Calin Dan on Sat, 6 Dec 2008 21:17:14 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Call for support: why?

Dutch culture coined a very useful term for evaluating the position of an 
art discourse in relation with societal issues such as the ones questioned 
by the Pirates ... ; it is called autonomy.

Autonomy entitles art to float freely in the interstices of the social 
fabric, to experiment and to steer in unexpected directions. When experiment 
and steering relate directly to the fabric itself, the art discourse looses 
autonomy and gains relational power (in the sense designed by Nic. 
Bouriaud). Relational art has an increased chance to acknowledgement, but 
also - naturally - to criticism, coming not only from the comfortable inner 
circles, but also from the structures to which the respective discourse 
 >relates<. Needless to say that both concepts (autonomous, relational) have 
no axiological power; they are not about quality, they are about method.

The student work that generated this thread is obviously relational. So, it 
got its moment of attention, including censorship. All unfolded as planned, 
I suppose; if not, then there was something flawed in the initial planning 
and/or in the authors' / tutors' expectations.

One might say that the whole issue is about the unexpected reactions of the 
general users, who rejected the project. Well, this was after all (or wasn't 
it?) an art project - so people are free to reject it as they please.

Another could argue that the whole fuss is about the IP playing the watch 
dog for Amazon. Well again, there is probably a learning curve in the way 
corporate environments deal with tactical art projects; something to think 
about, maybe.

What under-streams all aspects of the discussion till here is the old double 
standard mentality lurking in our (self)perception as artists and cultural 
workers: we would like to be autonomous (i.e. free of consequences for our 
decisions), but also relational (therefore socially efficient), and - of 
course - vastly accepted. Too bad, as in the end art is neither autonomous 
nor relational; it is just one of the multitude of human manifestations 
competing for attention in a surcharged environment.

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