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Reality does not meet our expectations. 

Do we have the ability to adapt?

This is a seminar series for Building 21 BLUE fellows hosted at McGill University. All seminars will be hosted on Zoom and run on Wednesday evenings from 6-7:30pm EST.


Kathy Kennedy January 27

How to: use your voice to become more powerful communicator

HMMM- The human voice has become even more important as a tool of expression during the pandemic era. We do not hear our own voice as it is outside of our own body. The workshop combines psychoacoustic information with playful exercises for better understanding our voice and how it functions. Goals are to explore: affective intonation, melody of phrase, clear punctuation, inhabiting silences, putting words in relief, illustrating key phrases, and developing body language. More on Kathy here.


Jamie Currie  February 3rd

The Dying Art of Not Connecting

The complexities, hopes, and fears of our disturbingly vexed historical and political moment have lead many into the assumption that ever increased forms of connection is what is needed: we need more community, more openness to others, more sensitivity, more acts of socialization; we need to be better informed, more engaged, more committed, more relevant. This assumption is so strong and certain of itself that it has, to a degree, become a form of non-thinking. This seminar seeks to challenge this assumption back into being a potential form of thought by considering the value of activities that, rather than integrating and connecting us further and more expansively with others, in fact, are as much concerned with disconnecting, breaking lines of social and communal dialogue, and isolating. Amongst other things, I will consider, the act of close reading, the very question of thinking itself, and also, perhaps, the form and function of the artist’s studio. More on Jamie Currie here.

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Eric Lewis and Ben Zucker

February 10th

(Dont) Tell me What to Do // How to orchestrate the "score" of your life.

Eric Lewis research focuses on the philosophy of improvised music. I am the McGill site coordinator for ICASP (Improvisation, Community and Social Research), a major international research project with primary funding from the SSHRC MCRI program. I am actively recruiting graduate students interested in this project, for which there are numerous funding possibilities. I am presently completing two book projects, the first on the ontology of improvised music, the second an edited collection on Improvisation and Social Aesthetics. I am also actively involved in the creation and curation of improvised art exhibits, and an active improvising musician. Broader research interests include the philosophy of music more generally, aesthetics, philosophy of copyright, and a host of interdisciplinary approaches to art, culture and society. More on Eric Lewis here.

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Ben Zucker practices acts of conceptual juxtaposition and experiential speculation, as an intentionally wide-ranging composer, audiovisual artist, and multi-instrumentalist. He has contributed to experimental music scenes of the Bay Area, Connecticut, London, Chicago, and beyond, working with musicians including Anthony Braxton, Matana Roberts, Myra Melford, Karen Borca, The Crossing, The Vocal Constructivists, Rinde Eckert, and the San Francisco Choral Artists, in addition to frequent performances as a soloist, bandleader, and ensemble contributor. His composed works have received awards and performances by ensembles including the Mivos Quartet, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Khorikos, Ensemble Entropy, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, as well as being performed at DOCNYC, the Darmstadt Fereinkurse, Art Omi, Trinity College Dublin, and the Banff Centre. He has been acclaimed as a "master of improvisation" (IMPOSE Magazine) and “more than a little bit remarkable” (Free Jazz Blog) for his solo albums combining brass, percussion, voice, and electronics, released on labels including Not Art Records, Dinzu Artefacts, Verz Imprint, and I Low You. He currently lives in Chicago, studying music, performance, and philosophy as a doctoral student at Northwestern University. More on Ben here.


This sculpture has been created by Reinhard Reitzenstein. It is an artistic representation of the electron probability cloud for a giant two-atom rubidium molecule. 


Doreen Wackeroth + Reinhard Reitzenstein

February 17th

Physics in Our Everyday Lives

The intention of this seminar will be to offer students examples for how disciplines might come together, learn from one another, and generate something "new" out of the collaboration. I thought we might also bring Reinhard Reitzenstein and Gary Nickard into this conversation to illuminate these other approaches to collaboration that the Physics department and you have engaged in the past.

