Constant Collaboration GuidelinesConstant orientations pour collaborationConstant richtlijnen voor samenwerking

This is the second version of Constant Collaboration Guidelines (19/05/2020). These guidelines will be used and discussed in different environments, situations and constellations. We will then update them for the next worksession, winter 2020. Please leave your comments and questions (anonymous or not):hier/ici/here.

Commitment

Constant is a non-profit, artist-run organisation based in Brussels since 1997 and active in-between art, media and technology. Constant develops, investigates and experiments. Constant departs from feminisms, copyleft, Free/Libre + Open Source Software and works on those vectors through an intersectional perspective. More about Constant

Constant is committed to environments where possible futures, complex collectivities and desired technologies can be experimented. The spaces that we initiate are therefore explicitly opposed to sexism, racism, queerphobia, ableism and other kinds of hatefulness. Our positioning is one of risk-taking and trial and error in which rigour and critique meet with humour, insecurity, tension, ambiguity and mistakes. Fearless, brave environments empower radical complexity.

Departing from feminisms means for Constant to be attentive to the sometimes generative, often oppressive arrangements of power, privilege and difference. We understand these arrangements to be related to gender and always to intersect with issues of for example class, race and ability. Finding ways to come to terms with the long colonial history of computation, the way technology impacts ecology, and the relations between them, deserves our ongoing attention.

Constant attempts to operate from inclusivity rather than exclusivity. We want our work to take very different human beings and their own universes into account but also to include historical and future other-than-human agents. This means to keep challenging our assumptions and to welcome being challenged about ways we might be able to address the intersections of privilege, power, history, culture, inequality, pain, and injustice.

Constant supports Free Culture because it is a way to acknowledge that culture is a collective effort that deserves to be shared. There is no tabula rasa, no original author; there is a geneology and a web of references though. When it comes to technology, we think Free Software can make a difference because we are invited to consider, interrogate and discuss the technical details of software and hardware, or when we want to engage with its concepts, politics and histories. For this reason, we distribute all our work under Open Content Licenses (Free Art License) and work with and on Free, Libre and Open Source Software. Over the last years, we have come to the realisation that being affirmative of Free Culture has to come with more critical considerations. Although we are not sure yet how, we want to take into account the links of Open Access ideology to colonial extractivism which can obstruct the imagination of complexity and porosity. In addition we want to take into account the rights to opacity in access and transmission of knowledge, especially in regard to marginalized communities.

This is the second version of the commitment after its first publication in October 2019. The Constant Collaboration Guidelines are an active articulation that stays open to corrections and modifications throughout time and throughout welcome modulations in Constant’s constellation.

Collaboration Guidelines

We wrote a short and a long version of the guidelines. We invite you to read both carefully.

These guidelines relate to public and non-public activities that Constant organises. They can be short term or quasi permanent, ranging from drinks in the office to small events in our workspace, on-line meetings or multi-day worksessions, which is the most common occasion for these guidelines to appear.

Worksessions are intensive transdisciplinary situations to which participants from all over the world contribute. Because of the intensity of exchanges and interactions during worksessions, there can be moments of disagreement and discomfort. These moments need to be acknowledged and discussed, within the limits of your own safety and sanity. More about worksessions

Even if some of the below guidelines sound obvious, we have experienced that being together can be complicated. We have written these guidelines to think of ways to be together comfortably and attentively. Furthermore, by addressing the guidelines as part of each worksession, we hope to create dynamic ways to keep training our abilities to expand and strenghten braver spaces. The guidelines are meant to create potentiality for all, and sometimes this is done by restricting the space taken by some.

Collaboration Guidelines - Short Version

  • No sexism, racism, queerphobia, ableism, ageism and other kinds of hatefulness.
  • Leave physical, emotional and conceptual room for other people.
  • Avoid speaking for others.
  • Exchange information, experiences and knowledge. Others know many things, but it might take more time to discover it.
  • Accept and appreciate differences, different speeds and points of view, conceptions, experiences, backgrounds, references, needs and limits.
  • Try not to be judgmental.
  • Take time to actually listen.
  • Ask before you assume
  • Mind the language gaps. This is a multi-lingual environment.
  • Realise that saying something has different meanings and consequences for everyone.
  • Respect other beings, present or not, human or not.
  • Give care to your physical and digital environment.
  • Do not share photographs or recordings on proprietary social networks unless explicit consent is given.
  • Use Free, Libre and Open Source software whenever possible.
  • The default license for all material and documentation is a Free Art License.
  • Accept that mistakes will be made.

