Acting Cybernetically


24-26 June 2019
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

When “the sensorimotor rubber hits the phenomenal road”, how does being a second-order cybernetician make a difference that makes a difference to how we act and understand, and to how we navigate the worlds of distinctions that we both construct and live, in all we do, both implicitly and explicitly?

Since the formation of “second-order cybernetics” shifted attention from observed to observing systems, the theoretical bases of radical constructivist epistemology and entailed reflexive ethics emanating from this move have been further developed by Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Ranulph Glanville, Ernst von Glasersfeld, Louis Kauffman, Laurence D. Richards and many others. Yet, this is still an “unfinished revolution”.

Next to ways of thinking and understanding, cybernetics is concerned with ways of acting in the world. This is not only reflected in the performative, material and socially engaged character of prominent cybernetic projects (e.g. Gordon Pask’s Musicolour and Colloquy of Mobiles, and Stafford Beer’s Project Cybersyn). It also manifests itself in the contemporary resurgence of cybernetics within creative disciplines, challenging and clarifying practice, research and education; and in the ambition, first articulated by Margaret Mead at the inaugural meeting of the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC), that cybernetic interest be organized in accordance with its own insights.

How do commitments to second-order cybernetic epistemology manifest themselves in our daily experiences and relationships? How do (and how may we better) we see ourselves, act, relate, and live on this planet earth?

This conference is an invitation to cyberneticians, action researchers, therapists, social activists, artists, designers, philosophers, scientists, educators, performance studies scholars and participants in all disciplines who take seriously the notion that epistemology conditions how we enact our lives and indeed, our very “selves”. Please join us on the breath-taking campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Through paper presentations, participatory “playshops”, performances, and facilitated discussions, come and enact your response to the conference’s rallying call: “You’re a cybernetician – act like one!”