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56 hours of thinking, making, dreaming, talking, feasting and living

From May 6 to 8, a Concordia PhD candidate’s round-the-clock conference ‘intermingles art and thought’
May 4, 2016
By Renée Dunk

It’s time to pull an all-nighter, or three … this time for the sake of philosophy.

This week, Concordia PhD candidate Aaron Finbloom and his School of Making Thinking will present round-the-clock live programming of 100 performances and presentations, stretching over three days and nights.

Designed to dissolve the barriers between individuals, disciplines, methods and cultures, Words & [ ] — A Durational Conference of Art and Thought takes place from May 6 to 8 at the Darling Foundry.

Words & [ ] will explore what kinds of works emerge when a group of participants commit to a creative environment, and what a conference looks like when traditional word-centric methodology is rejected.

In his work as a doctoral student in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture’s (CISSC) Humanities PhD Program, Finbloom focuses on how philosophical practice can be expanded to include more creative mediums and methods.

With his supervisor Sandeep Bhagwati, Canada Research Chair in Inter-X Art Practice and Theory, Finbloom works at the “boundary of marginalia where it doesn’t even look like what I’m doing is music anymore.”

In putting together Words & [ ], Finbloom and co-organizers Adriana Disman and Anique Vered, assembled participants — including Concordia MFA in Studio Arts students Andréanne Abbondanza-Bergeron and Matthew-Robin Nye, poet David Jhave Johnston and choreographer k.g. Guttman whose presentations they hope will encourage the intermingling of art and thought.

We caught up with Finbloom to understand more about research in the humanities program, and why he considers Concordia to be one of the only places in North America where one might find an “outlier mentor.”

What are you working on?

Aaron Finbloom: I am interested in the dialogical and conversational aspect of philosophy and thinking about philosophy as an art practice.

Most philosophers don’t think about our discipline in this way — they read large books and write theories — but they’re not interested in philosophy as an artistic practice or as something that can actually be performed.

Tell us about your music research.

AF: My supervisor, Sandeep Bhagwati, and I are looking at the past 100 years of music history — how music was traditionally scored, and how contemporary music is scored.

In that past 70 or 80 years, music has moved away from a staff system — the traditionally inscribed staving method that was created over 700 years ago — and it’s moving toward new ways of scoring such as graphic or verbal notation.

We’re thinking about what a score is and how it differs from improvisation, and examining what all sorts of avant-garde artists are doing.

Questions we’re exploring include whether a score creates room for a conversation or if it shuts down that space.

What are new directions in your area of research?

AF: Philosophy itself is ignoring the fact that it’s a creative process. For me, the questions are who is the reader, and how does one structure the reading of a philosophical text.

I’m also interested in taking into account the room that one is in during a reading, as well as instructions that call attention to the way that one is reading.

I also consider how commentary is produced based on a reading. It’s opening up a new world of how to consider a text, namely, that which can performed. The art world is open to the question of method, and the pushing of various limits.

What have you enjoyed most about being at Concordia?

AF: No one at matralab, where Sandeep is based, is traditionally a musician or theatre maker.

That’s where I come in — that’s the utter boundary of marginalia where it doesn’t even look like what I’m doing is music anymore. People at matralab are still working with sound but they’re really changing what it means. They’re creating computer programs that improvise with you, as opposed to with another human, which is a radical shift in what it means to do music.

So that’s where I fit in. Another way of making music is to have a conversation.

Sandeep is so open and very willing to get into my practice. He really listens to what I’m doing and is asking the same questions that I am. He is so generous with his time and excited about the work I’m doing and sharing it with others, promoting it. He’s really become a mentor — the outlier mentor.

Concordia is one of the places that is open to people who have both creative and academic practices. It’s one of the only places in North America, that I know of, where you can be both an artist and an academic. That AND is what brought me here.

Register now for
Words & [ ] — A Durational Conference of Art & Thought, which takes place from May 6 to 8 at the Darling Foundry.

Find out more about Concordia’s Humanities PhD Program.


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