of randomness as a tool for creating change was at first something that seemed like an absurd idea. Something that sounded like walking a camel through the hole of a needle. In the end, it was inspiring to see how what seemed like a forced idea gave way to interesting questions and a whole field of possibilities, starting with this project, that I hope to continue and to see it creating a positive impact somehow.

It was inspiring to see the reaction of people that I talked to about the project. It sounded like it has the potential to become an interesting and real project. I’m excited about the idea of taking the project to the real world and having the chance to go outside and talk to people with similar interests, like the Theather of the Oppressed in New York. I had never done that with a project, and now I understand the potential of reaching out for research and collaboration.

  • How did you balance research and experimentation?

I really was surprised by the power of the academic research. I didn’t expect it to be so important on a practical project like the one I’m starting. I found fascinating and very inspiring books and areas of knowledge I had never considered to explore, that certainly are opening my mind to understand the nature of learning, communication, and social interactions. This is key to the project and will contribute to make the project more solid conceptually and pragmatically.

What will you take with you going forward?

The idea of making and thinking on parallel as a creative process will be central to this and other projects. The importance of socializing the project to get feedback and references will be something I will also look forward to do in the next projects. Also the practice of reaching out to other disciplines to make things more interesting. I also learned how to look for books, articles, and resources in a very useful way. Linked to this, the necessity to filter the immense resources and references, that could lead one to get lost in the ocean of information and possibilities. Something I need to learn about is to generate a structure for managing the project in terms of tasks, timeline, activities, and stages of the process. To create a workflow that will allow me to advance in practical experiments and theoretical research, field research and play-testing, and moments to stop and see what has happened, and then decide what actions to take.

Something I’ll take away from the guest of the class is the idea of allowing the flow of things in the projects. To trust pieces will eventually fall into place, even if they are not perfect. As my mother says, perfect is the enemy of excellent things. In this particular case, that means I should have play-tested even at the risk of failing in a ridiculous way.

Experts I talked to:

 

Katie Diamond. Member of the Theater of the Oppressed organization in New York. In charge of Community Engagement and Events.

Sarah Rothberg. Professor at ITP Tisch School of the arts. NYU. New media artist.

I should also talk soon to the teachers in the game department at NYU. 

Bibliography

 

Theater of the Oppressed. Agusto Boal.

The art of storytelling for teachers and pupils. Using stories to develop literacy in primary classrooms. Elizabeth Grugeon and Paul Gardner. David Fulton Publishers London. Published in Great Britain in the year 2000. ISBN 1-85346-617-4 

 Life Lessons through storytelling. Children’s Exploration of Ethics. Donna Eder with Regina Holyan. Foreword by Gregory Cajete. Indiana University Press.2010. Bloomington and Indianapolis. ISBN 978-0-253-22244-2. 

In the presence of each other. A pedagogy of storytelling. Johanna Kuyvenhoven. University of Toronto Press 2009. ISBN 978-0-8020-9915-0.

Learning through Storytelling in higher education. Using Reflection & Experience to Improve Learning. Janice McDrury. Maxine Alterio. Dunmore Press Limited, 2002. ISBN 0 74944038 4.

How to design educational games; a game design manual for teachers and curriculum developers. Raymond A. GlazierCambridge, ABT Associates 1970 ISBN 9783838264233

Developing serious games.Bergeron, Bryan P • 2006 Publisher: Charles River Media ISBN: 9781584506409

Serious games : mechanisms and effects Michael J Cody; Ute Ritterfeld; Peter Vorderer New York ; London : Routledge 2009 ISBN: : 9781135848910 (e-book: PDF) ISBN: : 9781135848866

 

Another important resource to use is the NYU game library. To explore games and find references that could be useful.

 

The Open Library

Dice music

 

Dice music for computational ears.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Instructions:

 

Roll a die with six sides.

Write the resulting number on a file.

Repeat 500 times.

Assign a sound value to each number.

