Offfence was a collaborative experiment in creating an alternative educational program in Matera, Italy, as part of the Collective Minor semester of the Design Academy Eindhoven bachelor’s curriculum. To try to learn in a different manner, the group engaged in Experimental Filters: action-based proposals that disturbed the typical interaction of sitting around a table together and discussing. They were important in promoting the exercise of disruptions in subtle power relationships and promoted a constant shift of perspectives.

Mumler is a tool currently being developed by artist Stefan Glowacki. It presents an alternative set of conditions aimed at de-establishing the hegemony of the efficiency-driven paradigm of online communication. It allowed the Offfence participants to play with an alternative way of communicating with each other in times of crisis. The use of this tool to test some of the arguments of my research document proved to be a meaningful experience.

Offfence and the Experimental Filter ‘Mumler’

For the Offfence experiment to happen, it was understood early in the process that a minimum amount of structure was necessary in order for the group to be successful. The structures that were designed allowed for a cartography in which participants could experiment with different vantage points. They qualified for positions, or standpoints from which they could view and consider interactions and perceived status in many ways. The experiment informed the participants of subtleties in how we related to each other and to the topics that were being studied. It was crucial not only in the collective understanding of what a horizontal education means, but also in understanding one’s own expression and practice. With the idea of continuing to exercise the shifting of perspectives, we tried an online collective chat using Mumler.

Julia Pelta Feldman, curator and director of the Room & Board artist residency salon, has this to say about Mumler:

“Stefan Glowacki’s Mumler is a séance platform for summoning the living. Ghostly afterimages and rainbow glitches – products of Mumler’s digital architecture, which translates distance, time, and connection speed into visual effects – recast the mundane experience of video chat into a collective hallucination. Unlike the corporate meeting services that have become integral to our daily routines, and which promise a seamless substitute for real human interaction, Mumler materializes the estrangement and fragmentation of online connection. Instead of attempting to close the gap between real and virtual, live and recorded, Mumler invites us to dwell inside that gap. Mumler is not live; it is undead.”

My research looks into Offfence through the lenses of horizontality and co-responsibility, and shows how difficult and important it is to construct the meanings of these concepts collectively. Using Mumler as a tool for communicating with each other in a time of crisis was a meaningful way of putting some of the arguments of my research document into practice: How do we negotiate our communication? Do we need to define a structure in order to engage with each other? How do we define the line between individuality and collectivism? When do one’s own boundaries invade those of others, and vice versa? How do we make sense of a new reality together?

To read more about my research project, you can access the Piet Zwart Institute’s Master Education in Art’s archive on this link.

Mumler is an open tool and can be tried on this link.

Participants in the video: Diogo Rinaldi, Ilja Schamlé, Karl Moubarak, Niels Nielsen, Stefan Glowacki

Video edited by Diogo Rinaldi