Embracing Uncertainty …or not?

When I was writing this long and rambling report, I realized that every title contained a question mark. is it a sign of our failure to embrace this complex and difficult notion? does the question mark symbolize uncertainty (uncertain present and future, uncertain methods, fear of uncertainty ?

The entire conference was characterized by a general desire to address uncertainty and its articulations. In general, the issue of biopolitics was often mentioned as a limiting item that constrained and challenged chance and diversity. In more than one instance, presenters observed how  the drive to regulate anything under the sun is constantly challenged by new expressions that at times threaten, at times confirm such regulations. An item that emerged during the Beyond Disciplinary Guidelines was the issue of intentionality. As Lucas Evers argued during his talk, Intentionality can hide a goal, an objective (I am doing this to obtain that). However, intentionality can also lead to no accomplishment at all,  to different directions or it can produce unexpected results. At that point, ethics become  connected to intentionality: but what ethics? and which type of ethics should we privilege? In discussing Zaretsky’s  at LLOWLAB (2012) where some living organisms were sacrificed to satisfy an artistic/scientific goal, Evers admitted that there is no way to establish which ethics is worth prioritizing.

Another example revealing the coexistence and clash between regulations (or the need for)  and drive towards novelty/experimentation with the unknown emerged during the Mutual or Mutant panel on education. Despite the international composition of the panel (presenters were from Poland, South Africa, Italy and the UK) the discussion soon converged on the infamous Bologna Process, a set of new postsecondary education rules aiming at standardizing the education of Europe -wide universities and art schools. As this process was soon identified as the culprit (flattening of education and transformation of education into a disembodied service) or an unavoidable stage in the development of the institution of education (the need to set standards to allow students’ mobility ) , participants seemed to forget that such European wide precess was only a detail, or a facet of the complex series of transformations that are occurring in the educational sector. Many forgot that schools are unique universes, that teachers can make a difference, that often it is not an overall set of new regulations imposed from above, but the complacency of the individuals already established within an institution that determine its course and its eventual failure.