Prepare yourself for the sound.

Play the sequence of sounds.

 

The questions to explore:

 

How random this dice is?

How can I perceive the random pattern generated by the dice?

An attempt to represent the dice in the dimension it is meant for, time.

The tension between order and chaos.

The sound piece is inspired by the Fluxus movement ideas, and artists like John Cage, that looked for inviting randomness into the process of art-making. And also to the works I have been doing exploring randomness through the repetition and visualization of “random actions” Please visit my website and see the ALEA JACTA EST section:  http://www.nicolassanin.com/

 

The un(comfort) zone

The (un)comfort zone

I’ve been thinking about the ideas of playing, randomness, dialogue, tolerance, and connection with other people, and how conversations can change the way we think and act in our lives in different ways, according to our beliefs. How even small actions reveal the way we think, and our values. But also how dialogue with others can open the way we think and see reality, so we can realize how we are sometimes making wrong decisions without being aware of it.  Also how sometimes we walk away of the possibility of difficult topics and possible disagreements.

For some time I have realized how western culture, there is a strong tendency to be individualistic.  Just by looking at the heroes, we see how they pretend to solve the problems by themselves. In the process, underestimating the potential of the collective potential to create change. Or maybe they just serve as a way to make us realize how our individualistic approach to life is creating a need for these superheroes that can solve our problems with their miraculous superpowers.  This individualist and selfish tendency are leading, some of us, to isolate and become busy people that don’t leave enough time and space for conversation and “non-productive” moments. Social moments that we share with strangers and friends that we used to have before. We have all the social media, parties, collective ports and others spaces to interact with others. But in most of these circumstances, we often don’t find an adequate space to talk about important and/or interesting things.  Another point is that some of us, have a tendency to talk to people that we feel have a connection or common ground with, somehow. Wanting to feel comfortable when we recognize ourselves in them. When we agree, we feel a happy and comforting feeling. And some of us tend to scape disagreements. Disagreements are awkward moments but are necessary to produce change. We can try, by creating a safe and respectful space, in which the uneasiness of disagreement is removed, by shifting the attention in a new direction. We will face the challenge of becoming a different person for the duration of a playful activity.

I was thinking about creating a space to connect strangers or people that already know each other. A playful space that places them in a position where they have to talk outside of their own point of view. So participants can distance from their own self’s and open to other experiences and ways of thinking. A space to look at problems, challenges, and situations from the real world, from a critical, but playful way. To set rules that shake the ground and the status quo of their mindsets.

An issue I want to also address is the problem of not being able to touch sensitive subjects in our normal conversations. We have to be careful of what others can think about us, and also on not hurting the others with our comments. I think that that can be changed with a game with a set of rules, that include randomness, roll-play and disruptive strategies that lead to “breaking the ice”. And that way the conversation can go into different directions that create a shift from our common way of thinking. The idea is that we can simulate situations, develop stories and step in other people’s shoes using this playful fictional space.

When I talked to Seho Cabrian about this subject, he introduced me to the Theater of the Oppressed. The Theater of the Oppressed has the idea of using a theatrical method to promote political change. Augusto Boal talks about art as a political vehicle for making change. The method uses different tools to make people question their way of thinking, so they realize how they can improve as social beings. By creating a fictional space, with tension and dramatic conflict, the goal is to produce a cathartic effect on the participants. The catharsis is produced when they become aware of how they can make positive change in the real world, by realizing specific aspects that they hadn’t been considering before the play. Also making people question themselves about how responsible are they being as part of society. It is very effective as a tool  for change, because the goal is to make us feel more as members of a society, than unique and selfish individuals. The method, as I understand it, also tries to make the participants think about how our actions, are a reflection of our society, which has vices and virtues, as all of us are. The idea is not to make us feel bad as individuals, but to encourage us to feel and become a more important part of the community, a more active part of it. That our roll and small actions do matter, even if we think they are small and irrelevant in scale. To make us think about our future selves and our own potential.

