The Um­brage Pro­ject


Session Title:

  • Emotion Studies in a Contemporary Art Debate

Presentation Title:

  • The Um­brage Pro­ject




  • Panel: Emotion Studies in a Contemporary Art Debate

    Frus­tra­tion is one of a small col­lec­tion of emo­tional states that is as eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble in in­ter­ac­tion with tech­nol­ogy as it is in in­ter­ac­tion with hu­mans. Pre­sented here is work-in-progress audio and video doc­u­men­ta­tion of sev­eral artis­tic ex­per­i­ments, col­lec­tively called “Um­brage”, that are being pro­duced be­tween 14 Jan­u­ary, 2011 and 14 Jan­u­ary, 2012. “Um­brage” is a cu­ra­to­r­ial pro­ject con­ceived by four Mass­a­chu­setts (US) based artist-cu­ra­tors in sub­tle re­sponse to the Amer­i­can media’s focus on bul­ly­ing in schools after a teenager from the re­gion com­mit­ted sui­cide (on 14 Jan­u­ary, 2010.) Its aim is cre­ative, crit­i­cal ex­plo­ration of the fa­mous frus­tra­tion-ag­gres­sion the­ory (Dol­lard et al, 1939,) fo­cus­ing in par­tic­u­lar on the type of dig­i­tal in­ter­faces that are in­tended as an in­ter­me­di­ary step to live cus­tomer ser­vice in com­mer­cial in­ter­ac­tions.

    The frus­tra­tion-ag­gres­sion hy­poth­e­sis’ main prin­ci­pal—that per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences of frus­tra­tion are the di­rect cause of the kind of tar­geted ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior known as scape­goat­ing—is cre­atively tested and ob­served within ob­vi­ously con­structed, but still fa­mil­iar con­texts. These works were com­mis­sioned out of an im­pulse to talk about the dis­place­ment of col­lec­tive frus­tra­tion and the re­cy­cling of ag­gres­sion in the mun­dane ac­tiv­i­ties of cap­i­tal­ist cul­ture, but have begun, halfway through their du­ra­tion, to be­come an in­ter­est­ing com­men­tary on what the in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ence of frus­tra­tion can teach about hu­man-ma­chine re­la­tion­ships, and where feel­ing lies within them.

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