[iDC] The Future of the Humanities

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Sat Jul 16 15:37:17 UTC 2011

A key factor identified in Janet's post is the role of community. How
communities form is in itself a creative process and all those involved are
being creative, creating themselves and their relations. However,
communities are as complex as the human relations that form them and are
contingent on many factors beyond the individual, informed by (local)
history, cultural infrastructure and the cultural priorities that have
informed the community's focus over a period of time.

I am really lucky to live in Edinburgh but am originally from Adelaide. I've
lived and worked in a lot of places in between: cosmopolitan, like London or
Berlin, rural, provincial (Sheffield or Groningen). Every one of these
places is special in its own way but cities like Adelaide and Edinburgh are
quite particular. They are focal points of creativity out of scale with
their size. Much of this is down to their cultural infrastructure and
history. Both have large international arts festivals, major museums,
libraries and universities that are, again, out of scale to the their size.
They are both designed cities with civic space at their heart. This can be
replicated but it takes a long time and a lot of resources to achieve. There
is no cheap fix.

The question then is how virtual communities, like this list, form and why
some are more vital and sustainable than others. Again, this appears to be
no accident. Communities like iDC, empyre and Netbehaviour, for example,
have to be nurtured but at the same time allowed to become themselves. They
need people who care but do not want to control. There is a notion of
civility and creativity at their heart. In my experience this is rather



On 16/07/2011 12:50, "Janet Hawtin" <lucychili at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM, Brian Holmes
> <bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Examples of how culture and the arts become alive in society, with and
>> beyond the tech entailed, might be the most important thing this list
>> could offer.
> some thoughts
> If the changes are a result of economic or business management
> approaches which see the market as the mechanism of choice then
> perhaps the most direct way to widen the room in society for wider
> schools of thought is to incorporate them into schools of economics
> and business management? To include environmental and social
> perspectives in those programs so that they have a wider understanding
> of cultural and environmental infrastructure/assets?
> This kind of economics sees consuming as an act of agency. Choosing a
> product for fair trade or other reasons for example. But this kind of
> agency has variable franchise based on wealth and is reactive or
> passive because it can only choose from what is offered. It is similar
> to using a market as a means to impact climate change imho because yes
> it does possibly move wealth in a different direction but in itself it
> is only able to show possibilities as money would tell it.
> If consumer choice is a primary mode of engagement then how can
> democratic thinking and discourse adapt to a shopping context? It
> needs to be fashionable, a trending topic and to find ways to express
> and negotiate subtle choices with a community with limited attention?
> How do you compete with commercial interests on behalf of cultural
> interests in this kind of space? ie If kids choosing to buy into these
> ideas and courses is important, where do kids go to see rich thinking
> and expression in practice? Where could they participate or ask
> questions? Listening to question time in our parliament does not help
> imho because the interactions usually avoid the substance of the
> issues and are more argument than debate.
> Some online lobby groups are having effect. http://www.getup.org.au/
> but they tend to propose an action and invite participants.
> ie They too are framed for a reactive community which can buy in to a
> given perspective.
> Open source, free software and creative commons communities are
> obvious existing structures which are collaborative and designed for
> constructive practice. Michel Bauwens describes peer to peer
> collaboration as another sphere beyond private and state, making the
> civic space a sphere of production. Advocacy through making.
> For these functions to continue there needs to be legal permission to
> interact with information, hardware, networks, whatever the making
> materials are. These permissions are contested by business interests
> and as a matter of trade advantage. This week there is a release from
> wikileaks showing the specifics of the funding which the US put into
> changing the New Zealand copyright law. This is an area where advocacy
> in the public interest is vital.
> There are other artist and maker communities which are not necessarily
> structured in the same way as open source or creative commons
> practices. They too are enabled by a legal right to use cultural
> materials/ideas, workshop space, access to equipment for making in the
> public sphere.
> They can also be activities which happen in private homes/studios/workshops.
> http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/Hackerspaces
> http://www.shareable.net/blog/maker-spaces-a-tale-of-3-englishman-new-capitali
> sm
> http://makezine.com/community/
> http://craftzine.com/community/
> At an art community meeting recently one artist pointed out that he
> had successfully proposed artworks for street roundabouts
> because there was a budget for implementing the street infrastructure
> and he could quote to make a public art piece which was developed as a
> part of the infrastructure work. Perhaps there are other larger
> building or infrastructure projects which could be worked with in this
> way?
> In South Australia there are festivals which create a pulse for
> performing and visual arts. There are also sporting events like the
> bicycle Tour Down Under which attract crowds and some arts events are
> geared to attract those crowds. The wineries are also supportive of
> the arts and function both as galleries and as venues for festivals
> with food wine and performances.
> janet
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Simon Biggs | simon at littlepig.org.uk | www.littlepig.org.uk

s.biggs at eca.ac.uk | Edinburgh College of Art
www.eca.ac.uk/circle | www.elmcip.net | www.movingtargets.net

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