ASSEMBLIES Fall 2019: Public Presentations


Come learn what ASSEMBLIES have been up!
From building a radicalized dead drop network to exploring science in the media, or reflecting on the future of labor, ASSEMBLIES leaders and group members have spent the past three months learning together and will be sharing their findings with the community.

Learn more below about the groups which will be presenting.
Learn more about the ASSEMBLIES program here.

Building a Radicalized Dead Drop Network
Organized by Renée Reizman

This assembly is a collaboration to create a dead drop network that is smartphone compatible. Dead drops are traditionally USB drives inconspicuously embedded into urban infrastructure where people find sensitive files to download onto their computers. The files could include things like radical literature, political dissent, viruses that block surveillance, un-doctored images. In 2019, we will adapt the Dead Drop to be more accessible to homeless residents, who widely have smartphones but no personal computers. The Assemblies group will consider the needs for establishing a more accessible Dead Drop, including the technology, content, deployment, and outreach sites for the network.

This project will specifically cater to the growing homeless population in Los Angeles. Ideally, the contents will contain things like contact cards, which people can download to instantly connect with local community resources like street sweeping aid, shelters, public health clinics, and activists. It will have “know your rights” literature, contact for legal council, mental health services, food banks, and domestic abuse shelters, and instructions on how to get confiscated items, like medicine or electronics, back in possession. Finally, it may have original content, writing, or artwork from other homeless residents or NAVEL community members that enhance the materials. It should be accessible to people who are newly displaced.

Core members include: Renée Reizman, Sam Greenspan, Joseph Thomas and Mieke McGowan.

Link to the group’s collective research

Deep Adaptation for Artists
Organized by R. Kauff and Jen P. Harris

Deep Adaptation for Artists is an assembly for cultural workers interested in forming community to support collective thinking about the probability of near term social and environmental collapse as a result of climate change. How can we form strong connections with other people who are actively engaging with the meaning of loss, collapse, and climate change through creative and scholarly work? We will use Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation Agenda as a starting place to think through this question together, drawing inspiration from existing working groups including Donna Haraway’s Extinction Studies Working Group. We envision a community that continues beyond the temporal bounds of this assembly. Our primary goal is to build a foundation that will allow for future collective study, learning, and thinking about this topic. The tangible outcome of this assembly will be documentation of the frameworks, structures, and cultures participants develop together to facilitate communication and strong relationships. We will tackle the problem of how to build and maintain community over time and distance in the face of relentless precarity, aiming for a form that could be reproduced and used by other like-minded working groups here or elsewhere. Our secondary goal is to study and learn together, now. The organizers have developed a preliminary curriculum. Participants will collectively build out the reading list and read/discuss texts throughout the assembly. Together we will build the ship while sailing.

Core members include: R. Kauff, Jen P.Harris, Aaron Thompson, Alex Espinosa, Haley Hopkins, Kenny Zhao, Meriwether Clarke, Sarita Zaleha, Shanhuan Manton and Soffi Stiassni.

Link to the group’s collective research
Link to zine

Organized by Nina Sarnelle

An improvisational physical workshop exploring touch as artistic medium & aesthetic gesture. Whether wanted or unwanted, positive or negative, most touching and feeling in our everyday lives happens for a reason: pleasure, healing, exercise, violence, accident, eroticism, therapy. But what if this logic was loosened — allowing us to contemplate touch for its own sake — like dance, or music? Dance and music are particularly useful analogs, with their long and complex histories, their diverse styles, techniques and intentions, their structures for improvisation…

Through a series of “hands-on” improv sessions, we will investigate the potential of this incredibly intimate and affective medium. I am inviting movers and improvisers that I admire from the community to lead one session based on an improv technique used in their practice. I’ve been trained in the SITI company’s Viewpoints methodology, and will adapt applicable Viewpoints like shape, repetition, duration and tempo to structure my sessions. We’ll also read some improv theory, including SITI’s concepts of extraordinary listening & soft focus, Pauline Oliveros’ deep listening, Contact Improv texts and other ideas from the group.” Each session will consist of equal parts improvisation and reflection.

Core members include: Nina Sarnelle, Kevin Ramser, Devon Knight, Hanah Davenport, Haley Hopkins, Soffi Stiassni and Tatiana Vahan.
Guest Facilitators included: lucky dragons, Brian Getnick, Dorothy Dubrule, Julia Crockett and Spenser Theberge.

