Based in Montreal, the SenseLab is an international network of artists and academics, writers and makers, from a wide diversity of fields, working together at the crossroads of philosophy, art, and activism.
Participants are held together by affinity rather than by any structure of membership or institutional hierarchy. The SenseLab’s event-based projects are collectively self-organizing. Their aim is to experiment with creative techniques for thought in the act. The SenseLab’s product is its process, which is meant to disseminate. The measure of success is the creative momentum that spins off into individual and group practices elsewhere, to seed new processes asserting their own autonomy. The SenseLab makes no claim to ownership, operating as much as possible on the principle of a gift economy.
Erin Manning founded the SenseLab in 2004 out of a desire to build a supportive environment conducive to new modes of encounter and expression. Her premise was that concepts are never pre-programmed. Rather, they are experimental effects of an on-going process which emerge in the doing, and merge with making. The concepts and techniques collectively arrived at over the first ten years of SenseLab actvities are explored in “Propositions for Thought in the Act” (in Erin Manning and Brian Massumi, Thought in the Act: Passages in the Ecology of Experience, University of Minnesota Press, 2014).
The SenseLab has adopted the term “research-creation” to describe its activities, with the goal of fundamentally rethinking “theory” and “practice” in a way that overcomes the all-too-common antagonism between the two. What distinguishes the SenseLab’s approach to research-creation is its emphasis on philosophy as a creative practice in its own right, and its sustained dedication to live experimentation with new forms of transdisciplinary collaboration. SenseLab projects engage in the process of thinking by doing, always with the understanding that concepts are made in and through the event. They practice philosophy as a catalyst to other modes of creative endeavour, never their judge or master.