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The Art of Questioning/Test Lab 2021–22

As artists / writers / makers we inhabit a sphere of strange phenomena where seemingly disconnected entities connect. Our playground is made of pluralised, multidimensional surfaces that give some kind of sense (thickness, folds, erotic, intensity) to the fabric of our world(s). As a research environment, Art of Questioning/Test Lab is run mainly as a laboratory. Researchers are asked to think as a form of making: to “inhabit” epistemology and method in such a way as to leave instrumental reason, dialectical thinking, speculative / object-oriented philosophy and most forms of metaphysics at the door; to embrace practice as a logic of sense and as a form of knowledge and intelligence rooted in curiosity, poetics, sensuality.

The seminar runs in two distinct, but interconnected ways. At the Art of Questioning sessions, we discuss texts with the specific emphasis on looking at the world through the eyes of the author whose work we are interrogating. At the Test Lab sessions, the emphasis is on exploring the processes of making and practice as a form of knowledge formation.

In past years we addressed questions of method, we have asked: what does it mean to have a method? How can methodology of one’s project be developed and brought to light? We approached this question by looking at a number of radical, critical, and provocative writers who have different and often contradictory approaches to method. Most recently we connected the dots between the work of Christina Sharpe, Kiguro Macharia, Karen Barad, J.F. Lyotard, Paul Taylor, Paul Gilroy and Patrice Haynes.

Tools of the trade this year will include work by Karen Barad (especially regarding diffraction), Isabelle Stangers (cosmopolitics, complexity), Niels Bohr (quantum mechanics), Fredrich Nietzsche (Daybreak, untimely meditations), Edmund Husserl (internal time consciousness), Roger Penrose (artificial intelligence), Anne Sauvagnargues (artmachines), Gilles Deleuze (difference/repetition, image of thought), Deleuze and Guattari (bodies without organs) Guattari (Chaosmosis), Amber Jamilla Musser (queer femininity, brown jouissance), Jean François Lyotard (just gaming, libidinal bands, intensity and the great Zero), Donna Haraway (trouble, situated knowledge), Michael Foucault (courage, truth, parrhesia, epimelenia), N. Kathryn Hayles (nonconscious cognition), Wilém Flusser (Vampyroteuthis Infernalis), Audre Lorde (outsider, queer femininity).

Of course, you may wish to read something else entirely, say Yuk Hui on art and cosmotechnics, or Spinoza’s Ethics, or Lee Braver’s Groundless Grounds or Janeth Malcolm on Freud. The actual set of readings/listenings/viewings will be established at our first gathering and added/modified throughout the seminar in response to the developing themes/interests/urgent questions. As this will be conducted in the form of a research lab what will emerge will depend on how it is tended, what curiosities and skills, political concerns and adventures you wish to develop. It is crucial that whatever electrical charges, bolts of lightning and wormholes we take on board, that your practice-led research is always the jumping off point of your flight.

Disclaimer

For all of you new to doing ‘proper’ philosophy or theory: no previous knowledge of philosophy is required. This is a seminar that will help you learn how to think (as distinct from ‘what’ to think). Eventually it will make some kind of sense in relation to the project you are working on (whatever it is).

Art of Questioning / Test Lab is led by Dr Daniel Rubinstein and will be joined by artists / philosophers tbc. It will be wild, intense, unpolished, rigorous.

For the time being, and until further notice, all the sessions will be taking place online.

Dates for 2021/2022

Autumn term 2021

All sessions take place on Wednesdays:

Art of Questioning
29 September, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
6 October, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
13 October, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
20 October, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
27 October, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
3 November, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
10 November, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
17 November, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
24 November, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
1 December, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
8 December, 4.30–6.30pm

Spring term 2022

All sessions take place on Wednesdays:

Art of Questioning
12 January, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
19 January, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
26 January, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
2 February, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
9 February, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
16 February, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
23 February, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
2 March, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
9 March, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
16 March, 2.30–4.30pm

Summer term 2022

All sessions take place on Wednesdays:

Test Lab
20 April, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
27 April, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
4 May, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
11 May, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
18 May, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
25 May, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
1 June, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
8 June, 4.30–6.30pm

Test Lab
15 June, 2.30–4.30pm

Art of Questioning
22 June, 4.30–6.30pm