Part 2: How to Fool the Monster (Anomalies as bridges between realities)

Description of the Contents

After discussing the surrounding environments, actual and possible, I move to the topic of using anomalies as tools for bridging the  various realities. This part is the most important, because in addition to the contextualization, it documents the pieces collected and made during this project, and the theory of anomaly emerged from the process. Here I will argue for the fruitful nature of anomalies in interrupting the ‘normal’.

Anomalous phenomena. In this chapter I’ll define the concept of anomaly and introduce some ideas concerning fleeting, interruptive phenomena and the possibilities offered by them: i.e. moments (Lefebvre), situations (Debord), sparks (Breton), reality slips (James), performance disruptions (Goffman), moments of being (Woolf), epiphanies (Joyce), marvelous (Desnos), boundary objects (Star) and clinamen (Epicurus).

Messing up with the classification system answers the question: how do the anomalies work? The ‘normal’ is made up in the classification acts we do continuously. Objects and phenomena fitting in the predetermined slots are unproblematic – even if they are unpleasant, they are easy to recognize as normal. Phenomena not fitting in these slots interrupt the normal order, making it visible (“The normally invisible quality of working infrastructure becomes visible when it breaks: the server is down, the bridge washes out, there is a power blackout” / Bowker and Star 1999, 35) I.e. Susan Leigh Star & Geoffrey Bowker 1999: Sorting Things Out – classification and its consequences.

Moments of being discusses the question of the meaningful experiences anomalies provoke. Moment of being (a concept of Virginia Woolf) makes it possible for us to suddenly see the reality anew, often without a remarkable, external event, which would be visible to the others. They are moments of presence, leaving clear memories. “[Woolf’s] concept of what Mark Hussey calls an ‘abstract’ or numinous reality is intimately related to the material world. That on many occasions the Woolfian moment not only affirms but emphasizes and celebrates the reality and particularity of the physical world distinguishes it from traditional accounts of the mystical experience which involve a disengagement from, or disavowal of, the empirical world and the senses in favour of a spiritual reality.” (Sim 2010, 148).
Lorraine Sim 2010: Virginia Woolf: The Patterns of Ordinary Experience.

In this chapter I will analyze the anomalous experiences collected during the project and write about the possibility to create new ones with reality adjustments. For example, regarding spaces, anomalies can change meaningless places to important ones. I will take a look at the meaningful space using i.e. the concepts of utopia, non-place, heterotopia and lived space.

Useful techniques concentrates on the practical ways of causing interruptions. Here I’ll review some established techniques, as well as the pieces done during the project, aiming to inspire current and future reality tinkerers in their work.

> Art, pranks, activism – never mind the label
> Meta-techniques: detournement and estrangement
> Extraordinary Decisions, Secret Missions
and other Unexpected Behavior
> Gifts from Strangers
> Curious Messages
> Lost & found