De-tooling Intimacy Workshop at Pioneer Works

Workshop held at Pioneer Works in March 2019 in collaboration with Melanie Hoff.

The story of human evolution is the story of tools, technology, and the power structures that emerged from their instrumentalization. Technology that facilitates fundamental practices of living form their own kind of intimacy—one as close and familiar as our bodies. How do your tools shape your experience of intimacy? This exercise and discussion are an invitation to de-tool the activities and processes we find most familiar. Through reconnecting with dirt, stones, and our collective pasts, we will draw on the ways the oldest tools changed and complicated human cognition and formed modern societies, cultures, and power dynamics.

Prompts:
Separate the most intimate tools on your body and which are in your possession. What abstract and higher level goals do their use represent to you? Example: You’d like to be viewed as a competent colleague so as to be eligible for this year’s promotion, and need to get to your meeting on time. Instead of taking the train, you elect to select an Uber ride on your phone , that you do not tip the driver for. What are the subtasks inside this larger task of getting to work on time? How do you use your tool to achieve these tasks? Simulate using the tool to another participant without spoken language. You cannot talk. But you can grunt, use your face and body to communicate.

Next, repeat those actions to yourself. Clear your head while you’re doing them, until they are just movements that are disconnected from the abstract goal, and larger meaning. Detach them from your self identity. Forget what you are trying to achieve in the first place. Forget the tool you’re holding, because all you have now are your hands, your feet, your eyes, your neck, your shoulders, your elbows...Stretch out the action, take as much time as you need, to feel it in your body. Do this until you feel tired or until you hear the bell.

In the workshop, individual participants mimed through and used gestures to think through and act out the prompts. Continuing the silent activity, a collective hut was built out of dirt and sticks. The final act was burning and removing all evidence of the event.

De-tooling Intimacy Workshop at Pioneer Works
De-tooling Intimacy Workshop at Pioneer Works
De-tooling Intimacy Workshop at Pioneer Works