Working Group: The Art of Judgement

Livia Marin, Nomad Patterns, 2012

The process of "making things work" demands a collaboration involving many decisions, small and large, constrained by one's own plans and other people's, by material circumstance, and by culture and knowledge cultures. Whether in the sciences or the arts, knowledge enactment is very rarely a value-free zone. Men, women, children, professionals and laymen, in and out of the workplace explored and apprehended the nature of their world and its material contingencies, whether at an everyday or specialist level, within ethical, cultural, social, and political agendas. A judgement about whether a product, a method, or a form of knowledge was good or bad, fine or coarse, correct or false, useful or superfluous, authoritative or transgressive, sometimes drew on unspoken rules and values of custom and habit, and sometimes referred to more explicit yardsticks such as  ritual or religious norms, legal codes or established standards.

This working group takes the art of judgement as a focus, and organization or logistics as fields, to explore historical notions of knowledge and authority. Analysing how choices were made and courses of action, processes and truths validated, it addresses the effects of enactment and re-enactment in cultures of knowledge. If something was judged the 'right' way to perform a task or investigate a problem, then how did this relate to the possibility of finding still better ways to do things? What was the role of doing something the 'wrong' way, or of failed attempts, in the process of finding a better way to perform an operation? What was accounted for and who was made accountable? In its explorations of the histories of planning, this working group attends not only to the situated judgments constituting the logistics of knowledge in action, but also to the historical role of materiality as an organizational and explanatory analytic.