Networked_Performance

[iDC] Art, Lifestyle & Globalisation

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“…Big Brother goes inside…”

Dew Harrison wrote:

Digital media and new technology is reconfiguring our relationship with the world and is also affecting how artists relate with their public. Now, new locative technology can position art in the everyday of people’s lives and activities outside the gallery space. Although psychogeography and mobile media enable the ‘interactive city’ for artists to key into, they also promote ideas of corporatised play in an urban space and tend to be interventionist and intrusive. ‘Big brother’ media and cctv surveillance allows for few informal, ungoverned social meeting places. This means that artists are having to find interstices between the formal constructed and observed social spaces where unorthodox art can happen to engage with its audience. Just how is such practice being supported within the neo-liberal economic structures of globalistation? Julian Stallabrass suggests that this only produces artists (in Brit Art particularly) who posture as edgy, risky individuals but who are in real terms busy establishing market positions for themselves. The answer lies somewhere in the inter-related issues of art, lifestyle and globalisation.
In the 1960s Marshall McLuhan predicted a technologically enabled ‘global village’ and issued the warning -“Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence.”

I would be extremely interested in your thoughts on the extent to which we are ‘aware of this dynamic’ and offer some questions which might help probe the territory –

Corporations are rebranding themselves around lifestyle, is this influencing creative practice or vice-versa? How do the principals and aesthetics of open source and democratic media sit alongside corporate products (iPod etc)? How should arts organisations and institutions respond to open networking and ideas exchange, what is a node and a network in cultural terms? Are artists the software for the corporation hardware, or the activists in sheeps clothing? Where does government funding for the arts sit in the global cultural mix, or is corporate money driving the cultural agenda?

With thanks and kind regards,

Dew Harrison

Alan Clinton wrote:

A couple of thoughts here related to the questions you have posed. First, the rhetoric of purity (is there an outside of capitalism?) can be, I think, an endgame producing the sort of corporate artists Stallabras describes and those who are overly concerned that they may make a mistake with their art (or their theory)–no one wants to be called a hypocrite.

The problem of artists, intellectuals, and capitalism is a real one. Should I refuse to teach at the Georgia Institute of Technology because of its ties to the military industrial complex? If I had refused, when I was just out of graduate school, I would have had little opportunity to critique the system in anything resembling a full-time way — I wouldn’t have had those impressionable students either. But then, if I had gone too far in my critiques, I would have been fired. Artists, it strikes me, are in a similar position. How to survive in an organism long enough to destroy or recreate it?

Rather than attempting to start from a position of purity, perhaps we should recognize that people will find themselves starting out from various positions of impurity within the system. And, there will be many ways of working against this system, of speaking to it in ways that I call, borrowing one of Derrida’s metaphors, “Tympanic Politics”:

“In his elucidation of marginalia as a discipline unto itself, Derrida gives a poetic anatomy of the tympanic membrane and its surroundings. The ear is swirling, labyrinthine, and cavelike. Penetrating its depths presents a difficult, frightening prospect. In addition to traversing a maze of passages, one must confront the wall of the tympanum which has the capability to muffle the loudest of noises. If normative discourse / art does not reach the inner ear with the proper sense of volume or urgency, then how is one to suggest the political or historical importance of a particular issue? For the alternative would be to shock the system in such a way as to puncture the tympanum altogether, effectively dismantling the apparatus so that nothing can be heard at all. It would be as if Constantin Brancusi, on the verge of rejecting Rodin’s method of clay modeling with taille directe, had shattered The Craiova Kiss with the first hammer strike into formless stone. Derrida’s answer to such questions, of course, is always a more specific anatomy of the situation at hand. He suggests that since the tympanum is oblique with respect to the ear canal, its subversion requires an oblique approach as well (taille indirecte?), some form of rhetorical ambush. How does one ‘unhinge’ something that cannot be shattered?”

Alan Clinton

Cecil Touchon wrote:

If artists are to engage in any dialog of a public nature such as exhibitions, publications, performances and whatnot, how shall they build enough wealth and capital to sustain their activity and carry on a home life (support a family)? Capitalism as in produce objects to be sold? The public dole? Maintain poverty? Work for a corporation?

If artists wish to engage in helping to shape the world to come, toward what are they moving in terms of a desired result?

