[-empyre-] scalability and 'knowledge production

naxsmash naxsmash at mac.com
Fri Feb 13 07:36:48 EST 2009

but also, at the same time, the principle of 'scalability'  , as  
Christiane has described it, offers a kind of spreading of effects  
from an implied singular or set of  controls, like spray from a spray  
gun, with the spray made up of units that can insert anywhere at the  
'right' resolution.  Does 'scalability' imply controls or a control  
principle, as in the scientific method, wherein we look for variables  
'against' or in contrast to 'controls'?  Back at Flickr, the designers  
figured out how to let servers handle trading/sharing of what they  
call shards, of information, rather than having master servers  
(content sorting and matching software) outputting to slaves  (content- 
archiving software) , if I understand this correctly.   This change of  
design  model allows for a marvelous lateral spread into
large quanta of requests from individuals using the Flickr site around  
the world at any particular moment.  The spray gun spray is lost, now  
its more like a steam bath of image delivery.

What a fascinating issue-- is this 'knowledge production' in some  
sense ?


On Feb 12, 2009, at 11:27 AM, naxsmash wrote:

> thank you, Simon-as editor/moderator i was hoping someone would rise
> to this occasion.  This is a delicate yet powerful subject---  i do
> think that the elegance of the works in Christiane's curatorial
> project have in common this kind of useful uselessness  that is both
> 'production' frm the point of view of the University of California
> (tallying up the credits as it were) and yet the content of all of
> it is fluid and Kafka=esque at its best. As one would hope.
>  christina
> On Feb 12, 2009, at 2:03 AM, Simon Biggs wrote:
>> I read Tom Holert’s piece the other day. He makes a fundamental
>> error conflating research and instrumentalisation in his efforts to
>> distinguish (as somehow intrinsically better) artistic practice. Let
>> they who cast the first stone, etc...
>> Research can be as creative as artistic practice. Research need not
>> be goal driven. Research can be as dangerous, exciting, ethically
>> and morally challenging as the best of art. Research is something
>> that any experimental artist has to do if they are to be  
>> experimental.
>> Yes, there are pressures coming from government and industry
>> (pressures that the current economic situation will probably
>> exacerbate) for research and practice to prove their social (e.g:
>> economic) worth. The US Senate’s recent rejection of Obama’s culture
>> bill on the grounds that (paraphrasing from memory) museums,
>> galleries, road-side decoration, are not a priority in a time of
>> economic crisis (end paraphrase) evidences this demand of creative
>> and experimental activities (whether in the creative arts, physical
>> and social sciences or the humanities) to instrumentalise
>> themselves. In England the government’s decision to prioritise
>> research funding away from pure research in the arts and sciences
>> towards applied research (STEM subjects - science, technology,
>> engineering and medicine) is also part of this dynamic. In Scotland
>> we await the deliberations of government to find out how the pie
>> will be carved for the next few years.
>> In contesting the instrumentalisation of cultural practice Holert is
>> well intentioned. However, to identify the bogey as research is
>> wrong. Much research, in both the sciences and humanities,
>> represents the very opposite of instrumentalisation. It could be
>> argued that significant radical activity in our society happens in
>> the guise of research. In this respect the thesis the paper
>> forwards, arguing that to equate practice with research is a process
>> of instrumentalisation, is fundamentally flawed. The enemy of
>> creativity is not science and it is not research. The enemy is the
>> required acquiescence of creativity, whether in practice or
>> research, to the bureaucratically defined needs of society.
>> Creativity, as I understand its value, cannot be constrained by such
>> a need. It has to be allowed to be dangerous and inimical to the
>> concerns of planners. Scientists, just as much as artists, need this
>> freedom. We are all Kafka’s children.
>> I would also identify some errors in the paper. For example, the
>> section on PARIP (which some people here are probably members of)
>> contains a mistake, describing it as a research group initiated by
>> the UK’s Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). PARIP currently exists
>> as a loose network of practitioner/researchers around what was a
>> research project initiated at Bristol University. It has no
>> affiliation with the RAE or the research councils and set itself the
>> objective of critically inquiring into the RAE and research
>> council’s definitions of creative practice (in performing arts).
>> They were research council funded but, so far as I am aware, had no
>> remit from the funders. The arm’s length principle, overseen by
>> sector peer review, is default in the UK. The manner in which Holert
>> describes the relations between creative arts educational
>> institutions and their funders suggests his knowledge in the area is
>> not very deep, his own research lacking rigour. He might be advised
>> to pay more attention to the value of research to his arguments.
>> This is all relevant to Christina’s question regarding art as
>> research in the university context and how this relates to the idea
>> of research as knowledge production. Talking to researchers in other
>> subject areas, in the sciences and elsewhere, it is clear there is a
>> lot of discomfort about what they do being typified as production.
>> They are as uncomfortable with that remit as artists are with being
>> described as workers in the cultural industries. We need to be very
>> careful in how we use terms like ‘knowledge production’ and
>> ‘cultural industries’ as they are the product of a political
>> imperative that cares little about creativity or knowledge, as
>> Adorno observed.
>> Regards
>> Simon
>> On 12/2/09 01:00, Christina McPhee wrote:
>>> Tom Holert has written recently,  " A point of tension that can
>>> become
>>> productive here is the traditional claim that artists almost
>>> constitutively work on the hind side of rationalist, explicated
>>> knowledge?in the realms of non-knowledge (or emergent knowledge).
>>> As a
>>> response to the prohibition and marginalization of certain other
>>> knowledges by the powers that be, the apparent incompatibility of
>>> non-
>>> knowledge with values and maxims of knowledge-based economies
>>> (efficiency, innovation, and transferability) may provide strategies
>>> for escaping such dominant regimes."
>> Simon Biggs
>> Research Professor
>> edinburgh college of art
>> s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
>> www.eca.ac.uk
>> www.eca.ac.uk/circle/
>> simon at littlepig.org.uk
>> www.littlepig.org.uk
>> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
>> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland,
>> number SC009201
>> _______________________________________________
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> naxsmash
> naxsmash at mac.com
> christina mcphee
> http://christinamcphee.net
> http://naxsmash.net
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

naxsmash at mac.com

christina mcphee


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