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Processual Operator Thingies

Practices of the event are practices of an encounter that seeks to engage with the more-than of experience in the making. This includes collaboration with nonhuman forces. It involves the reaching-toward of touch, the essence of a smell that shifts the conditions, the sound of a ecology shifting in the late afternoon. The world pushes into us, makes us.

It is impossible to understand what we are trying to do with the 3E Process Seed Bank divorced from the non-human collaborators that shift the conditions of experience. And yet the digital as we know it cannot activate the force of the virtual in experience. It knows only what registers. Our aim cannot therefore be to replicate in the digital the analogue experience of SenseLab’s practices of the event. We are not building a mirror. What we are doing instead is conceiving of a digital repertoire that can work as an accompanier, and sometimes, we hope, an intensifier of certain aspects of lived experience. Working as we do across the world on many continents in a collectivity that has no membership (and that is everyday increasing in a measure other than one plus one), the objective is to multiply the entryways and in doing so, value differently the ways in which process seeds are crafted and disseminated.

Processual Operator Thingies (POTs) are the second coding technique the 3E Process Seed Bank uses. Understood as bundles of code that bring qualitative more-than human tendencies to processes that will tend to be individualising (because online participation invariably passes through the individual user), POTs mine existing techniques for assistance (and deviation) in navigating the 3E Process Seed Bank. A variation on the figure of the BOT, POTs are quality intensifiers that detour processes too goal-oriented. Familiar as we are with our ways of navigating on the web, our proposition is that we POT our orientations, that we allow POT tonalities to activate relational shifts in the system. POTs build on our event-thresholding techniques, techniques we have invented over the years that facilitate new ways of coming into relation.

To touch the event-derivative, as suggested above, techniques are necessary to attune to free radical modalities. These modalities register value differently. It is already our practice at SenseLab to begin each potential encounter with a detour. For instance, we work to reduce any formal introductions in a first encounter with SenseLab. We steer away from the self-positioning that is common in our surrounds. We do this because we know that the self-positioning works as much to to harden positions as to undermine those who do not embody value-through-position. We look for techniques that bend the first encounter. We think about thresholds – the threshold of the university, of the space we occupy, of the philosophical language we use, of the aesthetic sensitivity we share. What if we crossed the threshold differently? What if in that differential crossing we really attended to the way the threshold does its work? How, for example, does the threshold register for those who are neurodiverse? How can we architect the envrionement such that the frontality of self-presentation is not the first impulse? What does the threshold feel like if it involves entering a space where no one else has a body that looks like yours? What technique can we invent do to soften that passage, to make felt what else is moving through the space?

Techniques are not methods. They are not invented once and for all. They are emergent to the process, tweaked in each iteration. Some of them are conditions we put in place and some of them are ecological, emergent in the event. The sun shining in at 4pm is a technique for invigorating the afternoon. Or it is a technique for dispersing into the parc. The conditions are activated in their follow-through. Often, we don’t register these techniques directly. We feel their effects, moving with the process seeds they allow to germinate. Or not. Sometimes nothing registers. Or only dissonance registers. Sometimes we are stuck in a cat-like thresholding where we are neither able to enter or leave. Then something else needs to do the work of pulling. Maybe it will be a texture. Or a sound. Anything can spur an activation. This is what the POTs do. They spur an acitvation, lending it a texture or what Leslie Plumb, lead designer of the 3E Process Seed Bank, calls “touch-tones.” In their design, we work focus not on the form of the technique but on its quality and its capacity for emergent valuation. We think of nuzzling, of tending, of germinating, of stealing, of seizing the day. Kleptobot is perhaps our most emphatic POT. Klepto is a force of redirection. Klepto steals not the content of our contribution but our assurance that we know where we were going. Stealing up against an image, a piece of text, a sound, Klepto acts like a charcoal rubbing, pulling a texture off the surface and depositing it elsewhere in the system. Other POTs in process include Nuzzlebot (moving with polyrhythms of scale and duration), Foreground/Background (experiments with contrast), Go-to-Sleep (with the quality of turning on the porch light), Carpe Diem (gives a stand-out of salient value to the day/night), Fuzzbot (gathers fragments of things like a dust ball), Reverbbot (returns and amplifies), Murmuration (registers a flow), ReZonator (catches emergent appetites and moves them in the system, glitches, interferes, cuts). And then there are the less recognizable ones, the ones that are more tone than texture, backgrounded in the system: the vibrating-string (minor disturbances), the spaghetti-string (tangling into untangling, giggling looking for laughter), the dot-on-a-walk-pot (a line of colour, a vector for entering a complex field, a lure for elsewhere alternatives), the compost-pot (resting for a time to come), ticker-tape (polyp-like feed of disparate chats bits and bytes), radio-pot (playlists for making-reading-thinking).

Processual operators cooperate with or interrupt humans to make felt the differentials in the system. Coded shapes of process, the processual operators defy the directedness of any given individual gesture, inviting us to participate in a process that surprises or reorients us in the way a shift in the air can do on a windy day. Processual operators are the online techniques, the online relational platforms that orient toward the more-than in the system. Through their (dis)orientation our investments in the Process Seed Bank move us as much as we move them.

For the economy to do its work, we will need a continuous curiosity about what else a processual operator can do. We will need coders and philosophers and artists and children and mathematicians to invent with us what moves processes. Because there is no question that the coded world is incapable of the complexity we know from the analog world – code does not know the more-than. On the other hand, we are not engaging here with a world of pure code. We are engaging in a constant back-and-forth between worlds, moving from the practices of the event toward the exploration, in the ECSA world, of how some of those practices might expose their anarchic shares.