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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2013

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2013

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Subject:

Introduction - "Hello, I must be going."

From:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 1 Mar 2013 00:23:12 +0000

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text/plain

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Friends,

The end of February is here – it’s even March for some of us! – and here is the end of our month-long conversation on networks. Roddy asked us to start with an introduction, so I’m starting at the end. I feel a bit like Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers,

“Hello, I must be going.
I cannot stay,
I came to say
I must be going.
I’m glad I came
but just the same
I must be going.”

While I didn’t introduce myself, I did join the conversation, so I’m not entirely remiss.

Introductions? It is increasingly hard to say who I am or how I got here. Back in the 1960s I was a Fluxus artist, among other things.

I didn’t really plan to be an artist. I was planning on a career in the Unitarian ministry, but a visit to Dick Higgins led me to George Maciunas who thought that what I did made it sensible to include me in Fluxus. The whole story appears in the article “Freedom? Nothingness? Time? Fluxus and the Laboratory of Ideas.” You can find it on my Academia.edu page. Anyhow, one thing led to another and after meeting Dick and George, I dipped in and out of art for years on my way to whatever it was I thought I was going to do. Along the way, I had the joy of knowing working with such colleagues as Nam June Paik, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Robert Filliou, Ben Vautier, Carolee Schneemann, Al Hansen, Alison Knowles, Larry Miller – well, the Fluxus gang.

In 1972, I went on a long visit to Canada – Image Bank in Vancouver and a few months on the frozen prairies of Saskatchewan. I spent the next summer with Jean Brown inMassachusetts, introducing her to Fluxus and to George. Then, I ran a Unitarian conference center in the California where I organized conferences and several exhibitions of art from Eastern Europe. I realized at some point around then that I wasn’t suited for a life in the church.

At the same time, I wanted to know more about human behavior in organizations, communities, and what we now call networks. I went back to university for a doctorate inleadership and human behavior. When I went looking for art related jobs, no art and design program in North America wanted someone with a PhD. Universities wanted an MFA. I didn’t have one, so I did many things to make a living. I ran a publishing firm, consulted, edited reference books, and occasionally made art. Some of my projects took me to Finland and Norway. I lived there for two decades. Life takes odd turns, and I found myself a professor of leadership and strategic design at the Norwegian School of Management. Five years back, headhunters called me to talk about the post of dean at the Swinburne University of Technology Faculty of Design. Now I’m back to being a professor, and that introduces me, at least to this point in my life.

Before realizing that February was over, I was writing a comment on relational aesthetics. I was adding some points about one of the first scholars to address the subject, an anthropologist named Marilyn Ekdahl Ravicz. In the early 1970s, Ravicz did her doctoral work at UCLA on aspects of Pop and conceptual art in America. While she did not use the term “relational aesthetics,” she described the concept and the phenomenon. Because she was an anthropologist rather than an art historian, her work was long overlooked. I may yet post my thoughts on this.

As any introduction should, I suppose I should conclude on current projects. For the past five years, my day job as a dean consumed my time. Time has turned in my favor now, and I’m working on art projects. I still engage on research on innovation for industry and government, with a project under way for Australia’s Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), and another for the DesignGov, Australian Centre for Excellence in Public Sector Design.

In a few weeks, James Cook University will open an exhibition of my event scores, 123 Events. The first version of this show toured the world in the 1970s when Fluxus was impoverished and it was useful to have an exhibition medium that would go anywhere in the world as a ready-to-mount exhibition for under ten dollars. The exhibition consisted of typewritten event scores on standard sheets of typing paper printed by photocopier, one per page. The new version of the show is lovelier with elegant typesetting on slightly stiff board – but the key idea is the same. One score per page. Those who wish to frame them may do so – and they do seem more elegant in frames – but they can also be mounted on the wall with pins, as in 1973. Given the odd imbalance between increasingly expensive exhibitions in a time of shrinking budgets, it seemed to me that this is a good time for an inexpensive exhibition that anyone can afford to mount. The onemajor difference is an excellent catalogue, but James Cook University has agreed to make this available at no cost in PDF format.

My thanks to Roddy Hunter for inviting us to this conversation – and my thanks to Cliver Robertson, Barnaby Dicker, Dorothee Richter, Johannes Birringer, Gary Hall, Tom Sherman, and others whose intelligent and provocative messages made this a month of thought and reflection. I offer my special thanks to Helen Pritchard forintroducing me to Karen Barad’s work.

And now to wrap up the introduction, I quote Groucho on my way out:

“Hello, I must be going.
I cannot stay,
I came to say
I must be going.
I’m glad I came
but just the same
I must be going.”

But Groucho does it better than I do, and you can find him here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6yLRmo7CjU

Ken

Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | University Distinguished Professor | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Australia | [log in to unmask] | Mobile +61 404 830 462 | Home Page http://www.swinburne.edu.au/design/people/Professor-Ken-Friedman-ID22.html Academia Page http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman

Guest Professor | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China

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