Networked_Performance

[-empyre-] Reclaiming Creativity as Agent of Change

July 2011 on –empyre soft-skinned space: Reclaiming Creativity as Agent of Change :: Moderated by Simon Biggs (UK/ Australia) with co-moderator and discussant Magnus Lawrie (UK) and invited discussants, Shu Lea Cheang (Taiwan/ USA/ France), Paolo Cirio (Italy), Jussi Parikka (Finland/ UK), Saul Albert (UK), Julian Oliver (NZ), Michel Bauwens (Belgium) and Simon Yuill (UK).

Established during the so-called “age of discovery”, cities such as London were not only loci of empire but trading hubs. At that time European nations exercised power at sea. However, there were other players on the high-seas — the pirates, portrayed as scavengers and thieves but also as social innovators and redistributive “Robin Hoods”.

In the context of a rapidly growing global communications network, in which our IP is traded and which governments and corporations seek to control, what might be the role of the pirate? The media regularly report examples of minor IP theft; individuals downloading or sharing content. More recently the activities of Anonymous and Lulz have gained attention. This raises the question of piracy as political imperative, social compact and tactic of economic subversion.

The UK government’s recent Hargreaves Report “Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth” considered whether “…laws designed more than three centuries ago with the express purpose of creating economic incentives for innovation by protecting creators’ rights are today obstructing innovation and economic growth?” (Hargreaves 2011) The report’s short answer was “yes”. Its longer answer offers some positive suggestions; for example, encouraging distribution and open access to orphan works. However, more disturbing conclusions, driven by vested interests and political considerations, threaten open access to intellectual property.

The most worrying recommendation is the creation of an IP commodity market; bringing together rights’ holders and other business interests to create “the world’s first Digital Copyright Exchange”, making “…market transactions faster, more automated and cheaper”. This recommendation is made, by Hargreaves’ own admission, after receiving “evidence” from some of the largest IP holders on the planet, including Pearson, News Corporation, Reed Elsevier and the European Publisher’s Council. Hargreaves proposes a market “…providing the services global players use to license their content for world content markets”. This would benefit large-scale IP holders and speculators. “Supported by other moves to achieve easier cross border licensing in the EU, bulk licensing of large digital collections and a common code of practice for copyright collecting societies, the UK can aspire to be the leading service support centre for IP matters in the European time zone.” If implemented this would herald the full marketisation of creativity and confirm it as a speculative commodity.

This month’s discussion on empyre considers the motivations and potential value of the pirate ethos as an alternate model of creative and economic activity, especially in relation to intellectual property – perhaps the most subjective and transformative of all forms of property. We propose that piracy, including its modalities of vagrancy and vandalism, offers a contrasting model that may allow us to reclaim creativity and innovation from the chilling instrumental visions of governments and corporations. In what often appears a black and white world pirates come in shades.

Hargreaves, I (2011) http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ipreview.htm – accessed 24 June 2011

This months guests on empyre, in the order of the weeks they will be sharing their “intellectual property”, are:

Shu Lea Cheang works with net-based installation, social interface, networked performance and film/digital production. Her work traverses hard and soft, sex and polities, fiction and reality, fantasia and earth-bound. Cheang co-initiated Kingdom of Piracy (since 2002), an online, open work space which explores piracy as the net’s ultimate art form. For KOP, she created BURN (2003), commissioned by FACT, Liverpool and shown as part of Zone of Urgency at Venice Biennale 2003. Currently she is working on UKI, (2009-2012), a viral performance/game project which merges corporal virus, viral codes and bio-hack in a scenario of code-sexing frenzy. http://kop.kein.org, http://kop.kein.org/burn, http://www.u-k-i.co

Paolo Cirio works as media artist in various fields: net-art, street-art, video-art, software-art and and experimental fiction. He has won prestigious art awards and his controversial works have been sustained by research grants, collaborations and residencies. He has exhibited in museums and art institutions worldwide. As public speaker he delivers lectures and workshops on media tactics. His works include Google will Eat Itself, Amazon Noir and Face to Facebook.

Jussi Parikka is Reader in Media & Design at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). His books include Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses (2007); The Spam Book: On Porn, Viruses and Other Anomalous Objects from the Dark Side of Digital Culture (2009); Insect Media: Archaeology of Animals and Technology (2010) and Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, Implications (2011).

Magnus Lawrie is an artist and PhD candidate at Edinburgh College of Art. He has participated in hackspaces and wireless networking communities in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe, including the Chateau Institute of Technology and the Electron Club in Glasgow. He is the recipient of the ELMCIP studentship award, researching creative digital writing practices.

Saul Albert is a PhD researcher at Queen Mary University, London, on the Media and Arts Technology Programme where he is working on Conversational Aesthetics. He works with The People Speak creating ‘tools for the world to take over itself’, and co-organises Dorkbot London, a local chapter of a global group of ‘people doing strange things with electricity’.

Julian Oliver is a New Zealander based in Berlin. Not just an Artist but a Critical Engineer, working since 1998. His work has been presented at many museums, electronic-art events and conferences, including Tate Modern, Transmediale, Ars Electronica and the Japan Media Arts Festival. His work has received several awards, including the Golden Nica at this year’s Prix Ars Electronica for a collaborative project with his studio partner Danja Vasiliev. Julian has given numerous workshops in software art, hacking, artistic game-development, information visualisation, UNIX/Linux and open source development practices. He is an advocate of free software, working exclusively with free and open source software in his own practice.

Michel Bauwens is founder of the P2P Foundation, a global collaborative interested in understanding and promoting peer production, governance and property in every domain of human life, as well as open and free (input), participatory (process) and commons-oriented (output) paradigms. Its aim is to see how the p2p ethic, open infrastructures, and institutional ecology of peer production can become the new core social norm. With Frank Theys, Bauwens co-produced TechnoCalyps, the metaphysics of technology and the end of Man, a 3-hour TV documentary. The resource base is available via http://p2pfoundation.nethttp://blog.p2pfoundation.net

Simon Yuill is an artist, programmer and researcher who has published with MUTE, Variant and MIT Press. He is currently working on projects with Constant VZW (Brussels) and The Strickland Distribution (Glasgow).


Jul 6, 14:30
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