[-empyre-] short report from NL

Redazione Digicult redazione at digicult.it
Thu Dec 1 01:18:10 EST 2011

Dear Geert, dear Simon

as discussing points that are part of a wider debate in Italy and Europe,
that belong to Digicult's approach to art and culture more in general and
fit a general tension of artists, designers and professionals working
around these fields, I asked Geert the chance to publish this short and
effective analysis on the last international version of Digimag (

This is the direct link: http://www.digicult.it/digimag_eng/allegato.asp

For those who are interested, this is also my report from the last 15/10
"Occupy Rome" protest and interview to "Lavoratori dello Spettacolo"
occupying the Teatro Valle in Rome:
http://www.digicult.it/digimag/article.asp?id=2208. I hope it will be
useful for further discussions and considerations

Marco Mancuso

2011/11/28 Simon Biggs <simon at littlepig.org.uk>

> Thanks for the report. All good points Geert. But the evidence is that new
> media artists are seeking to work in the "real world", as you call it
> (although that is a deeply problematic concept). Collective and
> non-institutional platforms like Furtherfield, Floss, FakePress and others
> have, in some instances, been doing this for years - often emerging out of
> the new media and net art scenes of the 80's and 90's and applying the
> networking and community building skills acquired through those earlier
> activities. You know this as well as anyone as you were (and are) part of
> this.
> In respect of the artist and academia connection - in many instances
> artist engagement with academia has been driven by the very forces you are
> describing. When the public funding of the arts dries up then the artists
> will go where the money is. If, for whatever reason, they find the
> commercial market (the art world) unviable then many will look to academia
> as this is a domain long use to spending money on non-instrumental
> activities. It is true that universities are under pressure to cut their
> non-vocational programmes and unprofitable research activities but many
> have the strength, often gained over time-frames far greater than our
> transient political and economic structures have existed, to resist the
> sniping of government, at least for a while. It is natural for artists to
> seek, and find a degree of, shelter under such umbrellas and the price to
> be paid is often small - if a price at all. Having the opportunity to share
> how and why what you do with others and to develop i
>  t in collaboration with people from diverse disciplines is a great
> opportunity. You know this, as you work in academia.
> I agree the media art scene is something of a ghetto - but it isn't a
> cattle-market like the mainstream art world. The media art scene does
> indulge in navel gazing, like any self-defining community. Indeed,
> navel-gazing is probably a prerequisite to such self-definition. But many
> media artists can be found seeking to escape that definition at every
> opportunity. It can be argued that media art is what it is because the
> artists doing it so dislike being defined by their practices that they are
> constantly inventing new media forms in order to escape such definition.
> This is why media art seems unable to successfully define itself. To the
> art world that appears as a weakness. To those who wish to avoid or subvert
> the art world, whilst sustaining something like a "practice formerly known
> as art", this is a strength.
> None of this, of course, should take us away from the issue of cuts in
> public support for the arts, which in the UK (at least) have followed even
> greater cuts in public support for education (80%). But we should keep such
> cuts in context, which is that they are symptomatic of a deeper wind-change
> in the settlement between the public and private sectors, the extent of
> government responsibility and the locus of power itself. These changes are
> being driven by a global realignment of power from the West to the East in
> conjunction with a move away from representative governance to corporate
> oligarchy (whether a pseudo-state, like China, or a corporation like
> Shell). The incredible shrinking state, whether Holland or the UK, is just
> part of this shift. The disintegration of the Euro area is symptomatic of a
> supra-state structure's collapse when the states that formed it proceed to
> evaporate.
> best
> Simon
> On 28 Nov 2011, at 09:46, Geert Lovink wrote:
> > Dear all,
> >
> > there is a lot that can be said about the budget cuts in the Netherlands.
> >
> > As Bill Laskas already discussed also here in NL digital/new media
> initiatives are being deleted and not seen as real art/contemporary
> art/visual arts. This 'discrimination' has been discussed in the past
> already on many occasions (see my large chapter on this in Zero Comments
> which I wrote in 2006). We can observe that the new media arts scene is
> itself, in parts, to blame for this as has never seriously tried to leave
> its own ghetto. ISEA is the prime exemple of this inward looking culture
> that is more and more depending on academia and lacks any audience except
> for the presenters themselves. Bad move. Wrong direction. ISEA IMHO show be
> dissolved asap and make way for international networks and campaigns that
> show that artists are part of society and intervene there and there and
> everywhere, going towards the heart of the (digital) matter. Digital media
> arts has a lot to contribute to society and to protest movements like
> Occupy, and show stop focussing on somehow securin
>  g its own history, a move which only further isolates the artists. The
> same I could say of arts and science, which is a hopeless instutional game,
> not focussed on the outside world.
> >
> > Here in NL the relative small 'new media arts' ghetto (in comparison to
> theatre, classical music, the largely untouched museum world) is really
> only one of many problems, and probably one of the least interesting ones.
> A tiny one, for instance, in comparison to the way they are now cutting
> back into experimental theatre, dance and performance, and to a lesser
> extend also visual arts.
> >
> > We can protest the cuts, and have done so, but many were unhappy with
> the rhethoric of it all. The theatre scene (which is the most affected, in
> fact) came up with rather strange and hollow phrases such as "the cry for
> culture" and even worse: "the marsh of civilization" (suggesting that those
> in power are barbarians). The quasi-existentialist metaphors made it quite
> hard to understand the neo-liberal policies and push towards creative
> industries approaches (everyone is an enterpreneur etc.).
> >
> > The problem with defending what is there is the insistence on autonomy
> of the arts. But no one is buying that anymore. The quite arrogant demand
> that artists should be left alone, be given money to do 'their own
> thing'... there is simply no consensus about that anymore. This is
> reflected in the 'business as usual' approach of most cultural institutions
> in this country. Even those faced by 100% cut in a year's time are
> pretending if there is nothing about to happen (and this is oddly reflected
> in their websites). The survival is delegated to the regents that are
> supposed to lobby inside the liberal elite of the country. Or make some
> backroom deal with The Hague bureaucrats or local city hall officials.
> Sounds unlikely, isn't? Then change to project money? Look for corporate
> sponsers.. International grants... Yeah, sure. All done to just keep on
> going like in the past. There is little support for that in society. Or is
> there? We'll see.
> >
> > One ironic detail. This weekend the threatened Rijksacademie where
> top-of-the-bill visual artists hang out with international curators in a
> two year residency had an Open Day to show what they were doing. Admittance
> fee: 7.50 euros.
> >
> > Yours, Geert
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> >
> Simon Biggs
> simon at littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK skype:
> simonbiggsuk
> s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
> http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/ http://www.elmcip.net/
> http://www.movingtargets.co.uk/
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Marco Mancuso
Digicult Director, Critic & Curator
Professor at Naba & IED, Milan
Visiting Professor at Transmedia, Brussels
Via Thaon di Revel 9, 20159 Milan, Italy
Mob. +39.340.8371816, Skype. Sostakovich
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20111130/0b9ae7e6/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list