Proposal: Art & The Commons

[This is a “living” document currently open to collaboration by those interested in Art & The Commons Forums, Workshops, or other events. The Google document for this page can be found here: Proposal: Art & The Commons. Current editors are Maria Byck and Antonio Serna. The version below was last updated  Feb 13, 2012]

ART & THE COMMONS: Beyond the Tangible

Traditionally the commons brings to mind a system where tangible resources are shared by a community. For practical reasons these types of tangible commons have built around them complex ecologies of functions that can be counted, sorted, and balanced to maintain the vitality of the resource as a commons. The advantage in a commons is that responsibility and care is distributed within its members whose livelihood in-turn depends on it, to a certain degree.

With this basic information about tangible commons, can we begin to think about other types of commons, commons who’s functions are less tangible and cannot be enumerated and written as clearly and precisely as those such as land, water, and air? If so we can begin the process of negotiating a relationship to the commons that has no physical form at all, such as ideas and culture.

A New Lens for Analysis

Occupy Wall Street has directly confronted the issue of privatized public space, or the commons, and its impact on the social and political landscape. Through this we can see how the value of the land moves beyond its physical properties to the intangible outcomes of bodies in a shared space: expressions, serendipity, imagination and engagement. What is the potential when we open up spaces that provide an alternative to sitting in our American dream homes isolated observers of world through the mediated images on our screens?

Through the Occupy Wall Street lens we can see how corporate and capitalist thinking has lead to the commodification of the cultural commons. What is the impact of copyright? As corporations own much of our culture how do we interact with our culture if it is off limits? How is value created in a market driven economy in which art is horded as a luxury item rather than shared as a public good. Does this lead the artist to self-censorship? Does this affect our imagination of the possibilities? Where are the borders of this system? How can we push up against them? Can current practices in technology, such as open source, hacking and killer apps that take privately owned and coded entity and redefine it as public, provide some insight? How do the evolving dynamic of OWS actions provide a chance to challenge the current boundaries between the public good and private capital?

Possible forums:
Exploring the commons beyond the tangible.

In an effort to harness the potential of moving between the intangible to the tangible, we will explore how to move from ideas to actions and back again. Various workshops focus on furthering our understanding and relationship to the commons, for example: Art & the Commons or Music & the Commons.

Other possible events:
-A discussion exploring The political, economic, and social intersections and conflicts within painting: The Artist Contract, The defining the public in 18th C. France. Case studies: Van Gogh, Casper David Friedrich, Bruegel family, Da Vinci, Jacques-Louis David.
In Practice Events: post-workshop gatherings and events to implementing sustainable solutions beyond WS2MS.