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Sunday, 27 March 2016

ICT, Art and STARTS: DG CONNECT, art-science, art-technology and POWAQQATSI

From the film POWAQQATSI: (from the Hopi language, powaq sorcerer + qatsi life) n., an entity, a way of life, that consumes the life forces of other beings in order to further its own life.

This is what DG CONNECT, what scientists, what technologists will try to do to art – they will try to consume it to further their own ideology and dogma. It has already STARTED … The SEADs are sown … The process is STEAMing ahead.

STEM driven art-science/art-technology practices: STEM consuming art to further its own life – POWAQQATSI.

And while they go about consuming life forces, do you think that they are going to be paying artists at STEM salary rates?

We will show those who are still able to listen how to do something completely different, but this thing that we reveal, it will be a heresy to those from the Western world, but not to those of the mysterious East.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

ICT, Art and STARTS: DG CONNECT and the Wizard of Oz

For the road to serfdom is, laid
But technocracy ultimately, fails.
DG CONNECT – lost in the, past
Unable to find the, present
No chance of being the, future –

DG CONNECT desperately searching for evidence. None found! "Never mind, we will still spend 8M euro of your money, for we will in the end just invite some of our experts to tell us what a marvellous thing STARTS was" – straight-out of the Communist party manual for running a technocratic state. Forget about reality – propaganda is everything.
Artists working in research, development, innovation and design projects; this is not the same thing as using art in these types of projects. To do that in fact one does not necessarily need an artist to be involved! This is part of the reference model we have developed. There are other modes of operation that are also part of this. We are, once again, being too theoretical! And reaping the benefits!
And now for a little story ...
“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Why do you seek me?”
They looked again in every part of the room, and then, seeing no one, Dorothy asked, “Where are you?”
“I am everywhere,” answered the Voice, “but to the eyes of common mortals I am invisible. I will now seat myself upon my throne, that you may converse with me.” Indeed the Voice seemed just then to come straight from the throne itself: so they walked towards it and stood in a row while Dorothy said:
‘We have come to claim our promise, O Oz.”
“What promise?” asked Oz.
“You promised to send me to paradise when the technologists became creative,” said the girl.
“And you promised to remove silos,” said the scarecrow.
“And you promised to produce unconventional and compelling products,” said the Tin Woodman.
“And you promised make European industry more competitive through working at the intersection of science, technology and the arts,” said the Cowardly Lion.
“Are technologists really now creative?” asked the Voice and Dorothy thought that it trembled a little.
“Yes,” she answered, “I gave them artist’s creativity elixir mixed in with a bucket of water.”
“Dear me,” said the Voice, “how sudden! Well come to me tomorrow, for I must have time to think it over.”
“You’ve had plenty of time already,” said the Tin Woodman angrily.
“We shan’t wait another day longer,” said the Scarecrow.
“You must keep your promises to us!” exclaimed Dorothy.
The Lion thought that it might be as well to frighten the Wizard, so he gave a large, loud roar, which was so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and tipped over the screen that stood in the corner. As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a European Commission DG CONNECT official, with head full of strange ideologies and beliefs, who seemed as much surprised as they were. The Tin Woodman raised his axe, rushed towards the official and cried out, “Who are you?”
“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible”, said the official in a trembling voice, “but don’t strike me–please don’t–and I’ll do anything you want me to.”
Our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay.
“I thought Oz was a knowledgeable Head, and knew about art”, said Dorothy.
“And I thought Oz was a lovely Lady who knew how to use art to address patriarchal power structures in ICT research and innovation systems,” said the Scarecrow.
“And I thought Oz was a terrible Beast that knew how solve all the problems of the European ICT sector by using art in research and innovation,” said the Tin Woodman.
“And I thought Oz was a Ball of Fire, that knew how to use art in research and innovation to sweep away the old and usher in a new golden era for the European ICT sector,” exclaimed the Lion.
“No you are all wrong,” said the official meekly. I am a technocrat who knows very little about all these things, and I have been making believe.”
“Making believe!” cried Dorothy. “Are you not a great Wizard?”
“Hush my dear,” he said: “don’t speak so loud, or you will be overheard–and I should be ruined. I’m supposed to be a Great Wizard.”
“And aren’t you?” she asked.
“Not a bit of it my dear; I’m just a common man.”
“You’re more than that,” said the Scarecrow, in a grieved tone; “you’re a humbug.”
“Exactly so!” declared the official, rubbing his hands together as if it pleased him. I’m a humbug.”
“But this is terrible,” said the Tin Woodman; “how shall we ever produce unconventional and compelling products?”
“Or make European industry more competitive through working at the intersection of science, technology and the arts?” asked the Lion.
“Or remove silos,” wailed the Scarecrow, wiping the tears from his eyes with his coat sleeve.
“My dear friends,” said Oz. “I pray you not to speak of these little things. Think of me, and the terrible trouble I’m in at being found out.”
“Doesn’t anyone else know you’re a humbug?” asked Dorothy.
“No one knows it but you four–and myself,” replied Oz. “I have fooled everyone so long that I thought I should never be found out. It was a great mistake my ever letting you into the Throne Room ...”

