INDETERMINACY CONSULTING GROUP (ICG)
Launched in the fall of 2020 in development with McGill's Building 21 and the Fulbright Foundation, the goal is to introduce participants to frameworks for managing uncertainty.
Experts and practitioners from across fields serve as liaisons between their discipline and the world at large, sharing nuanced and diverse approaches for grappling with the unknown. Presenters range from psychologists, doctors, and geologists to architects, philosophers, composers, choreographers, and artists. These presenters provide blueprints for living with and creating meaning out of the unknown.
WHO IS SELECTED?
ICG selects individuals who are at distinctly different stages of their creative and professional career. Participants might be attending college, recently graduated, or well into their professional career. The aim is to create an intergenerational cohort of selected individuals to participate in the program. Described as "cross fit for the mind" the program is intentionally designed to exercise unfamiliar mental muscles through an exposure to a diversity of frameworks and creative practices.
HOW DO I APPLY?
To be considered for MIND+BODY+SPACE please email to express interest and learn more. ICG only accepts fifteen participants in each program to insure an intensive, personal, and hand-tailored experience. Of critical importance is the creation of a well balanced ensemble of individuals from different fields, backgrounds, perspectives, and ages, all are encouraged to apply.
MIND+BODY+SPACE is a tuition based program. Please get in touch to find out more about pricing options. After filling out an application you will be contacted to schedule a zoom conversation so that we might learn more about you and your interest in the program.
Leo studies Computer-science/Physics/Japanese as an undergraduate at University of Montreal. He is mainly driven by his study of Aikido. He has studied aikido extensively for the past 8 years, alongside other martial arts, such as Iaido and Kenjutsu. Leo’s personal research seeks to compare the pedagogy and language used in both theoretical computer science and martial arts. Simultaneously, he is also interested in researching the links found between martial arts and dance. In combining these two spheres of research, he seeks to develop the tools/vocabulary necessary to creating an environment where both computer scientists and contemporary dancers can work and interact together, in a mutually beneficial way. From these seminars, Leo desires to be unsettled, to find new avenues of research, and to learn how to implement his ideas in a real-world setting.
"The series of talks have offered me an opportunity to broaden my perspectives on how to study complexity and indeterminacy. The wide array of processes and ideas touched upon always kept me on my toes, never allowing me to settle in the comfort of a recurring/predictable mindset. This "wideness" not only stemming from a variety of subjects but also a variety of methodologies. From very rigorous and semantical to fully improvised and playful, the spectrum almost seemed contradictory. This impression, however, rapidly vanished thanks to the healthy curation and drive of the director. Allowing for a wholesome and comprehensive approach to such a difficult subject."
I am a recent graduate from McGill University and current Program Assistant and Advisor at McGill’s Building 21. My undergraduate education straddled cultural anthropology and philosophy, culminating in an Honours thesis which examined the ontology of a modern spiritual community. Since, my interests have turned to the technical issues surrounding the definition, as well as formation, of cultural ontologies. To this end, I have had to transition from the ‘soft’ science of cultural anthropology to the ‘hard’ science of cognitive anthropology.
"Moving across disciplines between undergraduate and graduate studies has proved a very rewarding, as well as reorienting, challenge. Exposure to scholars who have successfully made such transitions, and who perform exemplary interdisciplinary work, have been greatly inspirational and instructive. The ongoing Indeterminacy Seminar consistently features such scholars, as well as provides an environment in which interdisciplinary work and lateral thinking are encouraged. Programs such as this form an important and necessary space for young scholars willing to take the risk to explore beyond disciplinary lines."
"My participation in the ICG has helped me stay committed to my artistic growth, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered traditional forms of connection and creativity. The diversity in the line-up of seminar leaders has forced me to make new connections between disciplines and has expanded the reach of my own creative practice. I would recommend the ICG to those who are interested in creativity in all its forms, and who seek a breath of fresh air and to shake up their thinking.”
Avery is an interdisciplinary artist and freelance writer currently living in Minneapolis. She graduated from McGill in 2019 with a BA in Environment and Development. As a 2018 BLUE fellow at McGill’s building 21, her creative research explored ways to depict environmental change through fiction and other forms of creative writing.
Avery’s work includes fiber art, painting, drawing, mixed media experimentation, and creative writing. She explores themes of symbiosis, ecology, ecological grief, decay, and geological and human time. Avery is deeply interested in natural forms and processes, as well as how these forms and processes have been depicted by humans throughout time.
This year, Avery seeks to further explore the intersection of art, science, and society by turning towards exhibition and immersive experience design as a way to demonstrate scientific concepts and transport the viewer across temporal and spatial scales.
