Acts of Parresia

The Witnessed Reflection methodology focuses on shared reflection by orchestrating situations in which people accept response-ability and addressability for their words and deeds to each other. Witnessed Reflection builds on the notion of Parresia[5], in which a participant is entitled to speak up in a specific situation and reveal the truth according to him or her. In this study artist’s contributions are understood as acts of Parresia, in which artists freely speak and approach the truth from their different perspectives.

The artists invited to contribute to this project have been chosen specifically because their work reflects an understanding of human condition in the current dynamics of today’s world – around the globe. Because artists engage with human experience in such profound ways, a tacit understanding of today’s footprint on the future is sketched between the different contributions. Such a sketch informs further research and design of participatory systems in this case.

Some of the invited artists use information and communication technologies as their medium; others do not. All of the artists involved are asked to make autonomous work and reflect upon this work from the perspective of the research question ‘What happens when one is witness to the other?’ Some artists create work specifically for this project, others elaborate upon work at hand or reflect on past projects from the perspective of the research question. During the creation process several moments of interaction take place between the artists and the researcher.

The principal investigator engages in a conversation about being witness and bearing witness with each artist individually, in which the research context is elaborated upon. After this conversation each of the artists surf through the site and start to create the concept of their own contribution. Three dinners are organized during which 4 or 5 artists present their work to each other and reflect about witnessing and the artwork they are proposing. Then each of artists consider or make their own work of art and start to publish their own reflections in the being-here collaborative platform. A second conversation between each artist and principal investigator is organised in which the artist’s work is the topic of engagement from the perspective of the research question. Each of the artists then finalize their contribution. Last the principal investigator reflects with the artist about the work to attribute keywords to each article that the artist published in

Note 5: Foucault, Michel. 2004. Parrèsia, Vrijmoedig spreken en waarheid. Trans. Ineke van der Burg. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Parresia, Original text Discourse and truth: The problematization of parresia, transcript of 6 lectures by Foucault at Berkeley, University of California in 1983.