Joseph Franklyn McElroy Cor[porat]e [Per]form[ance] Art[ist] on Mon, 22 Apr 2002 13:15:00 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Re: why art should be free

Service is an act (or when considered a process - an action, series of actions) 
done for others. Creation is an act (or process).  Contrary to Baudrillard, 
everything did not begin with the object. Prior to the object there is 
creation. Prior to maintenance, there is creation.  Prior to destruction, is 
creation.  Or perhaps better, transformation (an act), since the only true act 
of creation would be from nothing into something (the initial act of God?). 

Objects never exist or existed, unless we remove the dimension of time which we 
are incapable of doing, except conceptually. Concepts never exist or existed - 
for the very act of thinking transforms them (are concepts capable of being 
created from nothing?). Art, we understand to be acts (process-actions) of 
creation (or better - transformation). Art is a paradox, struggling to bring 
into existence that which cannot ever exist.

The question - are these acts for others or ourselves?  For money, for god, for 
country - these are arguably acts for others.  For self expression, perhaps we 
look at concepts of the "self" or the "other" or the "Other" or identity or a 
myriad other ways of theorizing about the construct we call ourselves, and see 
that if any abstraction is accepted, then we have some form of an audience in 
our head. Even when performing an act for ourself, we are performing it for an 
abstract version of ourself.  If this is accepted, then self expression is done 
for others.  

So Art is an act (process-actions) for others - a Service. Artist, providers of 
the Service of Art (exactly which acts constitute the field of Art is a 
continually negotiated process), are Service Providers.   

I like to think that if we accept a Bueys' like version of art as something 
performed by everybody, then we reach a conclusion that everybody is a service 
provider.  We serve each other, even when we perform for ourselves, we are 
still serving.   

Jon Ippolito said
> I'm interested in Joseph McElroy's idea of art as service, since it
> represents the possibility of propertyless payments for artists. But I'm
> concerned about exacty what end art is going to "serve." I don't care whether
> something's shown at MoMA or sold at Sotheby's, if it serves primarily as
> entertainment or marketing it's not art in my book. The trick would be to get
> corporations et al. to pay for works whose value as an early warning system
> for the unconscious is not eclipsed by some other form of service.

To what end Art serves is a continually negotiated process between artists, 
constituents, and historians.  However, an artist can attempt to serve any 
cause they choose to define as art (which may not be accepted by others). Just 
like service providers in other fields, artists who choose the future (or 
influence it) incorrectly will often face oblivion (bankruptcy).

Yes - this is the very trick that needs to be attempted.  Currently, 
corporations/institutions/governments are collecting vast amounts of data 
collection on its employees, customers, etc. to perform marketing and security 
services.  The is no reason why not, and there is an imperative (or so I feel) 
for artists to use this data for artistic and social agendas.  For example, I 
would like to construct visual displays that represent the cummulative mood 
(unconsious) of a corporate entity.  From departmental level to corporate 
level.  Now under the guise of helping corporations feel like they are making a 
distasteful activity (data colllection), palatable to its constituents ("the 
sell"), I am also helping get infrastructures in place that could be used for 
other purposes - such as democratic voting on corporate decisions/officers. 
Regardless of whether "actual" voting takes place, the "in your face" 
representation of a corporate opinion could perhaps influence and affect 
corporate decisions more democratically.      

Ippolito wrote:
> To forego a reliance on gallerists in favor of a reliance on corporations
> seems to me to go from the frying pan into the fire. Gallerists at least
> claim to be in it for the "art," while corporations are beholden to their
> stockholders to maximize profits.

No - I am saying to bypass the middle market.  Artist would have to learn to 
build and market themselves - I am proposing that multiple artists get togethor 
to create producer communities that own and operate marketing arms that sell to 
corporations or individuals.  The marketers, instead of being 
gallaries "claiming" to being in it for the art, would be marketing 
organizations that have the mission, as defined by artists, of being in it for 
the art. (NOTE - it is very important to seperate marketing company from the 
community as two seperate entities - abstraction will help prevent personal 
infighting among artists) 

Ippolito wrote:
>There may be a small set of artworks that
> serve to help corporations maximize profit while at the same time asking the
> challenging questions art must ask to serve society; I'm glad John Klima got
> support this way. But I doubt it's scalable to all of art.

