“Yet, another lecture?”- Alexandra Kinevskaya
On the 23d of May 2018, we were invited to the “lecture-performance” by Jon McKenzie and Aneta Stojnic with a peculiar title “Thought-Action Figures”. Prior to lecture, we received preparatory material that consisted of a comic with the same name and some of the philosophical thoughts/quotes from the event. In the beginning of the performance, Aneta interrupted McKenzie’s lecture (that purposefully was made to seem to resemble boring classic old-school lectures given at any regular west-world university) by saying “Not another lecture…”. In the following minutes, it was clear that the point was to address the old format of teaching and learning that might not be as efficient these days in some instances. This concept of outdated educational technique was confronted not just by the mentioned exclamation and the context of the offered spectacle. It was also challenged by the format of the “lecture” itself as it was turned into a performance that included video material, interaction with the audience and various installations. As the description of the event suggested, the show that unfolded in front of us focused “on performance, technology, and post-ideational thought, the reinscription of ideas with a broader spacetime suggested by Artaud, Derrida, Haraway, Lehmann, and others” and strived to answer “What figures guide our thoughts and actions? What role might post-dramatic, post-conceptual personae and machinic genres play in rethinking the past, negotiating the present, and enacting the future? How to navigate the ladders and trees and grasses of this world and others? How might one become a thought-action figure?”
The world has changed in the light of the new digital revolution. The way we learn, the way we understand the world has shifted. Many studies have proven that more interactive and innovative teaching methods do very often prove to be more effective than lectures. As McKenzie himself points out, “Similarly, research and teaching machines once ruled strictly and linearly by the book are being retooled by a multimedia, hypertextual metatechnology, that of the computer.” We are getting used to receiving information faster through our laptops and mobile devices that at any point offer us a text search, to seeing information in shorter forms like posts on social networks. We send and receive information through our messengers as we exchange photos, videos, texts, sound it the whole variety of its forms. That helps us faster grasp and switch from one information source to another, from one task or topic to another. However, it does leave us in need for entertainment. Homo Ludens has a rising need for play that can be used efficiently for educational purposes.
In the light of that, it is quite understandable why would it make sense for McKenzie and Stojnic to present their argument in an interactive form as here the form itself makes a statement. However, the content of the lecture was slightly more demanding as it had at its core serious ontological and conceptual matters. The way the information was presented did not seem to correlate with the contents: it was hard to follow the theatrics and the discourse at the same time. Indeed, the format of the event was tailored to ease the comprehension of the rather serious theoretical framework but the text itself wasn’t quite adopted to that format. This difference in the level of difficulty of the visual and textual material created an additional space for the audience to work on in order to bridge that gap and make the composition whole again. Without a doubt, new methods and techniques in academia should be developed and pursued in accordance with shifts in the ways of learning. But in my opinion, the format of the way in which information is presented should correlate with the content.
 Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance. Jon McKenzie. New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 18