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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.

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