Inventing Institutions

A TSCI workshop with Ned Rossiter
within Adrian Blackwell’s Model for a Public Space [Speaker]


4:00 – 7:00 (BBQ 7:00- 8:00) 

Mon. 4 August 2008

The Art Gallery of Mississauga
(300 City Centre Drive, Mississauga Civic Centre, Ground Floor.
For directions from Toronto, see map)

*BBQ to follow
**A free shuttle bus will depart at 3:00 from the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) and return at 8:00.

A Potential Toronto” is the title of a TSCI series of public conversations that took place over several weeks in the Fall of 2007. This project engaged questions of organizing strategies, minor spaces, and alternative economies by spotlighting living local experiments: youth-run cultural spaces, worker co-operatives, accessible housing policy proposals, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell campaigns self-organized with non-status residents… Participants shared experiences, discussed strategies, introduced political concepts, and presented counter-proposals. The series confirmed the existence of a wealth of metropolitan social potential–activities that operate within, against, and beyond the protocols of wage labour, heteronormativity, representative politics, commodified sociality… But A Potential Toronto equally confirmed persistent challenges. Three of these challenges–translation, organization, sustainability–are points of departure for “Inventing Institutions.”

This collaborative workshop with Ned Rossiter will approach the question of the work of political transformation via a discussion of institutional innovation in the context of our contemporary network milieu. It proposes that the current crisis of neoliberal capital, of the traditional institutions of the left, and of widespread social precarity make the question of new institutions urgent. For Rossiter, social-technical network cultures are constitutive sites of new institutional forms, or what he terms “organized networks.” One vibrant area of experimentation on this terrain is autonomous education. At this workshop Ned will propose some theoretical concepts around the theme of inventing institutions, and will speak to his involvement in developing autonomous education institutions specifically. The workshop will unfold as a collective conversation responding to, and further developing, issues raised in Ned’s working paper, “Autonomous Education, New Institutions, and the Experimental Economy of Network Cultures.” The paper can be downloaded from here.

Ned Rossiter is currently an independent researcher based in Beijing and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney. He is author of Organized Networks: Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions (2006).

Inventing Institutions will take place within Adrian Blackwell‘s installation Model for a Public Space [Speaker], a non-hierarchical circular seating structure built to facilitate conversation between large numbers of people sitting in close proximity to one another. On the outside it slopes upwards along a spiral ramp until it reaches a height of two meters and from there it slopes down until it touches the ground again at the center. Through this simple diagram it is possible to sit looking inward towards one another or outward to the surrounding city. The installation is part of Models for Public Spaces curated by Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot at the Art Gallery of Mississauga.