Collaboration Guidelines - Long version

Constant activities are moments of exchange, in which different generous practices develop. Giving, receiving, taking and caring are understood as reciprocal actions. Each time we will make time and space for these guidelines. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • No sexism, racism, queerphobia, ableism, ageism and other kinds of hatefulness.
  • Leave physical, emotional and conceptual room for other people. We respect the emotional and physical limits of people around us. This means we change our behaviour if someone signals to not be at ease with our behaviour, whatever our intentions.
  • Avoid speaking for others. Make space, instead of intruding or imposing yourself. We are solidary with others, but we take care that they can speak for themselves. Finishing other peoples’ sentences is almost always meant as a sign of support, but it is actually not helpful, unless it is asked for.
  • Exchange information, experiences and knowledge. Others know many things, but it might take more time to discover it. We pay attention to the way different types of expertise are valued, specifically when it comes to technology. We know that often, the arrangement of expertise re-enforces existing power relations (e.g., teacher-student hierarchy; privileges carried by whiteness, socio-economic/class, gender, heterosexuality …; communication or language skills; mental or physical ability; seniority as a participant, etc.). We try to avoid *splaining, techno-solutionism … and other forms of normative behaviour.
  • Accept and appreciate differences. Different points of view, conceptions, experiences, backgrounds, references, needs and limits. We are here because we value occasions to engage with other perspectives. This might mean to try out different content, and also different methods of sharing. It sometimes means requesting dignity/respect/consideration for those who are not here.
  • Try not to be judgmental. Collective work is exciting, challenging, de-centering, alienating and triggering. We each do what we need to do to navigate our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. If we are feeling a bit too dis-oriented or judgmental, we might leave the room for a while, but we will try to come back.
  • Take time to actually listen.
  • Ask before you assume. (for example what someone’s preferred pronoun is, if they want to be touched, whether they know anything about a subject). If we are unsure, we ask for clarity. We also understand that not all questions are OK, or need answering.
  • Mind the language gaps. This is a multi-lingual environment. We try to remember that we are in Brussels, a multi-lingual city that is officially operating with two languages (French and Dutch), but in practice communicates in many more tongues. Even if we make use of English as a lingua franca, we all bring different languages and vocabularies so we understand that everyone experiences very different levels of comfort while speaking and writing. Native English speakers must understand that their own ease in expressing themselves (particularly in terms of specialized vocabulary and speed) might provoke unease for non-native speakers.
  • Words and ways of speaking impact people in various ways. What you are saying is differently understood by each person. Our listening is conditioned differently, socially, linguistically, emotionally. That why it is good to assume that what you intended to say might not be understood exactly as such.
  • Respect other beings, present or not, human or not. We try to respect the dignity, experiences, and perspectives of those that are implicated by the work we do. It is very possible that those affected are not in the room with us.
  • Give care to your physical and digital environment. We pay attention to the people, facilities, infrastructures and objects brought together and treat them with the necessary care.
  • The default license for all material and documentation is a Free Art License. For collaborative work such as worksessions, auto-documentation and a generous exchange of ideas and knowledge is key. For this reason, we acknowledge that the default license for shared work, notes, prototypes, sketches generated in the context of the worksession is an Open Content License [FAL]. If we need an exception to this rule, we take responsibility to inform other participants about it.
  • Use Free, Libre and Open Source software whenever possible. We understand that Constant is committed to Free / Libre and Open Source Software, and we make an effort to use F/LOSS tools as much as possible. If we notice a companion struggle with yet un-known tools and procedures, we make an effort to help out.
  • Do not share photographs or recordings on proprietary social networks unless explicit consent is given. As part of a shared documentation effort, pictures, audio and video will be recorded during worksessions and other collective situations. Until we have found a better solution, we will practice delayed publishing, and allow participants time to decide before sharing materials on-line.
  • Accept that mistakes will be made. When anyone breaks these guidelines, we work to not take it personally. We all have been conditioned into systems of oppression and we are unlearning; this makes us uncomfortable and we try not to expect neat, tidy solutions.**

Harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated during any Constant event, meeting or gathering. This goes for all online, collective or one-on-one communications. Harassment is what people experience it to be. It doesn’t matter how the person harassing intended their action, important is how it was experienced. We understand that it is important to make explicit what counts as harrassment, but we are not used to this language. We have for now used quotes from guidelines and codes of conduct that we have been informed by.

Harassment includes:

  • trolling, i.e. sustained disruption of conversations, talks or other events. [1]
  • nonconsensual photography or recording including logging online activity for harassment purposes. [2]
  • gratuitous or off-topic use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces (including presentation slides). [1]
  • deliberate intimidation, stalking or following. [1]
  • nonconsensual physical contact and simulated physical contact (e.g., textual descriptions like “hug” or “backrub”) without consent or after a request to stop. [2]
  • patterns of inappropriate social contact, such as requesting/assuming inappropriate levels of intimacy with others. [2]
  • unwelcome sexual attention. [3]
  • microaggressions, i.e. small, subtle actions that marginalize people. [1]
  • comments that reinforce systemic oppression related to gender, gender identity and expression, trans status, sexual orientation, dis-ability, mental illness, neurodiversity, physical appearance, body size, age, race, or religion (or lack thereof), technical choices, lack of technical knowledge, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. [2]
  • unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices, including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment. [2]
  • deliberate misgendering. [2]
  • deliberate use of “dead” or rejected names. [2]
  • incitement and threats of violence towards any individual, including encouraging a person to commit suicide or to engage in self-harm. [2]
  • continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease. [3]
  • deliberate “outing” of any private aspect of a person’s identity without their consent except as necessary to protect vulnerable people from intentional abuse. [3]
  • publication of private communication without consent. [2]
  • knowingly making false claims about a person. [2]

[1] https://queer-code.org/coc
[2] https://www.freebsd.org/internal/code-of-conduct.html
[3] https://radix.one/en/code-of-conduct

Flagging incidents and dealing with problems

We take collective responsability to respond to transgressions, and try to avoid focusing on judging and being or feeling judged.

Experimental ways to signal transgressions are sometimes put in place during a worksession; We have for example worked with volunteer listeners in the room to amplify, deflect, gather or document problems.

If we notice an incident, we flag it as soon as we can, and try to find a moment to deal with it together:

If we run into conflict with one of these guidelines, or when we see that others are flagging our behavior: