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robertogreco : amateurs   21

Of Anarchy and Amateurism: Zine Publication and Print Dissent, by Sheila Liming [.pdf]
[via: https://are.na/block/2959533 ]

"Because they are not usually sold in stores (and because, more often than not, you have to know where to look) you rarely see them. But sines—homemade, mash-up publications suiting a variety of interests, needs, and cadres—exist, constituting a belligerently voiced need for alternative media venues even in our modem age of widespread Internet use and so-called digital democracy. Fag School, Sniffle' Glue, Slug and Lettuce, and Gutter Flowers are the titles of several nines that emerged in the United States between the 1970s and early 1990s. Many of them survive today, viewed as literary appendages of a movement of youth un-rest and social apprehension. While some embrace the opportunities of new media and have "gone digital" (for example, through web-sites like paperrad.com or in e-tines, electronically distributed sines that reach their audiences via e-mail instead of through the Postal Service), still many others maintain a commitment to the ethics of low-tech media production. They continue to be photocopied, hand-drawn, or hand-stitched and circulated according to the old roles: by mail, at zinc conventions, or at shows."
anarchy  anarchism  zines  amateurism  amateurs  publishing  self-publishing  selfpublishing  sheilaliming  lowtech  making  ephemeral  low-tech 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 24. Sara Hendren
"Sara Hendren is a designer, artist, writer, and professor whose work centers around adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas. She teaches inclusive design practices at Olin College in Massachusetts and writes and edits Abler, her site to collect and comment on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, and the future of human bodies in the built environment. In this episode, Sara and I talk about her own background and using design to manifest ideas in the world, the role of writing in her own design practice, and how teaches these ideas with her students."

[audio: https://soundcloud.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/24-sara-hendren ]
sarahendren  jarrettfuller  design  2017  interviews  johndewey  wendyjacob  nataliejeremijenko  remkoolhaas  timmaly  clairepentecost  alexandralange  alissawalker  michaelrock  alfredojaar  oliversacks  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  nicolatwilley  amateurs  amateurism  dabbling  art  artists  generalists  creativegeneralists  disability  engineering  criticaltheory  integatededucation  integratedcurriculum  identity  self  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  assistivetechnology  technology  olincollege  humanities  liberalarts  disabilities  scratchingthesurface 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Sarah Hendren on Vimeo
"Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers – Translators, impresarios, believers, and the heartbroken—this is a talk about design outside of authorship and ownership, IP or copyright, and even outside of research and collaboration. When and where do ideas come to life? What counts as design? Sara talks about some of her own "not a real designer" work, but mostly she talks about the creative work of others: in marine biology, architecture, politics, education. Lots of nerdy history, folks."
sarahendren  eyeo2016  2016  eyeo  dilettantes  interlopers  translation  ownership  copyright  collaboration  education  marinebiology  architecture  design  research  learning  howwelearn  authorship  socialengagement  criticaldesign  thehow  thewhy  traction  meaning  place  placefulness  interconnectedness  cause  purpose  jacquescousteau  invention  dabbling  amateurs  amateurism  exploration  thinking  filmmaking  toolmaking  conviviality  convivialtools  ivanillich  impresarios  titles  names  naming  language  edges  liminalspaces  outsiders  insiders  dabblers  janeaddams  technology  interdependence  community  hullhouse  generalists  radicalgeneralists  audrelorde  vaclavhavel  expertise  pointofview  disability  adaptability  caseygollan  caitrinlynch  ingenuity  hacks  alinceshepherd  inclinedplanes  dance  pedagogy  liminality  toolsforconviviality  disabilities  interconnected  interconnectivity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Why Are the Scientists Who Classify Life So Mean to Their Dead?
"The open nature of the science of classification virtually guarantees fights."



"Taxonomy, the art and science of classifying life, really should be a civilized pursuit. It encourages solitude, concentration, care. It rewards a meticulous attention to detail. And while it might occasionally receive some good-natured ribbing from the popular culture—think of all those butterfly collectors stumbling around in Far Side cartoons—it continues to play a vital role at the foundations of modern biology.

It can come as a bit of a surprise, then, when that veneer of civilization cracks, and the field reveals itself to be one of the more contentious arenas in science, a place where arguments over names and classifications rage through the literature for decades. This is both a strength, as challenges to current classification keep the field dynamic and relevant, and an expression of its hardwired vulnerabilities."



"More than twenty years too late for his scientific reputation, and after having done an amount of injury to entomology almost inconceivable in its immensity, Francis Walker has passed from among us.”

Walker’s two-page obituary, in the November 1874 issue of the Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, sits between a short research note (“Emmelesia unifasciata three years in the pupa state”) and some words on the passing of William Lello (“He leaves a considerable collection of Lepidoptera ...”). Written anonymously, it pulled no punches when it came to the late taxonomist’s legacy: The vast majority of the tens of thousands of new species he proposed were “objects of derision for all conscientious entomologists.” More than once, the obituarist referred to Walker’s work simply as the “evil.”

And yet, the man’s career had begun with promise. His first work, a well-regarded study of the tiny wasps known as chalcidids, had “marked an era in the study of its subject.” Despite considerable inherited wealth, he longed for a permanent position at one of Britain’s major collections. When that position failed to materialize, Walker, “in an unlucky moment,” instead took up the first in a long series of contract appointments cataloging insects for the British Museum.

This is where the trouble began. Moving from drawer to drawer through the collection, Walker took it upon himself to describe what he believed to be thousands of new species in virtually all major groups of insects, a task requiring skills far beyond what he, or anyone else, possessed. “The result,” the obituarist wrote, “was what might have been expected. The work was done mechanically: ‘new genera and species’ were erected in the most reckless manner ...” Through a Rafinesquean combination of industry and incompetence, the humble Englishman had begun to single-handedly wreak havoc on the classification of the world’s insects.

