Collaboration and art

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Society centred around the free software production principles (Oekonux)[edit]

jeden (nakoniec viacmenej neúspešný) pokus o preklad pravidiel tvorby free software do širších spoločenských rozmerov:

  • Interview with Stefan Merten By Geert Lovink, April 2001: [1]
  • Interview with Stefan Merten by Joanne Richardson, November 2001: [2]

"Originally German Oekonux debate (2000-2002) tried to make a blueprint for society centred around the free software production principles. After a few years the Oekonux debate got stuck for the simple reason that, in the end, it was controlled by the founder of the forum, Stefan Merten, who doesn’t want to let go and probably has little experience with how to scale up and transform, from a cozy and closed high-level German context, into an international debate in which there would be a multitude of players and intentions. What is needed, in a sense, is a clash of theories, between the Marxist use-value approach and the hardcore libertarian free software/open source philosophy. Oekonux claimed to be its synthesis, but it wasn’t. Still, it asked all the right questions. I am still inspired by Oekonux." (Geert Lovink, 2006)

"In the discussion on alternative economy, there are two positions prevailing at the moment: one stating that capitalism itself is out-cooperated and has to be replaced by a new cooperative model of economic accumulation, allocation, information and decision-making. That’s the Oekonux position. The other position is that the alternative is a strongly regulated capitalism under political control, but an economy where the driving forces and modes of regulation are capitalist, an economy of profit, competition and private ownership. That’s the de facto position of most Left parties in Europe. The main argument for the latter position goes: capitalism is ugly but there is no other system so far that could compete with it in terms of the speed of innovation. Not ingenuity, but a tempo of real change in production." (Christoph Spehr, 2006)

Scholz: In his book "Gleicher als andere", Spehr argues passionately that absolutely all our relationships should be based on freedom and equality to each other and the cooperation. If we can't negotiate this, we should PUT PRESSURE on the cooperation. If that does not work we should WITHDRAW our cooperation or leave altogether. Spehr asks for the RULES of the cooperation to be acknowledged, as there always are rules. Spehr talks, with Gayatri Spivak of "rules as always being the old rules." CONFLICT that occurs while renegotiating the rules builds respect. Conflict is a scary thing in the face of loosing territory or even a position within the cooperation. Conflict, pull backs, silent times for reflection all lead to INDEPENDENCE within the cooperation, which makes us stronger contributors. We need to find save zones for conflicts. Always and again: NEGOTIATE! Get organized. LOYALTY, Spehr claims, should always be to people, never to structures. We should be self-reflected and SELF-CONFIDENT, instead of acting like slaves. [3]

Free cooperation (Christoph Spehr)[edit]

..a cooperation is free or can be free, because everybody can question and change the rules, can negotiate about the rules by using his or her power to restrict what he or she puts into this cooperation, or by splitting up and searching another way to cooperate with other people and other groups..

Cellular structure (Critical Art Ensemble)[edit]

For sustained cultural or political practice free of bureaucracy or other types of separating factors, CAE recommends a cellular structure. Thus far the artists’ cell that typifies contemporary collective activity has formed in a manner similar to band society. Solidarity is based on similarity in terms of skills and political/aesthetic perceptions. Most of the now classic cellular collectives of the 70s and 80s, such as Ant Farm, General Idea, Group Material, Testing the Limits (before it splintered), and Gran Fury used such a method with admirable results. Certainly these collectives’ models for group activity are being emulated by a new generation.

However, CAE has made one adjustment in its collective structure. While size and similarity through political/aesthetic perspective has replicated itself in the group, members do not share a similarity based on skill. Each member’s set of skills is unique to the cell. Consequently, in terms of production, solidarity is not based on similarity, but on difference. The parts are interrelated and interdependent. Technical expertise is given no chance to collide and conflict, and hence social friction is greatly reduced. In addition, such structure allows CAE to use whatever media it chooses, because the group has developed a broad skill base. Having a broad skill base and interdisciplinary knowledge also allows the group to work in any kind of space. Solidarity through difference also affects the structure of power in the group. Formerly, collective structure tended to be based on the idea that all members were equals at all times. Groups had a tremendous fear of hierarchy, because it was considered a categorical evil that led to domination. This notion was coupled with a belief in extreme democracy as the best method of avoiding hierarchy.