Is it enough just to complain about, point out the problems of, or screw with the things you don’t like? Assuming the answer to be no, what else should one’s time be spent doing in order to feel that one is making a difference or helping to move the world in a better direction?

I notice that universities are training a lot of people to work for corporations and show them how to find ways to screw the general public out of small enough amounts of money to avoid calling it criminal behavior, yet we all know it is and are being screwed over regularly.

How do we train ourselves and our children to shape the world into a place we are not afraid to live in?

How do we establish and honor higher standards of living our lives so as to generate joy and peace?

What ideals should we establish among ourselves that we can all support together?

Why should we merely accept the ideals that organizations and governments and corporations want to instill in us for their benefit?

Why do we allow ourselves to be thought of as corporate consumers and properties of a state?

What would it be like if artists decided to shape a world where artists would want to live in? What would be important to them? How would they do it?

Cecil Touchon

Howard Rheingold wrote:

If people did not produce objects to be sold, we’d all be working very very hard to food, house, and transport ourselves. All too often, intellectuals who have never had to meet a payroll — or face failure to meet a payroll — fail to distinguish between a multinational corporation and a mom and pop store.

Howard Rheingold

Simon Biggs wrote:

Rheingold’s statement is West Coast liberalism at its worst! Furry Capitalism.

In Europe and elsewhere we have lived for two generations within a rather benevolent context. If it was not for a socio-economic system where relatively generous arms length state support for the arts, and other non-industrial means of production, was default we would have seen a very different development in the arts and society since the mid 20th C.

Post Object art, performance and most media art, much of conceptual art … in fact most of what could be described as post modern practice, would not have become the dominant forms of our time. That much of the impetus for this has come from Europe is not coincidental. Such paradigms of work are only possible when value is ascribed in ways not afforded by the sort of socio-economic model on which the US is predicated and which Howard is suggesting should be default not only there but globally. One could also argue this using the example of food production. McDonalds versus artisinal food production.

I found Cecil’s plaintive call for a different model both sad and uplifting. Sad that after two generations of profound social change in Europe, generally for the better, some of the same calls for change are made now as in the 1960’s. Uplifting, as you do not hear enough of these sorts of calls anymore, perhaps because we have all become so cynical as a result of persistent partial failure. Perhaps we expect to much of our social systems?

My life maps almost entirely to the social democratic model. As a young artist my first professional activities were made under the fledgling but nevertheless very beneficial wing of the Australia Council (founded 1972), Australia’s national agency briefed to fund the arts through peer review. The effect the Oz Council had on the creative arts in Australia was profound. Within a few years we had moved from an object based private gallery dominated model, where a handful of collectors established taste and the careers of a handful of artists, to a situation where thousands of artists were producing all sorts of crazy things (and often nothing at all) and showing this work in a diversity of artist run and non-profit spaces, or simply in the street or on the beach. It was a very creative and healthy time and in many respects resembled the joyful situation that Cecil calls for.

In the UK this sort of system was also in place from even earlier, with the Arts Council of England as a very early example of social beneficience. Other European countries, Canada, New Zealand and a number of unusual suspects, had similar models in place. Even in the US, at state level, there were similar arrangements and, for a short time, even the NEA managed to make a decent attempt at being a national arts agency run for and by artists.

The sort of model that Howard is promoting is based on a mean perception of human nature, predicated on an understanding that people are only motivated by their own need and where profit can only be gained at the expense of others. This is the logic of capitalism. It is also the logic of the criminal mind.

So, I read Cecil and the innocent idealism makes me cringe; but I read Howard and I get angry because what he espouses is the same ethic that amoral corporations are trying to export to the world under the moniker of Globalism. An ethic that has brought us to such a bad place in world history and now threatens the social compacts and contracts that have underpinned the relatively enlightened social models of a number of countries since the Second World War.

Rheingold articulates an anti-intellectualism that compounds his sins. Anti-intellectualism is of course a common symptom on the right of politics. I find this interesting as in this Howard is denying his own roots.

Regards

Simon

Cynthia Beth rubin wrote:

I find the use of capitalist terms to describe what we do as artists intriguing. If we go this route, we have to recognize that everything that we do as artists and intellectuals is the result of surplus capital- otherwise we would be in the fields growing corn.