As Walker published more and more dubious names, in wider and wider groups, the entomological establishment grew ever louder in its condemnation. By the time he had exhausted most of the major insect orders, his once considerable “entomological reputation [had been] worn to shreds.” Walker, however, “appeared to be utterly indifferent to anything that could be hurled at him ... In his social relations he was amiability itself ...” When he died, at 65, the entomological community mourned the gentle soul who had walked the halls of the British Museum, but also let out a collective sigh of relief. “We earnestly hope,” the obituarist added, “that never again will it fall to us, nor to our successors in entomological journalism, to have to write such an obituary notice as this.”

But Walker’s name wouldn’t be the last to live in taxonomic infamy. In fact, his obituary seems downright tactful beside Claude Morley’s note, from 1913, on the death of Peter Cameron, an infamous describer of Central American insects.

“Peter Cameron is dead, as was announced by most of the halfpenny papers on December 4th. What can we say of his life? Nothing; for it concerns us in no way. What shall we say of his work? Much, for it is entirely ours, and will go down to posterity as probably the most prolific and chaotic output of any individual for many years past.”

Cameron, a Scottish amateur with a penchant for Central American insects, left a legacy that echoed for decades. Fifty years after his death, Richard Bohart, a taxonomist at the University of California Davis, would reiterate that the entomologist’s “work was careless, his descriptions poor, his locality data were often vague or omitted, his generic assignments were characteristically erroneous and contradictory, and he eschewed illustrations.” Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, Bohart wound up with the thankless task of sorting through Cameron’s North American contributions to a small group of wasps known as the Odynerini. Of the hundred or so names Cameron proposed within the group, almost all, Bohart found, were invalid.

Meanwhile, modern taxonomy has its own outliers. In 2006, over 50 scientists signed an open letter to the administration of the University of Utrecht protesting the work of one Dewanand Makhan, an amateur entomologist who frequently listed the university as his institutional affiliation. (Makhan was a contract employee at the university’s herbarium, and not a member of the academic staff; his publications now list a personal address.)

“For many years,” they wrote, “Dr. Makhan has been a growing threat to taxonomy and zoological nomenclature, publishing a large number of new genera and species in groups as wide ranging as beetles, spiders, and gastropods. These publications are uniformly poor in quality and scholarship.” A group of ant experts put it more bluntly: A 2007 publication by Makhan, they wrote, was “one of the most inadequate papers that has ever been produced in ant taxonomy.”

Makhan’s descriptions are notoriously short on detail. In place of clear scientific diagrams, he illustrates much of his work with blurry, out-of-focus photographs. Most frustrating to fellow entomologists, many of Makhan’s “new” species are instantly recognizable, at least to them, as already described insects. Despite numerous articles and blog posts on the so-called “Makhan problem,” new publications continue to appear, most in a small Australian journal without a traditional peer-review process. (As recently as last year, Makhan described a new species of waterbeetle, Desmopachria barackobamai—named, of course, for the 44th president of the United States.)


The story is a familiar one, but with a modern twist. That’s because the growth of so-called “vanity journals”—publications that look to all appearances like mainstream scientific outlets, but lack rigorous peer-review—has produced new avenues for what some have taken to calling “taxonomic vandalism.” As traditional boundaries between experts and amateurs dissolve in the face of digital publishing, more opportunities than ever exist for novel voices in science, journalism, and politics. Unfortunately, these opportunities come at a cost, as a growing tide of information challenges the discriminatory abilities of scientists and lay readers alike.

While discussions underway now could revise the Codes to include stricter controls on which publications count for classificatory changes, many taxonomists are wary of doing anything that might deter amateur contributions. With so many species left to discover, and with existential threats to biodiversity looming, they realize the field needs as much help as it can get.

In the struggle to balance its highest ideals with its unruliest practicioners, taxonomy teaches us an enduring lesson about science as a whole. While we like to think of that enterprise as an antidote to fallibility—a way of seeing that seeks, through meticulous care and relentless examination, to minimize our tendency toward error—it remains fundamentally, inescapably human. Somewhere in between is where real progress happens."
science  taxonomy  anselpayne  biology  2016  biodiversity  franciswalker  entomology  williamlello  claudemorley  petercameron  richardbohart  dewanandmakhan  amateurs  fallability  humans  zoology  constantinerafinesque  asagray  classification  taxonomists  iczn  naming  names  nomenclature  edmerrill 
april 2016 by robertogreco
A continuum along which soil practice and social practice occur | Lebenskünstler
"the art system has become industrial agriculture
aesthetic ecology as gardening – learn from your grandmother and your neighbor, pick up some magazines or books, watch some YouTube videos and get growing, no gatekeepers, no degrees required

the art system says the only real gardening is done by experts

seed saving (AE) vs. industrial ag research (AS) – person to person innovation (AE) vs. institutionally controlled validation (AS)

museums, galleries, and universities act much like Monsanto taking up vernacular practices, formalizing them, squeezing the living core out, and controlling their distribution and viability

aesthetic ecology favors diversity – formal, institutional practices, but also backyard gardeners, community gardeners, homesteaders, etc"
art  gardening  linear  linearity  cycles  sustainability  2016  randallszott  amateurs  amateurism  ecology  professionalization  capitlalism  elitism  specialization  generalists  distributed  centralization  permaculture  agriculture  growth  economics  museums  control  distribution  diversity  institutions  institutionalization  aesthetics  socialpractice 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Intervention – “Vernacular Values: Remembering Ivan Illich” by Andy Merrifield | AntipodeFoundation.org
"Illich had it in for professional institutions of every kind, for what he called “disabling professions”; this is what interests me most in his work, this is what I’ve been trying to revisit, trying to recalibrate and reload, in our own professionalised times. I’ve been trying to affirm the nemesis of professionalism: amateurs. Illich said professionals incapacitate ordinary peoples’ ability to fend for themselves, to invent things, to lead innovative lives beyond the thrall of corporations and institutions. Yet Illich’s war against professionalism isn’t so much a celebration of self-survival (letting free market ideology rip) as genuine self-empowerment, a weaning people off their market-dependence. We’ve lost our ability to develop “convivial tools”, he says, been deprived of our use-value capacities, of values systems outside the production and consumption of commodities. We’ve gotten accustomed to living in a supermarket.

Illich’s thinking about professionalisation was partly inspired by Karl Polanyi’s magisterial analysis on the “political and economic origins of our time”, The Great Transformation (Beacon Press, 1944). Since the Stone Age, Polanyi says, markets followed society, developed organically as social relations developed organically, from barter and truck systems, to simple economies in which money was a means of exchange, a mere token of equivalent worth. Markets were always “embedded” (a key Polanyi word) in social relations, always located somewhere within the very fabric of society, whose institutional and political structure “regulated” what markets could and couldn’t do. Regulation and markets thus grew up together, came of age together. So “the emergence of the idea of self-regulation”, says Polanyi, “was a complete reversal of this trend of development … the change from regulated to self-regulated markets at the end of the 18th century represented a complete transformation in the structure of society.”

We’re still coming to terms with this complete transformation, a transformation that, towards the end of the 20th century, has made the “disembedded” economy seem perfectly natural, perfectly normal, something transhistorical, something that always was, right? It’s also a perfectly functioning economy, as economic pundits now like to insist. Entering the 1990s, this disembedded market system bore a new tagline, one that persists: “neoliberalism”. Polanyi’s logic is impeccable: a “market economy can exist only in a market society.”

Inherent vices nonetheless embed themselves in this disembedded economy. Land, labour and money become vital parts of our economic system, of our speculative hunger games. But, says Polanyi, land, labour and money “are obviously not commodities” (his emphasis). “Land is only another name for nature, which is not produced by man”, he says; “labour is only another name for human activity which goes with life itself”; “actual money … is merely a token of purchasing power which, as a rule, is not produced at all, but comes into being through the mechanism of banking or state finance”. Thus “the commodity description of labour, land and money is entirely fictitious”, a commodity fiction, the fiction of commodities.

Still, we live in fictitious times (as filmmaker Michael Moore was wont to say): land, labour and money as commodities provide us with the vital organising principle of our whole society. So fiction remains the truth, and fictitious truth needs defending, needs perpetuating; the postulate must be forcibly yet legitimately kept in place. But kept in place how, and by whom? By, we might say, a whole professional administration, by a whole professional cadre, by a whole professional apparatus that both props up and prospers from these fictitious times. Professionalism is the new regulation of deregulation, the new management of mismanagement, an induced and imputed incapacitation."



"Vernacular values are intuitive knowledges and practical know-how that structure everyday culture; they pivot not so much—as Gramsci says—on common sense as on “good sense”. They’re reasonable intuitions and intuitive reason: words, habits and understandings that inform real social life—the real social life of a non-expert population. Illich reminds us that “vernacular” stems from the Latin vernaculam, meaning “homebred” or “homegrown”, something “homemade”. (We’re not far from the notion of amateur here.) Vernacular is a mode of life and language below the radar of exchange-value; vernacular language is language acquired without a paid teacher; loose, unruly language, heard as opposed to written down. (“Eartalk”, Joyce called it in Finnegans Wake, a language for the “earsighted”.) To assert vernacular values is, accordingly, to assert democratic values, to assert its means through popular participation."



"Illich chips in to add how professionals peddle the privileges and status of the job: they adjudicate its worthiness and rank, while forever tut-tutting those without work. Unemployment “means sad idleness, rather than the freedom to do things that are useful for oneself or for one’s neighbour”. “What counts”, Illich says, “isn’t the effort to please or the pleasure that flows from that effort but the coupling of the labour force with capital. What counts isn’t the achievement of satisfaction that flows from action but the status of the social relationship that commands production—that is, the job, situation, post, or appointment”.

Effort isn’t productive unless it’s done at the behest of some boss; economists can’t deal with a usefulness of people outside of the corporation, outside of stock value, of shareholder dividend, of cost-benefit. Work is only ever productive when its process is controlled, when it is planned and monitored by professional agents, by managers and the managers of managers. Can we ever imagine unemployment as useful, as the basis for autonomous activity, as meaningful social or even political activity?"



"Perhaps, during crises, we can hatch alternative programmes for survival, other methods through which we can not so much “earn a living” as live a living. Perhaps we can self-downsize, as Illich suggests, and address the paradox of work that goes back at least to Max Weber: work is revered in our culture, yet at the same time workers are becoming superfluous; you hate your job, your boss, hate the servility of what you do, and how you do it, the pettiness of the tasks involved, yet want to keep your job at all costs. You see no other way of defining yourself other than through work, other than what you do for a living. Perhaps there’s a point at which we can all be pushed over the edge, voluntarily take the jump ourselves, only to discover other aspects of ourselves, other ways to fill in the hole, to make a little money, to maintain our dignity and pride, and to survive off what Gorz calls a “frugal abundance”.