While CAE does not follow the democratic model,the collective does recognize its merits; however, CAE follows Foucault’s principle that hierarchical power can be productive (it does not necessarily lead to domination), and hence uses a floating hierarchy to produce projects. After consensus is reached on how a project should be produced, the member with the greatest expertise in the area has authority over the final product. While all members have a voice in the production process, the project leader makes the final decisions. This keeps endless discussion over who has the better idea or design to a minimum, and hence the group can produce at a faster rate. Projects tend to vary dramatically, so the authority floats among the membership. At the same time, CAE would not recommend this process for any social constellation other than the cell (three to eight people). Members must be able to interact in a direct face-to-face manner, so everyone is sure that they have been heard as a person (and not as an anonymous or marginalized voice). Second, the members must trust one an other; that is, sustained collective action requires social intimacy and a belief that the other members have each individual member’s interests at heart. A recognition and understanding of the nonrational components of collective action is crucial—without it, the practice cannot sustain itself. The collective also has to consider what is pleasurable for its members. Not all people work at the same rate. The idea that everyone should do an equal amount of work is to measure a member’s value by quantity instead of quality. As long as the process is pleasurable and satisfying for everyone, in CAE’s opinion, each member should work at the rate at which they are comfortable. Rigid equality in this case can be a perverse and destructive type of Fordism that should be avoided. To reinforce the pleasure of the group, convivial relationships beyond the production process are necessary. The primary reason for this need is because the members will intensify bonds of trust and intimacy that will later be positively reflected in the production process. To be sure, intimacy produces its own peculiar friction, but the group has a better chance of surviving the arguments and conflicts that are bound to arise, as long as in the final analysis each member trusts and can depend on fellow members. Collective action requires total commitment to other members, and this is a frightening thought for many individuals. Certainly, collective practice is not for everyone. / chapter 4

The Art of Free Cooperation (ed. Scholz, Lovink)[edit]

The Art of Free Cooperation, New York: Autonomedia, 2007. Paperback & DVD, 192 pages. This publication is based on an event of the same name organised by the authors in Buffalo, New York, in April 2005.

"Inspired by the collaborative models of the open-source software movement, Rosa Luxemburg Award-winning German writer Christoph Spehr, Howard Rheingold, Brian Holmes and the editors critique both the received capitalist and socialist methods of social integration, and elaborate a practical vision for a third alternative, one that promises to surmount the problems of inequality on the one hand and the lack of individual freedoms on the other. Part utopian intervention, part radical polemic and activist manual, The Art of Free Cooperation also includes a DVD with additional texts, highlights from an international “Free Cooperation” conference, and a feature-length film collage, narrated by Tony Conrad, illustrating the principles of Free Cooperation through the visual language of science fiction."

conference publication, 2004, 30 pages:

Post Autonomy[edit]

"Post Autonomy stems from the idea that modern art has reached its limits of autonomy some time ago. Maybe in the 70s. What comes after Autonomy in art can be discussed by Post Autonomy."

A post-autonomous mode of production is no longer concerned with creating singular works of art attributable to a particular artist or author. Instead, a post-autonomous art practice employs a collaborative or dialogical mode of production, for example, via face-to-face or online dialogues, conversations or events, wikis, salons, bulletin boards, chat rooms, or collaborative visual editing environments.

The German Conceptual artist Michael Lingner proposed the notion of Post Autonomy. The aim of post-autonomous artistic production is not (or not primarily) to create objects (electronic or physical) or to document the traces of the productive process. Rather, it is to support and embody a political transformation whereby the human participants subscribe to an open ended mutual learning process and define and activate a productive space outside capitalism and its competitive mode of production.