“Theater is change and not simple presentation of what exists: it is becoming and not being” – Augusto Boal

That was the idea of the experiment I did for my seven-day practice. I found an interesting connection with the reflection Boal does in his Theater of the Oppressed book. When he analyzes Aristotel’s coercive idea of tragedy, a tool for enforcing the law and moral values of the state, he talks about the concept of virtue. He says that virtue is achieved by the repetition of actions, by the idea of creating positive habits. That idea led me to the example of the simple gesture of picking up 5 to 10 plastic bottles from the street floor, and placing them in a proper recycling bin. It would reveal a vice/virtue of society. A relationship between a collective problem/solution. This simple and almost symbolic action was at the same time a performance, a political statement, and a theatrical gesture, on a very small scale.

“All theater is necessarily political because all the activities of man are political and theater is one of them.” – Augusto Boal

What to do?

I’m considering different ideas to design the (un)comfort zone around. I found a very effective game to create stories in a collaborative way. It’s called Story Cubes. Two or more people collaborate to make a story based on the results of rolling dice. The nine dice have icons that evoke objects that the players have to appropriate to create a step in the story. This works, by dividing the dice and taking turns, after choosing a random topic or title for the story. What I’m considering is using this strategy to join it with the idea of the Aristothelic tragedy, and the theater of the oppressed method. Also modifying the rules to create more conflict and tension than the normal in the case of the Story cube games. From my tests with the story cubes, the stories people create, are very spontaneous, sometimes funny and absurd, but not a single time have people developed a serious or conflictive story. I’m considering in introducing a third element or party that works as the hand of fate, to introduce conflict, disruption and elements that question the actions and decisions of players. Also a final part meant to generate a reflection of “what to take away from the story”. Much in the spirit of the game of life, which make’s us face life challenges by the dictate of randomness in the form of a roulette.

Another element that can add to the idea of how external events coming into our life’s, is the idea of an oracle and a figure of a random event messenger, evoking the messenger of the gods, “Mercury”. This will cause players to face this challenges and react in creative ways to include them in their story. They will be forced to make moral decisions and actions, creating a debate between the players.

I found a group that is implementing the theater of the oppressed method in the context of New York. I’m attending a show and will meet after the show with them, to listen to their experience, and also tell them about the (un)comfort zone, to get some valuable feedback.

https://www.tonyc.nyc/ The Theater of the oppressed in New York.

I also found some interesting readings about conversation activities in school contexts.

About the act of conversation:

“We may become a part of our local community by sharing stories but we discover who we are through the narratives of our family. Some stories take on the status of the written word. They have been told so often that they cannot be altered. “

“The art of storytelling for teachers an pupils. Using stories to develop literacy in primary classrooms”. Page 5. Elizabeth Grugeon and Paul Gardner. David Fulton Publishers London. Published in Great Britain in the year 2000. ISBN 1-85346-617-4

In this quote, it’s very interesting how we built our own narratives and values, based on the stories we hear in the context we group up and inhabit. Those stories then get incorporated into our own by a process of accommodation. I find it interesting how families make creative corrections to their family stories, justifying bad decisions and actions done by their members. There is in most cases a complicity to hide them. Also a tendency to glorify their personalities and the old times. It’s also interesting how the conversations about that past reveal the way the members of families think in the present time. We also tend to identify with our ancestors and to replicate their good deeds, defend their values, sometimes try to continue with their legacy and become inspired by their good actions.

I also found to be very interesting about storytelling. About the potential, it offers for change.

“Summarizing the work of several research projects that studied children’s responses to stories, Protherough Identified ‘six things’ that stories did to them; 1) They caused physical changes (feelings of dizziness, or nausea); 2) they prompted the recall of past experiences; 3) they caused readers to speculate on ‘what might be’; 4) they instigated changes in attitude; 5) they encouraged empathy with characters; 6) they brought about emotional change. Story reading and storytelling can be a truly seductive experience and we might add to Photerough’s list the potential of the story as a medium for teaching and learning. Given the power of the event then, the act of storytelling can be an extremely effective strategy for establishing and building relationships between children of different ages.”