Thanks to L. Frank Baum for writing a children’s story that, like Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor New Clothes, speaks of the nonsense of human behaviour and DG CONNECT’s STARTS initiative. We call it behavioural policy making – the delusion that people know what they are doing and that they are acting in a rational and objective way – humbug!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

ICT, Art and STARTS: DG CONNECT and the ideology of creativity

The ideology of creativity – a false image, a collective delusion, a constructed reality: one that is more attractive than reality, which is that many activities that people are forced to participate in by patriarchal power structures, do not represent fulfilling and original work, but the execution of other people's timetables, plans and agendas, which involve blocking real creativity in the name of preserving a culture that makes a virtue of living life like a plague of locusts. Whatever name one gives to the ideology of creativity – ICT & ART CONNECT, STARTS, STEAM or SEAD – they are still the ideology of creativity. No amount of CONNECTing, STARTing, STEAMing or SEADing will change this fundamental and uncomfortable truth.

So now we have a definition of STARTS; knowledge of what the letters S, T, A, R and T actually mean: artists are forced, often because of lack of funding, to participate in a patriarchal power structure, where they will not be undertaking fulfilling and original work, but will have to implement other people's timetables, plans and agendas, with their artistic creativity blocked in the name of preserving a culture that makes a virtue of living life like a plague of locusts.

When you have finished reading this blog, and the others we have written (and the ones that have yet to appear) you will know what Stephen Wilson meant when he highlighted one role of the artist in science and technology as being that of critical practitioner: the deconstruction of cultural patterns of integrating science and technology to clarify underlying meanings ignored in the over-hyped flow of normal technological and commercial life. In the case of STARTS, there is much to deconstruct. And one thing you can be sure of is that DG CONNECT’s feigned interest in art, most surely does not encompass critical practice. What image seeking exploiter of the arts would wish to become the subject of this type of artistic practice? Why would DG CONNECT, a failing public organisation, want to be the subject of satire and ridicule?

Back now to the ideology of creativity, which also reveals yet another strategic flaw in Western thinking, and those all important cognitive biases, that China, now ascending once more, can use to unleash the forces of creative destruction against the West. The people of the Western world proclaim their secularism, and sometimes even proudly announcing their atheism, but they are still People of the Book.

And when the Americans look at STARTS they will surely ask: where’s the beef? By this we mean where is the evidence? What’s that you say, “it’s in the ICT ART CONNECT study report!” But we have read this several times and cannot find any evidence. There are of course some anecdotes, not just in the report, but spread across the globe in many places, but that which people call evidence is hard to come by. It is an interesting area that requires further investigation, both theoretical and empirical. And this lack of evidence is why you, DG CONNECT, are now engaging in make-believe, inventing things, calling-on that that you do not understand, in the hope that you will not be found out. To which we say, Wizard of Oz, to which we turn next week ...

Sunday, 6 March 2016

ICT, Art and STARTS: DG CONNECT and Maker Spaces

Before us, lying on the table, is the May 2015 copy of IEEE Spectrum Magazine. It is open at the page where there is an article about the growth of Maker Spaces in China and the support for Maker Spaces by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), support which includes an online platform for makers to exchange information about projects.

Maker Spaces and maker culture, link to notions of hacker spaces, hacking culture, and the associated ethics and motivation. One might say that collectively these represent a growing cultural phenomenon of creative expression, playfulness, which are driven by more utopian ideals than society provides through its focus on selfish greed, which is the driver of Western capitalist economies past and present, which, clearly, an increasing number of people are dissatisfied with.

There is an interesting remark in this IEEE article, which relates to speakers at the CESAsia 2015 contest who represented the Chinese government. These people seemed to consider makers as nascent business entrepreneurs, and Maker Spaces as commercial incubators that would feed directly into industry. And there is this very interesting quote:

'But several speakers were quick to make the point that while commercial products can come out of Maker Spaces, it would be a mistake to view them, and the people working in them, so narrowly: “We try our best turn our creativity and hobbies into reality. We may be able to commercialize in some areas, but in others we are simply playful in our effort. Makers go beyond the scope of entrepreneurs in our effort,” says Nanjing Maker Space’s Zheng.'

So I am back to the question of DG CONNECT and their understanding of artistic practices in research, development and innovation, and indeed, whether they have appreciated the difference between creative expression and artistic expression, and also if they have appreciated that in Maker Spaces, there is a crossing of beliefs, for clearly there are artistic movements which also embrace the ethics and ideals of Maker Spaces. Collectively these are a part of a fundamental change away from the very economy and its beliefs that DG CONNECT is still immersed in, and to which it seeks to appropriate art to the service of (yet another example of the art-science muddle).

Artists therefore take note – if you participate in STARTS, history may well judge you to be out-of-step, and you might in the end be branded as being also, people who are living in the past. You could of course become subversive and hack STARTS from within, which is most definitely something that history will applaud, and if in the process of doing this, you relieve DG CONNECT of some of its money, that too would be a nice thing to do for poor artists – Robin Hood!

However reality speaks a different story. Most of the EU money will be going to institutions that by their nature consume vast resources, and require resources to oversee the consumption of resources, and resources to acquire resources, so that resources can be consumed in overseeing the consumption of resources and acquiring more resources, which require resources ... And the – literally – poor artist will receive of this money taken from the rich, very little, for the reality of STARTS is that it has been hijacked by a small group of vested interests who seek only one thing – money – resources to feed the resource hungry institutions that consume resources ...

The good thing though is that all this technocratic nonsense that is STARTS reveals to the rest of the world how not to address art in research, development and innovation processes. And hacking ICT ART CONNECT now expands to a hack of Europe itself, through the enabling of its creative destruction, for now the weaknesses, flaws and moral corruption of the institution that is the technocracy known as the European Commission are revealed for all to see.

More to come! And more, and more ... This is a book taking shape! And what a book it will be: STARTS – Science, Technology and the Arts: Julia and Paul’s Artistic Examination of the life of DG CONNECT and its Image Making Appropriation of Art. This is the working title for now.