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SFPC in Yamaguchi — Keina Konno

Keina Konno — Video Engineer, YCAM

This post is about the the School for Poetic Computation’s SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi at YCAM. You can also read Taeyoon’s introduction, and recaps from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7 and Day 8.

My name is Keina Konno. I work for Yamaguchi Center of Arts and Media(YCAM) as R&D staff and Video Engineer. For “SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi”, I have worked as the project manager. It was my first experience working as an organizer.

In March 2019, I visited School for Poetic Computation (SFPC) in New York for research. I met Taeyeon before in YCAM and he explained to us about SFPC in detail. I felt I already understand “What is SFPC”. Soon I realized “I don’t really understand SFPC yet” and “YCAM needs to do an SFPC program by any means”.

YCAM was established as a new type of art center. We work with the mission of “creating together, learning together” with local citizens and experts from various fields, exploring from diverse perspectives of approaching media technology; the potential of information as a cultural foundation; and further, the meaning of information for us humans.

SFPC is a school dedicated to exploring artistic and poetic possibilities through computation. The place-name is different, but we have so many commonnesses to the way of thinking about art and community. Commonness is one of the big reasons I felt we need to invite SFPC. I was especially attracted to 2 features of SFPC.

The first is the “community SFPC made.” The SFPC community is noticeably active and I had known the people related SFPC have strong connections even after graduating. YCAM also keeps trying to create a community of “creating together, learning together” too. So that’s why we know how difficult it is to create such an active community, especially when the target participants are adults. Through the many meetings with SFPC team and seeing the behavior of students in this program, we learned “SFPC has its own cycle of the students”. Students come to SFPC from all around the world, and study, and bring back their experience and ideas, and share those in their place. And also, some of the students become a teaching assistant and teacher of SFPC after graduation. The community of SFPC keeps growing by expanding the idea and continue to get a new point of view from new persons.

The second is the atmosphere of SFPC. It is really difficult to explain by words but I felt I never felt this kind of atmosphere in YCAM before. When I saw the SFPC class in NY, teachers, teacher assistants, and students were really “commingled”. So I couldn’t see who was a teacher and a student. After start SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi, I realized that the atmosphere made by the way of thinking about “responsibility” in SFPC. Before the start of the program, SFPC explains “Code of Conduct” to students. It is not for setting the limit of someone’s activity. It focuses on how everyone can feel comfortable, and focus to study and share own ideas. Because of every people related SFPC agreed on the ““Code of Conduct” in their heart before the program, the behavior of people makes such a great atmosphere in naturally.

For SFPC Summer 2019 in Yamaguchi, SFPC organizers and teachers set the theme of “Tech as a Gift”. At first, I thought “The sentence is really clear and easy to understand.” But through the preparation and holding the program, the theme became more valuable and meaningful. “Gift” means not only sending physical stuff to each other but also staring at and thinking about a subject. Staring at the friends, family, human being, and the world, and think through making something. That is the tips for making the world more valuable. I think that is the root of SFPC I felt attracted to, and the one of the style of the creation that YCAM is trying to reach.

Sometimes, I feel the personal feelings and the personal word are lacked in the creation of the huge new media art. “Tech as a Gift” shows SFPC has tried to “get close individuals’ feelings and words”, and the students reacted that idea in this program. Those moments were really beautiful for me. I still trust “Technology makes us happy”. And also I know it is difficult to keep trusting that now. We need to keep thinking and trying. I would say one of the answers to that is maybe capturing “Tech as a gift”. That’s going to be my long term theme.

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Photo: Naoki Takehisa

Courtesy of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]

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