Perhaps it’s time to get politicised around non-work and undercut the professionalisation of work and life. In opting out, or at least contesting from within, perhaps we can create a bit of havoc, refuse to work as we’re told, and turn confrontation into a more positive device, a will to struggle for another kind of work, where use-value outbids exchange-value, where amateurs prevail over professionals. If, in times of austerity, capitalists can do without workers, then it’s high time workers (and ex-workers) realise that we can do without capitalists, without their professional hacks, and their professional institutions, that we can devise work without them, a work for ourselves. Illich throws down the gauntlet here, challenges us to conceive another de-professionalised, vernacular non-working future. He certainly gets you thinking, has had me thinking, and rethinking, more than a decade after I’ve had any kind of job."
via:javierarbona  ivanillich  professionals  experts  amateurs  economics  conviviality  karlpolanyi  politics  capitalism  neoliberalism  empowerment  self-empowerment  unschooling  deschooling  production  consumption  corporatism  corporations  institutions  self-survival  invention  innovation  markets  society  labor  land  commodities  nature  money  michaelmoore  andymerrifield  bureaucracy  control  systems  systemsthinking  deregulation  regulation  management  incapacitation  work  vernacula  vernacularvalues  values  knowledge  everyday  culture  informal  bullshitjobs  andrégorz  antoniogramsci  marxism  ideleness  freedom  capital  effort  productivity  socialactivism  maxweber  time  toolsforconviviality 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Wunderkammer - Chris Marker
"The essayist’s aesthetic is that of the collector, or the ‘amateur’ in an archaic sense: such works seem destined for the writerly equivalent of the Wunderkammer – the essayist thrives on miscellanea. Except to say: the discrete essay may itself be an omnium-gatherum; there’s no duty to thematic unity, and because the notion that the essay is necessarily a short text is just a convenient rule easily broken, none to concision either: in his Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Robert Burton starts composing an essay about a single affliction and ends up writing a book about everything – but everything – he can think of." —frieze, “Energy & Rue”, Issue 151 (November-December 2012)
chrismarker  2012  collectors  collections  essayists  amateurism  amateurs  wunderkammer  miscellanea  gathering  cv  robertburton  essays  everything  eclecticism  collection  commonplacebooks  writing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: Conspiracies against the laity
"George Bernard Shaw said this:

"All professions are conspiracies against the laity."

It's discussed in a surprisingly chatty un-wikipedia-feeling wikipedia entry.

I always think about this when people discuss professionalisation.

This and Adam Smith:

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.""
professionalization  experts  2015  cv  confidence  bureaucracy  entrenchment  economics  adamsmith  professionals  domains  artleisure  leisurearts  amateurs  impostors  georgebernardshaw 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Pretty Ramp Machine — Weird Future — Medium
"Unlike its siblings, which must rotate or be used as an active tool to perform work, the plane lies still. It barely seems like a machine at all. “I’ve been calling it a ‘sleeping machine’ for that reason,” says Hendren, who focuses her work on disability studies. It’s “a static object, deceptive in its simple geometry.”

Hendren calls herself a public amateur. Her research and practice, documented on her website, is a riot of associations that cross the lines between high-end design, architecture, medical theory, prosthetics, and cybernetics. Spend some time with Hendren and you’ll find yourself in a conversation that veers wildly between fashionable hearing aids, Braille tattoos, the design of space suits, the relation of curb cuts to gentrification, and the origins of the smooth curves of the Eames Chair in the lacquered wooden leg splint that Charles and Ray designed for the US Navy.

Her own projects tend toward the informal and the temporary. She seeks out what she calls the margins of design: work that’s happening away from the spotlight of the mainstream tech and design press, “either because they’re made of low-cost materials, or in informally organized settings, or because they happen in the context of, say, special education.” Her low-tech approach allows her to intervene and launch discussions in graphic design, architecture, and prosthetics.

“All of these fields are professionalized for good reasons — standardization of practice and form,” she says. “But you can easily get some calcification around the ‘proper channels’ for the way things are done.”

“Defining what counts as health, as normative experience, as quality of life — these are easily as much cultural questions as they are about statistics and data,” she says. “I want the latitude, as an amateur, to also ask those questions in public, to engage with specialties as much as possible as an outsider.”



"She explains that in disability studies, there is a growing distinction between the medical model of disability and the social model. In the medical model, people with atypical bodies are seen as being impaired. In the social model, the problem isn’t with the bodies, but with the environment that was built around them.

After all, the environment we live in didn’t just leap out of the ground from whole cloth. Cities were designed and then built a certain way; they could have been built differently. In the social model, “people are disabled, but by the built environment, schools, transportation, economic structures having evolved to offer only the rather narrow goods that a late capitalist culture presumes,” says Hendren. “So we nurture some bodies, and we tolerate others.” If stairs were 5' tall, just about everyone on earth would be disabled."



"In the social model, disability is a matter of circumstances rather than a fundamental diagnosis about any particular body. It’s a state that we pass into and out of depending on what’s going on with us and the environment we’re in. If you are in possession of a relatively typical body and have found yourself blocked by a door because your arms were full, you’ll have a sense of what it means to be temporarily disabled.

If, laden by packages, you’ve ever hip-checked one of those buttons adorned by a wheelchair logo, you’ll have a sense of the degree to which the environment plays a role in enabling or disabling you. The automatic door is not an accommodation for special cases but a useful feature for everyone."



“What I want is much more energy and imagination given to questions of access and use — not tiresome and medicalized ‘accommodations,’ but edited cities where alternate bodies are assumed to be part of the landscape, and where the use of structures and tools might be less scripted,” she says.

Hendren reads a passage from Susan Wendell’s The Rejected Body.
Not only do physically disabled people have experiences which are not available to the able-bodied, they are in a better position to transcend cultural mythologies about the body, because they cannot do things the able-bodied feel they must do in order to be happy, “normal,” and sane…
If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place.

“I would take out ‘physically’ from the first sentence and add cognition/development to this idea as well,” Hendren says.

In the medical model of disability, this attitude is almost impossible to understand and feels pretty patronizing. After all, aren’t people with disabilities missing out? In the medical model, resistance in the deaf community to cochlear implants seems incomprehensible.

The point, says Hendren, is that we all get the same number of hours per day. “It’s as simple as: some experiences you’re having, and some you’re not,” she says. “You are not having rather more or rather less, unless you arrange your metrics in a lazy way.”