Link to the group’s collective research

Science in the media
Organized by Yewande Pearse and Clare Reynell

Study Shows’ or ‘Trending’, will be a two-hour Journal Club, which takes a deep dive into the original research papers behind trending science stories in the media. A current scientific story in the media will be circulated ahead of the Assembly. During the assembly, participants will discuss the story before the original research is presented to the group, focusing on the way it was conducted, the context of the findings and why the study was sound/concerning. Participants will then discuss whether or not the media reported the research accurately, and propose ways in which it could be better reported. Focusing on Neuroscience, this Assembly takes the form of an intimate work-shop. The primary aim is to bring scientists and non-scientists together to encourage a mutually beneficial exchange of perspectives with regards to popular science. This Assembly is for scientists who want to improve their science communication skills and be more responsible about the way in which they communicate their research, and to give non-scientists the opportunity to look behind the media veil to inform their curiosity, art practice or personal well-being.

Core Members: Yewande Pearse, Clare Reynell, Russell Quinn, Dana Nordenstrom and Max Rippon.

Link to the group’s collective research

Creating a sustainable artist handbook
Organized by Sara Drake & Maru Garcia

We are two artists who are increasingly freaked out by our current planetary ecological crisis and our respective governments’ lack of public urgency towards climate change. We refuse to be nihilistic and/or give up on our species! And endeavour to create a hopeful, practical, and defiantly playful approach to sustainability. For our assembly, we intend to foster a collaborative research group that will develop a bi-lingual, sustainable artist handbook. We will hold monthly meetings to discuss and develop our relationship to creating sustainable artist practices and organize field trips to various e-waste and plastic processing facilities around Los Angeles. The handbook may include sections on how to host your website on servers powered by renewable energy, the ins and outs of e-waste and how to dispose of digital equipment/batteries, render farms, etc. Our bigger aims are to re-aestheticize sustainability to encourage artists to incorporate sustainable practices in their own processes and to deepen our understanding of our present reality.

We want to materially explore e-waste and disposal in LA as a way to tangibly cultivate awareness and to create a well researched handbook/guide that helps artists incorporate sustainability into their own practice.

Core members include: Sara Drake, Maru Garcia, Corey Cavagnolo and Gottfried Haider.

Link to the group’s collective research

Decolonizing Augmented Reality
Organized by Jessy Escobedo, Selwa Sweidan

This Assemblies program, “Decolonizing Augmented Reality” is a community working group and making lab, offered through an experimental and intersectional feminist lens. Through readings and making, we explore the question “How might we decolonize augmented reality?”

In the first three meetings, we reflect on a selection of readings to interrogate colonialism and decolonization strategies from the perspectives of design, anthropology, ontology and feminist geography. In the fourth meeting, we shift towards a synthesis of our thoughts. In the subsequent meetings, we move into experiments and field work in the form of critical design making and spatial intervention workshops. Our “making” may include writing, counter mapping, low fidelity prototyping.

Core Members: Jessy Escobedo, Selwa Sweidan, Elisabeth Asher, Siheun Kim, Maxwell Josephson, Omar Pablo, Evan Stalker, Maxwell Chen and Huntress Janos-Szabo.
1/12 Workshop Co-lead: Lilyan Kris
12/8 Walking Tour Guest: Megan Daalder

The Future of Labor
Organized by Colombene Gorton

This assembly would explore the labor movement’s resurgence in the past couple years and how we can build on it. We aim to replace “the future of work” (an inevitability we must adapt to, driven by automation and machine learning to reinforce concentrations of wealth and power) with “the future of labor” (emerging from workers collectively to better serve society and the planet.) To do this work, assembly meetings will include discussion of readings, sharing workplace experiences, and workshops with emerging and experienced organizing groups across sectors.

The goal of the ASSEMBLY is to identify how we can use the learnings to start transforming our workplaces and ultimately our everyday lives. Labor organizing theory and practice has become lost or abstract to many workers after decades of decline, but to reverse these tendencies we will explore how to make labor organizing accessible and relevant. We will identify strategic entry points to organizing/participating for interested individuals and how to build, support or facilitate them. This session may culminate in a collective work to share the learnings with others such as a zine, online group, podcast, guide, live event/workshop or other artifact or process (TBD by the group).

Core members: Colombene Gorton, Cedric Tai, Emaline Friedman and Adam Cohen.

Link to the group’s collective research

Food, Gift-giving, and Diaspora
Organized by Hannah Kim Varamini

Refracting the form of the potluck through the idea of gift exchanges (a la Marcel Mauss) and also analysis on the form of the meal (a la Roland Barthes), this Assembly begins with research and culminates in one or more communal meals. The group will focus on researching the form of the potluck/potlatch historically, food as activism and aesthetic practice more recently (from the Futurists to Fluxus to Relational Aesthetics), and food on the formation of diasporic identity.

This Assembly begins with reading/researching the intersections of food, gift-practices, and diasporic identities, along with the development of one or a series of communal meals (potentially open to the public).

Core Members: Hannah Kim Varamini, BRD (Bridget Rosalia Driessen), Beth Fiedorek and Jinseok Choi.

Link to the group’s collective research

Image of Vasilio Papapitsios at the ASSEMBLIES Q2 Proposal Presentations