Friction is everywhere. Friction, for example, helps us in writing, as our pens would not work on a friction-less surface. Friction also causes nails and screws to hold on to walls; and the friction between the head of a stick and the rubbing surface of the box is what ignites matches. Similarly to the natural world, friction is an essential and omnipresent component of human life, too. Yet, despite its importance, friction is often dismissed as the undesirable by-product of graceless and clumsy interactions. In this salon, we delved into the grey areas between ethics and etiquette that are expected of the majority of people in post-industrial economies. Our goal was to question the assumption that “seamless” is by default preferable to “rugged,” and that bruises and abrasions are always to be avoided.
Some of the questions we strived to answer: Does everything ought to be friction-less and seamless all the time? Are conflicts always inherently negative? Or, rather, is there something to be learnt from difficulties and risks, too? Would our existence be richer, more authentic, perhaps even more beautiful, if there were more room for last-minute improvisation? What are the neurological and psychological mechanisms at play when we are faced with obstacles? How does growing up in a zero risk environment affect children’s capacity to develop creativity, resilience and grit? Under which circumstances challenges function as positive triggers? When, instead, do they become paralyzing factors? What do we make of the schism between the imperatives of political correctness and the fact that, at its core, society is increasingly polarized? When do direct and open confrontations hinder the achievement of shared solutions; and when, instead, are they necessary? How can we discern when the social etiquette that tells us to be “always nice” is used instrumentally as a silencing mechanism? Is the business of (cautiously) introducing frictions in our lives an act of resistance?
This salon took place on June 27th, 2018.
Martha Rosler is a Brooklyn-born artist that works in photography and photo text, video, installation, sculpture, and performance, as well as writing about art and culture. Solo exhibitions of Rosler’s work have been organized by the Whitney (1977), Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (1987), Museum of Modern Art in Oxford (1990), The New Museum in collaboration with the International Center of Photography in New York, (1998–2000), Sprengel Hannover Museum (2005), and Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (2006). Her work has also been included in major group exhibitions such as Whitney Biennial (1979, 1983, 1987, and 1990), Documenta 7 and 12 (1982 and 2007), Havana Biennale (1986), Venice Biennale (2003), Liverpool Biennial (2004), Taipei Biennial (2004) and Skulptur Projekte (2007).
Tsige Tafesse is one of the five founders of By Us For Us (BUFU), a Brooklyn-based collective focusing on the discourse of Black and Asian cultural and political relationships. The founders of this project are a collective of queer, femme, Black, and East Asian artists and organizers who emphasize building solidarity, de-centering whiteness, and resurfacing our deeply interconnected and complicated histories. Representing BUFU, she has been invited to speak by various museums and institutions, including most recently the Brooklyn Museum and the Rubin Museum.
Kasia Urbaniak is the founder and CEO of The Academy, a school that teaches women the foundations of power and influence. Kasia’s perspective on power is unique. She made her living as one of the world’s most successful dominatrixes while studying power dynamics with teachers all over the world. During that time, she practiced Taoist alchemy in one of the oldest female-led monasteries in China and obtained dozens of certifications in different disciplines, including Medical Qi Gong and Systemic Constellations. Since founding The Academy in 2013, Kasia has taught hundreds of women practical tools to step into leadership positions in their relationships, families, workplaces, and wider communities. She has spoken at corporations and conferences worldwide.
Brian Collins is a designer, creative director, and educator who now runs his own communication and branding firm, COLLINS. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Creativity, Fortune, NBC News, ABC News and Fast Company, which named him an American Master of Design. Business Week named his flagship store for Hershey as a design “Wonder of the World.” His team’s design of Helios House in Los Angeles, the first gas station using environmentally sustainable principles, is included in The Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design. Brian’s clients have included Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Facebook, The Ford Motor Company, Giorgio Armani, IBM, Jaguar Cars, Instagram, Levi Strauss & Co., Mattel, Microsoft, Nike, Spotify, Target, Unilever, The Walt Disney Co., and The Guggenheim Museum.
Dr. Leon James is Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is interested in driving psychology, information literacy, discourse analysis, substantive dualism, and theistic psychology. His recent work includes the development of taxonomic inventories of driver behaviors in the affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor domains in addition to systems suitable for driver assessment and driver education. He maintains two personal websites where he publishes study materials and research reports for scholars, students, safety officials, driving school instructors, and government agencies relating to transportation and traffic safety and education. He received his PhD, Psychology at McGill University in 1962.
