On Monday 19 April I met up with Christina and Eric to continue our discussions about my work and what might be possible while I am in Berlin, and at IfREX. They were both keen to hear how I had found the first week of the semester, realising that it might be quite different to what I was accustomed to. The students, I noted, were quite noisy during the arranged events and would get up, leave, (sometimes) return, make tea, chat even. Christina was quick to reassure me that this was something that her and Eric had become used to and that they understood as the students had so much timetabled. Indeed, this semester they are trying to have fewer things on so the students have more time to do their own work. I also mentioned that I had found the week rather intense, with discussions going on for several hours; it transpires that is rather rare to have so many hours in one week. They were also eager to hear about my time in Montreal and to find out what initial comparisons I could make between here and there. As it had been only a week that the semester had been underway, it was difficult to make any clear connections and I was anxious to not sound as if I understood all there was to know about IfREX (I’m not sure I ever shall). Instead I answered that I had picked up on some resonances but that my hearing might be out, pointing to artists as students, collectives and experimentally-driven spaces. To this end, they were receptive to me organising some sort of dialogue between the various sites I have spent, and will spend, time at – whether in the form of a conference or publication.
On this note, we also talked about how I plan to ‘use’ my field-sites in my work. For example, would I be comparing the labs, judging the labs? Rather than critique the labs, or nominate one as being better than another, I outlined how I would like to draw on these empirical engagements in different ways to explore quite theoretical ideas about experiments, aesthetics and participaction (among others). In a sense, I would be attending to these experimental spaces as I seek to elucidate or assemble a sketch of what an experimental geography, or a geography lab, could be like. Related to my plans for how to incorporate the field in my writing, as if they were somehow separate, was the question of what I could write. There was no need of a contract we decided together but there were matters of circulation (who could access my work) and timing (when my work would be available). It turns out that I am one of the first people to have access to the school and it is important how IfREX is talked about; indeed, what the press writes about the Institute is a intertwined process. For the time being, they are keen to read more of what I have written – I had submitted an essay when applying to the school – and we hope to continue the conversation, or dialogue, over the coming weeks.