Taken from: The art of storytelling for teachers and pupils. Using stories to develop literacy in primary classrooms.

Elizabeth Grugeon and Paul Gardner. David Fulton Publishers London. Published in Great Britain in the year 2000. ISBN 1-85346-617-4 Page 99.

It’s interesting to note how stories can even affect our bodies, causing strong sensations. Also how they make us think about.

When I think about how children develop their social skills, I think about my cute nephews and realize how important the socialization process is for their development. When they started school they soon became much more complex human beings. The exposure to stories and conversations made a great impact. They started to talk in a much better way, and they would have many more things to say than before. The stimulus that conversations produce is very powerful, and not only for children. We confront our experience to other, and we take and give, in the process of understanding the other and trying to make sense to the other. Our exposure to the unknown expands our minds. When we meet new people we feel like the world got bigger and more interesting, as it happens when we travel.

The next question of how good our conversations are in our normal routines. How much we learn from them. How much they are changing the way we understand and deal with reality? I often find myself repeating very similar conversations with my friends and family members. It can get boring when we insist in talking about the same subjects, and also trying to agree as much as possible. So why don’t we try to introduce some chaos into our conversations to see what comes out of that?

Other resources yet to investigate:

The man of the dice. A novel written by Luke Reinhardt. (In this novel the character is bored about his own life, and decides to leave all his decisions to be taken by a die (trivial and important) . The book questions the idea of a fixed and static personality, and also the danger of the lack of a structured “permanent” personality. Also how our close social circle and society expects us not to change in a short period of time.

Some parts of the process…

uncomfort - 18 uncomfort - 17 uncomfort - 16 uncomfort - 15 uncomfort - 14 uncomfort - 13 uncomfort - 12 uncomfort - 11 uncomfort - 10 uncomfort - 9 uncomfort - 8 uncomfort - 7 uncomfort - 6 uncomfort - 5 uncomfort - 4 uncomfort - 3 uncomfort - 2 uncomfort - 1
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Un(comfort zone)

The (un)comfort zone

I’ve been thinking about the ideas of playing, randomness, dialogue, tolerance, and connection with other people, and how conversations can change the way we think and act in our lives in different ways, according to our beliefs. How even small actions reveal the way we think, and our values. But also how dialogue with others can open the way we think and see reality, so we can realize how we are sometimes making wrong decisions without being aware of it.  Also how sometimes we walk away of the possibility of difficult topics and possible disagreements.

For some time I have realized how western culture, there is a strong tendency to be individualistic.  Just by looking at the heroes, we see how they pretend to solve the problems by themselves. In the process, underestimating the potential of the collective potential to create change. Or maybe they just serve as a way to make us realize how our individualistic approach to life is creating a need for these superheroes that can solve our problems with their miraculous superpowers.  This individualist and selfish tendency are leading, some of us, to isolate and become busy people that don’t leave enough time and space for conversation and “non-productive” moments. Social moments that we share with strangers and friends that we used to have before. We have all the social media, parties, collective ports and others spaces to interact with others. But in most of these circumstances, we often don’t find an adequate space to talk about important and/or interesting things.  Another point is that some of us, have a tendency to talk to people that we feel have a connection or common ground with, somehow. Wanting to feel comfortable when we recognize ourselves in them. When we agree, we feel a happy and comforting feeling. And some of us tend to scape disagreements. Disagreements are awkward moments but are necessary to produce change. We can try, by creating a safe and respectful space, in which the uneasiness of disagreement is removed, by shifting the attention in a new direction. We will face the challenge of becoming a different person for the duration of a playful activity.

