[-empyre-] The Power of Nightmares

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Thu Apr 1 03:47:14 EST 2010


I think it would be great to get a bunch of "creatives" together to do
a nice paranoid gallery show.  Just go over the top.....  And then
have a press conference with someone who can play it really straight,
talking about how eager artists are to serve the great cause.

Or maybe just start a fake international organization of artists and
humanists who seek to weaponize culture, not in service of a
particular nation, but in service of the ideal: using love and beauty
to maximize strategic inequalities and glorify power.  Oh...  wait...
that's the PR industry.

 More positiviely, maybe you should just flood them with true
anti-terror proposals....  works that encourage people to make friends
with "others," to resist paranoia, and to put down their weapons and
work for dialogue.

Davin

On Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 1:44 PM, Simon Biggs <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk> wrote:
> Hi Chris
>
> I received your post. I responded but if the email reached the list I don’t
> remember seeing it – but I wouldn’t expect to remember that. Here it is
> again:
>
> ----
>
> It’s not news in academia here either. As in the States academia has been
> split since 9/11 and people have had to make difficult decisions as a
> result. However, it is news in the arts.
>
> This isn’t about government agencies seeking to co-opt academics working in
> the physical or social sciences (corrupt as that is) but trying to draw
> independent artists in as well. Within the Scottish context this is
> particularly sensitive. They have just abolished the independent Scottish
> Arts Council and replaced it with a quango made up of government appointees
> and industrialists called Creative Scotland. A key person behind that is the
> person responsible for this email requesting artists to contribute to
> anti-terror (I read that as illegal war of aggression) activities. The
> implication is that artists who choose to be involved will receive
> government largesse.
>
> Corrupt?
>
> ----
>
> Since I wrote that there have been some developments. A journalist from a
> national daily has been in direct contact and I’ve connected them and the
> original source of the story. It began with a leaked email and the press
> smell something potentially scandalous. We will see how it plays out.
>
> If list-serves are not running these emails it suggests the owners are
> nervous about being implicated. I am copying this to empyre. If it doesn’t
> reach it I will inquire as to why. I think this important information that
> should be in the pubic domain and not just in newspapers.
>
> Best
>
> Simon
>
>
> Simon Biggs
>
> s.biggs at eca.ac.uk  simon at littlepig.org.uk  Skype: simonbiggsuk
>  http://www.littlepig.org.uk/
> Research Professor  edinburgh college of art  http://www.eca.ac.uk/
> Creative Interdisciplinary Research into CoLlaborative Environments
>  http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/
> Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice
>  http://www.elmcip.net/
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: Christiane Robbins <cpr at mindspring.com>
> Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010 09:20:33 -0700
> To: Simon Biggs <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk>
> Subject: Fwd: [-empyre-] The Power of Nightmares
>
> Simon -
>
> I wanted to follow up on my response to your post yesterday, as I took note
> that Empyre did not post my response to the larger group - which is unusual,
> no?  Have I missed a posting to the larger group?
>
> I do appreciate your posting it to NMC as well.
>
> Thx,
>
> Chris
>
>
>
>
> Begin forwarded message:
>
> From: Christiane Robbins <cpr at mindspring.com
>>
> Date: March 29, 2010 10:25:50 AM PDT
> To: Simon Biggs <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
>>, soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] The Power of Nightmares
>
>
> Hi Simon -
>
> Sadly, this is not news to many professors in the States, especially since
> 9/11 and especially to those on the faculty of Research 1 Universities.  It
> has proven to be the basis of critical issues for several I know and they
> have struggled ( actually suffered  ) for the past decade or so.  Some have
> left the academy for this very reason and others remain - each as their
> conscience sees fit.
>
> Best,
>
> Chris
>
>
>
>
> On Mar 28, 2010, at 5:35 AM, Simon Biggs wrote:
>
> Hi all
>
>  Please see the thread from the Ambit list below. It is incredibly
> disturbing. This government official hasn’t a clue how artists think and
> operate – and yet they are apparently the Deputy Director of Culture for the
> Scottish government! It is like having Dick Cheney running Amnesty! It is so
> unbelievable it crossed my mind it is a hoax but this person is indeed who
> they say they are and seems to be seeking to co-opt artists into a morally
> bankrupt war of aggression founded on an arrogant imperial foreign policy
> enforced domestically through a corrupt and corrupting home security
> apparatus. In the best of times artists are obliged to rip up the rule book
> and turn over the furniture but in this context we are obliged to do more.
> How does the artist act responsibly in this context and contest such
> insidious actions? What artistic interventions might now be appropriate?
>
>  The second section of the thread presents a text documenting how
> anthropologists previously responded to attempts by the authorities to
> similarly co-opt their discipline. The url it points to offers more detailed
> documentation and background. Whilst I agree entirely with their logic and
> conclusions I wonder whether the actions they proposed to take in response
> had any effect. The fact that their deliberations and actions pre-date the
> Scottish Executive email below by a good period of time shows that they made
> no difference. What would?
>
>  Best
>
>  Simon
>
>
>  Simon Biggs
>
>  simon at littlepig.org.uk  Skype: simonbiggsuk  http://www.littlepig.org.uk/
> <http://www.littlepig.org.uk/>
>
> ------ Forwarded Message
>  From: Variant <variantmag at btinternet.com>
>  Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2010 15:39:20 +0000
>  To: <ambit at lists.a-r-c.org.uk>
>  Subject: [Ambit] The Power of Nightmares
>
>  Militarisation of 'creativity' in Scotland : moral and ethical dilemmas
> concerning the integrity of creative practitioners
>
>  "how creativity can help in the study of terrorism and forensic science and
> in how the outcome or story from that is told"
>
>  ...Firstly, let me introduce myself: I'm Wendy Wilkinson and I head up the
> Culture Division in the Scottish Government. As well as all things culture,
> my remit also includes the creative industries...
>
>  However, I'm emailing about a quite separate matter. And it may appear
> rather bizarre, but bear with me. I'd like to invite you to an informal
> meeting I'm arranging on 8 April, at my office in Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.
> And it's to brainstorm/discuss how creativity can help in the study of
> terrorism and forensic science and in how the outcome or story from that is
> told. This stems from work that Brian Lang, former principal of St Andrews
> University, is doing to arrange a conference joining up the centre for study
> of terrorism at St Andrews university, with the forensic science centre at
> Strathclyde university and the centre for terrorism at the  University of
> Central Oklahoma. Brian and I are both keen to explore how creativity can
> contribute and we recognised the first step would be to consult our own
> creative talent here in Scotland. hence my invite. I am planning to invite a
> couple of people from the computer gaming industry and perhaps a writer or
> artistic director, so a small group and it would be attended by Brian and
> the President of the University of Central Oklahoma who is over here for a
> visit then.
>
>  I do hope that you can attend and would be grateful if you could let me
> know what time you may be available on the 8th.
>
>  kind regards
>
>  Wendy Wilkinson
>  Deputy Director: Culture
>  Scottish Government
>  Victoria Quay
>  Edinburgh EH6 6QQ
>
>
>
>
>
>  Anthropologists' Resistance to Militarisation
>
>  The project [‘Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation’] “provoked
> a furious response from academics”, mainly anthropologists, “who claimed it
> was tantamount to asking researchers to act as spies for British
> intelligence” (Baty 2006). James Fairhead, who works for the ESRC’s
> Strategic Research Board and on its International Committee, declared it is
> appalling that these proposals were not discussed in any of these committees
> (quoted in Houtman 2006). Opposition to the project grew significantly after
> the plans were published in the Times Higher Educational Supplement. As a
> result, it was withdrawn before its closing date on November 8th 2006.
>  http://www.sussex.ac.uk/anthropology/documents/marrades.doc
> <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/anthropology/documents/marrades.doc>
>
>
>  The eleven originators of the Pledge are deeply concerned that the "war on
> terror" threatens to militarize anthropology in a way that undermines the
> integrity of the discipline and returns anthropology to its sad roots as a
> tool of colonial occupation, oppression, and violence.  We felt compelled to
> draft the Pledge to say that there are certain kinds of work—for example,
> covert work, work contributing to the harm and death of other human beings,
> work that breaches trust with our research participants, and work that calls
> other anthropologists into suspicion—that anthropologists should not
> undertake.  In many ways we are restating the position that Franz Boas
> famously articulated in 1919.  We encourage you to sign the Pledge as a way
> to support this position on ethical work in the discipline and as a way to
> make a statement to government and military officials, the social science
> and other scientific communities, and the broader public that that
> anthropologists will not participate in such work or support wars of
> occupation.
>  http://sites.google.com/site/concernedanthropologists/faq
>
>  "A soldier whose business is murder as a fine art, a diplomat whose calling
> is based on deception and secretiveness, a politician whose very life
> consists in compromises with his conscience, a business man whose aim is
> personal profit within the limits allowed by a lenient law -- such may be
> excused if they set patriotic deception above common everyday decency and
> perform services as spies. They merely accept the code of morality to which
> modern society still conforms. Not so the scientist. The very essence of his
> life is the service of truth. We all know scientists who in private life do
> not come up to the standard of truthfulness, but who, nevertheless, would
> not consciously falsify the results of their researches. It is bad enough if
> we have to put up with these, because they reveal a lack of strength of
> character that is liable to distort the results of their work. A person,
> however, who uses science as a cover for political spying, who demeans
> himself to pose before a foreign government as an investigator and asks for
> assistance in his alleged researches in order to carry on, under this cloak,
> his political machinations, prostitutes science in an unpardonable way and
> forfeits the right to be classed as a scientist." (Franz Boas, in a letter
> to The Nation, 1919)
>
>  Workshop of Military Anthropology in the UK
>  We find other, smaller-scale examples of universities and their academics
> seeking to cash in on “terror research” by offering their knowledge as a
> source of “protection.” One example involves the “Culture in Conflict
> Symposium” at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, on 16 – 17 June
> 2010 <http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/cds/symposia/cic10.jsp
> <http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/cds/symposia/cic10.jsp> >. It includes a
> Workshop on “Spatial Sociocultural Knowledge” (read human terrain) and
> followed by a one-day Military Anthropology Workshop. There is no clearer
> expression of the way academics have become comfortable players in the
> pyramid scheme of war corporatism than when they call themselves “military
> anthropologists.”
>  http://zeroanthropology.net/
>
>  Protests against British research council: "Recruits anthropologists for
> spying on muslims"
>  A few weeks ago the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and
> Commonwealth (ASA) passed a resolution that criticized a huge British
> research program that recruits anthropologists for “anti-terror” spying
> activities, and anthropologist Susan Wright (Danish University of Education)
> called for global coordination on this issue.
>  http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/2007/protests_against_british_research_counci
> <http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/2007/protests_against_british_research_counci>
>  _______________________________________________
>  a m b i t : networking media arts in scotland
>  post: ambit at a-r-c.org.uk
>  archive: www.a-r-c.org.uk/ambit <http://www.a-r-c.org.uk/ambit>
>
>  ------ End of Forwarded Message
>
>
> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number
> SC009201
>
>
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>
>
>
>
> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number
> SC009201
>
>
>
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