"The Indeterminacy Consulting Group is a very interesting program that makes my creative process evolve. The various seminars given twice a week present different aspects of the indeterminacy and uncertainty. Some of the presentations were in my domain of expertise, but others were out of my comfort zone, but in both cases I learned a lot. Being part of this program helps me to build my projects with new ideas and to get feedback. I recommend it for creative minds that want to learn from different perspectives."
Julias often finds the most simple questions are the most difficult to provide a satisfactory answer for. Drafting this short biography for instance, seems to him a near impossible task. Born in Montreal, he lived most of his life in the laurentian mountains, spending some summers with family in Europe and others travelling the Americas, he developed an early interest in the differences between cultures and in the universals that run through these differences. After briefly considering cognitive science and literature as academic pursuits he settled on anthropology and has since been striving to find common ground between culture, cognition, performance and affect to understand humanity’s particulars.
"Through presenters from a variety of academic and artistic backgrounds, the seminar series hosted by Dr Vaubel capitalises on their commonalities to ponder the timely question of indeterminacy. More than an immobilizing force, the unknown stretches frames, and processes to contend with the possibilities it presents. We move, dream, and think differently; feeling our way through the unseen expanses ahead, acquiring a new sense of normal, a more plastic, resilient, and less fearful impression of the world. One that’s hopefully more true to the world as it is, and wiser to the distortions of how we want it".
Jeanne Côté is a violinist who stands out for the sensitivity of her playing and her various musical interests. She completed her Master’s Degree at McGill University with Professor Axel Strauss and holds a bachelor's degree from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. The great academic freedom which she has hitherto enjoyed has led her to take over a great variety of important roles among the school’s concert programs. Jeanne’s appointment as the Concertmaster for the Symphonic Orchestra as well as for the Contemporary Music Ensemble of McGill University in the fall of 2019 witnesses her great versatility.
The violinist is enthusiastic about new music. Supported by the Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec, she realized an artistic residency in Portugal in june 2019, bringing with her contemporary pieces from young Quebec composers, followed by a tour in Belgium. The same year, Jeanne also won the first and second prize of the Festival concours de musique de Sherbrooke.
Jeanne is one of the founding members of Quatuor Andara, a young string quartet renown across Canada. Aside from her great devotion to chamber music, she loves to share her passion for music through teaching. She currently gives violin lessons at the Coopérative des professeurs de musique de Montréal.
During the covid 19 pandemic and confinement, Jeanne let free her creativity and worked on composition, improvisation and visual arts. She wants to develop a project around these three artistic elements. She hopes this program will help her to built her idea and make it clearer.
April is interested in looking at fundamental questions and employing different lenses in the pursuit of knowledge. She aspired to be a polymath when she was a child, and has found consilience between seemingly disparate elements intellectually stimulating. During the course of the BLUE Fellowship, under the theme ‘delocalization’, she studied the emergent potentials of crossing over disciplinary boundaries. In this program, April hopes to witness the effects of a greater “contact surface” for various backgrounds, and consider real-world difficulties that may arise in the attempt to find coherence and collaboration among ideas. In addition, she will continue her attention to modes of expression, including human language and fine arts, and their interchanges. She studies Cognitive Sciences, a program in the undergraduate faculty of Arts & Science at McGill University.
Mathilde hails from Ottawa, Ontario. She is currently completing her undergraduate degree in Honours Physics at McGill University, Montreal. After a decade of training in modern dance and classical ballet, she obtained a BLUE Fellowship at McGill University’s Building21 during which she studied dance notation as a framework for expressing classical Lagrangian dynamics. She then pursued this work as a Bridge Scholar at the department of physics, exploring the richness and beauty of simple mechanics systems using dance notation. During the Mind+Body+Space program, Mathilde is excited about broadening her understanding of motion and physicality in the context of diverse academic and creative practices. She particularly looks forward to learning from the speakers' and fellow peers’ experience navigating questions which may not have answers in fields which may not have names.
Claire Dickson is a creative vocalist and composer from Medford, Massachusetts currently based in Brooklyn. Claire creates as an improviser, songwriter, composer, and producer drawing from avant-pop, electronic music, and jazz. Her music values texture, fantasy, and feeling. She co-leads the songwriting project Myrtle and is currently working on a self-produced album of her solo work. Growing up in a musical family, Claire was encouraged to pursue her love of singing and music. Throughout high school Claire participated in prestigious jazz programs such as the Berklee 5-week Jazz Workshop directed by Terri Lyne Carrington, Grammy Jazz Session, and YoungArts. She performed at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops as a Fidelity Young Artists Competition Grand Prize Winner, the Kennedy Center as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and the Monterey Jazz Festival with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.
