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Sunday, 27 December 2015

2015 comes to an end

Drawing to a close now is 2015, a year that will go down in my own little and very insignificant history as a turning point. The Rubicon is crossed. There can be no turning back. Goodbye to that which is the past and to those of you who are my past, goodbye. Hello to that which is the future.

Now the sword is sharper, thanks to DG CONNECT and its ICT ART CONNECTing and STARTing which is something of gift sent from heaven for someone such as myself who is interested in collective denial and delusion, behavioural policy making and the transcending of boundaries. So to the matter of wielding this metaphorical weapon, I do now turn, to do that which no-one else has inclination towards, to begin the building upon a far distant shore, of a road to a different future – one that we all, in our hearts, wish to see. This is the power of one of which I wrote in A Tale of Two Deserts.

The poetics – this, you see, is what the hand that writes this wishes for things to be, because hermeneutics clearly confounds those that to the objective and rational mind, and to this alone, do retreat.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Art and DG CONNECT: Two European Commissioners in conversation with Julia

“Hi there all you artistic folk, it’s me, Julia, part of that highly schizophrenic art-technology pairing known as Julia and Paul.

“Today I have with me two European Commissioners who will say something about this thing called the nexus of art and science.

“So Commissioner Modas, what would you like to say about this topic?”

“Yes, thank you Julia. Let me first say that it is a great please to be here with you today. I think that more and more we all understand that innovation in the future will be on the intersection of arts and sciences.”

“Great. Now how did you come to such a conclusion?”

“Scriptwriter! Where’s my scriptwriter?”

“Well Commissioner while you and your scriptwriter are being creative and trying to find an innovative answer to this simple question, we’ll move on to Commissioner Oettinger. What would you like to contribute to this fascinating discussion?”

“I too would like to say that it is a great pleasure to be here with you today. Artistic creativity and critical thinking are essential for innovation in today's digital world.  Already, highly innovative companies like Mercedes thrive on a strong link between artists and their engineers. The EU will support [such] multidisciplinary themes in H2020.”

Well said Commissioner. Did you know that in the medieval period the Roman Catholic Church also thrived on a strong link with artists? The Communist state in the Soviet Union also thrived on the very strong and rigid links that it forged with artists. So clearly, thriving on strong links with artists can mean many things. It seems that the European Commission is also forging strong links with artists too! Are they also rigid as well? But while you are pondering on these questions, I‘m glad you mentioned Mercedes, because we just happen to have here a representative from Mercedes Finance in the United States. Please tell us something about the strong links you have forged with the art world.”

“Indeed Julia I would be very glad to do so. We work with an art gallery where our employees view masterpieces by artists such as Diego Rivera, Rembrandt and Picasso. A trained facilitator then asks for their impressions during post-viewing meetings. During the debriefing session, we touch on how art applies to business and think about how employees can make use of more creativity at work and offer different solutions to our customers. Participants engage in collaborative discussion and offer answers to messages suggested by the art they view. However, to ask employees to completely connect the art experience to their jobs is forcing it too far. Nevertheless, a business-art relationship offers many advantages. It’s about cognitive diversity. The way people think is based on where they come from. Art reflects the diversity of the world, the workplace and the people in it.”

“So, looks much as though this is just a more sophisticated form of corporate sponsorship of the arts, primarily designed for the purposes of image making – your image! If it is the case that your employees are not sufficiently creative at work, were there no thoughts in your mind that there might be problems with your internal organisational design, or with the company culture, or with employee tasks and roles, or the way they are treated and rewarded, or with the attitude that prevails among middle and senior management? Or are you in need of a visit to the art gallery before you are able to have such thoughts?

“So there you have it – employees with a creativity deficit! The ideology of creativity – founded on an imaginary deficit.

“And I see that the European Commissioners and the Mercedes’ representative have left us. No doubt to reflect upon what they have learned here today. Or perhaps not! They are after all puppeteers … And men!

“Coming soon – more about the Ideology of Creativity. And I will be asking questions about this company called Mercedes and exploring just what they have been doing with artists – more image making! Literally!

“This is Julia signing off, xxx.”

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Art, DG CONNECT and Being John Malkovich

So, the European Commission’s ICT ART CONNECT initiative and the follow-on, the STARTS Platform! Quite a performance, but nothing at all compared with the one that I am STARTing …

Being John Malkovich – I
In this surrealist comedy, a puppeteer takes a temporary job as a filing clerk. While at work, the puppeteer discovers a portal that leads into the mind of the renowned actor, performer, and artist known by the name of John Malkovich. The puppeteer then decides to enter the mind of John Malkovich to independently and objectively observe the life of John Malkovich, but being a puppeteer, ends up manipulating and using John Malkovich, thus changing John Malkovich to reflect the interests and objectives of the puppeteer.

Being John Malkovich – II
In this surrealist comedy, a civil servant, a puppeteer, takes a temporary job as head of a failing public sector organisation. While at work, the puppeteer discovers a portal that leads into the mind of renowned actor, performer, and artist known by the name of John Malkovich. The puppeteer then decides to enter the mind of John Malkovich to independently and objectively observe the life of John Malkovich, but being a puppeteer, ends up manipulating and using John Malkovich, thus changing John Malkovich to reflect the interests and objectives of the puppeteer.

