Geert Lovink on Fri, 17 Nov 2006 16:26:25 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> iTube, YouSpace, WeCreate

(The MyCreativity convention on creative industries research in
Amsterdam is on today and tomorrow. Below the intro that Ned Rossiter
and I wrote for a free newspaper that was printed on this occasion in
a circulation of 10.000. More on

Intro to the MyCreativity newspaper

iTube, YouSpace, WeCreate

Geert Lovink & Ned Rossiter 

**Have We Been Creative Yet?**

Conferences on 'creative industries' have become a set feature in many
countries over the past few years. They usually consist of government
policy-makers, arts administrators, a minister or two, a handful of
professors, along with representatives from the business community
eager to consolidate their government subsidies. What's missing?
Forget about analysis or critique. And there's not going to be any
creative producers or artists about ? the condition of possibility
for 'the generation and exploitation of intellectual property'. For
students and starters, these conferences cost too much to register.
These events are for captains-of-industry only. Why bother anyway
to mix-up with the dressed-up? There are coffee breaks dedicated to
'networking', but the deals appear to have been done elsewhere.

**The Tragedy of the Suits**

 From an anthropological perspective, such policy-meets-business
events index the class composition of the creative industries. And in
some respects, the endangered species might be those positioned as
managerial intermediaries ? the policy writers, consultants and arts
administrators, government ministers and business representatives. The
increasing proliferation of social networks associated with new media
technologies is one explanation for this: who needs an intermediary
when you're already connected? The consultancy class is in danger
of becoming extinct due to Web transparency. The other key reason
concerns the disconnect between political architectures of regulation
and the ever-elusive transformations of cultural production situated
within information economies.

**Dream, Yo Bastards**

The MyCreativity project, of which this newspaper is a part, is
not focussing on the critique of creative industries' hype. It
was our intention to go beyond the obvious deconstruction of the
Richard Florida agenda. Our interest has always been about setting
forth expansive agendas and understandings of the interrelations
between culture, the economy and network cultures. Critique should
aim to change policies, and define alternative models, instead of
merely deconstructing the agenda of today's business politicians.
MyCreativity emphasizes re:: and search. Let's formulate questions
and new strategies. Neither excitement nor scepticism are sufficient
responses. Since policy formation is never about the production of
original ideas, but instead is a parasitical function, we have some
confidence that eventually the range of activities and concepts
generated within MyCreativity and similar events will trickle up
the policy food chain of creative industries. No need for extensive
lobbying. Copying, after all, is the precondition of TheirCreativity ?
an activity engaged in concept translation.

**Trading the Playful**

The scattered and fragmented character of experiencing work and
working conditions, in short its postmodern nature, means that young
people in particular entering the labour market are fully exposed to
neo-liberal conditions. The rhetoric of deregulation has always been
a ruse for ever-increasing stratagems of biopolitical re-regulation.
Intellectual property regimes are the official doctrine behind that
story. But how many get a taste of the revenues? Where are the
property disputes and why don't we hear from dissidents that refuse to
sign copyright contracts? Technologies of control and the surveillance
society comprise a more sinister, invisible power. The political of
creativity is never found within policy pronouncements but instead
accumulates as a class tension between creative labour and creative

**No Sublime**

Where lies creativity in all this? Isn't all this talk about economy
and money killing the very untamable energy to tinker? The delicate,
subversive and playful act of putting things together can all too
easily be destroyed by pragmatic considerations. What creative
industries calls into question (and in fact destroys) is the romantic
position of the artist. In this, there is the notion that the artist
is destined to be poor and will have to be desperate in order not to
lose inspiration. Wild gestures and inspiration will be killed by
a professional approach in which the artist gets stuck into fixed
patterns and styles. This, we all know: a rich artist is a dead artist
and current intellectual property arrangements only further strengthen
this rule. What is important to note is that today's creative work
leaves behind such notions and places the creative producer in the
midst of society. As a proposition this is a provocation, as the
creative subject is neither a worker with rights, a trade-unionist
with health care, nor is he or she an entrepreneur. The freelance
position is somewhere inbetween these subjectivities and this is what
makes the Creator so precarious (to use a fashionable term).

**The Untimely Untimely**

Meanwhile, creative labour establishes its own technics of border
control. Who's cool? What's in, what's out? Being subversive is the
ultimate consumer behaviour. This sell-out of the rebel act has made
it difficult to define what is, and what's not political. All creative
expression can ? and will ? ultimately undermine power relations and
establish a New Order. The queer muslim squatter is inevitably an
agent of global capitalism and on the forefront of things to come.
This cynical look on the ambivalent aspects of identity and urban
life makes it increasingly difficult to act out and make a stand as
all gestures, including the right to remain silent, can ? and will
? be integrated into the Creative Machine. Instead of desperately
looking for the next wave of Artificial Dissent, we may as well reject
this logic and search for common strategies. The untimely style no
longer exists. All retro is in fashion, all media are cross-bred.
Hyper-cultural connections in-between here and there, now and then, us
and them are fully exploited. Both critical and imaginative concepts
have ceased to be visionary and instead can become operational in no
time (from meme to brand in a week). We need to take these mechanisms
into account when discussing alternatives.

**Are You Created?**

Before we start talking about an 'industry' or an even a 'creative
economy' we will have to sort out a variety of topics that
in fact remind us more of the late medieval 'guild' system
than of modern 'industrial relations'. The guild operated as a
self-regulating mechanism whereby best practices were defined within
the peer-system of artisans. In this sense, we see creative workers as
embodying the information-middle ages. And this is a key reason why
creative industries policy rests safely in its own stratosphere of
self-regulation and outsourcing, albeit with welfare recipients in the
form of creative consultants, incubators low on ideas, and academics
susceptible to directives from above. Art and design and many other
creative processes are proclaimed to be integrated in society and are
consciously no longer situated in the margins.

**Operation Create Freedom**

Do we really want to economize all creative efforts? Of course giving
away for free is also an economic act. Peer-to-peer production is also
taking place within the existing economic framework. As many have
concluded before, gifts are not undermining power structures per se.
Free production, outside of the money equation, should be a matter
of choice, not the default option. This is the task ahead of us. To
share has to be an option, a voluntary gesture. We have to invent and
experiment, producing culture with other economic models, on a global
scale, and this newspaper wants to play a role in that process. 

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