Doreen Wackeroth professor of Physics and associate department chair at The University at Buffalo. More on Doreen Wackeroth here. Her areas of study are: Theoretical Particle Physics, Collider Phenomenology, Electroweak Precision Physics, Higher-order corrections in QCD and Electroweak Theory, Precision studies of the Higgs and Top quark sectors of the Standard Model, Supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model.

Reinhard Reitzenstein studied at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto, 1968-71. From 1971 to 1991 he was represented by, the Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto. Since 1993 is represented by the Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto.He has held over one hundred solo exhibitions and participated in over 300 group exhibitions throughout North and South America and abroad. More than a dozen public art commissions along with as many private commissions have been completed. Reinhard's work is represented in over 50 public and corporate collections internationally. More on Reinhard Reitzenstein here.


The "Tachyonic Antitelephone" is a Dadaist sculpture, built by Gary Nickard. This sculpture pays homage to a thought experiment devised by astrophysicist Gregory Benford, who described an "anti-telephone" made out of theoretical subatomic particles with no mass -- tachyons -- which travel faster than the speed of light and, by definition, travel backward in time.


Randy Schiff  February 24th

Systems Theory, Romance, and the Wildly Stabilizing Feedback Patterns in Marie de France’s Lais.

Turbulent times can produce tremendous uncertainty, as competing regions and social classes vie for domination in various fields. What we in a proverb call the curse of living in “interesting times,” in which chaos and violence can seem absolutely overwhelming may actually invite us to reposition ourselves when facing highly charged worlds. Marie de France’s twelve lais—short stories of the ancient Celtic Bretons, featuring at least one magical element—allow us to see how analytic principles of systems theory can help us find both order and points of relatability in a rather wild and seemingly random world of medieval romance. While Marie’s stories of werewolves and otherworldly birds of prey might at first glance seem like chaos, our insistence on seeing class-based and other classificatory feedback loops can help us see such strange narratives as commentaries on basic understandings of social hierarchy and sexuality. What may at first glance seem like bizarre worlds of fairy-populated woods or exotic ecosystems across seas can, once we use the lens of system theory with its focus on feedback loops, show us how such literature pulses with the rhythms of the medieval social status quo. Systems theory will allow us to study the energy of the mechanisms Marie uses to build her powerfully interesting romantic worlds. ​More on Randy Schiff here.


Andre Hendry March 3rd

Place-Based Pedagogy and Improvisation in the Pandemic

"The shift to virtual online teaching was going to throw all of the best parts of class out the window - the best parts of my lectures - gone. I spent months mulling how best to achieve some of this personal connection in the virtual lectures, and I settled on "place-based teaching." The idea was to pre-record a 10 min video for each lecture that showed me discussing content in a physical location where I was (or had been) present. My hope was that I could "take the students out with me" to particular locations, where I could embed concepts into a real setting with which I was intimately familiar."

Andrew Hendry is a professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University. His research focuses on : the evolution of biological diversity: adaptive radiation, ecological speciation, "rapid" evolution, natural selection, and gene flow. Empirical systems include salmon, sticklebacks, and guppies. Methods include surveys of biological diversity, field and laboratory experiments, molecular genetics, quantitative genetics, and theoretical modeling. Andrew Henry will talk  about his "place based" approach to online teaching in the pandemic. More on Andrew Hendry here.


Alanna Kraaijeveld March 10th

Staying Rooted in a Process of Complete Transformation

Alanna shares her knowledge of movement across various disciplines including dance, theatre, and sports. She has taught at performing arts institutions and fitness and movement organizations across Canada, in Europe and the United States.

Kraaijeveld is a designated *Inspire by Fighting Monkey instructor, and studies with Linda Kapetanea and Jozef Frucek, developers of Fighting Monkey Practice (FM). She holds a Master of Arts degree in Professional Practice (Dance Technique Pedagogy) from Middlesex University in London, England.

more about Alanna here.


Joel Trudeau  March 17th

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and S.P.A.C.E.  

Department of Physics, Dawson College