I was thinking about creating a space to connect strangers or people that already know each other. A playful space that places them in a position where they have to talk outside of their own point of view. So participants can distance from their own self’s and open to other experiences and ways of thinking. A space to look at problems, challenges, and situations from the real world, from a critical, but playful way. To set rules that shake the ground and the status quo of their mindsets.

An issue I want to also address is the problem of not being able to touch sensitive subjects in our normal conversations. We have to be careful of what others can think about us, and also on not hurting the others with our comments. I think that that can be changed with a game with a set of rules, that include randomness, roll-play and disruptive strategies that lead to “breaking the ice”. And that way the conversation can go into different directions that create a shift from our common way of thinking. The idea is that we can simulate situations, develop stories and step in other people’s shoes using this playful fictional space.

When I talked to Seho Cabrian about this subject, he introduced me to the Theater of the Oppressed. The Theater of the Oppressed has the idea of using a theatrical method to promote political change. Augusto Boal talks about art as a political vehicle for making change. The method uses different tools to make people question their way of thinking, so they realize how they can improve as social beings. By creating a fictional space, with tension and dramatic conflict, the goal is to produce a cathartic effect on the participants. The catharsis is produced when they become aware of how they can make positive change in the real world, by realizing specific aspects that they hadn’t been considering before the play. Also making people question themselves about how responsible are they being as part of society. It is very effective as a tool  for change, because the goal is to make us feel more as members of a society, than unique and selfish individuals. The method, as I understand it, also tries to make the participants think about how our actions, are a reflection of our society, which has vices and virtues, as all of us are. The idea is not to make us feel bad as individuals, but to encourage us to feel and become a more important part of the community, a more active part of it. That our roll and small actions do matter, even if we think they are small and irrelevant in scale. To make us think about our future selves and our own potential.

“Theater is change and not simple presentation of what exists: it is becoming and not being” – Augusto Boal

That was the idea of the experiment I did for my seven-day practice. I found an interesting connection with the reflection Boal does in his Theater of the Oppressed book. When he analyzes Aristotel’s coercive idea of tragedy, a tool for enforcing the law and moral values of the state, he talks about the concept of virtue. He says that virtue is achieved by the repetition of actions, by the idea of creating positive habits. That idea led me to the example of the simple gesture of picking up 5 to 10 plastic bottles from the street floor, and placing them in a proper recycling bin. It would reveal a vice/virtue of society. A relationship between a collective problem/solution. This simple and almost symbolic action was at the same time a performance, a political statement, and a theatrical gesture, on a very small scale.

“All theater is necessarily political because all the activities of man are political and theater is one of them.” – Augusto Boal

What to do?

I’m considering different ideas to design the (un)comfort zone around. I found a very effective game to create stories in a collaborative way. It’s called Story Cubes. Two or more people collaborate to make a story based on the results of rolling dice. The nine dice have icons that evoke objects that the players have to appropriate to create a step in the story. This works, by dividing the dice and taking turns, after choosing a random topic or title for the story. What I’m considering is using this strategy to join it with the idea of the Aristothelic tragedy, and the theater of the oppressed method. Also modifying the rules to create more conflict and tension than the normal in the case of the Story cube games. From my tests with the story cubes, the stories people create, are very spontaneous, sometimes funny and absurd, but not a single time have people developed a serious or conflictive story. I’m considering in introducing a third element or party that works as the hand of fate, to introduce conflict, disruption and elements that question the actions and decisions of players. Also a final part meant to generate a reflection of “what to take away from the story”. Much in the spirit of the game of life, which make’s us face life challenges by the dictate of randomness in the form of a roulette.

Another element that can add to the idea of how external events coming into our life’s, is the idea of an oracle and a figure of a random event messenger, evoking the messenger of the gods, “Mercury”. This will cause players to face this challenges and react in creative ways to include them in their story. They will be forced to make moral decisions and actions, creating a debate between the players.

