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.”