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Sunday, 24 April 2016

ICT, Art and STARTS: Art lesson – DG CONNECT’s advice on involving artists in research programmes

Based on DG CONNECT’s experience of ICT ART CONNECT and STARTS, this is how you involve artists in research programmes:

For this recipe you will need a failing institution that pays lip service to fiduciary responsibilities, and is willing to spend public money as part of it image making political agenda, e.g. the European Commission, represented by DG CONNECT, and its ICT research programme. You will also need some willing accomplices, who are either unaware of what you are doing or do not care. Important to this mixture are technocrats with an interest in art, but who do not know a lot, for a little knowledge is most certainly always a dangerous thing. Add to this list of ingredients a pre-determined agenda and some words about being open and willing to listen and to learn, accompanied by the body language that makes clear that this is not the case. Also important are the following ingredients: neo-liberalism; a failing European economy; and a bureaucracy that needs to justify its own existence, even at the price of Europe’s economic wellbeing. Disregard the conflicts that these imply.

Now for the secret ingredient – political pressure from several sources demanding change, which will plant in your mind the notion of sucking from the arts, in a parasitic way, the credibility and kudos that they still retain, for on the whole, artists have not yet sold themselves to the power of money. This is obviously now in the process of changing as STEM people exercise their hegemony over research funding, and begin to bring the arts to bear on addressing their traditional agendas.

Optional at this point is trying to make yourself seem knowledgeable by referring to that technocrat called CP Snow – disregard the all the critiques of this man and his poorly informed simplistic opinions, which were just the product of a reductive mind (part of the problem).

Mix the above together and cook very slowly over many years. Make much noise! At some point in the cooking process add a special study which seeks to explore predefined themes such as using art to embed technology more gracefully in society. Make sure that the study is undertaken by people who are not going to be excluded from participating in the Call for proposals that you already know will result, when the topic you have already decided upon is included in the work programme – then set-up an advisory group on the same basis. Whatever you do, you must not involve the ICT industry. Disregard all previous relevant activities that have been undertaken over the past 20 years. Take advantage of those allegedly morally corrupt relationships that the former Chief Scientific Advisor to a former President of the European Commission identified as existing between the European Commission and the experts that it uses. Moral corruption in the form of conflicts of interest, and a desire to obtain public money, are wonderful at delivering that which you want. Whatever you do during the cooking, do not apply due diligence procedures to verify that what you have cooked is indeed the dish that is needed, otherwise you will not be able to eat that which you have already determined is going to be on your menu.

When you find that there is no evidence to support your sole truth, do not worry. The last thing you should do when you have dug yourself into a deep hole is to stop digging. Carry on digging regardless and START making random quotes taken from miscellaneous artists. Drop in a few buzzwords, like trans-disciplinary, and refer to issues addressed in the 1990s, like silos. Few, like yourself, will know what you are talking about, so you have little to worry about. Refer to Steve Jobs and Apple, but whatever you do, do not understand what he was saying back in 1996 about the liberal arts. Do not find out how Apple, and many other companies in the ICT sector (including the European ones), who produce consumer-facing products, go about developing their products.

Once the cooking is complete, enjoy the consequences, for when you sow the wind, you will mostly certainly reap the whirlwind. But you are a European, and a technocrat, so you do not understand this.

And for those of you in the European Parliament – is it not about time that you took action to stop these types of technocratic and morally corrupt practices? Surely it is time to do something about the problem that is DG CONNECT? And now you also know why there are people in the UK who want to leave the EU – it’s a choice between technocracy (remain a member) and democracy (leave), and the main argument for remaining is about money – the power of money once again!

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