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..

Shadow Search Winner Announced


The "Shadow Search" launched by n.e.w.s. on 15 October closed yesterday, 22 November. The Call was read by a record number of people (and machines). Five proposals were received for consideration by the reading committee. After some five hours of spirited deliberation, the jury found itself at loggerheads. The deciding vote was cast by the n.e.w.s. collective in favour of "Narcissus Search Engine," submitted by Aharon Amir and Phil Jones. The jury was immediately struck both by the quality and the heterogeneity of the submissions, and divergent opinions notwithstanding, was unanimous in seeing the experience as a learning process. n.e.w.s. hopes to work with all the participants in further developing their proposals. Any and all readers are also encouraged to contact the authors of the submissions -- published here under n.e.w.s,' site-wide creative commons license -- to help carry them forward.


Discussion of research on “Arbitrating Attention” at the Sorbonne in Paris

Wednesday 25 November, 6-8 pm University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Bachelard Amphitheatre On the one-year anniversary of the attribution of the first prize in the Competition of Ideas – organized by Jacques Serrano and the Forum européen de l’essai sur l’art – to the n.e.w.s. collective, for our now upcoming book Arbitrating Attention, a critical discussion of the research to date will be held at the Sorbonne in Paris, co-organized by the Forum européen de l’essai sur l’art and the CERAP.

Quitting: a conversation with Alexander Koch on the paradoxes of dropping out

In the course of researching my end of our upcoming book on shadow practices, I have been grappling with the ethics and politics of trying to detect and draw even modest attention to initiatives that have deliberately sought to impair their coefficient of specific visibility. More on that to come. But I guess the most radical way for an artist to get off – and stay off – artworld radar screens is simply to quit the artworld. To bail, but to do so as an – ultimate – artistic gesture. Berlin-based theorist Alexander Koch has initiated and carried out some fascinating research on this unwritten chapter of contemporary art history – the history and conditions of possibility of what he calls the Kunstausstieg (http://www.kunst-verlassen.de/). Here’s an excerpt from our recent exchange.

Friday, 20. November 2009 | 21:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

n.e.w.s. at Khoj@1Shanthi Road


At Khoj@1Shanti Road , n.e.w.s. (Stephen Wright, Prayas Abhinav, Renée Ridgway) made a public presentation of recent projects in India and discussed the research for their forthcoming book, Arbitrating Attention: reinvesting attention surplus in plausible artworlds that seeks to rethink the social and economic conditions of art. As twenty-first century attention economics maintains its momentum, where an artist's standing in the reputational economy is determined by his or her coefficient of specific visibility, how can shadowy, more poly-vocal initiatives at the edges find ways to surface, or, for that matter, to remain hidden? What are the specific new vocabularies, technologies even, with respect to modes of transmitting knowledge that might be used as deframing devices?


Unspeakably More LIVE

Some sequences of Unspeakably More, a four-day seminar (workshop/gathering) hosted by n.e.w.s. contributors and Khoj at Periferry (a ferry boat) in Guwahati, India will be LIVE webstreamed here. So keep checking!

Open Call: Shadow Search


October 15-November 22 2009 Continuing our research on our forthcoming book 'Arbitrating Attention: reinvesting attention surplus in plausible artworlds' that rethinks the social and economic conditions of art and explores alternative models of remuneration, n.e.w.s. will interact with the dynamic entrepreneurial, academic and scientific community CIS in Bangalore. Imagining “new social and economic contexts for art” this open seminar, brainstorming session and prize-awarding event brings together interested students, professionals and motivated institutions in working to solve the following conundrum: Pertaining to the research we are conducting at n.e.w.s. in our forthcoming book, it is very important to be able to find art and artists that reflect the spirit of the query rather than just its literal content. We want to explore the use of natural-language search algorithms that are able to find people and activities that embody the self-understanding of the kind of art we are seeking without specifically using the word art or a related vocabulary. In particular this search engine would allow prospectors in the world of information and databases to discover ‘shadow art activities’ that are partially hidden, off-the-radar, stealthy.