Hendren thinks designers and architects can do better. “It’s possible to have a very ‘correct’ idea about accommodations, provisions for schooling and such, and still presume a medical model,” says Hendren. “You can carry around the notion that a democratic society is one in which everyone thrives — regardless of productivity, regardless of capacity — and want to provide for those ‘needs.’”

“But it’s a much more radical notion to start to think about the ways structures have been un-imagined or preemptively imagined without much variation in body or mind. What would it mean to really profoundly undo our sense of which bodies count?”
sarahendren  timmaly  disability  disabilities  design  amateurs  amateurism  professionals  professionalization  imagination  access  cities  health  society  education  art  democracy  architecture  ada  capacity  productivity  davidedgerton  chrisdowney  bodies  diversity  assistivetechnology  susanwendell  galileo  ramps  inclinedplanes  standardization  brianglenny  blind  blindness  urban  urbandesign  urbanism  body 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Svetlana Boym | Off-Modern Manifesto
"1. A Margin of Error

“It's not my fault. Communication error has occurred,” my computer pleads with me in a voice of lady Victoria. First it excuses itself, then urges me to pay attention, to check my connections, to follow the instructions carefully. I don't. I pull the paper out of the printer prematurely, shattering the image, leaving its out takes, stripes of transience, inkblots and traces of my hands on the professional glossy surface. Once the disoriented computer spat out a warning across the image “Do Not Copy,” an involuntary water mark that emerged from the depth of its disturbed memory. The communication error makes each print unrepeatable and unpredictable. I collect the computer errors. An error has an aura.

To err is human, says a Roman proverb. In the advanced technological lingo the space of humanity itself is relegated to the margin of error. Technology, we are told, is wholly trustworthy, were it not for the human factor. We seem to have gone full circle: to be human means to err. Yet, this margin of error is our margin of freedom. It's a choice beyond the multiple choices programmed for us, an interaction excluded from computerized interactivity. The error is a chance encounter between us and the machines in which we surprise each other. The art of computer erring is neither high tech nor low tech. Rather it’s broken-tech. It cheats both on technological progress and on technological obsolescence. And any amateur artist can afford it. Art's new technology is a broken technology.

Or shall we call it dysfunctional, erratic, nostalgic? Nostalgia is a longing for home that no longer exists or most likely, has never existed. That non-existent home is akin to an ideal communal apartment where art and technology co-habited like friendly neighbours or cousins. Techne, after all, once referred to arts, crafts and techniques. Both art and technology were imagined as the forms of human prosthesis, the missing limbs, imaginary or physical extensions of the human space."



2. Short Shadows, Endless Surfaces



Broken-tech art is an art of short shadows. It turns our attention to the surfaces, rims and thresholds. From my ten years of travels I have accumulated hundreds of photographs of windows, doors, facades, back yards, fences, arches and sunsets in different cities all stored in plastic bags under my desk. I re-photograph the old snapshots with my digital camera and the sun of the other time and the other place cast new shadows upon their once glossy surfaces with stains of the lemon tea and fingerprints of indifferent friends. I try not to use the preprogrammed special effects of Photoshop; not because I believe in authenticity of craftsmanship, but because I equally distrust the conspiratorial belief in the universal simulation. I wish to learn from my own mistakes, let myself err. I carry the pictures into new physical environments, inhabit them again, occasionally deviating from the rules of light exposure and focus.

At the same time I look for the ready-mades in the outside world, “natural” collages and ambiguous double exposures. My most misleading images are often “straight photographs.” Nobody takes them for what they are, for we are burdened with an afterimage of suspicion.

Until recently we preserved a naive faith in photographic witnessing. We trusted the pictures to capture what Roland Barthes called “the being there” of things. For better or for worse, we no longer do. Now images appear to us as always already altered, a few pixels missing here and there, erased by some conspiratorial invisible hand. Moreover, we no longer analyse these mystifying images but resign to their pampering hypnosis. Broken- tech art reveals the degrees of our self-pixelization, lays bare hypnotic effects of our cynical reason.




3. Errands, Transits.



4. A Critic, an Amateur

If in the 1980s artists dreamed of becoming their own curators and borrowed from the theorists, now the theorists dream of becoming artists. Disappointed with their own disciplinary specialization, they immigrate into each other's territory. The lateral move again. Neither backwards nor forwards, but sideways. Amateur's out takes are no longer excluded but placed side-by-side with the non-out takes. I don't know what to call them anymore, for there is little agreement these days on what these non-out takes are.

But the amateur's errands continue. An amateur, as Barthes understood it, is the one who constantly unlearns and loves, not possessively, but tenderly, inconstantly, desperately. Grateful for every transient epiphany, an amateur is not greedy."
philosophy  technology  svetlanaboym  via:ablerism  off-modern  canon  nostalgia  human  humanism  amateurs  unlearning  love  loving  greed  selflessness  homesickness  broken  broken-tech  art  beausage  belatedness  newness  leisurearts  walterbenjamin  errors  fallibility  erring  henribergson  billgates  prosthetics  artists  imagination  domestication  play  jaques-henrilartigue  photography  film  fiction  shadows  shortshadows  nearness  distance  balance  thresholds  rims  seams  readymade  rolandbarthes  cynicism  modernity  internationalstyle  evreyday  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
A Thing Worth Doing [Gilbert Chersterson]
"Chesterton consistly defended the amateur against the professional, or the “generalist” against the specialist, especially when it came to “the things worth doing.” There are things like playing the organ or discovering the North Pole, or being Astronomer Royal, which we do not want a person to do at all unless he does them well. But those are not the most important things in life. When it comes to writing one’s own love letters and blowing one’s own nose, “these things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly.” This, argues Chesterton (in Orthodoxy) is “the democratic faith: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves – the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state.”