I found a group that is implementing the theater of the oppressed method in the context of New York. I’m attending a show and will meet after the show with them, to listen to their experience, and also tell them about the (un)comfort zone, to get some valuable feedback.

https://www.tonyc.nyc/ The Theater of the oppressed in New York.

I also found some interesting readings about conversation activities in school contexts.

About the act of conversation:

“We may become a part of our local community by sharing stories but we discover who we are through the narratives of our family. Some stories take on the status of the written word. They have been told so often that they cannot be altered. “

“The art of storytelling for teachers an pupils. Using stories to develop literacy in primary classrooms”. Page 5. Elizabeth Grugeon and Paul Gardner. David Fulton Publishers London. Published in Great Britain in the year 2000. ISBN 1-85346-617-4

In this quote, it’s very interesting how we built our own narratives and values, based on the stories we hear in the context we group up and inhabit. Those stories then get incorporated into our own by a process of accommodation. I find it interesting how families make creative corrections to their family stories, justifying bad decisions and actions done by their members. There is in most cases a complicity to hide them. Also a tendency to glorify their personalities and the old times. It’s also interesting how the conversations about that past reveal the way the members of families think in the present time. We also tend to identify with our ancestors and to replicate their good deeds, defend their values, sometimes try to continue with their legacy and become inspired by their good actions.

I also found to be very interesting about storytelling. About the potential, it offers for change.

“Summarizing the work of several research projects that studied children’s responses to stories, Protherough Identified ‘six things’ that stories did to them; 1) They caused physical changes (feelings of dizziness, or nausea); 2) they prompted the recall of past experiences; 3) they caused readers to speculate on ‘what might be’; 4) they instigated changes in attitude; 5) they encouraged empathy with characters; 6) they brought about emotional change. Story reading and storytelling can be a truly seductive experience and we might add to Photerough’s list the potential of the story as a medium for teaching and learning. Given the power of the event then, the act of storytelling can be an extremely effective strategy for establishing and building relationships between children of different ages.”

Taken from: The art of storytelling for teachers and pupils. Using stories to develop literacy in primary classrooms.

Elizabeth Grugeon and Paul Gardner. David Fulton Publishers London. Published in Great Britain in the year 2000. ISBN 1-85346-617-4 Page 99.

It’s interesting to note how stories can even affect our bodies, causing strong sensations. Also how they make us think about.

When I think about how children develop their social skills, I think about my cute nephews and realize how important the socialization process is for their development. When they started school they soon became much more complex human beings. The exposure to stories and conversations made a great impact. They started to talk in a much better way, and they would have many more things to say than before. The stimulus that conversations produce is very powerful, and not only for children. We confront our experience to other, and we take and give, in the process of understanding the other and trying to make sense to the other. Our exposure to the unknown expands our minds. When we meet new people we feel like the world got bigger and more interesting, as it happens when we travel.

The next question of how good our conversations are in our normal routines. How much we learn from them. How much they are changing the way we understand and deal with reality? I often find myself repeating very similar conversations with my friends and family members. It can get boring when we insist in talking about the same subjects, and also trying to agree as much as possible. So why don’t we try to introduce some chaos into our conversations to see what comes out of that?

Other resources yet to investigate:

The man of the dice. A novel written by Luke Reinhardt. (In this novel the character is bored about his own life, and decides to leave all his decisions to be taken by a die (trivial and important) . The book questions the idea of a fixed and static personality, and also the danger of the lack of a structured “permanent” personality. Also how our close social circle and society expects us not to change in a short period of time.

Some parts of the process…

uncomfort - 1 uncomfort - 2 uncomfort - 3 uncomfort - 4 uncomfort - 5 uncomfort - 6 uncomfort - 7 uncomfort - 8 uncomfort - 9 uncomfort - 10 uncomfort - 11 uncomfort - 12 uncomfort - 13 uncomfort - 14 uncomfort - 15 uncomfort - 16 uncomfort - 17 uncomfort - 18
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