The history of post-autonomous art can be seen in various practices for which one or several of the criteria below hold true:

  • Conscious control of the artefact / outcome is relinquished or weakened. The surrealists experimented with the unconscious in automatic writing; a number of conceptual artists used random events as input to the productive process; dialogical encounters contributed to the work (see, for example, some works of Stanley Brown or Douglas Huebler); choices of performers and improvisation influence the result, for example, in a (musical) performance where the players can chose which module of music to play.
  • The process of production itself is considered as constituting the art, not any resulting products or documents. This was very common in various conceptual art practices in the Sixties. The role of documentation and of documents (e.g. of performances) as quasi artefacts undermined this somewhat as conceptual artists needed objects for the gallery system. For some artists such as Allan Kaprow, a dissolution of the boundary separating life and art led to the idea of an invisible art practice.
  • Practices are considered open-ended, i.e., no pre-conceived result is intended. Instead, the initial boundaries or rules of some process are defined and the actual development is left to the interaction of participants. Censorship issues can become important in this context.
  • There is no narrow focus on the aesthetic experience as in most other art forms. Rather, post-autonomous art explicitly deals with social, political and economic issues as well a with the communication, media, race and gender issues discussed in cultural studies. This also links to the practice of the situationists who intended to abolish the notion of art as a separate, specialized activity and aimed to transform it so it became part of fabric of everyday life. a blog discussing Post Autonomous practices

// voľný preklad:

michael lingner prišiel ohľadom produkcie s konceptom "post autonómie", kedy nie je ani tak dôležité, že tvoríme veci (objekty, inštalácie, sochy, videá, vizuály, tracky, weby, performance) a že dokumentujeme ako ich robíme (fotky, denník, audio nahrávky, webkam, blog z procesu tvorby), ale že ide o momenty "spolupráce", teda osobné alebo online dialógy, stretnutia, wiki, čety, multi-user vizuálne editory.

inými slovami "art" z post-autonómneho pohľadu nie sú ani tak súkromné vklady autora alebo člena tímu do projektu (diela, veci), ale práve to, ako na tieto vklady reagujú ostatní ľudia v tíme alebo mimo neho. prostredníctvom tejto interakcie možno sledovať zmeny, ktorými prechádzajú účastníci projektu a ich okolie - teda proces učenia sa a vyvíjania názoru. takto vytvoríme produktívny priestor. zaujímavé je, že ho lingner automaticky posudzuje ako ne-kapitalistický a ne-súťažný.

// "učenie sa" v slovenčine ešte asi stále znamená najmä čosi namáhavé a nátlakové, ale podľa mňa ide v podstate o preklad vonkajšej reality do vlastného jazyka

// otázka - naozaj nám neostáva nič iné ako zahodiť kapitalistickú súťaž? dá sa zo súťaže nejako poučiť?

post-autonómne umenie nadväzuje na viaceré tendencie z minulosti:

  • na akési pohŕdanie alebo ľahostajnosť k výslednému dielu - takto napríklad surrealistom poetom bolo jedno čo písali (nevedomé automatické písanie), niektorí konceptuálni umelci si nechali do tvorby zasahovať náhodnými vstupmi z okolia, iní skladatelia zase nechali na hráčov kompozične prehádzať vlastné skladby.
  • na prístup, že umením je skôr proces tvorby ako jej výsledok - ten pochádza od konceptualistov v 60s, ktorí sa ale neskôr začali počas performance predsalen nahrávať na video, aby malo v galérii čo ostať po vernisáži.
  • na tvorbu s otvoreným koncom, kedy nie je vopred určené či sa robí video, objekt, inštalácia alebo performance. pri nej sú teda dôležité počiatočné pravidlá, spoločné pre účastníkov procesu tvorby.
  • na to, kedy umelci nemali estetické predsudky, teda kedy bolo jedno či je vec nakonci pekná, škaredá alebo nová. zaujímavejšia tu bola sociálna, politická, ekonomická, komunikačná, médialna, rasová, genderová stránka veci. prístup markantný napríklad u situacionistov, ktorí hovorili o zrušení umenia (najmä kvôli preestetizácii).


  • Blake Stimson, Gregory Sholette (eds.), "Collectivism after Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945" (2007).full book
  • Charles Green, "The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism" (2001) full book
  • Chto delat: A Declaration on Politics, Knowledge, and Art (2008) [4]
  • Brian Holmes [5] [6]
  • Marina Grzinic talks about collective organisation in art (2008) [7], among others: Basement (1970s Croatia), Ljubljana subculture (1980s Ljubljana), NSK (1980s Slovenia), Metelkova (1990s Ljubljana), Reartikulacija (*2007 Ljubljana). "One perspective to be endorsed [..] is to stop thinking of ourselves as artists, to ask for a new agency or definition that says that artists have first and foremost to be political subjects to have any relevance today."
  • Christian Siefkes: From Exchange to Contributions, [8]