As for “the rearing of the young,” which is the education of the very young, this is a job not for the specialist or the professional, but for the “generalist” and the amateur. In other words, for the mother, who Chesterton argues is “broad” where men are “narrow.” In What’s Wrong with the World, Chesterton forsaw the dilemma of daycare and the working mother, that children would end up being raised by “professionals” rather than by “amateurs.” And here we must understand “amateur” in its truest and most literal meaning. An amateur is someone who does something out of love, not for money. She does what she does not because she is going to be paid for her services and not because she is the most highly skilled, but because she wants to do it. And she does “the things worth doing,” which are the things closest and most sacred to all of humanity – nurturing a baby, teaching a child the first things, and, in fact, all things.

The line, “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,” is not an excuse for poor efforts. It is perhaps an excuse for poor results. But our society is plagued by wanting good results with no efforts (or rather, with someone else’s efforts). We hire someone else to work for us, to play for us (that is, to entertain us), to think for us, and to raise our children for us. We have left “the things worth doing” to others, on the poor excuse that others might be able to do them better.

Finally, and less heavily, we should also point out that the phrase is a defense of hobbies. This was confirmed by Chesterton himself."
gilbertchesterson  via:sebastienmarion  teaching  expertise  generalists  specialists  life  living  children  parenting  hobbies  amateurs  professionals  cv  daycare  love  money 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Social practice must be broad, or not at all – Some stuff I said on facebook with the really challenging, thoughtful, responses removed | Lebenskünstler
"Being a good mom, being a good dad, being a good neighbor – these things are every bit as urgent and political as self-consciously being “radical” no? Picking up trash along your street or bringing cookies to the school teacher are every bit as “socially engaged” as AIDS activist billboards, fossil fuel divestment die ins, or WTO protests. To me, politician, artist, activist are all professional designations (or always on the verge of being used in that manner) that certain activities are best left to those who identify as such. And that masks the political and aesthetic value people create (or destroy) in their everyday lives…so I totally agree that there are grandiose claims made for social practice, but this is no different than those made for radical political activism which also could be said “to ignore its increasingly professionalizing aspects while simultaneously insisting on its relevancy” All power to the people, even the dopey, unradical ones, even the cheese ball hug circle social practice do gooders, or the Wal-mart greeter that despite all the farcical theater of the smiley face low prices, is truly enthused and upbeat while greeting you."



"I at least stake my normative claim for an expansive social practice one that isn’t owned (exclusively) by art, academia, or activists. Something like – Social practice must be broad, or not at all."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:439d4d6072f7 ]
everyday  socialpractice  socialpracticeart  art  living  life  radicals  radicalism  randallszott  glvo  parenting  neighbors  2013  slow  small  amateurs 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Beyond Face | The Public Amateur
"[T]he artist becomes a person who consents to learn in public. This person takes the initiative to question something in the province of another discipline, acquire knowledge through unofficial means, and assume the authority to offer interpretations of that knowledge, especially in regard to decisions that affect our lives. The point is not to replace specialists, but to enhance specialized knowledge with considerations that specialties are not designed to accommodate.

Specialization has brought about marvelous achievements. But under increasing complexity and fragmentation, the need for overviews of how vectors of power-knowledge intersect has become more imperative than ever. Our culture asks too high a price of society when it insists on narrow professional specialization. Conforming to this demand divides our intellect from our emotions, our imagination from our efforts, our pleasure from our worth, our verbal and analytic capacity from other creative talents, and our ethics from our daily lives. The result is frustration and disempowerment for the individual and shortsightedness for society as a whole."



"The amateur has transparent relations to her object. She approaches and ultimately appropriates the object of knowledge out of enthusiasm, curiosity or personal need. She learns outside the circuits of professional normalization and reward, things the artist was once presumed to resist.

Anyone can develop expertise and, if motivated enough, can even become an authority. The amateur can be as narrow as the specialist or as amorous as the polymath lover of knowledge. The category of the Public Amateur is not confined to artists. It’s a growing polyglot array of people who want to operate equally from the gut and the brain."



"Artists are expected to have publics, however small or large, but for better or worse, they are not expected to know much. An artist who wants to perform learning can leverage whatever claim to a public she is able to accrue, and initiate processes she hasn’t mastered, putting the very notions of professionalization and credibility on the stage.

This is an activation of metalanguage, something that artists do all the time. When I perform the acquisition of knowledge in the symbolic resonance that is art, I am inviting new conversations about knowledge itself. By placing this activity in the realm of aesthetics, I subject it to our questions about what we care about."

[via: http://ablersite.org/2011/03/24/the-public-amateur/ ]
trickster  art  artists  lcproject  openstudioproject  base619  amateurism  amateurs  beginner'smind  learning  workinginpublic  learninginpublic  howwelearn  cv  specialization  generalists  specialists  clairepentecost  publicamateur  enthusiasm  curiosity 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Phoenix live on Q | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio
[Audio here: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/qpodcast_20130326_57910.mp3 ]

"We just tried to… let it be what it is supposed to be."

"We love to be control freaks in the studio. And then after that we let it go, but in the studio can be a neurotic experience sometimes."

"The idea is that there is no consensus because consensus leads to something in the middle, something that's not really interesting. It's more four strong political forces that try to make their point… We know each other so well since we were kids that we don't really need to talk… We just argue."

"It's the only record we made that revealed itself at the end… the last two weeks. … We accepted the songs… they became songs at the end."

"We are slaves to that thing we are reaching for."

"We are looking for something that we don't know what it is. But when it's there, there's a feeling of evidence — here it is finally. So exhausting it can be because you don't know how far you are. You always have the impression that you are very far. Sometime it just happens. [It's exhausting] Especially if you are not sure it exists."

"I like the [artistic] plateau image."

"We're no good alone as individual musicians. It's the foursome that brings the magic."

