(Un)common Ground - Scale and Intimacy

Expert meeting

The meeting will take place on the 24 Sept. (1 - 5pm) and 25 Sept. (9am - 5pm) in Amsterdam.
Announcing (Un)common Ground – Scale and Intimacy, the latest in a series of expert meetings designed to track the developing role of creative practice (art, design and new media) as a catalyst for collaboration across sectors and disciplines. The 2007 edition of (Un)common Ground will once again be a partner event of Amsterdam’s renowned cross media week, Picnic.

Scale and Intimacy

This year, as the sub-title “Scale and Intimacy suggests, we will be taking a close look at the complex issues arising when practices and models of collaboration move across different scales.
Through close examination of (what we hope you will agree) is an exciting and impressive set of case studies, we will look at the key challenges faced by an organization or movement when its projects begin to operate on different scales. How to maintain the intimate connections with the people involved on all of these different scales ? Our working assumption (to be tested and explored in this meeting) is that successful collaborations, from small projects to those involving multiple partners can only operate on multiple scales by understanding how to create and maintain not just one but different kinds and qualities of intimacy.
(Un)common Ground is not only about bringing together divergent projects and interests, it is also about examining the effects of interconnectivity itself, This takes us well beyond the traditional concept of knowledge transfer, to include the negotiation of different concepts, politics, modes of engagement with the world – differences even in what constitutes valid knowledge for different people and institutions, different communities.

Expert Meeting 2007

Once again we are keeping this meeting deliberately small and by invitation only. This is not to generate another 'elite' club but to create an intimate environment where our participants are more likely to take risks. In fact in the presentations we would like to take the risk of coming with more questions than answers. Our 'style' of meeting will continue to be pragmatic, any theoretical propositions (including the idea of uncommon ground itself) should be able to be revised in the process of examining what actually happens in practice, and that this in turn should help us shape the direction of future practice, theory, research and investment. This meeting is not simply about presenting projects and discussing them, it is more of an intensive workshop where we collaborate to reflect on issues raised by the case-studies.


We have recently launched our first publication, (Un)common Ground: Creative Encounters Across Sectors and Disciplines, which juxtaposes analysis of concrete case studies with reflective essays by leading thinkers and makers involved in either organizing or theorizing complex collaborations. The discussions and reflection that followed the book’s publication have helped us identify a series of categories and themes we are introducing in the expert meeting to frame the discussions on case studies. We see the series of expert meetings and publications as steps along the way to a longer-term, and more ambitious destination. What are currently a loose set of heuristic categories and themes can be used to arrive at more a general understanding of the new role for creative practice in the dynamics of cross sector collaboration.


Goldsmith’s Interaction Research and Intel - Bill Gaver and Tobie Kerridge
Trans.form Design - Paula Dib and Renata Mendes
Human Rights Media Center-Cape Town - Shirley Gunn
Humbiumbi - Paulo de Castro Andrade
Human Project (Brazil) - Saulo Barretto
Atelier Zuidvlugal & Noordvleugel 2040
Crystal Palace
Bricolabs - Felipe Fonseca and Jean Habib