n.e.w.s. is a collective online platform for the analysis and development of art-related activity, drawing upon contributions from around the globe, bringing together different voices, accents and outlooks from the North, East, West and South. | Read more..

Positions of Art Criticism: art as commodity and/or political propaganda

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Rotterdam Dialogues The Critics

I'd like to respond to Thomas Berghuis' latest entry 'Time will Tell', in which he asks 'Do we need art critics to establish a dialogue about contemporary art? -- The recent forum at de Witte de With in Rotterdam may provide some answers (see: http://www.wdw.nl/project.php?id=183). I am hoping to hear/read more.'

 

time will tell

Finally I got some time to respond, including my initial thoughts on from Renee's and Stephen's recent postings on 'time' and 'commodification'. At the same time I am watching the news unfold on the latest burst of the world economy (at one point I imagined I was imagining looking instead at Tatsuo Miyajima 'Counting' installations).

I cannot help thinking on whether the next bubble to burst - in similar fashion to the dot com and housing market bubble - will indeed be the art market (give and take a few monts or years from now)

 
24/09/2008 - 24/09/2008 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

n.e.w.s. on FBI Radio

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On 24 September n.e.w.s was introduced in an interview with FBI Radio, FBi 94.5FM, an independent, community-based radio station in Sydney, Australia. The interview was part of FBI's Artscape program, and introduced n.e.w.s. to their listeners of Sydney - many of whom are hopefully joining us online. Please visit FBI radio online at: http://www.fbi.org.au/ My thanks go out to Alex and Toby at FBI, as well as to the listeners of Artscape for showing support and interest in n.e.w.s.

 

I want time that is NOT money

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As I try to seize the moment after reading Stephen's post: ‘The Fate of Public Time: toward a time without qualities’, I cannot separate myself from my recent trip to the U.S., the place where I was born and raised but do not reside.

The last two weeks of the global economic crisis might be termed as the end of the era of borrowed time. Beginning with deregulation during the 1980's Reaganomics and exascerbated by greed, borrowed money -‘leverage’ has lead to the crash on Wall Street. Central to the bailouts and interrelationship of a networked world are these ‘credit default swaps’ (coined 'weapons of mass destruction' by Warren Buffet). A kind of insurance sold by financial institutions, they insure against a possible default by an issuer of debt. Privately written, in unknown terms, the financial entities are now expecting to cash in. Culminating in the government bail out of the national mortgage company, insurance company, Wall Street firms (not all), the 700 billion dollar bill that doesn’t state the ‘value’ of these assets (though includes an option for a stock injection plan! with preferred stock) was finally passed by the congress. The US government has never been so directly involved in the financial market since the Great Depression. Has America gone social? I doubt it. But look at how time has changed the financial world: the investments of 'long-term' securities, savings and pension plans aren’t secure, contrasted by the banning of short-selling, making a quick buck, futures. Gambling was somehow deemed legal - outside of the casinos, certain Native American reservations and the state of Nevada. Deregulation on Wall Street had reinvented the art of speculation - borrowing shares and betting on the fact that their value will go down in order to pocket the difference, accounting for potentially the largest purchase of nothingness (devalued stock- assets without price) in history. What happened to the coined ‘treadmill of progress’ in the 'United States of Capital?'

Returning to Boym, briefly, one value of reflective nostalgia is its defense of idleness and of recapturing leisure time. ‘Time is money,’ she says, ‘but we want time that is not money.’

 

Competition of Ideas: "rethinking the social and economic conditions of art"

A Paris-based organization is hosting a "competition of ideas," the object of which is to rethink the social and economic conditions of art, explicitly breaking with twentieth-century conventions. The winner gets 10 000 euros -- not bad; both the winner and the runner-up get the expanded (100 page) version of their initial three-page proposal published. Bear in mind that this is how a hitherto unknown proto-blogger by the name of Jean-Jacques Rousseau got started (winning a competition for his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences)... For funding reasons, it's open only to residents of the European Union. But as n.e.w.s. is registered in Europe, and collectively authored proposals are encouraged, I figured that we might take a multi-handed stab at rethinking the material conditions of art. Wouldn't it be a boost for our collective energies if we won? And even if somehow we didn't, we would at least have cured our twentieth-century hangover and gone some way to creating a twenty-first century We. Beyond that, I would encourage everyone using and reading n.e.w.s. to take part. Deadline: 15 November 2008.

 

Data's Demon

I’m very much of two minds about the whole issue of “data-mining,” as Lev Manovich puts it – or “data-recovery” as others might say inasmuch as we have all contributed to that ever-expanding mother-lode – with which Renée Ridgway has invited us to engage in her recent, thought-igniting post. The sheer magnitude of data accumulation is positively diabolical – or at least demonic, to use a more genteel term for the hellish little fellow. Indeed, in a fascinating if somewhat sibylline passage in his deliciously premonitory novel, The Crying of Lot 49, written in the early 1960s, Thomas Pynchon imagines an ambivalent character whom I see as Data’s Demon.

 

The Fate of Public Time: toward a time without qualities

For some time now, I’ve been meaning to respond to Lee Weng Choy’s thoughtful posting on the need for “slowing things down.” There is something intuitively urgent about that appeal for calm, which I felt needed to be fleshed out. Has something happened to time, I found myself wondering, or is it just our overwrought egos and zealous scheduling that need to be put on depressants? Then, during the Basekamp discussion, I heard myself improvising something about the becoming-we of n.e.w.s.; arguing somewhat self-evidently that our collective assemblage of enunciation is bound to “change over time.” That it is, but what does it mean to change “over time”? What is “over” time? When is that? The preposition bears reflection, but even if one were to say “in” time, the assertion would still beg the question: can anything change “out” of time? To change and to shift presuppose time; they are time-laden verbs – which, unless I’m mistaken, makes our collective voice an eminently time-fraught phenomenon. Which brought me back to Weng’s insight that if all of us are struggling with finding time, something may have happened to time itself, even as we continue to think of it as a smoothly flowing through phenomenal space and against which changes and shifts could be measured. What about cracks in time? What about a “third time,” a fuzzy, slothful or vacant time, recalcitrant to the tyranny of real time? It’s speculative, but such speculation appears less frivolous when one considers the frictional interfaces between competing experiences of time in our contemporary societies.

 

n.e.w.s. at Basekamp, summary

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On Tuesday 16 September, n.e.w.s. was presented at Basekamp. Joing us from various places in the world on Skype audio: Aharon from Brighton, Prayas from India, Magda from Brighton, Stephen from Paris, and Mia from London via IM. Scott, Mary, Garrett and I were in Philadelphia. It was great to have everybody online, even in the wee hours of the morning for some. We were able to facilitate a two-hour conversation about n.e.w.s., the goings-on so far and some of the problems that need improving as well as supporting its experimental and discursive nature. In this blog entry I will try to rehash some of the keys issues and explain how we structured the conversation. There will also be a soundfile and Skype chat on the site if you want to listen to and/or read the conversation.

 
14/11/2008 - 26/11/2008 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Asian Biennials