"We don't know how to play with other musicians. I tried with friends to do sessions a few times times and it was always a disaster."

"You know those big architectural masterpieces that they [ants] can built, but separately they are just ants. … We are a very small colony [of ants]."

"I wouldn't even want to do them [sessions with other musicians]. I wouldn't be good at it, I think I would be sad."

"We grew up with this idea that being skilled musicians wasn't the point really, it was about making good records. It made so much more sense than just spending twelve hours a day just ruining your fingers on an instrument."

"We were one of the first generations that could make an album in their bedroom that sounded good. We were lucky about that because that allowed us to be bad musicians."

"Boredom is the enemy of the human being."

"Our trick is to keep it very amateur, in a way. It demands actually a lot of effort. It is easier to be pro than to be semi-pro."

"When we have the choice between doing something on our own or doing it with very skilled individuals, we always prefer the amateur route, which brings more charm. We believe in charm more than in perfection. And, also the hardest part is on tour. Touring can bring you the most boring life ever, which is the rock star life. People should know it's the most boring thing ever, so we fight very hard every day to make something interesting. ["How do you do that?] We have bikes. You have to just escape this block where you our. We love sake [the drink]. One of our tricks is that we check where the best sake is in town. This is the starting point. Then hopefully you get advice from the people that own the shop."

["What would be the collective goal for Phoenix at this point? What are you reaching for as a band? What would you like to happen? Where would you like to be a few years from now?"] "I'm not sure we want to know what this would be. We like questions more than answers, I think. I'm not sure we want to know. Right now we are taking it a week ahead. There are some festivals coming that I don't think we are ready, but it makes it exciting that there's this tension, that there's a sense of danger, this idea that you can fail. That's something that you need to make something out of it. You need this possibility to fail."

"We see this big mountain and we immediately look for the north face because it's going to be more exciting. And then we climb it barefoot. And that's the beginning. And then we are there, hopefully, we go down and then there's another mountain. And that's another week."
phoenix  music  jianghomeshi  interviews  collaboration  creativity  life  glvo  cv  2013  process  howwework  teamwork  boredom  amateurs  professionals 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Manifesto on Art – Fluxus Art Amusement – George Maciunas, 1965. | Lebenskünstler
"ART
To justify artist’s professional, parasitic and elite status in society,
he must demonstrate artist’s indispensability and exclusiveness,
he must demonstrate the dependability of audience upon him,
he must demonstrate that no one but the artist can do art.

Therefore, art must appear to be complex, pretentious, profound,
serious, intellectual, inspired, skillful, significant, theatrical,
It must appear to be caluable as commodity so as to provide the
artist with an income.

To raise its value (artist’s income and patrons profit), art is made
to appear rare, limited in quantity and therefore obtainable and
accessible only to the social elite and institutions.

 

FLUXUS ART-AMUSEMENT
To establish artist’s nonprofessional status in society,
he must demonstrate artist’s dispensability and inclusiveness,
he must demonstrate the selfsufficiency of the audience,
he must demonstrate that anything can be art and anyone can do it.

Therefore, art-amusement must be simple, amusing, upretentious,

concerned with insignificances, require no skill or countless
rehersals, have no commodity or institutional value.
The value of art-amusement must be lowered by making it unlimited,
massproduced, obtainable by all and eventually produced by all.

Fluxus art-amusement is the rear-guard without any pretention
or urge to participate in the competition of “one-upmanship” with
the avant-garde. It strives for the monostructural and nontheatrical
qualities of simple natural event, a game or a gag. It is the fusion
of Spikes Jones Vaudeville, gag, children’s games and Duchamp."
1965  art  leisurearts  randallszott  georgemaciunas  dispensibility  society  artwork  work  labor  demystification  fluxus  manifestos  artamusement  amateurs  everyday  artleisure 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Who counts, or should count, as a “meaning maker?” – The problem with “cultural production.” – One side of of a facebook conversation on art and culture « Lebenskünstler
"Not only would critics of art from other disciplines be interesting so too would artists. One of the reasons I gave up on undergraduate art education was that everybody was busy making stuff without any foundation to drive it – except art. They were all living in an art school bubble (not unlike a Fox News bubble). Making art completely within the framework of art and only questioning it within its own terms.

Sure there were other courses than studio ones, but they were those dumbed down “math for artists” sorts of classes. I would love an art world in which there was no such thing as an undergraduate art degree. Art created from a vantage point of something in the world other than art would be so much healthier and relevant than the inbred mess we have now."

"Oh how the art world LOVES its criticality! Looking to other academic disiciplines, is fine (as **** suggests) but let’s not confine ourselves to academia."

[More Claire Bishop:

"Claire Bishop's "Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now?," Presented as part of Living as Form"
https://vimeo.com/24193060

"Clair Bishop. Directed Reality: From Live Installation to Constructed Situation. Lecture"
https://vimeo.com/2572410 ]
everydaylife  rural  suburban  urban  culturemaking  culturalproduction  collections  making  clairebishop  professionalization  jouissance  pleasure  leisurearts  meaning  meaningmakers  meaningmaking  artworld  criticism  artcriticism  everydayaesthetics  everyday  theeveryday  theory  socialpractice  randallszott  art  post-productiveeconomy  amateurs  artleisure  culturecreation  ordinary  ordinariness 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Introduction to 127 Prince – The journal that never really was « Lebenskünstler
"127 Prince was a journal intended to deal with "the art of social practice and the social practice of art." It had some amazing content, but never really got rolling"

"In all honesty, I find journals, in the academic sense, mostly boring. If by calling this thing a journal we mean a peer reviewed and scholarly contribution to the professional field of art, count me out. Or maybe I mean if that is all it is, if the only sense of journal we embody is the academic one, then like Bartleby, I would prefer not to…

If however, we mean by journal a record of observations, a place for inquiry, a venue for conversation, or what the art set now calls a “platform,” then by all means, please include me. My dear friend Ben Schaafsma (now deceased) had a blog called Center for Working Things Out. That economically describes my ambitions for this enterprise."

