Seminarium Overview

Seminarium Overview

The FIELDCLUB Seminarium was a short experimental programme designed as an opportunity to discuss questions and problems arising within the framework of our research. The programme fed into activities already taking place, or planned to take place at FIELDCLUB. The intention of the Seminarium was to provide an alternative model to the artist’s residency: In a reversing of normative roles, we, the artists, wished to provide the means for experts from different disciplines to come to us and participate in FIELDCLUB research.

Our goal was to bring together various thinkers and practitioners to discuss a set of questions proposed by FIELDCLUB overlapping with the participants’ areas of expertise. The outcome of each Seminarium was either a resolution of an existing problem or the development of further questions.

Seminarium 1

Seminarium 1 - Numbering the Field 
27th - 29th July, 2011

Dr Matthew Watkins, Nick Swallow, Robin Mackay, Hollie Rochfort, Kenna Hernly and Paul Chaney.

Number, and consequently math, has often been appropriated for the furtherance of expansionist human endeavours. Math has stood accused of being the bedfellow of rampant capitalism, from the invention of double entry book-keeping in 13th Century Italy, to the convoluted fiscal methodologies of contemporary venture capitalists. But, in themselves, do math and number have an expansionist agenda? Can math and number be equally put to work in the exploration of a post-industrial de-coupling from globalised capital?

This, our first FIELDCLUB seminarium, attempted to address the issue of ‘Numbering the World’, in terms of the quantification of materials for human consumption, and the quantification of biotic interdependance at the boundaries of the human niche at FIELDCLUB. The usefulness of Kant's Catagorical Imperative (a simple system of ethics without rhetoric) was assessed within the context of the FieldMachine 1.0 - our interactive design tool for the creation of self-sufficiency systems. The participants also discussed a paper entitled 'The Last Refuge of the Unquantifiable' by M. Hannis.

During the three day seminarium, the participants were also asked to help in the task of identifying and developing new computational elements for the FieldMachine 1.0 Interactive Meaty Master.

Dr Matthew Watkins - Prime number theorist, Honorary Research Fellow in Mathematics at Exeter University, author of The Secrets of Creation – The Inamorata Press 2010, lent his radical expertise in the field of number theory and personal insight into the philosophy and application of math in the real world, also drawing upon his years of experience of low-impact living and travel.

Robin Mackay - Philosopher, director of Urbanomic and editor of COLLAPSE - Journal of Philosophical Research and Development, provided an overview of Alain Badiou’s ‘mathematical ontology’, expanding upon his interview with Badiou published in Collapse Vol I within the context of FIELDCLUB and the subject matter of this seminarium.

Nick Swallow - (MSc Architecture with Environment and Energy Conservation) Co-author of Zero Carbon Britain - CAT publications 2007, having 22 years experience as a tenant livestock farmer and a penchant for number crunching, contributed his vast practical knowledge of agricultural systems, and lateral approaches to the problem of ecology to the debate.

Hollie Rochfort - A recent graduate from University College Falmouth - whose work confronts the inability to conceive large quantities or distances, by the use of her own body as a system of comparative measure and quantification - discussed her practice.

Image: Dr Matthew Watkins and Kenna Hernly, pictured making theorical additions to the FieldMachine:

Politics of the Decouple

Politics of the De-couple: 27th to 28th August, 2011

A discussion and exposé of the political problematics embedded within territorial re-formattings proposed by the FIELDCLUB Unit System. This Seminarium was led by artist duo Pil and Galia Kollectiv– whose work manifests a relentless enquiry into the relationships between the cultural phenomena of Consumerism, Post-Fordist Capitalism, and the contorted politics of Modernism.

Questions for investigation included:

  • To what extent does sustainability conflict with attaining global equality?
  • To what degree do green politics overlap with or contradict the agenda of the left?
  • Is caring about the non-human compatible with an anti-humanist Marxism, or does the prioritising of the environment risk sacrificing the interests of particular communities for the benefit of the planet?


Image: Pil and Galia and seminarium delegates arrive at FIELDCLUB.

Whose Niche is it Anyway?

Whose Niche is it Anyway?: 10th to 11th September, 2011

A critical examination of FIELDCLUB’s portrayal of the human as part of a system of ‘ecological niches’, and an attempt to map the enmeshment between the human and the non-human at the FIELDCLUB site. Can the human ever be included as a subject in food web modelling? Or, are the boundaries of the human niche too extended to be described? 

The biological sciences were represented by Shaun Lewin - Ecologist and G.I.S. Data specialist, and Paul ‘Birdy’ Laney - a local amateur conservation expert, whose innovative systems of conservation agriculture have received national acclaim. The discussion investigated the necessary de-anthropocentrisation that the inclusion of the human in food web modelling implies. We also made an assessment of the impact on local biodiversity perpetrated by FIELDCLUB, and discussed recommendations for an ongoing ‘integrated’ conservation methodology at the FIELDCLUB site.