Writing Workshop with Matt Sheridan Smith (E)

Semester all

Week of 31.10 (probably 31.10.-3.11)

Universität / Haute Ecole
Website www.workmaster.ch
Teacher Matt Sheridan Smith
Contact email
for student applications
Content description

Interactive writing workshop in collaboration with Espace FORDE, Geneva



Matt Sheridan Smith (born in 1980, lives and works in New York) will be in Geneva to prepare his exhibition Tell me the truth – am I still in the game ? at the art space FORDE (opening and party : 11.11.11, 6pm / more on www.fordesite.com). The workshop is developed with the students in close relation to this exhibition, and is conceived as its discursive extension.


Dates : 4 sequences, from 31.10 to 03.11. Precise hours and locations (all in Geneva) will be sent soon by email directly to the students.





This workshop takes the form of four seminars and four settings. We will work on a number of speculative notions that begin as loosely connected but in working through them together will bear interesting connections between reading and writing, text and information, and object and metaphor.

Each workshop will take place in a different location, beginning at HEAD and ending at FORDE. The workshop will be documented in real time (audio, video, photography, social networking). Thus the “writing” is actualized through the conversation and the media present, edited through its (eventual or immediate) transmission and archiving.

This speculative/theoretical work will be collaboratively applied towards an interactive fiction (text-based video game) that will be a part of my exhibition as Forde. In testing the game we will be able to reshape the text leading up to the exhibition. The playthroughs we generate will be compiled for a publication in collaboration with Forde.





The first meeting will focus on developing a way of working and writing together. Deleuze described writing Mille Plateaux as a constant process of ingestion and digestion; he and Guattari wrote as they read, stacks and stacks of books that were used in any order at any time, a performative mode of writing that made no distinction between research and synthesis, thus destabilizing traditional notions of academic authority.S, Deleuze's teaching focused not on preparation but a "working up" (working himself up, working interpretations up): seeking not the best solutions and interpretations, but rather the most interesting. The writing proceeds from the people and the media present.

The topics are intentionally broad. We will find what's useful to us and move on from what's not. This is a highly intensive and collaborative workshop, and our goal is not to arrive at a conclusion but to generate a lot of questions. The first three topics are the foundation for our practical application. Two “swing topics”, much more general and unformed questions, will be “worked up” in parallel across sessions and used as a kind of of palate (or palette) cleansers.




MAIN TOPIC 1: Text, Access, Metaphor


Attempt to understand the potential of text to simultaneously generate and circumvent metaphor and the interplay between image and information. The riddle will be examined as a base form where text must pose a question while containing but not revealing the answer to that question. Interactive fiction and command-line computing are explored as an alternative “operating system” for art and exhibitions, a non-visual framework (text only gaming, text only computing) for accessing ideas and information.



MAIN TOPIC 2: Capital, Information, Encryption


Create a context for discussing value and capital through notions and techniques of encryption. Look at capital flow as a series on encryptions and decryptions of value. This notion of encryption (of ideas rather than capital) will then be applied/examined in relationship to art making. The act of “reading” (interpreting, decrypting, etc) will be examined in both cases.



MAIN TOPIC 3: Hermes, Hamas,Howdy Doody (guest: Vincent Normand)


This is the content section of the workshop. A look at the symbolic implications of the scarf in terms of vulnerability and violence, from the aristocratic decoration of the neck to the revolutionary/terroristic symbolic armor. The aristocracy, especially in the time of the guillotine, might be not protecting their neck, but rather flaunting/decorating it's (supposed) invulnerability. On the other hand, a range of revolutionaries, terrorists, gangsters, cowboys...fringe figures, who use the scarf, or a bandana, or another variation, as a sort of symbolic armor that does nothing to protect but veils that point of vulnerability: the weak hinge is shrouded and made invisible. Finally, Howdy Doody is a ventriloquist's puppet with a bandana that hides the absence of speech.

The four characters of the game, all fictionalized versions of historical figures, will be introduced: Douglas Bader (the WWII ace), Ottavio Bottechia (the Tour de France rider), Madame Clicquot (the champagne maker), and the mysterious Katie (one lost in the maze).




SWING TOPIC 1: Professionalism as Paranoia


How can we reappraise common practices of “professionalism” through the lens ofparanoia, pareidolia, and other forms of apophenia?

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para- – "beside", "with", or "alongside"␣meaning, in this context, something faulty or wrong (as in paraphasia, disordered speech) and eid-lon – "image"; the diminutive of eidos – "image", "form", "shape". (from wikipedia)

Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad, who defined it as the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness", but it has come to represent the human tendency to seek patterns in random nature in general, as with gambling, paranormal phenomena, religion, and even attempts at scientific observation.(from wikipedia)



SWING TOPIC 2: Radical Wealth


An attempt to define "radical wealth" from two semantic angles. The first question is: at what point is wealth radicalized beyond all sense (or value)? The second: how can the exercising wealth be radical, without resorting to a "radical/political" disbursement? does information as capital change the terms of wealth radicalization and radical wealth as action?




in english

Project limited to max. 12 students


Workshop in collaboration with Espace FORDE, Geneva