Recently by Vicki Callahan, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Let me first also add my thanks to Doug and all the contributors for a very stimulating week of conversation. It has been a bit overwhelming at times, but it is clear there are many people and organizations hard at work preserving and developing our cultural heritage. With respect to Doug's challenge for our final day, I think the most transformative initiatives must strive toward Lynne's "Rachel Carson effect," whereby we engage audiences but most importantly create community and civic engagement. Clay's link to research efforts, which discussed the "instrumental" and "intrinsic" impact of the arts was very interesting reading and serves as a reminder as in Alex's last posting, that we cannot separate policy -- or the political -- from the aesthetic questions. The artist and audience cannot communicate or extend a conversation if expression is restricted, censored, or sold only to highest bidder. That means no matter how "transformative" the art, if as Brian noted earlier it doesn't circulate or cannot be accessed, its power is limited. So like Brian and Bill, I would underline copyright and net neutrality questions as vital starting points to any discussion. Ultimately, I think we have to work on both sides of the equation - critical and creative - in an ongoing and relentless manner. To work across that divide is sometimes uncomfortable, but not always as difficult as entrenched forces and institutions would like us to believe. To bridge that divide across skill sets, we will have to at times collaborate, dialogue, and share - information, tools, and indeed emotion (as Alex notes so elegantly). To put this another way, the aesthetics of remix should be a model for a politics of remix.
July 23, 2010 1:37 PM | | Comments (0) |
Shifting the ground to questions of "norms" and "cultural rights" as several posters have done is incredibly useful as it helps us think about who are our potential partners for engagement strategies that expand creative expression/rights. The critic/historian/artist, Norma Klein, spoke at UW-Milwaukee a few years back about the need for all of us to see ourselves as "cultural workers." In essence, Klein was noting both that everyone has a stake in and responsibility to the arts and that blurring the artist and audience divide (which numerous posts here have discussed) was a necessary first step toward expanded cultural/creative freedoms.  Within academia over last few years, I have been fortunate to work in environments at both UW-Milwaukee and USC's Institute of Multimedia Literacy that worked to develop a new generation of cultural workers by initiating curriculum that focused on theory/practice intersections. Some courses were more successful than others on transforming our old models of artist/audience, but what was most effective in both cases was a linking of creative expression, critical insights, and community partnerships (extending the class outside the university). In other words the deep connections between our daily life, our communities, expression, and citizenship was enacted in classes. The point was not so much about a specific policy - although that often was explicitly addressed - but about initiating conversations, making connections, and building community across diverse groups. The tools of digital world and social media specifically facilitated this conversation, but the challenge is to build this across more areas of the university as well build this out from the localized setting.
July 21, 2010 12:40 PM | | Comments (0) |
I want to chime in on Lynne's "Jagger Effect" as this is huge problem that I have seen within the academic context and directly impacts the bigger question of creative rights and artists.  The notion that art and artists are separate from more prosaic activities and being is still one very much in place in educational, especially art schools but indeed most university, environments.  That is, art is seen as a specialized and isolated, or as Alex noted earlier, "self-referential," act.  The supposed divide between critical and creative skills is not only in play but deeply engrained within much of our arts and humanities schooling.  The implications, then, regarding the possibilities for the who and how of expression or any sort of larger conversations around the arts are enormous. Issues concerning public policy are almost completely absent from art school curriculum and while questions of social justice do emerge (often with disdain from many artists/educators who do not see this as part of the artist's mission) the practicalities of engagement are typically quite local and rarely link up with larger policy questions, goals, or groups.  Indeed at times obvious links are not even made across an individual campus.  The question becomes then how to connect and build on the larger liberatory impetus in much creative and scholarly work.>

I agree strongly with Nettrice and Brian on the need to bring new tools and technologies into the mix, not because these elements are in themselves inherently more democratic, but because they offer an opportunity to destabilize profoundly some rigid structures currently in place both inside and outside academia (and why we see such resistance and trivialization of their use at times).  The good news, sort of, is that alongside of what we see as an aesthetic divide is also a generational one.  Many young artists within academia are already taking up these new strategies, technologies, and ideas despite a lack of consistent institutional support, enthusiasm, or interest in innovative art practices.  I don't think we can afford to wait for change to happen via a generational turn over (since institutions do have a way of reproducing themselves ultimately when left to their own internal mechanisms).   What we do need is to find a way to open up the conversation on these divides - including, especially, the academic/outside world divide.  Brian's game suggestion is definitely a good place to begin.  I understand and applaud Bill Ivey's call for Department of Cultural Affairs as a way to centralize the issues for the arts and artists, but I would also suggest a parallel external, perhaps virtual, organization, consortium, or think tank, that brings as many diverse perspectives into the mix as possible but with the umbrella goal of reshaping arts policy along more democratic lines (politically and aesthetically).

July 19, 2010 1:18 PM | | Comments (1) |


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