Claire graduated from Harvard College in 2019 with a degree in Psychology and Music. There, she studied with Vijay Iyer, Claire Chase, Yosvany Terry, and Esperanza Spalding. From singing alto in the University Choir at Memorial Church, to singing pop covers in the basement at WHRB, to sharing the Sander's Theatre stage with Rufus Reid and the Harvard Jazz Bands for Reid's Elizabeth Catlett Project, Claire gained a range of musical experiences. In addition to work on campus, Claire also studied for a semester at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and attended the Banff Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music, the Siena Jazz Workshop, and through an Artist Development Fellowship did an apprenticeship with renowned vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann. As a junior in college in 2018, Claire released an EP, Better Strangers, consisting of all original songs. Upon graduating, she was a recipient of the Robert Levin Prize in Musical Performance, the David McCord Prize in the Arts and a Booth Fellowship which supported her attendance of the Arctic Circle Artist Residency.
My name is Salomé Henry, and I graduated this past May with a BSc in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from McGill. It is well known that human physiological systems are often contingent on positive and negative feedback loops. While these varied systems continuously intercept and respond to signals to maintain physiological points of homeostasis, biological entities remain in perpetual states of flux. I was inspired by the biological “reality” of dynamic equilibrium. I sought to explore analogous concepts of continuous momentum, metamorphosis, non-equilibrium, and flux. I was initially curious to understand this form of “scientific” dynamism in the context of the subjective experience, yet have expanded my analysis to literature, sociology, and economics. Walter Pater writes: “what is secure in our existence is but the sharp apex of the present moment … and all that is real in our experience is a series of fleeting impressions.” I ask: how do these “fleeting impressions” of sensory experience – such as encounters with art or the natural world - elicit joy and delight? Can we marvel similarly at the transience of our own physiological processes? Lastly, how can Pater’s proposition of the “moment,” a proposition of an alternate conception of temporality - alter our discourse on systematic movement and physiological systems? My project has subsequently developed into a broader analysis of scientific structures, systems, and signals. Can scientific “realities” encourage us to think differently, schematically, and conceptually? Do they predispose any conceptual “truths” – i.e., the necessity of contradiction? How can scientific models allow us to reimagine boundaries and forces in economics, or re-examine notions of instability and polarization in society? While I may never do it justice, this is my small ode to science and everything it might provide - either in truth or beauty.
I graduated from Mcgill with a Bachelors of Liberal Sciences in physics with a minor in environmental studies in 2020. As an undergraduate student, I underwent a profound existential and spiritual crisis. It felt like the structure of education I was immersed in was obsolete compared to the reality of the predicaments I believed our generation and the unborn was about to face.
Our relationship to the future - expectations, narratives, domains of certainty/uncertainty/possibility, beliefs and desires/fears about what shall and could unfold - seems to affect our decisions on how to presently live our lives. They also seem tied to our value systems and emotional and psychological wellbeing : on the road to our deepest dreams lie our greatest fears. On a larger scale, I hypothesize that looking at the predictions and prophecies societies take to be true, as well as who gains from/has the power to forge and disseminate beliefs about the future can tell us a lot about their functioning and likelihood to last. I am reminded of this every time I hear about the eco-anxiety and resolve of a collapsonaut flirting with the doomsday apocalypse, or when I encounter the optimism and magnetism of narratives of technological development, the future of AI, nuclear fusion or the terraformation of Mars brightening the future of mankind like the promised land.
By zooming in on these two stereotyped postures , my project “Dreaming of Mars in the face of collapse : deep adaptation and decolonization of our relationships to possible and uncertain futures” explores our relationship to the future in terms of how it affects our behaviour, health, and capacity to sustain a society.”
I am a recent recipient of a bachelor's degree of science in architecture from McGill University where I developed interests in ephemeral events and how they are enabled by architecture, how the built environment influences and directly impacts human activity. Given that architecture is a performance in building, occupation, and decay, indeterminacy is a recurring theme. My interests do not stop there as scale and phenomena are quintessential to me: how do intricate, designed objects we create impact our lived experiences? The follow-up question is how to harness this power to propose architecture worth building.
Daniel seems to be an undergraduate student studying Cognitive Science and likes good stories, the outdoors, and deliberate incongruity. His research focuses on the evolution and phenomenology of humor appreciation, how it flirts with our constructed perceptions of “what is real”, and how it aligns us with those of other people. Humor is one of the most cognitively and culturally complex forms of engagement with ourselves and the world around us, revealing both what we pay the most and least attention to, and allowing us to safely grapple with our anxieties and the unknown. Using ideas from disciplines such as neuroscience, philosophy, and anthropology to create a more unified picture of how we compose our perceptions of the self, the world, and their relationship to one another, we can better understand how humor subverts these conceptual expectations––and, in turn, what our capacity for humor might reveal about the human condition. In this workshop, he’s excited to learn and develop ways of rigorously examining and characterizing subjective experience, how it informs and is informed by the shapes and textures of the lifeworld.
