[-empyre-] Art and Change

Claudia Pederson ccp9 at cornell.edu
Mon Mar 18 10:17:01 EST 2013

It strikes me that artists are often asked about the impact (read: worth)
of their work if they are 'Artists'; not so with commercial artists (whom
are assumed to have worth). This divide is familiar: high art x low art.
The idea that art and commerce are somehow separate realms was always a
myth, and completely so in this day and age (think Breton accusing Dali of
selling out--avida dollars--while himself selling surrealist work in his
gallery, etc, etc.). As for the avant-garde; we can't with Saint-Simon (he
coined the term in 1895) still believe that artists, scientists and
industrialists will lead humanity out of the alienation and oppression,
which as Joseph points out doesn't mean inaction. What do artists have to

On Sat, Mar 16, 2013 at 6:26 PM, John Sharp <jofsharp at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> hi all-
> Joseph's vision has a kindred spirit in the approaches discussed in Grant
> Kester's Conversation Pieces, and then again in his more recent The One and
> the Many.
> Asking whether or not September 12th or Darfur is Dying had a meaningful
> impact is well worth asking. I would say yes, in a very indirect, slow-burn
> way. Both have opened the eyes of students who are exposed to these new
> possibilities. I've also seen activists and non-profits inspired to explore
> games as a new avenue for communicating.
> But mostly, I see these games "preaching to the converted," in the same
> way that many artists are. It is difficult to find a voice outside their
> respective communities of practice. But is that the duty of those trying to
> effect change through their creative practice?
> I've been torn about games for change for some time. As someone who sees
> the power of games to help people think and see differently, I understand
> why, and certainly, I've been involved in this sort of project with my work
> with the Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc. I used to do a lot of work
> in the animal rights and animal rescue realms. And it always felt more
> urgent for me personally to do things for the animals directly. But I
> respected the choices of others to try to change things through their art
> and design and not through direct action.
> john
> John Sharp
> Associate Professor of Games + Learning
> Art, Media + Technology
> amt.parsons.edu
> Co-Director, PETlab
> petlab.parsons.edu
> Parsons The New School for Design
> sharpj at newschool.edu
> @jofsharp
> On Mar 16, 2013, at 1:58 PM, Joseph Delappe wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Fascinating the interwoven threads this week.
> Johannes, my first post did not include "fiction elements".  My intention
> in relaying such a prolonged narrative of my path to artist/activist was
> primarily to describe through personal experience some aspect of the power
> of art and ideas to transform one life.
> It follows that I cannot abide by  your statement, "And i think we all
> agree that art doesn't change reality too much."  Perhaps I am wrong but I
> see such sentiments as a self-imposed, regressive limitation of the role of
> artists in the world. This kind of sentiment lets artists off the hook,
> allowing us to hide away in our studios.  If one considers the "Art World"
> - as described in Sarah Thorton's "Seven Days in the Art World", I might
> entirely agree with your statement.
> Yet there is an alternative "art world" that is working in a very
> different direction from the "Art World",  where artists are concerned with
> real-world issues, raising awareness and actively seeking to create change.
>  I think of "The Yes Men", who so creatively "game" the system through
> actions that are at once political protest, performance art and brilliant
> media spectacle.  Or Fritz Haeg's "Edible Estates" project (
> http://www.fritzhaeg.com/garden/initiatives/edibleestates/main.html)
>  from the website: "Edible Estates is an ongoing initiative to create a
> series of regional prototype gardens that replace domestic front lawns, and
> other unused spaces in front of homes, with places for families to grow
> their own food."  Or Mierle Laderman Ukeles decades of work to both build
> awareness and change our relationship to our garbage in her role as the
> long term Artist in Residence at the New York Department of Sanitation,
> creating such works as "Touch Sanitation".  There are of cou
> rse many other examples of artists working in such a way to define
> themselves in large part in opposition to the dominant strains of artistic
> practice.
> It is of course arguable that computer games (whether one considers them
> art or not) have changed our world - no less so than film or television
> have over the past century.  Are there examples of artist made games or
> interventions in games that have changed the world?  Did "September 12th"
> actually change anything?  Did "Darfur is Dying" actually make any
> difference? Did "dead-in-iraq" actually prevent anyone from joining the
> military?  These are difficult if not impossible to quantify.  Yet I would
> argue that such works at minimum work to change perceptions or provide a
> kind of alternative consideration of political and social contexts.  Does
> this eventually lead to change?  Perhaps I am making Johannes argument for
> him here but I cannot resign myself to believe that as artists we are
> helpless or incapable of actively working towards changing the world.
>  Whether it is through our creative practice or in our classrooms, we can
> offer some modicum of resistance or efforts towar
> ds creating change.  At least I hope so.
> Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic or willfully blind to the reality of our
> negligible position as artists in our contemporary time and place.  Yet it
> would seem if we resign ourselves to such a devalued status in relation to
> the world, we become complicit.
> Best,
> Joseph DeLappe
> http://www.delappe.net
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