"Finally, I want to put love and “common” aspirations back in the mix. I would love for my mom to be able to read this journal…"
fashion  design  yurikosaito  katyamandoki  everydayaesthetics  everyday  criticism  culturalcriticism  carlwilson  conversation  inquiry  observations  accessibility  language  leisurearts  art  socialpractice  platforms  127prince  2012  randallszott  journals  amateurs  artleisure 
september 2012 by robertogreco
INTHECONVERSATION: Art Leisure Instead of Art Work: A Conversation with Randall Szott [Truly too much to quote, so random snips below. Go read the whole thing.]
"Sal Randolph talks w/ Randall Szott about collections, cooking, "art of living," & infra-institutional activity."

"undergrad art ed seemed overly concerned w/ 'how & what to make' sorts of questions…"

"in my possibly pathetic & overly romantic vision of considered life, I am quite hopeful about ability of (art & non-art) people to improve their own experience & others' in both grand & mundane ways"

"I would like to build along model of public library. Libraries meet an incredibly diverse set of needs & desires"

"art is a great conversation…tool for making meaning & enhancing experience, but it is highly specialized, & all too often, closed conversation of insiders"

"I am deeply committed to promoting "everyday" people who are finding ways to make lives more meaningful - devoted amateurs to a variety of intellectual pursuits, hobbyists, collectors, autodidacts, bloggers, karaoke singers, crafters, etc…advocate for a rich, inclusive understanding of human meaning-making."
2008  salrandolph  randallszott  leisure  art  living  collecting  food  cooking  life  slow  thinking  philosophy  unschooling  deschooling  credentials  artschool  education  learning  skepticism  everyday  vernacular  language  work  leisurearts  dilletante  generalists  cv  distraction  culture  marxism  anarchism  situationist  lcproject  tcsnmy  intellectualism  elitism  meaning  sensemaking  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  projectbasedlearning  projects  openstudio  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  thewhy  why  audiencesofone  canon  amateurs  artleisure  darkmatter  pbl  artschools 
may 2011 by robertogreco
InCUBATE [Quotes from the 'about' page]
"InCUBATE is a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding. We at InCUBATE act as curators, researchers and co-producers of artists projects. These activities have manifested in a series traveling exhibitions called Other Options, an artist residency program, and various other projects such as Sunday Soup (a monthly meal that generates funding for a creative project grant). We don’t have non-profit status, instead we are interested in what kinds of organizational strategies could provide more direct support to critical and socially-engaged art and culture beyond for-profit or non-profit structures. Our core organizational principle is to treat art administration as a creative practice. By doing so, we hope to generate and share a new vocabulary of practical solutions to the everyday problems of producing under-the-radar culture. Currently we do not have a physical location and we work together on an ongoing project basis."

"Finally, it is worth noting how various models such as a labor unions, community centers, block-clubs, or religious institutions seem to resolve some of the key problems facing our concept of the slow build. Consider how these institutions provide space and resources, exert political influence, and allow for the participation of wider demographics. Our task for the future is to produce these effects without instituting a rigid hierarchy or overtly moralizing and dogmatic system in order to affect a more equitable, participatory, and democratic future."
art  economics  social  community  collaboration  anarchism  incubate  randallszott  lcproject  openstudio  curation  curating  hierarchy  flatness  slow  chicago  democracy  culture  culturehacking  activism  administration  engagement  organizations  organization  equity  participatory  residencies  pop-upculture  exhibitions  projects  horizontality  horizontalidad  ncm  participatoryart  everyday  amateurs 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Draft of a manifesto written in defense of a group of people that did not ask for my defense, using words they would not use and engaging people they ignore. « Lebenskünstler
"While you wring hands over what it all means, we are trying to change the world, build relationships and communities. Are we naive? Possibly. We prefer a world of naive dreamers to cynical observers. Keep your beloved “criticality.” Hold it close to your heart and tell us what you feel. We are friends, not “colleagues” and we choose to embrace humane values and each other. We offer a different vision. Against the professional hegemony of academic intellectualism we offer – trust, love, sentiment, passion, egalitarianism and sincerity…

We are gamblers, believing in the value of risking everything for the sake of our “foolish” dreams and schemes."
randallszott  doing  livign  acting  cynicism  2010  manifestos  art  theory  practice  glvo  lcproject  tcsnmy  intellectualism  humanity  passion  egalitarianism  sincerity  trust  love  sentiment  worldchanging  dreamers  academia  risk  risktaking  amateurism  unschooling  deschooling  understanding  cv  leisure  tinkering  wittgenstein  johndewey  philosophy  isolation  shopclassassoulcraft  authenticity  rigor  Rancière  agamben  brucewilshire  richardshusterman  robertsolomon  booklist  nicolasbourriaud  radicalphilosophy  antonionegri  naïvité  everyday  amateurs 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Art Work Redux – Temporary Services – Basic Income vs. Workfare « Lebenskünstler
"We need less work, less labor, and more emphasis on generating wealth outside of an economic rubric. I think we’re basically on the same page here, but they focus on the plight of artists far more than I care for. In fact, I rarely see anyone lament the sorry state of arts funding other than arts professionals and wannabes. It makes one pause to see a group (here I am not speaking specifically about TS) proclaim over and over how important what they do is, yet decry the fact that no one else seems to recognize this. Maybe that should tell them a bit about how much value they actually offer. If I were to be concerned about one group being justly compensated for what they do, it would be stay at home moms or adult caregivers, not artists. This singling out, of course, is pointless though."
randallszott  work  labor  economics  elitism  art  2010  temporaryservices  wpa  production  everday  amateurs 
may 2011 by robertogreco

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