Dajou Cottrell, graduated in 2020 with a B.A in Anthropology from McGill University. During her time as a scholar in the Building 21 Blue Fellowship, Dajou sculpted her research, titled “The Semiotics of Resistance, land rights, displacement and cultural cryptography of material” which examines material forms of resistance, and land ownership conflicts within indigenous and afro-Colombians communities in Colombia. Dajou hopes to expand her research to investigate how other communities subjected to cultural, economic, or systematic oppression have used culturally fused material codes as a secretive, and collaborative resistance tactic. Dajou enjoys researching the familiar in unfamiliar ways and is curious on how the examination of material histories can reveal a plethora of inspiring stories. Dajou is now working on how she can adapt her research into the digital form to make her research more comprehensible and accessible for wider audiences. As a member of the ICG 2020 Cohort Dajou is looking forward to being exposed to other methodologies, practices and perspectives that can help her examine her project from a different angle. She is also looking forward to learning from panelist life experiences and to gain tips on how to conduct successful research initiatives.
Fall 2020 Seminar Participants Include:
Alyssa has a Masters degree in Social Work from McGill University, and is a recent graduate of Building 21’s BLUE fellowship program. She has social work experience within a diversity of organizations and communities across Canada and abroad, and is currently working as a therapist supporting survivors of sexual violence. Her current approach to practice is rooted in understanding the systemic and psychosomatic experiences of trauma.
Dance, having played a large role in her life, has influenced Alyssa's curiosity around connecting improvisational movement practices with the capacity to create meaning and momentum within the uncertain, as well as mitigating the impacts of traumatic stress and supporting sustainable social work practice.
Her beginning project ideas revolve around asking the questions: How can we imagine and re-integrate non-verbal communication and body language amidst a global pandemic, where social distance and disembodiment is the expectation? How might we translate qualities of improvisational dance, such as emergence and agency, to our current state of living in this unprecedented shift in our relationships to time, physical and virtual spaces, our own bodies and with each other?
Through this seminar series, she’s hoping to gather inspiration and craft, virtual and distanced, improvisational movement workshops, as a means to creatively connect with alternative forms of closeness and communication.
"The SILO Busting Seminar Series offers a unique opportunity to engage with material outside of your own discipline, and often outside of our comfort zone. I have been particularly inspired by conversations around how we experience dis/comfort, be it through social norms of nodding, watching horror movies, or in trying to connect with our body. While I am predominately interested in the uses of public spaces, I have been inspired by these different lectures as cities are spaces constantly occupied by complex and wholly different individuals – thus, it makes sense to have a lens informed by a range of disciplines or approaches.
I would recommend this seminar series to individuals who are both in a process of shifting their scope or interests, trying to (re)orient themselves, and those who are on their path but looking to deepen their discipline by engaging with a transdisciplinary lens – so, basically everyone!"
I am a French-American graduate from McGill University with an Honours degree in Urban Studies. Currently, I am the Program Coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTA for Love Your Block Hartford – although my academic home is in Human Geography and am still searching for a larger intellectual home (as Avery put it so succinctly in a past seminar). I am passionate about equitable urban design processes, participatory planning, and qualitative research. At this point in time, my overarching aim is to better understand and express the ways in which urban space is produced, used, transgressed, and transformed. Who is this space intended for? What is the meaning imbued at this site? Why has this design been chosen? How does this space include or exclude individuals? How can more people be engaged in or engaged with this space? I am also interested in the spaces where top-down urbanization or policy and bottom-up initiatives coalesce and what types of places this can produce, for example, in Southeast Asia.
I am participating in the SILO Busting Seminar Series because I also love the act of learning and engaging with material that is outside my comfort zone. It scratches an itch of wanting to better understand the world that I have in my brain. I am hoping to apply or incorporate some of the things we have discussed into my final project: a design for a piece of modular furniture intended for public space.
Marie-Ellen is a recent graduate looking to mend her studies in environmental thought with her personal interests in architecture and DIY biohacking. While completing her Bachelors in Sustainability, Science and Society and Urban Systems, Marie-Ellen has researched community-driven flood adaptation programs and urban habitat corridors as places for non-human agency. Independently, she also began imagining processes of architecture that enrich and cultivate stronger relationships between natural environments, buildings, and the diverse people that live and use them. Exploring bio-material design and locally based architecture from her own home, Marie-Ellen tinkers and experiments with organic processes to create her own materials and textiles. Currently, she is also pursuing ways of supporting biodiversity at the urban scale, working with the organization Nouveaux Voisins as they seek to transform the cultural imagination of the lawn as a place for more diverse forms of human and non-human life. During her time with the Indeterminacy Consulting Group, Marie-Ellen is looking to continue playing with bio-based architecture as a medium for encounter between different perspectives and bodies, both human and non-human.