And I am not proposing all artists do this...there are only a very small subset 
of artists with the type skills required to serve corporations this way. 
However, all artists could participate in communities that own marketing 

Ippolito wrote:
> The closest description I can think of to your vision is Bruce Sterling's
> novel _Holy Fire_, which depicts a world in which *artifice* has replaced
> *art* as the primary mode of perceptual and technological creativity. It's
> not exactly a dystopia, but it's not a future I'd want to live in either.

I would say that I am not the instigator or proponent of "artifice" 
replacing "art" - this seems well taken care of by other parties touting such 
things as UHauls and selling their position in art shows on e-bay. Wouldn't you 
say that all of Conceptual Art was artifice?  However, I am only proposing 
that "artifice" be used in the marketing (nothing new) when necessary (avoiding 
fraud) and not in the service. This type art should meet its marketing 
obligations (ex. visual representation of corporate mood leading to better 
acceptance of existing data collection activities) while attempting a more 
subtle and subversive/powerful service (ex. democracing corporate culture)

Ippolito wrote:
> I'm not sure whether you're talking about organizing artists to empower
> themselves as a class or getting individual artists more expensive tools and
> esoteric training. I believe the former has value if approached
> intelligently. I'm less convinced about the importance of the latter.

As a class, I am sure it is quite impossible to organize all artists - however 
organizing large parts of the class might be possible - devising business 
models that work both to ensure survival and relative prosperity of each 
individual in a community while at the same time rewarding the more productive 
members to ensure their continued support of the community. Since finanical 
rewards are not the most compelling reason to become an artist, I am positive 
that recognition and marketing rewards (plus some finanical) can be used to 
keep the more productive (and profitable) members of a community as part of it 
(the example of successful Open Source projects shows a community where 
productive members are kept by rewards of acknowledgement and respect). 

> An interesting model--I don't know enough about tax law for corporations to
> know whether it would work. My research does indicate that it's prohibitively
> expensive for an artist to establish a *foundation* for the same end.

It cost around $400-$600 to establish a for-profit corporation. It is not 
difficult to do, and established business-models could get artists through the 
process quickly.  

Ippolito wrote:
> Your distinction is interesting, but I'm not sure where you'd draw the line.
> Are you claiming a JavaScript function is knowledge and a JavaScript-built
> GUI is expression, even though they're both written in the same language?

Yes - legally a copyright has to meet two conditions 1) original work of 
authorship 2) presented in a tangible means of expression. (to paraphrase)
Such things as math formulas, algorythms, etc are NOT COPYRIGHTed. (They 
perhaps could be PATENTed).  Thus when courts are determining infringment upon 
a software copyright, they will throw out such things as forumlas and 
algorythms.  The point is ... expression is copyrightable, knowledge is not.  

Software copyright law is so muddled that it has never been really 
tested/solved. Nobody knows if proprietary or Open Source licenses will hold up 
in a court of law.  What the Free Foundation is trying to do is to get so much 
dollars behind the GPL that when it is finally challenged (when they can't 
settle), no judge in his right mind will squash it because of the economic 
upheaval that would cause.   In my mind, there should be some new meta-concept 
that is between copyright and patent to be used for software.  However, I 
accept and push Open Source to ensure that knowledge stays free.  But I believe 
that expression should still last the author's lifetime. 

> Gifts dont' feed the babies.
Ippolito wrote:
> If only that were true. Bringing up babies in our culture is a big-time gift
> economy (leaving aside the countless products, magazines, and "services" that
> wade into the stream of gifts). Our culture doesn't give us squat for what is
> arguably the most important job in the world. Read Ann Crittendon's _The
> Price of Motherhood_ and you'll find out that college-educated women pay a 
> million-dollar "mommy tax" when they have a child; family law deprives
> mothers of financial equality in marriage; and stay-at-home parents and their 
> work are left out of the GDP, the labor force, and the social safety net.

Ha. yes.  Well it was a metaphor anyway, to indicate that supporting a life and 
family requires that certain amount of an individual's time be rewarded 
finanically - which if such time were given away could lead to disasterous 
consequence for the health and well-being of the family. 

> "Art is either worthless or priceless." --Gertrude Stein
Joseph Franklyn McElroy 
Cor[porat]e [Per]form[ance] Art[ist]
Electric Hands, Inc
Electrify your sales, Electrify your Mind

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