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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Art, DG CONNECT and “I'm out of my comfort zone”

“I'm out of my comfort zone.”

So said Robert Madelin, (at the time) Director General of DG CONNECT, on November 11th 2013, while chairing an ICT ART CONNECT workshop, hosted in the European Parliament buildings.

"Oh Robert dear, out of your comfort zone indeed! You and your people were also way out of your depth as well, but you would not think so by the way those you assigned to develop ICT-ART CONNECT behaved.

"Yes it's me, Julia, feminist artist, and the creative part of the schizophrenic artist-technologist pairing known as Julia and Paul, or as Paul likes to say, Paul and Julia. Paul is the technologist, the uncreative one, who is suffering from a creativity deficit!

"You've moved on so are no longer responsible for DG CONNECT, but we watched and recorded the whole story of ICT-ART CONNECT and archived all the material so that when some, not so far future art-history researcher, decides to research and write about another chapter in the already long story of art & technology/art & science, all the relevant material will be available. It's called open access! And the story continues and it seems almost weekly people are saying stupid things, and we continue to collect and archive this, so that history will not forget who said what and just how stupid they were.

"What's that Robert, you did not realise that you and your colleagues would become part of history. Too late now! It will make an interesting chapter: 'The Tale of the Director General's new clothes: The European Commission's appropriation of art to the Ideology of Creativity.'

"And now of course, the rest of the world, will know how not to go about involving artists in technological research and innovation. Your people should have listened to Paul, because he has long experience of this kind of unconventional transdisciplinary activity, and he told your colleagues that it did not matter what the European Commission thought, wanted, or decided, for what would be more important would be what China and India decided to do. You listened to the wrong people, yet again. You listened to those who shouted the loudest. You fell foul, once again, of those allegedly, morally corrupt relationship that the Commission often forms with experts – the ones hinted at by the former chief scientific advisor, where the European Commission seeks the opinions of experts willing to go along with what the Commission has decided to do. And you did this because you have a political agenda that involves the instrumentalisation of art and artists.

“Never mind, as DG CONNECT begins to experience the 1990's, 25 five years from now, some future Director General, of some future successor Directorate General of DG CONNECT, might discover what ICT-ART CONNECT should have done, but won't know that there was such a thing as ICT-ART CONNECT. This is what Paul has come to call the 20-25 year rule: The European Commission eventually does the right thing only 20-25 years after it was relevant. SSH engagement is the classic example of this – first recommended by the FAST Programme in the early 1990s, and what did ESPRIT programme do in response? Nothing! It was recommended again in 2004 by an ISTAG working group and what did DG INFSO do? Nothing of note! And now, in the new work programme, DG CONNECT is, as the document states "taking a fresh look" at that which others have looked at since the beginning of the 1980s. But you have not even taken a serious first look so how can you take a fresh look?

"Paul wrote something that is very relevant to this. I quote him here: 'Europe has become like Prometheus. Everyday Europe reinvents itself in exactly the same form that it was the day before, being as it is, bound, by invisible and silent chains, to the rock of the past, and unable to escape from it. And Europe has so fallen in love with itself that it is unable to see this. Thus will the past become the future! Europe has been condemned by Zeus and cursed by Nemesis. There is no Hercules to set Europe free. And using such knowledge, China and India can unleash against Europe the forces of creative destruction, and Europe will not understand what is happening, but will instead retreat even further into the past, for this is what civilisations that are in a state of collapse do. And the case of the former chief scientific advisor is a very good example of someone retreating into the past.'

"This is also the fate that awaits the proposed European Innovation Council!

"Art in technological research and innovation – it's not about bringing creativity to scientists, technologists, or engineers! They are already creative.

“And so you ask, what is it about?

“Too late now, you will just have to wonder about that, for Paul and I are not going to tell you, and it seems that most of the sycophants that the European Commission associates with are not going to tell you, or are not able to do so. But Paul and I will create a theory, so written that you will not understand it. And to those who can, the future belongs …

"Julia, xxx"

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