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Re: <nettime> Political Work in the Aftermath of the New Media Arts Cris
jaromil on Sun, 17 May 2009 14:39:59 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Political Work in the Aftermath of the New Media Arts Crisis

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re all,

first of all  thanks Matze for your consideration  of my activity, but
let me  warn you are  overestimating the benefits of  my collaboration
with Montevideo / Time Based  Arts ...  which is now called Nederlands
Instituut voor Mediakunst  (NIMK, BTW): it takes more  to be "rescuing
the middle-class fantasies  of a free arty market  of software" as you
say, if  we speak of a national  institute that started in  a squat in
Amsterdam 30 years  ago and has seen a  constant flow of contributions
by various people  through all these years, most  of them really worth

On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 05:23:12PM +0200, Matze Schmidt wrote:
> I'd  like  to  point  out  at  this  point  that  institutions  like
> Montevideo are revolutionizers of money, e.g. they payed Jaromil for
> working on dynebolican stuff

if it  would be just the  action of redistribution of  wealth, then it
wouldn't  be   revolutionary  at  all.   Some   artists  produced  and
distributed  by Montevideo did  became rich,  but for  them Montevideo
mostly contributed to the  production quality of their artworks rather
than direct funding.

just consider that  if my lifestyle would be  "middle-class fantasy" i
could  not afford  to  sustainably  live in  Amsterdam  relying on  my
current employment, but lucky me i'm not a yuppie :) and i'm fine like
that.  for the  minimum support i get, needed as i  care to support me
and my extended  family when needed, i have to do  much more than just
developing "my own projects", but still all results can be free to the
public,: that shouldn't be special for a public institution, right?  i
believe this is the good signal  NIMK gives - not such a revolutionary
one, but pretty honest: there  are often various degrees of corruption
leading   public  institutions  to   play  commercially   with  public

other  than that,  we can  call "progressive  attitude" -  rather than
revolutionary" -  when institutions are keen to  interact with liminal
contexts,  with dwellers on  the dystopian  hearth pulsating  in every
metropolis of our "Free Western World".  This kind of interaction (and
the respect for the uncommon ground  in between) is indeed part of the
heritage of  a city like Mokum  A - unfortunately  decaying rapidly as
Europe is turning  into a Fortress for the  privileged and their fears
of the disinherited children of the welfare mirage.

at last  about the  interaction i  mention here: i'm  not sure  how to
define it,  its likely  not a negotiation  nor a compromise,  i'm just
sure  it is  necessary in  any case:  whether we  accept  the upcoming
institutionalised  "Reinvent  Yourself"  strategy  or  not.   I  would
recommend  a  case-by-case  analysis  in  this  regards,  rather  than
thinking universally... like institutions often do ;^)

regarding your vague critiques let me reply:

> with all effects of an open source software"z" driven by the mediate
> support of the state.

dyne.org  development  is not  driven  by  any  state, corporation  or
institution rather  than by the  many problems these  power structures
generate.  we  dedicate most  of our free  time to peer  reviewed free
software  development  in  socially  relevant  contexts  (please  note
"development", not  provision of services)  and as hackers  we operate
pragmatically, on-line as well in various different on-site contexts.

> But  while talking  to them  some  years ago  the Montevideo  people
> turned out  to be  very naive in  political questions. They  have no
> idea about  economy and  no idea of  what is  going on out  of their
> field. That's  okay, as  long as they  incorporate all  folklore and
> avantgarde at the sam time, because it is their mandate and mission.

i'd  be  curious  to  know  what  you  consider  "naive  in  political
questions": myself  i've felt  enriched by the  past 4 and  more years
spent  in  Amsterdam,  by my  colleagues  at  NIMK  (which is  not  so
uniformed in its  composition BTW) as well by  the squatters in A'dam,
from De Bierkoning to the Waag Society.

backing my  objection, i'll point you  out some coverage  on NIMK's 30
years symposium (just happened last week):


pasting  you  here  the  transcription  of  my  intervention  at  this
symposium,  let  it  be   also  a  contribution  to  this  interesting
discussion thread:


At the NIMK's symposium "Positions in Flux" I've taken the occasion to
share thoughts  on the  current perception of  Free Software  and Open
Source philosophy  in art,  along with some  overdue criticism  of the
Creative Commons hollow  hype, as well of the  Creative Industries and
their systematised processing  of art for the global  market.  Even if
not  obvious, I  believe the  dynamics  of these  two phenomenons  are
related; among the quoted in the intervention are Benjamin Mako Hill's
"Towards a Standard of  Freedom: CreativeCommons and the Free Software
Movement"[1] and Florian Cramer's post on nettime "The Creative Common
Misunderstanding"[2],  while  the vigorous  critique  of the  Creative
Industries  stands on  Rana Dasgupta's  essay  "The Next  Idea of  the
Artist  (Art,   music  and  the  present   threat  of  creativity)"[3]

Here below a short transcript:

"Open Source" doesn't mean free access, nor open space or open air; it
presumes  a  seamful[4]  approach  to  design as  a  response  to  the
increasing  reliance  on  technology  and  its  accessibility;  it  is
interactive without prescribed  boundaries, following a combinatorial,
generative approachto development;  it is peer to peer  as no producer
can control further interaction patterns; it is grassroot as creations
are  born out  of  initiative and  cohesion  based on  needs felt  and
understood in first person by community members.

About  Creative  Commons, its  motto  "Some  rights  reserved."  is  a
relatively  hollow  call:  the  slogan  factually  reverses  the  Free
Software and Open Source philosophy  of reserving rights to users, not
copyright owners,  in order  to allow the  former to  become producers
themselves. The dis/appropriating loop of creativity must be recursive
to be  fruitful: not only  productionmeans belong to the  people using
them, further creations  should be free to be  recombined. rights must
be granted  focusing on people  interacting, not just  those providing
the interactive infrastructure.

Unfortunately there  is a diffuse lack of  perception for alternatives
offered by  the Open  Source and Free  Software approach  over current
profit models.  As  a present problem, also deriving  from the lack of
understanding  of the  importance of  grass-root  creativity, top-down
cultural   management  is   patronising   art  production:   massmedia
aesthetics of  an entirely sanitised and efficient  creativity, of the
sort  that will  not  rely on  unstable  people and  can therefore  be
globally rationalised.

That the  great artists of  modern Western culture managed  to produce
what they  did, despitethe danger  and intensity of their  effort, was
due in large  part to improvised social forms  built around close-knit
networks  where  thought and  affect  circulated  with high  velocity,
andwhere it  was possible to  try out forms of  non-conventional human
relationships that would  not destroy, nor be destroyed  by, a life of
art. Seen  from an historical perspective,  In the second  half of the
twentieth  century many  of the  functions of  creative  networks were
already  taken  over in  Europe  by  institutions (government  funding
bodies,  universities,  museums,  etc)  and much  of  their  excessive
feeling  wasneutralised. This  was  only  a small  part  of a  general
process of the time: the absorption of human emotion into bureaucratic
channels,  and the  emergence of  a social  coolness,  anefficiency of

At this  stage in the  twenty-first century, we  are in the  middle of
another   large-scale  restructuring  of   ideas  of   creativity  and
culture. As one of the most significant generators of image and value,
creativity now has become a  critical resource for the global economic
engine.   What creativity  is,  and  how it  can  be systematised  and
circulated, are therefore  urgent questions of contemporary capitalist
organisation.   As  cultural  producers   are  thrust  into  the  full
intensity of  globally dispersed, just-in-time  production, new images
of creative inspiration and output are required that sit tidily within
the systematised  processes of the  global market. Creativity  must be
rendered comprehensible,  transparent and rational: there  can be none
of  the destructive  excesses  evident in  the  lives of  many of  the
greatest  artists  of  European  history.  Creativity  must  circulate
cleanly and quickly, and it  should leave no dirty remainder. For what
interests Hollywood, and the market in general, is not creativity as a
complex human  process, weighed down  in bodies and  relationships and
empty days,  but creativity as  an abstraction, free  of irrationality
and  pain, and  light enough  to  hover like  a great  logo above  the

Perhaps, as the logic  of systematised production occupies the terrain
of human  creativitymore completely,  we will reach  a stage  where we
surrender  all knowledge  about  this troubling  domain,  and it  will
become entirely alien  to us. Perhaps one day we  will be terrified of
what  explosive dangers  might rise  up from  the creativity  of human

[1] http://mako.cc/writing/toward_a_standard_of_freedom.html

[2] http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0610/msg00025.html

[3] http://ranadasgupta.com/texts.asp?text_id=45

[4] http://www.themobilecity.nl/2008/01/05/designing-for-locative-media-seamless-or-seamful-experiences/

- -- 

jaromil, dyne.org developer, http://jaromil.dyne.org

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