[iDC] introduction

Florian Cramer flrncrmr at gmail.com
Tue Jul 5 17:55:07 UTC 2011

Hello everyone,

My name is Florian Cramer. I work on the boundaries of the arts, media
experimentation, criticism/activism and academic teaching and
research, in between criticism and practice. I used to be a university
teacher of Comparative Literature in Berlin (1999-2005, a period where
I kept myself intensely busy with Internet art and cultures), moved to
the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 2006 where I
supervised the Media programme, partly shifted towards a research
position in 2008 & fully 2010 and, as a result of this and internal
restructuring, have ended up in our mother institution, the Rotterdam
University of Applied Sciences, a vocational college. I'm mentioning
all this because many of these shifts in my job description - which
have kept me from having a business card since four years - have been
the result of management decisions and policy changes, so I moved from
being a typical humanities person teaching literary theory to doing
creative industries projects for the Rotterdam region.

When I studied in the U.S. in the early 1990s, it seemed to me as if
the movement of cultural studies - along with 'postmodernism',
critical theory, postcolonial studies, critical schools of media
studies etc. - did not only imply a revision of the canon and of
methods of criticism, but also a vision for fusing counterculture and
academia, activism and education, experimental school models with
institutions. Much was problematic about this discourse: above all,
its close ties to upper class academia exclusivity and elitism, its
frequent streamlining/hijacking of radical culture, its function to
produce vocabulary for business consultants (1980s), lifestyle
journalists (1990s) and yuppie curators (2000s) etc. Still, it
provided opportunity (or, more importantly: institutional
legitimation) to bring non-mainstream energies into arts, humanities
and education and found study and research programmes on the basis of
critical thinking and practice.

It seems as if this party is over now, if I'm not mistaking my limited
Dutch perspective for the whole. A financially bankrupt West is
mobilizing all its social forces for short-term economic valorization
(to use a word that needs to be the conclusion of every research
proposal these days). At the same time, opportunities of the Internet
as a cultural and educational networking tool seem to become more
questionable as well. In the contemporary arts, I observe a massive
renaissance of analog media (such as zines) - as social networking
tools. In the lights of these developments, my question is: What can
still be done inside institutional academia? How attractive has the
1970s model of non-institutional universites and learning communities
become again?

With Renee Ridgway, an American artist and educator living in the
Netherlands, I've proposed a panel "Is there hope?", with emphasis  on
the above issues and questions.


blog: http://en.pleintekst.nl

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