Redesigning Rituals of Public Assembly

This project consists of a series of workshops designed to explore new models of live audience interaction. I am interested here in tinkering with the interactional rule-set of audience-performer-interaction. In November of 2011 I collaborated with Kevin Driscoll and A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz on a workshop titled Occupy this Seminar.

The approach here eschews technologically sophisticated platforms, and instead places emphasis on a deliberate tweaking of the unspoken social contract that guides rituals of public assembly. This work resonates with approaches familiar within the Occupy movement, where rituals of consensus formation (like the General Assembly or human mic) point to new models of public interaction. These workshops often involve simple objects as props, but emphasis is on novel interactional rule-sets, the symbolic affordances of objects, and the emergent properties of group attention and expression. For example, the “conch shell” scenario in Lord of the Flies conveys the kind of simple ritual invention that I have in mind. I like this example because it suggests both the symbolic potency of the conch shell but also the opportunity for breakdown. It is in this interstitial space between symbols, rules, and breakdown that I’m interested in exploring.