Benjamin Geer on Autonomous Universities
Benjamin Geer (photographed with a friend in Cairo) is a computer hacker and Indymedia enthusiast who decided the only way to really take part in a progressive world politics was to learn other languages — really “other” ones, like Arabic. He is also part of the edu-factory dialogue. Here is one of his most incisive contributions on the notion of autonomy.
On 10/02/2008, an edu-factory participant wrote:
> On knowledge production – well it has a certain range of meanings in
> the current world – tied up with certain notions of value etc…
If you want to talk about academic work as a social phenomenon, and
about how it could become more autonomous, I think you absolutely need
a sociology of knowledge production, one that deliberately breaks with
everyday understandings of academia. Otherwise you’ll fall into the
trap of taking those understandings for granted, and reproducing the
very problems you want to solve. You and I, who are part of academia,
need a reflexive critical understanding of what we are doing (and
could or should be doing) when we produce papers, talks, or messages
on this mailing list. Moreover, we need a shared language for talking
about what we’re doing.
DISCONNECTING THE DOTS
OF THE RESEARCH TRIANGLE
Entry to IBM plant, RTP North Carolina
and Militarisation in the Creative Industries
We’ve heard a lot in recent years from urbanists and economic planners about the ‘creative city’, the ‘creative class’ and the ‘creative industries’. To compare facts with fictions, I decided to take a little tour of one of the urban areas that have been specially designed to put the creativity into industry.
The Research Triangle is an unusually wealthy, unusually brainy metropolitan region of North Carolina, centred around the university towns of Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, and home to about one-and-a-half million people. It owes its name and fame to the establishment in the late 1950s of a state-funded science park, the Research Triangle Park, which is a woodsy retreat for the R&D labs of giant transnational corporations. ‘Where the minds of the world meet’ is the RTP motto.
Towards a New Critique of Institutions
Gov’t Office in Baku (Ursula Biemann, Black Sea Files)
The artistic frame has expanded beyond the border of the painting, beyond the perimeter of the gallery or museum. Now it encompasses the entire society, where each artistic intervention is a catalyst of awareness and a pointer toward possible change. But how does that society work, of what does it consist? To fulfill the promise of a socially transformative art, we need the research tools of extradisciplinary investigations.
What is the logic, the need or the desire that pushes more and more artists to work outside the limits of their own discipline, defined by the notions of free reflexivity and pure aesthetics, incarnated by the gallery-magazine-museum circuit, and haunted by the memory of the normative genres, painting and sculpture?
Pop art, conceptual art, body art, performance and video each marked a rupture of the disciplinary frame, already in the 1960-70s. But one could argue that these dramatized outbursts merely imported themes, media or expressive techniques back into what Yves Klein had termed the “specialized” ambiance of the gallery or the museum, qualified by the primacy of the aesthetic and managed by the functionaries of art. Exactly such arguments were launched by Robert Smithson in his text on cultural confinement in 1972, then restated by Brian O’Doherty in his theses on the ideology of the white cube. They still have a lot of validity. Yet now we are confronted with a new series of outbursts, under such names as net.art, bio art, visual geography, space art and database art – to which one could add an archi-art, or art of architecture, which curiously enough has never been baptized as such, as well as a machine art that reaches all the way back to 1920s constructivism, or even a “finance art” whose birth was announced in the Casa Encendida of Madrid just last summer.