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Sunday, 31 January 2016

ART and DG CONNECT: Instrumentalisation warning

Continuing from last week’s blog, I now ask this question: What part of, artists do not like to be instrumentalised, DG CONNECT, did you not understand?

Instrumentalisation – to use people as a means of achieving an end. ICT Topic 36: Boost synergies between artists, creative people and technologists – the State, in the form of the European Commission's DG CONNECT, using artists as a means of achieving their ends. This is a sinister development and a foretaste of what to expect in the future as technocrats, deluded into thinking that they know what they are doing, appropriate anything and everything in the service of the power of money. Time to resist while you still can! And if you do participate in the Tale of the Director General's new clothes, you cannot say that you were not warned! You too will stand there and proclaim that the very naked Director General is wearing the most exquisite suit of clothes. Such is the nature of self-constructed realities and collective delusion. It’s money talking! This is the corrupting nature of the Brussels bubble – and a bubble it most certainly is, full of people out-of-touch with reality, living in the past. But judging by what one also sees elsewhere in the world of STEM, they are not alone.

Instrumentalisation is wrong, but self-instrumentalisation is not, that is to say, artists leading the move and developing their practice towards the use of art for more utilitarian purposes, which they have been doing since long before DG CONNECT arrived on the scene. And there are examples and lessons to be learned from this self-instrumentalisation. If you want to know more about this, we refer you to the ICT ART CONNECT study report. And there you will find what? Read it and find out for yourselves about all the well-known examples and the lessons that can be drawn from them that were … never studied. Now why was that? Of course you may yourself not be aware of these, which is why the study report should have mentioned them, so that known problems would not be repeated. But why bother with such details when the poor taxpayer is footing the bill for DG CONNECT’s deluded adventure in wonderland.

The problem that we face is that the current drive to use art comes from people within the existing power structure and what is very clear is that they do not understand art and are just seeking to exploit it, often based upon restrictive cognitive biases, as well as STEM agendas, which lead to the positioning of art as a resource to be deployed in the service of those who hold power, i.e. those who have the money. This is often reflected in the words spoken by STEM people who advocate art-science and art-technology collaboration: it’s all about using art for communication, visualisation and, more recently creativity. This is just like the old artist-in-tow model from the 18th and 19th centuries – “hey sketch and paint that plant please.” This is not art. It is of often also the case that those in STEM also are engaging in image making; the remaking their own image to make themselves look more respectable. DG CONNECT serves to demonstrate the point.

The mind-set that treats art as just another way for STEM people to pursue their agendas and role as handmaidens is most definitely a subject for artistic study. There is plenary of material for satire, both of the descriptive and the plastic form. This is like finding a diamond mine!

To tolerate instrumentalisation or not to tolerate instrumentalisation, that is the question: whether it be nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.

You might have already perceived that, in CONNECTing with STARTS, I have chosen to take arms, and my arms are the instrumentalisation DG CONNECT. Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself! So now they are being used to serve my ends …

What are these ends? What are the results? Revelation, you will find, is a slow process of discovery. But if you are artists you will already know this.

If there is to be self-instrumentalisation, then those who hold power, i.e., those with the money, will have to surrender that power and allow the arts to take charge of how that money is used. The message is clear – The European Commission, DG CONNECT, and others, they have to go. There are other means of undertaking international projects, European or otherwise. Is there anyone out there listening? Now is the moment to learn from the DG CONNECT’s nonsense and to begin to construct a different type of research and innovation system, one that is not founded in the past. Time to set Prometheus free! Skunk works!

There is more to bringing artists into ICT research and product development, than is dreamt of in DG CONNECT’s and STEM’s self-constructed and very limited reality …

And thanks to Will for allowing the use of his very elegant and poetic words, Julia xxx.

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