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Re: <nettime> Re: One Day Left
Are Flagan on Thu, 16 Jan 2003 20:33:59 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Re: One Day Left


Re: 1/15/03 1:34, "m e t a" <meta {AT} meta.am>:

> i would be happy to pay for rhizome membership, provided :
> 
> 1. those whose works are included in the artbase are paid a commission.
> 
> 2. those whose works, writings, and commentaries are included in the weekly
> digest are paid for their inclusion.
> 
> 3. those whose works, writings, or projects appear on the rhizome website are
> compensated as well.
>  
> my work has been included in a number of books and magazines.
> it is customary that when this occurs i am either paid,
> or at the very least receive a free copy of the publication.
> 
> this is only fair - considering they are profiting in part from my work
> regardless of whether it was created especially for their publication or not.
> 
> it is most unfair that you are being paid,
> while those who generate your content are not.
> 

One can not disagree with the above, on any share and share alike level, but
when one is talking economy and art there is usually more than one side to
every coin. Apart from a few similar emails and a few anonymous ecards,
there appears to have been very little said about the current state of (the)
rhizome, although nettime churns out proclamation after proclamation that
effectively orate as if we are still networking like it was 1995 and that
2001 never happened. I can't help thinking that part of the reason rhizome
is getting so much stick, is that it bursts more than a few bubbles,
exposing our artsy utopias of wanting idealism and collective activism to a
capital pinprick of, dare I say, sliding exploitation.

Some reflections, then, that do not endorse or condemn but try to reflect.
There is no doubt that rhizome is a pyramid scheme with a limited trickle
down effect, like *every* art org., but they are no doubt smart enough to
realize that the word community can only be used in the paid context they
now enter into very carefully, and that if steps 1, 2, and 3 above are not
openly and transparently implemented, so that those seeking payment receive
it, the rhizome crew is effectively packing their own office boxes.
Everything they have done the last year, whether one deems it cosmetic and
feeble or not, has sought to address this balance and people, sans artbase
contributors, are to my outsider knowledge actually getting paid on a scale
that obviously supports no one full/part time but the inner circle (usual
charges of nepotism and cronyism apply, of course). To this one can only
say, and as Coco Fusco has repeatedly pointed out here, look around you and
throw/send the first string of ASCII.

To actually address the issues meta very rightfully brings up, one needs to
dig much deeper and wider. Consider first of all the widespread use of
interns in all art contexts, and an economy where all the money stays on top
thanks to FREE labor on the bottom is abundantly clear. Further, as studies
have shown, the *surplus* of free labor in any field undermines the
possibility of any sustainable employment down the food chain. And on the
topic of artsy economies and pyramid schemes, the pinnacle must surely be
academia, where, as I gather, more than a few nettimers are buttering their
bread. Especially in the new media art field, where new courses are popping
up by the minute (arguably years too late), students pay big bucks to enter
a field that is extremely limited, and that has virtually no economy to
secure a return on their investment and fee. Sadly faculty can barely be
bothered to roll down the window on their new SUV to address this sham, but
swear off rhizome after they had the *audacity* to ask for five bucks. (Yep,
I've heard it.)

So, that said, rhizome does not remotely fit my bill of idealism either, my
utopia for the net, my dreams of a community where we are all equal and
benefit equally, my D&G theories. It is what it is, Tribe's rather
embarrassing social sculpture or not. But I can say that, as someone outside
the university, I acted out of selfishness and not principle when I finally
paid up last night. I just wanted to easily access a portal that gathers
what some, and only some, people do with computer media/code that differs
from the three columns with a menu on either side and ads top and bottom
that comprise much of the WWW. There are no doubt worse and better things to
spend money on, but bottom line is that I find rhizome, as a whole, far more
interesting than another pontificating essay about the new media scam or
another ideological and uninformed confusion of open source with libre.

$0.02 to more than one day left,

-af 

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