In North America, we not only have surplus monetary capital, we have surplus intellectual and educational capital. We know things and think about things that are far removed from our own lives.

How do we use our surplus educational capital? And how does this play out for activist artists? Do we get to indulge in making the art that we want to make, get it recognized in galleries and through sales, and then call ourselves activists because the subject matter echoes harsh realities that are written about elsewhere?

Or are there other ways to be activists. Like volunteering to teach computer skills to adults in desperate need of a new career. Or doing page lay-outs for non-profits? It may not be an either or situation, but can we reap the benefits of the system without getting into the trenches? What really is the best way for artists to make the world a better place?

Cynthia B Rubin

Dmytri Kleiner wrote:

Cynthia Beth Rubin wrote:
<< I find the use of capitalist terms to describe what we do as artists intriguing. We have started a new group based here in Berlin called the Art & Economics Group. Let me know if you want more info.>>

If we go this route, we have to recognize that everything that we do as artists and intellectuals is the result of surplus capital- otherwise we would be in the fields growing corn.

Surplus _value_. You can not eat capital.

<< In North America, we not only have surplus monetary capital, we have >>

surplus intellectual and educational capital. We know things and think about things that are far removed from our own lives.

Education and Technical Skill that result from education are sometimes called Human Capital, however the main impact of surplus human capital within a capitalist mode of production is lower professional wages. However, this surplus human capital could also be applied toward mutual capitalizion and mutual rent capture, IMO, this is a potential basis for the method of worker’s struggle I call venture communism.

<< How do we use our surplus educational capital? And how does this play, out for activist artists? Do we get to indulge in making the art that we want to make, get it recognized in galleries and through sales, and then call ourselves activists because the subject matter echoes harsh realities that are written about elsewhere? The Art & Economics group is investigating another way, the art bond. We believe that this captures the marginal value of art production untapped by mercantile or patronage based systems. The basic idea is that we will issue bonds to fund our project, and the value of our artistic production will be measurable by comparing the demand growth, redemption rates and interest rates of our bonds to market rates. We had our first issue in Berlin last Thursday, starting with a modest 20 2€ bonds, that earn 10% interest. We will issue more quarterly. > Or are there other ways to be activists. Like volunteering to teach computer skills to adults in desperate need of a new career. Or doing page lay-outs for non-profits? Both the above are good so long as the activist has some other means of support, which obviously is not the case for most. > It may not be an either or situation, but can we reap the benefits of the system without getting into the trenches? What really is the best way for artists to make the world a better place? Make revolution irresistible. But most importantly, avoid making capitalists richer by selling them your labour (selling them your product is ok). (and I do mean revolution, not insurrection) Dmytri Kleiner Michel Bauwens wrote: Dear Simon: I find your contribution of the important role of state-funded very valuable. However, I am surprised that from a short paragraph by Howard explaining why some people need to work in the market economy for a living; you deduce that he is a hardcore apologist for market only approaches. This is not the Howard that I know; and neither is the anti-intellectualist ... What I think he is referring too is the kind of intellectual who has lived so long with public support; that he can no longer imagine that not everybody gets this support; and hence is forced to use market economy means to support his family. Conclusion; though I believe Howard does aim to work and live from with the U.S. context, and makes various adaptations to his social situation, that is different from being a hardcore neoliberal apologist, Michel Bauwens Joe Rabie wrote: Le 1 avr. 07, à 19:21, Cynthia Beth Rubin a écrit : > I find the use of capitalist terms to describe what we do as artists intriguing. If we go this route, we have to recognize that everything that we do as artists and intellectuals is the result of surplus capital- otherwise we would be in the fields growing corn. The relationship between art and capital is fundamental. If capitalism is all about the creation of value, then art is probably the most successful product around. One can't really imagine any product that has seen its value rise over time as much as a Van Gogh, for example (value which the original producer saw nothing of, unluckily for him). People buy food to fill their gut, and art to symbolise their social status, or their personal power. The possession of art externalises the possession of money. The desire of artists to be subversive in our need to portray the world is a source of unease for those who need us, whether our patrons be political or financial. We must be allowed to produce value, but our irrepressible desire to express ourselves must be kept strictly under control. Joe iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity iDC[at]mailman.thing.net http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc

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Mar 29, 14:02
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