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Re: gate keeping & who gets seen...


Sue Golding <[log in to unmask]>


[log in to unmask]


Sun, 28 Mar 2004 14:13:45 EST





text/plain (342 lines)

dear marc, jess, susan, simon, secret fluxus and the list 
i have been reading with a mixture of curiosity and amusement some bitterness 
and not a little sadness, the various remarks on gatekeeping, who gets 'in' 
and who gets (left) 'out'.  i certainly agree with marc's eloquent last note 
(below) and would simply add that for all of us who continue to work '24/7' on 
our philosophical/art/techno/techne, it is inspiring to get to meet, at least 
via the net, some rather profound thinkers on this subject, even if few or none 
get a mention at the proverbial 'tate'.    in some very real sense, the power 
games continue; and the old addage 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts 
absolutely' seems apt (though perhaps for some of the power brokers it might be 
rephrased to: 'power corrupts; absolute power seems kinda neat').   

but it also seems to be the case -- exactly at  the same time as the 
power-games continue and the tate, in particular builds its base --that the tate 
itself seems a tad bit 'out of the loop' as does the book which 'documents' the 
selective memory banks of the (so-called) 'new' media arts crowd (tekkies, 
designers, scholars, artists, curators, x).  

at the risk of saying either too much by saying too little or not saying 
enough(!): one of the attractions (for me) to this field(s) -- one of the reasons 
i love it -- is that it seems to hold out the promise of a certain kind of 
anarchy -- one that cannot be easily hijacked (read: mastered) by one 
organisation or type of institution (galleries/star systems) at the expense of other 
voices; or at least it cannot be hijacked for too long and certainly not without a 

i don' think that promise -- a sensuous + pluralised kind of 
anarchy/art/science -- is either 'empty' or secretly a 'threat' or 'a something x to come' in 
some future that never gets 'here'.  rather: that some very brilliant people 
have been top-sliced off the list is a political issue, here and now. but it is 
also a reminder for all of us who may need reminding, that power is toxic 
(which does not mean one shouldn't go after it or want it; one should just be 
fully aware of the the level of toxicities and dress accordingly).

In a message dated 27/3/04 3:28:30 PM, [log in to unmask] writes:

<< Firstly, I would like to thank all those who have sent me personal 

emails (which surprised me, and there are quite a few) regarding this 

issue. And also, a thank you to Sarah & Simon who both declared 

honourable text’s that I agreed with on the whole…

It seems that many are too afraid to openly declare their own 

experiences and misgivings on this list because they fear being 

blacklisted or not included in certain funding or potentially 

collaborative remits. Isn’t that a sad state of affairs?

Secondly, I would like to welcome the sudden (masked) appearance of 

'Secret Fluxus' to this list.

Hello ‘secret Fluxus’ - you may have managed to place (hopefully not 

deliberately) Jess in a box that is not appropriate to the discussion 

needed on here. By inferring that Jess is only interested in her own 

state of being or personal, nationalist vision or as you say 'special 

pleading to give British artists a place in the American sun', you have 

managed to belittle original intentions – if you are seriously 

progressive then you will not mind who wishes to have their own voice 

heard. Whether one wishes to change the currently stale ‘new media’ 

hierarchies as an artist or as a group, there is plenty of room for 

alternative imaginations to explore such options; seen and acknowledged 

(or not, as is the case here).

So what you are said you are doing is of course admirable...

If you really are a secret ‘Fluxus entity’, or belong to a Situationist 

sect/group – you might possibly (hopefully) be aware or informed that 

the ‘Temporary Autonomous Zone’, is no longer appropriate. It does not 

work any more, it merely puts those who refer and expound its relevance 

in the driving seat, and those who lived it, become consumable 

curiosities. Fodder left in the vaults of selected historical annuals, 

categorized as ‘safe = past’ therefore, ineffectual.

Rather than taking on the very real and urgent challenges at hand, 

certain default led individuals and groups would rather just say ah, he 

or she is just whining. One of the most commonly used weapons, tactics 

by despotic rulers, or tactically controlling organizations; is to drown 

out valid concerns, dissent and social disquiet by stigmatizing them as 

whiners. Dumbing it down to a level that cheapens the original intention 

itself. Putting it all down to a backward non progressive act of jealousy…

In essence these tactics and responses are psychologically reactionary. 

Such properties are mannerist, whether conscious or not - they do serve 

to inflict disempowerment and do act to trivialize the disputer’s voice, 

diverting them and others away from the actual context of what was 

originally argued or disputed. A patriarchal function (similar to 

governmental functions) that pulls rank, displacing the upstart in 

question and literally placing them to the back of the queue called 

'shut up listen person'.

Thomas Moore said 'All attempts to give a strict form to life, even if 

they are based in a fantasy of self improvement, participate in Sadeian 

monastic ideals'.

