Maggie Wong

Section of group mind mapping.

Ecologies of Fear Lecture
Ecologies of Fear Collective improvisational Sound Making

A workshop created for Hekler Assembly, Infrastructures of Care series, 2021

With an invitation and made in collaboration with artist and neurologist Sonja Blum.

The paradox of fear – it is something communities may want to eliminate but it may be an essential factor related to collectivity.  In this workshop, we first consider fears we are feeling in and around us. These given environments of fear are then unpacked to reveal how fear influences the nature of collectivity.  We engage in collective learning, mapping, and sound exercises to uncover core concerns related to our fears, which then inform imagination about new world-building and systemic change. We focus on what is legible, messing with ratios of noise and meaning, semantics and affects, chaos and rhythm. We play with cultural meaning-making to unlock the possibility of arriving to a place outside of the conditions we are conditioned to by the dominant fears that shape society. Can we arrive at new beginnings through collective study and research? Here, we play out that dream and fear. 

Some ideas that emerged through our collective study follow below. 

When do we choose to mark when it started?

What does that “origin point” do to action/response?

It is invited

 needed to be present in the body, but we have options how to cultivate it

 how we listen to it and react to it

Fear is an invitation for an embrace as an ongoing emotion and companion – as we mistakenly are thought or enforced to learn that emotions are something to fix [or] remove and [we are taught] that [emotions]  are situational vs expansive and integral to our humanity. 

Fear as a shapeshifter is helping us understand our common struggles and omnipresent change. 

Fear as information instead of noise?

What kind of information is in “noise?”

Noise as parasite – like the one that gets sent by some kind of satellites to disturb other channels or signals. 

So, in that case, noise as anti-information, noise against any clear or understandable information; absence of any programs (to be consumed). 

Sometimes “noise” is coming to the senses, as an invitation for openness and losing boundaries of the inside and outside world – grounding in non-limiting ways, an invitation for interconnectedness.

Merging of material and nonmaterial worlds.

Noise allows for context at times.

When the mind thinks ‘information’ it has only internal noises, but when that info is shared it occupies a shared space with another set of background alien info (aka noise).

Exploring the space in-between these standards creates an opening for a deeper grounding to take place. Noise can be disruptive, but sometimes essential for information to arrive in a more meaningful way. 

Noise is the world as a whole. There are attempts at legibility through signal readouts, but the whole still remains in the background.

Calling something sense or nonsense comes from a place of standard, and it’s interesting to consider the idea of ‘common sense’ in relation to this proposed binary. Common sense can also evoke notions of class, everyday happenings… ‘street sense’, the sense that is in relation to sensing dangerous situations, or conducting oneself in relation to the other, or to the stranger, that is classified as safe or risky. Nonsense may refer to sense-making that does not follow a line, or a clear conclusion…maybe the text from Moten could be considered nonsense if we try to read it as an expository. But it is a text which is reflexive, noting self in relation to others, making sense of self in relation to the environment, and vice versa. It is also reflecting the way that timelines intersect to make sense.

Sense and nonsense in a constant relationship / binary? Are there other forms in this category (if it’s a category), as in, is non-sense the absence of sense or against/in contradiction/conflict to ‘sense’… Does the presence of one mean the lack of the other, or do / can they cross / be interchangeable? Maybe this is being limited and trying to focus on specific wording without consideration of the thinker / perceiver of the sense/nonsense (and therefore through their cognition/ interpretation transform nonsense to sense) 

Can my noise be someone else’s info?

Noise is porous / it does not dictate a strict limit to what is and to what is possible. 

Nonlinearity as an ongoing tribute and sustaining of ecologies of togetherness. 

Do we get rid of fear?