On Friday 11 November, we had a very nice workshop on 'UN/REAL - Transcultural Perspectives on digital living, with a fantastic lineup of seven speakers. The workshop was an improvisation, a satellite event to a series of UN/REAL happenings in Tokyo and Tsuru, organized by Professor Bas Groes and his Ph.D. student Max Berghege, in collaboration with many local partners, and with funding from the Daiwa Foundation.
At Kyushu University, we organized a workshop as a part of the Lecture Series of the School of Interdisciplinary Science and Innovation; it also ran as a COIL trial in my (= Jan Lauwereyns's) Cognitive Science course. The workshop was organized in hybrid format at Ito Campus and online. Over 100 participants joined the workshop; 30 in person. The workshop was presented as a four-way collaboration between 1) the School of Interdisciplinary Science and Innovation, Kyushu University, 2) the International Master's Program in Japanese Humanities, Kyushu University, 3) the Centre for Transnational and Transcultural Research, the University of Wolverhampton, and 4) the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, the University of Glasgow. Brief opening remarks were given by Professor Kostas Kontis of the University of Glasgow, Dean of Global Engagement; I took the role of chair for the workshop.
The workshop started with a presentation by Dr Jon Keune from Michigan State University, who talked about "Allures of Solidarity: Ambedkarite, Japanese, and Taiwanese Buddists Online and On the Ground"- three different Buddhist groups and how they employed strategic ambiguity to foster solidarity. Dr Keune's talk also included a video contribution by Ms Tereza Mensikova of Masary University (Czech) on "(Un)Real Digital Presentations of Dalit Activism: Case Study of Blog Platforms in India."
seaweed gatherers, this time talking about "Creating Non-Fiction: Theory and Musical-Dramatic Practice" - with music as a shared object of listening, not language, but not not-language either, a shared sensory experience in or out of the hollow expanse of conventional reality, with even a brief nod to J.J. Gibson's ecological psychology (among references to Jo Kondo and Shizuteru Ueda). The composer then confessed to putting his ideas into practice, for instance, together with the poet and artist Miek Zwamborn and the playwright Graham Eatough.
Yours truly followed on with a flash talk, distributing "Thoughts on 間 for Natural-Born Cyborgs", arguing that we may be cyborgs alright, but there's nothing natural-born about it, we keep noticing at every turn how disembodied our extended cognition really is, to the point of developing such pandemic-related syndromes as Zoom fatigue; still, ever the optimist, I noted that the news was not all bad, we can in fact dive into the UN/REAL to explore and exploit new modes of creativity, metaphorically a type of electrical synapse, joint through gap junctions to be able to do things we never even dreamed of before.
And of course we went overtime, not four hours, but four and a half.
But it was right.
It was amazing. Or as Daryl would say (and said): "It was a memorable experience, and I was pleasantly surprised by the synergies between presentations and presenters that at first glance had little in common."
Thank you, all.