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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Art, DG CONNECT and the tale of the Director General’s new clothes

Once upon a time …

In the Emperor’s Court, the EC, there was once a Director General (who I shall call DG) who met an alchemist. This alchemist whispered in DG’s ear and told him of a magic way of making all those who research and develop Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) more creative and innovative. DG, being under political pressure to deliver innovation, was of course interested, for people were saying that innovation was sorely lacking in his particular area – at least that was how it seemed to the court followers who gathered around the EC. And being inclined, like many in the European world, the West, to think in terms of deficits, a simple self-constructed reality, DG was more than glad to think about a creativity deficit, and how alchemy possessed the power to correct this.

The alchemist also told DG that alchemy also possessed a special feature, that only those wise and clever would be able understand that alchemy has the power to cure the creativity deficit. Those people who did not understand this were fools and unfit for office.

And so it came to pass, that many alchemic events took place, and many people who were unable to understand how alchemy could cure the self-invented creativity deficit, kept quiet, for they did not want to be seen as fools or classified as being unfit to hold office. A special study was even commissioned which was full of new evidence of the creativity enhancing power of alchemy, yet none who read this report could see this evidence, but they kept quiet, for now also the smell of money was in the air – the special aroma of 6 million euro. So, even more people were crying-out the message that the uncreative technologists needed the special creative powers of alchemists – turning lead into gold and all that stuff, or in this case, transforming technologists into creative people.

Thus it was that a new topic appeared in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017 in the area of Information and Communication Technologies – ICT-36b-2016: Boost synergies between alchemists and technologists.

Meanwhile, a little boy stood by watching and smiled to himself, knowing that those in the non-European world, in China, in India, and other places could learn from this sad but all too familiar tale, how not to approach the use of alchemy in ICT and other research areas. And thus armed, they would unleash against the vainglorious Enlightened ones, the forces of creative destruction, and these Enlightened ones, not knowing what was happening to them, would retreat even further into the past, that place where they surely do belong.

And next week, continuing with the critique of DG CONNECT’s instrumentalisation of artists for their own ends (some hidden), I will present the ICT work programme topic ICT-36b-2016: Boost synergies between alchemists and technologists.

Every sword needs a stone on which to sharpen it, so expect a lot more of these preliminary excursions into the fragmented stone-age minds of the vainglorious Enlightened ones, as bit-by-bit their strange and primitive beliefs, their rather odd ideologies and dogma, their silent narratives, are exposed to all those citizens that are, for very sound reasons, rejecting science and technology, and looking for something that the West (not even with all its STARTing, STEAMing and SEADing) will not be able to provide them with – life lived in balance and harmony and the science and technology that this will require. Here is a heresy on a scale beyond your worst nightmares …

“Great Scott! The man is surely mad, for he cannot see that science and technology are independent of culture, and must be the same throughout the universe.”

“Leave Paul alone, you men with your patriarchal power structures, technological determinism and positivism, expecting us women to behave like you. Yes it’s me again, the crazy female artist known as Julia. Well, you wanted technologists to work with artists, so what exactly were you expecting? This is artistic freedom babe, and you don’t like it, do you? And this reminds me, that I must put pen to paper and write about DG CONNECT, the Roman Catholic Church and the Soviet Communist Party … Julia xxx”


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