[-empyre-] +

Anna Munster A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
Tue Aug 5 08:49:52 EST 2008


Hi All,
I have rejoined the empyre list after a long absence and especially  
because of this month's topic. I am currently involved in a research  
project (which was given a lot of 'institutional money' in Australia  
quite surprisingly, part of which is now trying to look at media  
centres, networks and collaborative practices in the making,  
facilitating and ongoing life of new media. In this project, I and my  
research partner (Andrew Murphie) have mainly been doing informal  
interviews with people who might have been involved in these centres   
and/or who might have left that 'world' in order to be involved in  
looser networks that are less dependent on 'old' new media resources  
and money.

I have also been involved, for a long time, with various aspects of  
the Australian -based *fibreculture network*. I think what Gabriel has  
to say is really interesting:

>>> I think the most interesting thing to point out from this story is  
>>> the
>>> double process of incomplete institutionalization we went (and are
>>> always going) through.
>>> At first, we had to institutionalize ourselves in order to borrow
>>> equipment from the university. It was this institutionalization that
>>> made us vulnarable to the lawsuit. This happens everytime: even if  
>>> we
>>> do not follow all of a system's ways of proceding, in order to take
>>> part of it, we must agree to its protocols (I always hear people who
>>> create art within cellphone networks complaining about this).

This issue of incomplete institutionalisation seems to always revolve  
around capital-resources in an incredibly raw and obvious way. In a  
very similar way but on a much smaller scale, my research project  
involves the same thing - if I want to see people's work and engage  
with their processes, I need to meet up with them and travel and so I  
need funds and so I get them from an institution - the university.

I suppose the questions I want to raise here have to do with the  
increasing unsustainability that plagues these  'plans' and processes  
and the fact that it is now getting harder to get resources - a global  
issue, I know!. Universities are becoming increasingly audit and  
performance obsessed and so flying under the radar to do one's own  
research that isn't carefully monitored (especially financially) is  
now really hard. On top of this, the quantitative research models that  
abound in the university-institution means that we constantly have to  
have outputs, regardless of quality of thought or practice. In  
Australia, I think this means that artists will have a hard time in  
the future. especially younger artists who have not had 'training' in  
the ways of institutions and don't necessarily know how to play the  
double-game, ie speak the lingo to get the money to then do your own  
thing. In this climate it is those artists who have consolidated  
themselves in cosy art-science research centres from the 1990s period  
who will get the resources because they always have. On the upside,  
their work is usually boring, so perhaps we can just ignore it ;-)

Of course the point is that younger artists and older ones who are  
bored with the 'institution'  go elsewhere - usually into  
participatory networks etc. And we've seen this happening in an  
explosive way in the last few years...and it's great!

BUT...the issue of sustainability haunts this as well. That is, how do  
we sustain our endless cycles of immaterial labour that we expend in  
this non or semi-institutionalised art network? This indeed is also  
one of the questions Ned raises in his book and of course something he  
constantly raises on fibreculture...an organised network must somehow  
organise a new and sustainable model of labour as well...



Dr.Anna Munster
Senior Lecturer
School of Art History and Theory
College of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 259
NSW 2021
612 9385 0741 (tel)
612 9385 0615(fax)
a.munster at unsw.edu.au

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