From Josephine Anstey:
Improvising Consciousness (IMPCON) is a feminist spoof of grand theories of consciousness and a speculation on the relation between human cognition & environment in the deep past and in the future. A hybrid art/electronic literature project, IMPCON comprises performance lectures and participatory activities including workshopping of alter-egos; improvisation in a multiple personality melodrama; play sessions with an alien intelligence; and a physical game dealing with pre-historic cognition. It is viewable online at impcon.org.
At the center of the project is media professor Josephine Anstey’s alter ego, Jennifer Årnstay, Professor of Material and Analogical Eco-Cognition, who is visiting from an unspecified time and place. She is on a humanitarian mission to peoples of this aerea (area/era) to give information about, and hope for, an affirmative bio-political future. The Professor Årnstay character makes fun of and creates a sweeping, authoritarian account of the mind through a series of performance lectures which trace the evolution and future of human cognition and consciousness. Her rigorously historical model argues that radical changes in the environment have led and will lead to equally radical alterations in the human mind. A central thesis of her work is that language that evolves as a solution to survival pressures in 200,000 BCE becomes an existential threat to humans by 2000 CE. She reveals that a new mind configuration, with multiple and non-linguistic consciousnesses, rooted in the deep history of humans in landscape, makes survival of the anthropocene (for humans and non-humans) possible.
In parallel with the development of the Professor Årnstay performance lectures, Josephine Anstey has been collaborating with artists, designers and computer scientists to create and workshop participatory exercises designed to facilitate play with our everyday experience of the mind. (In Professor Årnstay’s terms, she and her team have developed a series of cognitive exercises that provide experiential, material and phenomenological experiences of the mind configurations she explores in the lectures.)
Improvising Consciousness can be viewed and played with at impcon.org