And he will continue to do so during the year of 2009.
The think tank has started.
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There have been plenty of artists bringing technology into art; we will bring art into technology...
Because we can not afford to let the primary medium of our time be one that we can not express ourselves in, or one we do not feel like applying our skills to...
A small collection of public domain pictures showing the added value of approaching culture from a visual perspective...
This is not really about the internet, but about something more specific and more general at the same time: digital public space. The project's aim is firstly applied and political, its artistic significance will be of secondary value.
Visual and cultural professionals, like E himself, take too small a part in defining our digital public landscape. E is ready to admit that we are partly to blame for that ourselves. It would be a shame, however, if all the nice values and concepts we represent get lost in the transition from an analogue to a digital society.
So in 2009, E will get our interests and the values out there again. The observation that led him to believe this is possible, was the remarkable similarity between the socioeconomics of open source hacking and the socioeconomics of the art world. Both can be seen as functioning primarily as gift cultures. Hacker culture has seen a steady rise, both in its prestige, its social influence and the actual benefits it is bringing to our societies. E believes this is no coincidence: the economical model exemplified by open source seems well suited to a world in which traditional notions of money, property and capital are being redefined.
We salute the hackers for getting there first; we comfort ourselves knowing we can benefit from the knowledge they attained. Their precedent of reviving the concept of the benevolent dictator convinced E that proclaiming himself art director of the internet was the right thing to do.
The concrete ways in which E is planning to attain his goals will gradually become apparent in the coming months. Partly because their success depends on the buzz of the unexpected, and partly because they will be taking shape as part of the process: learning by doing.
That is not to say E is embarking on this venture unprepared. During the previous months E has been amassing a collection of social and technical insights, cultural artefacts, and visual strategies, all which will serve us well.
This leaves one obvious question: what gives E the right to bestow upon himself this position of authority? The short answer: this is not Authoritarianism, it's Authoritism. One of the values that E is propogating, is that our suspicion of those claiming authority should be reevaluated. If people start listening to E, it is not because they think this is the right thing to do, but because they think he is right. That represents a strength of a distributed community model: it makes the succes of an individual dependant on the approval of the community. The weakness of the system has now shifted from individuals, to the process of distribution itself. Every social platform we become a part of has its own semantic boobytraps that we are inclined to overlook. Our dependence on continious and instant communication has negatively effected our critical reflection on these processes themself, processes that can never be neutral. So our suspicions should not be directed to the opiniated. Rather, we should set out to be suspicious of any one person or institution which presents itself as transparent, ineluctable, independent or neutral. E thinks the real dangers to society are not in people that claim authority to themselves; the dangers are in people that seek to place authority somewhere else, whether that's with a God, a company, or a moral concept.
You are invited to join the fray. Let the world know what happens when we leverage the awesome power of our cultural capital!
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