Being John Malkovich – III
In this surrealist comedy, a cybernetician who knows that he is a puppeteer, just becomes the renowned actor, performer, and artist known by the name of John Malkovich. Being such, he then writes, stages, directs and performs in, something the likes of which has never been seen before, and in doing so, not only reveals that which is universal to all puppeteers, but shows the path towards a different way of knowing and doing based on an understanding of what it is to be puppeteer.

The instrumentalisation of DG CONNECT – they never expected that! The performance has only just begun! Here are the links to the earlier preliminary episodes:

Paul T Kidd's Blog Entry: ICT & ART CONNECT

Paul T Kidd's Blog Entry: Charming snakes

Paul T Kidd's Blog Entry: It is time for art

In addition, collected all in one place, is most of the existing information about ICT ART CONNECT and the STARTS Platform, plus many links to related web sites: Paul T Kidd’s ICT ART CONNECT Web Pages.

Now you ask – why such a performance?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Art, DG CONNECT and yet another meeting of the STARTS circus in the European Parliament

Advertised recently was a meeting, to be staged in the European Parliament, of the highly schizophrenic, extremely noisy circus that is STARTS. This is the third time that such a meeting has been hosted in the European Parliament buildings. Interesting!

A grand total of three European Commissioners have also now lent their support to ICT-ART CONNECT and STARTS, but being politicians they will not know what they are talking about, as was the case when the former Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission turned up at an ICT-ART CONNECT meeting talking nonsense about art and science. Interesting!

And we have this rather empty ICT ART CONNECT study report that contains some strange statements that, should you care to explore them further … Under normal circumstances such a report would be an embarrassment to DG CONNECT, but it is not! Interesting!

As to the matter of the application of due diligence procedures before including STARTS in the new, 2016-17, ICT Workprogramme – none can be detected. Interesting!

It has become very evident that DG CONNECT is out of its depth, and they have once more engaged in their usual habit of forming those allegedly morally corrupt relationships with their experts. Interesting!

It can also be seen that various other people are jumping on the bandwagon – me too they cry, and in doing so are reinforcing a delusion! And I am sure that there are many more who will want to join in. Plenty of opportunities to say stupid things! Interesting!

And then there are the Members of the European Parliament who also want to lend their names to this circus. Interesting!

In a different place, people are talking about how they bring their artistic hobbies to work and have started making claims about new discoveries made because of this, but of note, is a lack of critical assessment of such claims. Positivism, is seems, flies away when it is found to be inconvenient. Interesting!

Elsewhere too, many people (mostly scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians) with vested interests are talking, in a manner that mostly amounts to baby talk, about art-science and art-technology practices, yet seem not to be aware that their discussions at at such a level, or if they are, are not concerned about it. Interesting!

The growing interest in the so called nexus of art-science, or art-technology, is happening at a moment in time when people are beginning to understand just what scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians are doing to our world in their role as handmaidens to economic interests: global warming; acid rain; ozone depletion; desertification; mass extinction; lowering of river levels and water tables; bacteria resistance to anti-biotics; resource depletion; Fukushima; plastics polluting the world’s oceans; nitrate contamination of water resources; destruction of habitats; Fraking; … the list is too long to continue, but they are all brought to you courtesy of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians (STEM people)! Interesting!

So what is going on? Why is art-science/art-technology being hyped-up, turned into the latest fad, and politicised? We know of course that the smell of money is in the air and that there is an opportunity for – 15 minutes of fame! And self-evidently people are now re-branding what they do (for example UX) and calling it by a new name (STARTS). But what does all this mean for the notion of a fair and proper evaluation of the proposal submitted to ICT Topic 36? Are the results already known to DG CONNECT?

I have seen these very noisy circuses before and they all end the same way, with little to show, for they are all style and little substance, and most of what goes on, is already what has been done under a different name. The result of STARTS will be that some people will end up with bigger bank balances, but the public will be out-of-pocket, with, most likely, nothing very much to show for the expenditure of their hard earned money. Collectively people seem determined to make of themselves fools, by declaring that the emperor is wearing a fine suite of clothes when in fact the emperor is naked. This perhaps is the nature of the Emperor's Court, the EC, otherwise known as the European Commission. STARTS is about style and has very little to do with substance, for what substance there is, already exists. It is about image making – DG CONNECT’s image!

It is now very clear that the European Commission are playing a political game, and are using art and artists for political reasons, so all those concerns about instrumentalisation turned out to be very well founded indeed.

“The grazing herd has arrived! It will of course eventually move on in search of fresh pastures, but that zone of discredited practice looms large because of all the dung that it will leave behind. Yet …

“I am wondering why this opportunity has presented itself to us. All this dung! Any thoughts about this Julia?”

“Yes Paul, indeed I have for we will use it to fertilise our thinking, so keep it coming, for all the nonsense, the emptiness, the re-branding, the grasping at straws, the vain attempts to find some justification for working with artists, feeds us, sharpens our minds, and, in the process of developing our critique, helps to know in ways that seem to lie far beyond the very limited horizon of this grazing herd. While you are busy pulling at the meagre grass and chewing the cud, we fly as eagles and see as a result, a very different world that is most certainly not one of dirt and grass.”