Willem Frankenhuis is Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology, Behavioural Science Institute at Radboud University, The Netherlands. He studies how individuals tailor their cognition and behavior to local environmental conditions. His core activity is the development of a research program designed to discover and leverage the social-cognitive skills and abilities that might be enhanced in harsh and unpredictable environments. He has previously held research positions the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary and was the co-director for the Research Network on Adaptations to Childhood Stress (with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).
Marit Gundersen Engeset is Associate Professor, School of Business, Department of Business, Strategy and Political Sciences Campus Kongsberg, The University of South-Eastern Norway. Her research interests are in consumer behavior, focusing on consumer value and consumer creativity. She has had several research projects focusing on the tourism in cooperation with travel companies in Norway and Canada.
Brock Bastian is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He is trained as a social psychologist and his research broadly focuses on the topics of ethics and well-being, often focusing on questions such as why promoting happiness may have a downside, the cultural factors leading to depression, and why valuing our negative and painful experiences in life is a critical pathway to achieving happiness. His work has been featured in outlets such as The Economist, The New Yorker, TIME, New Scientist, Scientific American, Harvard Business Review, and The Huffington Post, among many others. He has been the recipient of the Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize, and his contribution to psychology has been recognized by the Australian Psychological Society and Society of Australasian Social Psychologists early career researcher awards. His first book, The Other Side of Happiness, was published in January 2018.
Dr. Matthias Laschke is a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Dr. Marc Hassenzahl’s Ubiquitous Design working group at the University of Siegen. Matthias studied Industrial Design at the University of Duisburg Essen and completed his doctorate at the Folkwang University of the Arts with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction. His research focuses on the design of transformational objects (ie, pleasurable troublemakers) and persuasive technologies in the areas of sustainability, procrastination, willpower, adherence to the theory, or prudence in traffic. He also deals with the field of experience design and the socio-cultural influence of technology in everyday life. He has participated on a number of research projects, that have addressed themes such as mobility (BMW Research and Technology), travel (Deutsche Bahn AG), health (Siemens), and sustainable consumption and behavioral change (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy).
FRICTION AND THE CREATIVE MIND
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Bronson, Po and Merryman, Ashley, The Creativity Crisis, Newsweek (07.10.2010)
Jones, Jonathan, Lego:the building blocks of the imagination, The Guardian (12.28.2012)
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Simons, Jake Wallis, Why Lego is ruining our kids’ imaginations, CNN (12.01.2014)
Speicher, Sandy, The uncomfortable secret to creative success is “disequilibrium”, Quartz (11.06.2017)
FRICTION, RISK AND RESILIENCE
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Lents, Nathan, Yes Overprotective Parenting Harms Kids,
Psychology Today (08.28.2016)
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DESIGN AND POSITIVE DISCOMFORT
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THE POLITICS OF FRICTION
Why Is Everybody Being So Nice?, De Appel Curatorial Programme (Apr 2017)
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Goodman, Lizzy, The School Teaching Women to Ask for What They Want, The Cut (01.23.2018)
Schulman, Sarah, Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair, Arsenal Pulp Press (2016)
Rosler, Martha, Why Are People Being So Nice?, e-flux (Nov 2016)
Urbaniak, Kasia, Influence vs control, kasiaurbaniak.com
Williams, Tevin, What Is Being Unapologetically Black?, The Odyssey (04.05.216)
McGuirk, Justin, Can Cities Make Us Better Citizens?, The New Yorker (04.26.2018)
Tiku, Nitasha, Sidewalk, Rage Is Real and It’s Spectacular, NYmag (02.15.2011)
Wang, Shirley, Get Out of My Way, You Jerk!, The Wall Street Journal (01.15.2011)
PAIN MAKES US GAIN
Bastian, Brock, Jetten, Jolanda, and Ferris, Laura, Pain as Social Glue, APS journal, vol.25, no.11, pp.2079-85 (2014)
Bastian, Brock, Why we need pain to feel happiness, TEDx (10.07.2016)
Konnikova, Maria, Pain Really Does Make Us Gain, The New Yorker (24.12.2014)
Turner, Bryan and Wainwright, Steven, Corps de ballet: the case of the injured ballet dancer, Sociology of Health & Illness, vol.25, no.4, pp.269-88 (2003)