Collective Art

"Are you my conscience?"

This is a little dialed back from the last post, don't worry. I like to experiment with different forms and I tend to fire off drafts too quick. I'm sticking to my guns other than bringing some points back to Earth on the last one, otherwise here is something more tame that I want to talk about.

I consider Open Source and science & technology in general to be, in one sense. a collective art form. It's very interesting today to see a mostly transparently networked flow of information through the internet these days (if you know where to look/can get past censors if there are any), I'd say academics have made the most of the internet and the transfer of ideas - for a lot of obvious reasons. Online journals and the more academic side of youtube and others are very fascinating for this reason when you can scan the whole conversation and through years and years of content.

For open source technology, some of the best representatives in my opinion come from graphics tech and general programming languages, and of course the O.G. - the hardware. They all seem to go through ebbs and flows of secrecy and convoluted explanations as powerful technologies and models inevitably become commonplace and easily understandable - giving way to further technological advances.

This all has opened up so many new art forms and ways to express ourselves, and lowered the bar for so many - armed with the latest and best tools and knowledge available. It's very interesting to think of harnessing this collective form to create really powerful expressions of art. Large game companies, though unfortunately often overloaded with financialization and slavish crunch these days, pull of work with sometimes thousands of artists, and grace us with things like the latest God of War or many of the Avengers films or the artwork (maybe not the writing) in Interstellar. These are masterworks of technology and synchronized artistry like many others.

Remove the crunch and financial incentive - what do you get? Shrek Retold..? and that recent Cowboy Bebop Real Folk Blues group cover, amazing game mods (e.g. Black Mesa HL1 remake), the public github matrix, etc. It's all cool, and clearly begging for more experimentation in organization. To me these things stand in opposition to a lot of otherwise sour narratives and ideologies on full display in the current political world, and show the plain truth of our collective awesomeness.

"Mmm ahh yess the pinnacle of our civilization"

So let's do it let's figure something out. I'm here in my little echo chamber slowly stacking up weird little gadgets and code that have all kinds of uses. I think Biofeedback and eventually the rest of medical and probably computer tech could use the same love like the examples above - it already is but I mean even more concentration on the democratization i.e. lowering the barriers to entry and enhancing the language by which we engage with it. That also means covering as many expressions as possible, i.e. broad software, generalized hardware, the science and art around it, and so on. It just takes a few generous taps on the keyboard for the most part, distributed over a bunch of people. Financing is another thing but I prefer to take the "eh it'll come when it comes point if view," but I literally live off seasonal foraging half the year so I am a bit skewed here on how I pace myself.

I listened to a whole bunch of Peter Senge at one time and one particular example struck me. I've met many veterans of their fields talking about systems and teaching people to identify systems in their lives in order to improve on these. Senge demonstrated this with 6 years olds identifying feedback loops that would cause them to get into tiffs with each other on the playground, and would work out their own system of ethics in order to overcome their issues.

At the end of this, though the whole talk is great.

I started thinking about this years ago as I began studying systems and art more seriously. One sort of silly but I think cool idea I had was to adapt a group exercise mentioned by Peter Senge, that was developed at a major engineering firm, and turn it into a more artistic exercise. The idea was simply to take this exercise and mix it with drawing, where you identify the significant parts of yourself and your community and map them to a tree, and draw the tree yourself as part of this expression. If this turns out interesting enough I want to lay them all out next to each other in a big public tableau so we can all see our commonalities in who we are and what makes us, but still as diverse as nature itself.

These sorts of representations are a step in the right direction for building community while reinforcing our individual strengths to ourselves and in solidarity with others. I believe more collective expressions like these should be more common and less fragmented in effort, though the ease with which we can do this all now is something very new for our species. If you're interested, whip something up according to the above template (be as creative as you can, I love abstraction) and submit it to me at If that's too much work or sounds lame, aw fine, but I'll be back with more ideas. Meanwhile, take the time to think about what kind of collective art forms are really interesting or useful exercises. All of language and knowledge fall under the umbrella of collective art in my opinion, but that is an abstract notion. Cheers!

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