This is the perptually (unconscious probably) repeated action that 

occurs between situations suchas this.

Jean Dubuffet wrote 'What cultured people want, in terms of language 

(and thought), is to be well-defined, correctly positioned in strictly 

combined terms, and this is what they call good speech, good thought, 

and good writing. But they do not realize that they are thereby creating 

a closed circuit that leaves no room for anything but what was there in 

the first place---except for the decomposition inherent to all closed 

circuits, like moss that grows in a hermetically sealed jar.'

The psychological relationship between academic intelligence and 

outsider intellectuals has been a constant battle through history and 

one that institutions should not be proud of. The stance that many 

academic individuals use to hide their emotional and intellectual 

inadequacies is to add clout to their own use of language by imposing 

the official 'wild card' that they know more because they have gone 

through the process of induced learning. This failing of coming to terms 

to the idea, the reality that actually there might be equivalent, 

relevant ideas and people out there that have not of been processed by 

the same protocols, is shameful. For this puts in place barriers 

enhanced via denial, plus the default of the traditional and tiresome 

dichotomy of, we are right and you are not. 'We are right and you are 

not' does not even have to be said, for it is assumed.

What this means is that the probability for those who have not had 

institutional support compared to those who have had institutional 

support, regarding being seen by writers and critics with strong 

institutional connections, is a vast chasm. For institutional historians 

for some reason by habit it do not value social change, they seem to 

value history instead. Thus they do not feel that it as part of their 

remit to put forward a more democratic vision. A more realistic 

multi-explorative world.

Secret Fluxus - Your secrecy worries me slightly, because you could be 

either a group of top down instigators and we have no way of knowing 

that - your acceptance or recognition that something is indeed not 

working does declare a mutual possibility that I do warm to; yet, 

declaration of your selves, or yourself can open things up a little in 

regard to the dynamics of this current argument. Then, I will feel that 

you are putting your money where your mouth is (excuse the wording here).

Getting back to what I view as a misdirected reference yet seemingly 

relevant statement 'special pleading to give British artists a place in 

the American sun'. May be it would be more constructive to redirect that 

statement elsewhere. Surely the Tate needs to stop gloating on American 

institutions and go wider a field, invite other groups who are not 

necessarily institutionally supported but are equally effective in their 

critical and fluid presence and experience in respect of new media (hate 

that word), digital and networked creativity. Perhaps be more 

imaginative, playful, and less self-conscious and include a mixture – 

surely this is more productive rather than supporting the same old 

names, perpetually building larger walls.

It is not about wanting to be part of an institution as many might 

think. No, many of us have opted out of such things to consciously 

discover other options instead, forging new territories that are 

actually very exciting and offer great rewards. There is nothing more 

stimulating than building something of value that is special, with other 

like-minded people who are passionately involved in the process, 

context, inventing, re-inventing new fields and platforms that were not 

there before for others to enjoy with you. In fact it is beautiful, 

magical and contextually liberating, and one is continuously 

reevaluating, relearning, learning new ways to negotiate and 

communicate. Sharing self- made platforms independently is a respectable 

thing to do, not a negative thing. And what many of these groups and 

people are asking is that they should be seen, not ignored.

No, of course soft groups such as Furtherfield do not wish to become the 

same as other more static, bricks and buildings ‘hard groups’, who 

(obviously) find it less easier to move beyond the remits of traditional 

constraints. We wish to be working with people who have vision beyond 

top down led conferences, who actively work together because they 

believe in what they are doing collectively. Who are genuinely wishing 

for something better than what is already here – build a new creative 

world that does not rely on history alone to change our perceptions, we 

want to change things now, not tomorrow.

Those who are not comfortable with such changes will view this sort of 

talk as scary. Well, we are not asking for a revolution silly, we are 

asking for an evolution, that’s all – calm down. Do your job and let 

others be seen…

marc >>

Professor Johnny Golding (SGolding/johnny de philo)
Director of the Programme in
Critical Studies, New Media and the Practising Arts
**a unique graduate programme interlacing contemporary philosophy 
    new media and the arts through independent research, 
    experimentation and play **
University of Greenwich, Maritime Campus, London, UK
    a world heritage site of extraordinary elegance  
dedicated to making research and higher education accessible to all.

For more information: 
http://www.gre.ac.uk/~gs04  and follow the links
t:  +44 (0) 20 8331 8948
o:  Queen Anne, room 112, 
    Maritime Campus   
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Mailing address:
Professor J Golding 
Chair/Prof of Philosophy 
in the Visual Arts & Communication Technologies
Director of the CritMediaArts Programme
Dept. of Creative, Critical and Communication Studies
School of Humanities, University of Greenwich
Maritime Campus, Greenwich
London SE10 9LS

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