Continuous Session, 2010

Created with Jordan Parnass.

Continuous Session is a Do It Yourself (DIY) instruction set for creating a rapidly deployable physical meeting space, designed to aid in the facilitation of tactical discussions for artists, activists and community groups operating outside of conventional power and decision making structures.

The system’s design references the plan for the UN Security Council chamber, originally created by Norwegian architect Arnstein Arneberg. The chamber was referred to as “the emergency room,” because it needed to be available at any time when there might be a threat to peace. The open circular structure, where all interlocutors face each other in a non-hierarchical configuration, has since become iconic for meeting spaces where critical issues are discussed.

Continuous Session consists of a set of plans and instructions for the CNC fabrication and tool-less assembly of a plywood meeting table and surrounding discussion bar and forum space. Designed with slotted plywood tabs and friction fittings, the structure breaks down into small modular components for storage and transport. Continuous Session can easily be assembled by two people in under an hour, and is rapidly deployable wherever a site to facilitate civic discussion might be necessary.

Continuous Session was originally commissioned as part of the exhibition, How To Do Things With Words, presented at The New School’s Sheila Johnson Design Center in 2010, which included the work of fifteen artists and collectives exploring the relationship between language, power, media, and action through gallery works, talks and performances.

Throughout the run of its initial installation, student and community groups , including immigrants rights groups, university LGBTQ groups and local highschool domestic violence groups, made use of the space to meet and discuss their work. Integrated laptops with security and cable management provided a link to long distance communications, online materials and applications.

It is the intention that the physical design for Continuous Session would continuously evolve as it is used in other contexts and is modified to serve the needs of its users. The flexible design allows for the substitution of alternative materials, such as recycled plastic HDPE or fiber cement boards for durability and long-term outdoor use. New strategies and contexts for use would be encouraged to be submitted to the project’s web site.

Future deployments might include installing new instances of the structure, created from locally available materials. A program of participatory lectures, discussions and DIY workshops can be developed to activate any interior or exterior space. Suggested program content might include discussing diminishing access to public space, its impact on civic discourse, and artistic urban interventions created in response to the issue. Sessions would be recorded for the project’s web site. The structure would then be donated to a local student, community or artists’ groups participating in the series of events.

An “instructables” video and written instruction set would be available both on line and distributed in printed form, to encourage replication and dissemination by the participants.