[-empyre-] Andrew Garton: Resolution for Digital Futures

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Mon Feb 2 07:37:10 EST 2009

A draft manifesto on the making and value of art in the 21st century
from a 20th century nomad. Inspired in part to responses to Resolution
for Digital Futures, empyre forum.

+ Beginning

YIDO, pronounced Why I do, is a manifesto on the value and making of art
in the 21st century by a 20th century nomad weaning himself off the net
and much more besides.

What does a manifesto for this century proclaim if not a halt to all
things that ail us? And what of art in this process? More than ever we
require the means to shift, or rather, change consciousness towards an
appreciation of all things that are, or ought be returned to the commons.

What is the role of technology and design in these processes? How do
artists respond to open platforms and licensing? Is there a future for
the arts in the commons?

I have responded in more detail in the paper, Growing the Global
Information Commons, but in YIDO, I seek to define a more personal
approach with the addition of simple responses to key issues for artists
seeking clarity and substance in both a world immersed in sameness and

We urgently require an overhaul of concepts of equity towards assured
and manageable equity of access to food, shelter, education,
information, art and re-assessment of how we consume, what we consume
and how and what resources can be sustained. We are facing unprecedented

+ Rationale

I do many things.

I am moved by many things.

But there are a few things that compel me to persist in both a social
justice perspective in my work and ensuring I maintain a reasonable
sense of being OK all of the time.

+ Stupidity

It is the single most common trait of all humanity. It has caused
unimaginable suffering through all of known time, it has drawn power and
vast reserves of our precious resources to it and the blood of millions,
6-8 million in the 20th century alone, has soaked the soils of every
inhabited landmass in the world. And yet, we have never, ever managed to
evolve the stupidity gene out of us.

++ Response

You can't fight stupidity, but you can defend against it. Make great,
inspiring, motivating art... and remind people that if they're a little
stupid, they don't have to be bad!

+ Homogenisation

Surely a by-product of stupidity is the making of all things the same:
homogenisation, or sameness. By enclosing public goods in legal
frameworks that protect and secure private ownership of them we lose the
freedoms and motivations to innovate. The net result is a culture that
stagnates, that breeds indifference in its populations of luxuriated
somebodies, that cannot grow and enrich its inhabitants where everything
sounds, smells and looks the same.

We have no hope of breeding stupidity out when sameness becomes the
dominant feature of our so called developed societies,. We can, however,
defend against it.

++ Response

Critical to our defence against sameness is a revitalisation of the
commons - the reclamation of resources that ought not be owned by any
single individual or entity, but protected and managed for all,
including every single known biomass.

It is critical that we, as artists, grow a commons based culture that
innovates through collective effort for the benefit of the many, not the
personal nor private and vested interests of a few.

Homogenisation is the enemy of diversity on all levels of life. There's
no argument. If the core of all life is sustained through diversity and
if humans have less genetic diversity than a lecture room full of
chimpanzees, why are we trying to make everything the same?

Mix it up and give it away. Make work derived from all that inspires you
and do so freely and openly. Support flexible and open licenses and use
more bottom up forms of distribution. After all, how much money do we
really need to lead a sane, comfortable and sustainable lifestyle?

+ People

Not all people are stupid. The city of Graz would sink into the Mur
River if stupidity prevailed in the design of the city's foundations.
The people who grow its food and sell it at Franz Joseph Markets are
generally not stupid. They can do things that most of us can't. Stand
out in the open and sell their produce at minus zero temperatures for
one! Some may say that's stupid, but not if you're wanting a fresh,
locally farmed trout or typically Styrian schnapps to finish off
tonight's dinner. The alternative is sameness.

The forest communities of Sarawak are not stupid either. Sarawak is on
the island of Borneo. The people who govern Sarawak are stupid and
powerful. Stupidity and power is the worst kind of stupid. It destroys
peoples lives, it removes them from their native lands, it puts them
into ghettos under the guise of development and punishes the land by
removing the entire biomass and replacing it with cash crop monoculture.

++ Response

Stupidity can't be fought, but it can be defended against. Use your work
to raise the consciousness of people in society. Help them to make more
informed decisions about what they consume and why?
Being OK all the time

People, despite the stupid ones, are entirely amazing... What we have
achieved, what we have created, what we know, what we are yet to find
and the utterly mind blowing planet that supports us, is what inspires
and motivates me the most.

In spite of all that ails us, in spite of the mantras and policies of
warmongering governments and so called peoples movements, in spite of
the appalling depression and anxiety our so called developed world
imposes, I am inspired to sustain, at the very least, a reasonable sense
of being okay all the time... and I mean, all the time. Try it... Why do
we have to feel bad about feeling good? What's wrong with feeling good
all the time? Anxiety is NOT normal!

+ Response

Be kind to each other, spend less time online and be in the world.

Learn to love this planet because, despite us being made of the same
stuff of stars, we got no where else to go... I find that terrifically


Andrew Garton (Australia)  is a producer, composer and online media 
advisor. He had
co-founded Toy Satellite in the mid-1990s and was previously engaged in
the establishment of computer networks for the community and arts access
throughout Australia and South East Asia. Andrew has worked as
interactive media advisor to Australian Centre for the Moving Image and
was the inaugural Program Director of the screen resource centre, Open
Channel.  He is a founding Director of apc.au (Advisory, Production, Commons
Australia) and currently serves on the Board of the global Association
for Progressive Communications. Andrew is an advocate for open
standards, in particular open platforms, content and licenses. He is
currently engaged in projects between Graz, Kuching and Melbourne.
Renate Ferro and Tim Murray
Co-Moderators, -empyre- a soft-skinned-space
Department of Art/ Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
Cornell University

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