Transmarcations: X is not for destination

Transmarcations was a worksession situated at the crossing of technologies with geographies, life’s courses, bodies, terrains and de-placements. I took place from 4 to 9 December 2017 in Beursschouwburg, a multidisciplinary arts centre, situated in the heart of Brussels.

Transmarcations experimented with ways to chart heres, wheres and others. This worksession situated itself at the crossing of technologies with geographies, life’s courses, bodies, terrains and de-placements. It invited participants from various disciplines to create prototypes, visualisations and models of speculative body-terrain combinations. Bio-mappers, artists, gender- and migration-activisten, science-hackers, cartographers, data-miners, self-quantifiers ... were welcome to experiment together with softwares, languages, bodies, navigation and other technologies. Transmarcations developed methods and practices around cartography, diagramming, mapping and technological graphical representations that create place for the extra-categorical, the complexities of contact zones in which people, terrains and other agents are related.

Transmarcations was interested in the complexity that emerges when cartography meets bodies in transition. By bodies in transition we mean migrating bodies as well as bodies that engage in an internal process of change, like gender transitions. By taking a closer look at the situation of these bodies, Transmarcations questioned the (ir)relevance of standards and the intrinsic presence of cultural codes. What tools do we use? What language, which parameters, conventions?

The actual social political context in which the worksession took place, reminded us that mappings and data-visualisations play an important role in the monitoring of people and motions. Data analyses mark exceptions as suspect. Medical, migration and other standard forms tend to make nuanced representation impossible. People seeking asylum seem to best comply with stereotypical profiles in order to be considered as refugees. Also the complete surveillance of data traffic by (inter)national security services, coupled to the extreme extend to which internet giants profile their customers, leaves little space for diagonal affinities that can widen identification beyond demarcated camps of ’us’ and ’them’ .

Experimentations that put speculation, insecurity and border crossing in the centre are urgent to generate situated, non-normative imaginations of possible alliances between bodies, trajectories and contexts. Beyond statistics and analyses, diagrams, models, charts are also means to set out new orientations, to project hybrid, fantastic, utopic desires unto a physical reality.

Inspired by situated feminist geographies we questioned who is looking. Who maps, and from which perspective? We tried to mark a techno-graphical X on a map that is in continuous change. That X does not represent a destination, it stands for a logic that addresses unequal power relations between people, that propagates spaces for freedom with a richer geometry than that of the axis, the production line, the uni directional feed. We situated bodies in space and time, disturbed and re-arranged, strolled off the beaten paths and developed a relational practice of disorientations, looking besides the point, out of focus, for unexpected connections between species, surroundings, objects.

The worksession took place from 4 to 9 December in de Beursschouwburg in the centre of Brussels.

On the program among others:
* Concentrated collective workdays, workshops, moments of exchange (in presence of a.o. Pierre Huyghebaert, Pascale Barret, A. Alexander Antonopoulos)
* Excursions to relevant places in Brussels (like f.ex. The National Geographical Institute)
* An interactive installation that grew through participation, by François Zajegá in the Grand Hall
* A public evening with lectures in the Beurscafé

In collaboration with Molenbeek Formation and De Beursschouwburg
image: Attack of the panoramic jellyfish, Tom Lechner, cc-sa