Open Call for proposals


Unspeakably More


Seminar on the Brahmaputra and and online forum

Participants: Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Monica Narula, Kaushik Bhaumik, Sanjay Bangar, Sharmila Samant, Siu King Chung, Nancy Adajania, Tushar Joag, Howard Chan, Nishant Shah, Pooja Sood, Sonal Jain, Mriganka Madhukaillya, Prayas Abhinav, Stephen Wright, Renée Ridgway

‘Unspeakably More depends on what things are called than on what they are. (...) Let us not forget that in the long run it is enough to create new names and plausibilities in order to create new "things".’

In the course of thinking through our symposium on curatorship under the broad title Art after Space, our original concept has morphed into something else. The above statement is Stephen’s premise about how to incite a discussion, actually focus on having that discussion as the event, not as a secondary action to an exhibition or what has been termed the “pedagogical turn” in contemporary art.

During the past months we have been organising with Khoj this real time and online forum at n.e.w.s. Our reconnaissance trip to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore last April enabled us to take apart the concept of Art After Space. We maintain that art’s condition is post-spatial, yet it is often frustrating to try and describe that condition with existing concepts and vocabularies. The deeper we got in our conversations – which included or even precluded the internet – the more superficial the available vocabulary seemed to be for what we were actually trying to postulate, describe, or invent.

The performative of “talking art” is something we have been recently discussing at n.e.w.s. In researching and writing our forthcoming book, Arbitrating Attention: reinvesting attention surplus in plausible artworlds as it is affectionately called, different courses of action have emerged, some inadvertently, others hammered out during our weekly Skype meetings or even real-world rendezvous. Somehow we are no longer submerged. What now comes to mind in anticipation of a weekend on the Brahmaputra at Periferry is not only the geophysical and geopolitical context – the water, the North East – but the symbolic dimension: the ferry as the meeting place, buoyancy enabling thoughts, the flux of ideas.


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On the invisible-yet-undeniable: walking political


One of the things we at n.e.w.s. are most attentive to is the agency of the invisible-yet-undeniable, that is, the imperceptible yet sometimes incontrovertibly active presence of what, for lack of better words, we are prone to call angels, spirits or ghosts. Understandably, we’re not sure how to measure this agency, though we are convinced it is somehow graspable and that in many cases its conditions of possibility are linked to developments in art. We’re not even sure how to detect it, or what to do with it if we did. Radar and sonar were developed during World War Two in order to thwart the lethal agency of the invisible yet undeniable submarines and long-range bombers. But whatever the interest of radar aesthetics, the radar metaphor has played itself out and we now find ourselves seeking entities and energies so stealthy as to elude even radar detection. Our methodology for detecting and measuring their agency is cobbled together from a variety of sources: counter-espionage manuals, angelology, lie-detection technique, natural-language search engines, conceptual litmus testing and just basic walking around sniffing in the shadows. We call that “research” in our grant applications, presumably to give them some semblance of seriousness. The real comedy in all this is the extent to which things can be mistaken for what they actually are… In this realm, more clearly than in others, error is our guide – and in the following instance, our very example.


Arbitrating Attention: reinvesting attention surplus in plausible artworlds

Arbitrating Attention: reinvesting attention surplus in plausible artworlds

The post-industrial world has given birth to what some describe as an “information economy,” which is but one part of a broader “attention economy.” But does this information glut produce an artificial scarcity of (social) attention or do our apparently foreshortened attention spans cast shadows where new forms of sensory and cognitive experiences can quietly deploy?

The rise of the attention economy – that is, the economy inherent to the “society of the spectacle,” of which the mainstream contemporary artworld is both the proving ground and the emblematic outcome, shows every sign of continuing into the future at the same inexorable pace it gathered in the twentieth century. At the outset, this might have applied to the 15 minutes of fame as art’s ulterior motivation. Increasingly, however, the attention economy has come to be defined by the relationship of capital to visual culture, more specifically to how artists and the artworld as a whole function in a sector increasingly nurtured by hedge-fund management tactics and poached upon by the prosumer strategies of the entertainment industry. Art is ostensibly still their perfect partner, for the ideology of these forces is not domination, but freedom. The challenge is to avoid passive consumption, while using the resources and freedom generated by the attention economy to fund the darker more poly-vocal initiatives at its edges.