Monday, May 22, 2017

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Time for a Substantive Debate on the Language of Art-Science

Dear Yaminers
Dear Ken

thank you very much for this articulated response, which brings up some
fundamental issues

there is really one major issue I have with it, which is this:

> This kind of narrative seems to assume that nothing useful happens in

I have said no such thing. I do not believe such a thing. And, opposite to
this, when I refer to the notion of "bringing science out of laboratories"
I refer to the possibility to bring the results of science out there, in
the world.

Because, if I strongly agree with you about the fact that some scientists,
researchers, institutions and programs establish wonderful, meaningful,
responsible relationships with the "out there", this is not true in
general. And not even for the majority of the cases. In effect, it is true
of a strict minority of subjects.

My eventual agreements or oppositions to the whole rest of your insightful
message derive from this.

You seem to express a logic of exclusion: "it's either this or that"

I am expressing one of inclusion and possibility: "it can be this and that"

I do not desire to express a notion of supremacy of either art or sciences
(or of any other thing, as a matter of fact) over the other. I desire to
open up a discussion of possibility to combining different languages and

Different languages and modalities which have different purposes, scopes,

There are multiple logics and dynamics according to which behavioral
changes can happen, in small and wide contexts.

Some happen because people become more informed and achieve knowledge and,
thus, they change their behavior.

Some happen because something emotional or aesthetic happens to them and,
thus, they change their behavior.

Take smoking, for example. There are people who stop smoking because they
read "smoking kills you" on the pack of cigarettes. And there are people
who stop smoking because, at a point of their life, start feeling sick,
have a heart or lung problem of some kind, and, in fear, when they sit in
front of someone that tells them "either you stop smoking or it will kill
you", they change their behavior.

The informational content of both situations is at least comparable: words,
images, sensations (I stopped smoking myself, and when I stopped I realized
that even the body contained full information about the need to stop, even
before I stopped: I had a persistent continuous cough for more than 15
years, I had random, repeated pain in the chest, lungs, back, poor
Yet the two modalities act on a completely different level, and achieve
completely different results. Both are needed. The more dramatic, emotional
one is better to confront with "emergencies" and needs for drastic,
participatory, collaborative action.

it is not really difficult to demonstrate how the majority of people, when
brought to making choices, behave in completely irrational ways. There's a
wide literature demonstrating the fact that knowledge of facts does not
necessarily change people's behavior.

A different approach is necessary.

This does not say anything against the necessity of science, its importance
and role in society and in the opportunities it opens in confronting with
the (many) problems of our world. On the contrary, this understanding
supports science in better achieving its goals.

But this kind of combined action needs to be, precisely, a combined action.

If I don't absolutely aim at artists steering the scientific process, at
the same time I don't appreciate at all the notion of art as a decoration
of scientific processes. This should be a peer-to-peer relationship, not
one of subordination in any direction. Which does not mean that everyone
should do everything.

When I opened up my "brain cancer" to create La Cura, I was not aiming at
finding the cures of magicians and wizards. I had a surgery which used an
evolved technique derived from adapting a method used for epilepsy, for
example, engaging and coordinating multiple researchers and producing a
series of publications, and stimulating further research.

La Cura was a wider process. Which is exactly taking science out of the
lab, in the sense I highlighted above: using artistic processes, the ones
of participatory performance, to transform a condition of separation into a
condition of global collaboration and participation. In which the fact that
scientists and farmers, and designers, and citizens, and artists and
children and grandparents work together, each with their own role and
capacities, is not only possible and real, it becomes an expression of
people's *desire*, which is a very, very powerful thing.

In this sense: when science goes out of the lab, wonderful, meaningful
things happen, because not only "people stop smoking", but they also
immediately position themselves in a position in which they are more open
to bringing down their barriers towards diversity, and engaging in open
discussions about what is possible and feasible.

For all of this

If we expect scientists to engage with artists in a serious and responsible
> way, artists must credit scientists with some level of serious engagement
> in the world.

I hope to have answered your doubt: such a thing exists in what I wrote
only if that's what you want to read (or if my english is particularly
poor, which is also a possibility)

> Where are these robots to come from? Can we assume that the post-modern
> language of "transgression" is going to solve our problems, whatever they
> are?

these and other objections seem to use the same "either-or" logic which I
do not use, favoring "and-and" instead.

> There are ways beyond this, but they do not involve roasting fish under
> umbrellas as though we can dredge them up from today's overfished oceans to
> sell them in a transcendental souk

Well, this depends on the governance, the architectures of power, the
technologies you use to make and consume energy, the education system, the
socially constructed possibility to establish meaningful relations and,
most of all, people's imagination in which today, to say the least, the
idea of the possibility to establish meaningful relationships is being
completely pushed out of perception

> where everyone is rich and no one needs to bargain.

:) I think you might have read the wrong message here

> But the problem is serious, in the sense that there is no deep political
> will to solve these kinds of problem.

another indication for the need for different approaches, which focus on

> A few years ago, Jørgen Randers undertook a study for the Norwegian
> government. He proposed a series of actionable measures to reduce
> catastrophic climate change. The idea was that if every nation in the world
> undertook similar measures, we could dramatically reduce the threat of
> catastrophic climate change within two decades. Randers and the Norwegian
> government understood that Norway alone could not do this. However, they
> reasoned that if Norway adopted these measures, then the other Nordic
> nations might follow – Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark. If the other
> Nordic nations adopted these measures, then the rest of the European Union
> might follow. And so on.
> The plan involved 15 actionable points. The plan would have raised taxes
> in Norway by about €250 (GBP 191) per year for two decades. The measures
> were put forward in a public referendum. The voters rejected the plan. If
> one of the world's wealthiest and most environmentally conscious nations
> refuses to adopt such measures, it is hard to see what will bring about the
> changes we need in other nations.

see above: it is questionable that the knowledge of facts, in itself, is
sufficient to achieve change in behavior. Necessary, but not sufficient.
Addressing the logic of *desire* and *aesthetics*, instead is evidently
more efficient in this (paradoxically, it suffices to think about the brain
areas which it stimulates to see just how much this is true), and also
facilitates shifting to contexts more open to possibility and opportunity,
facilitating education, cultural transformation etc, possibly over longer
terms supported by changes in attitude.
If this type of proposition does not seem as an actionable strategy, I
don't know what is.

> This post-modern Mediterranean world of lively kids dashing among the
> endless stands and kiosks of a market filled with elderly people — all
> well-to-do — and cheerful families does not exist, and cannot.

And, in fact, that's nowhere close to what I described. And I think that
you should reconsider your position if these are the mis-readings that you
have to refer to to make your point.

And, about the possibility for existence of different economies: I have one
right next to my house in Rome, in the market of Piazza San Giovanni di
Dio. I write extensively about it in our book "La Cura" from Codice
Edizioni (it is in Italian, but if you want we can talk about it). And a
number of other examples exist.

I would think that denying a living possibility/opportunity is much more a
waste of time than trying to understand how to implement it, how to think
about different ideas for "replicability" and "scalability", how to make
them better using technologies for economics, energy, waste etcetera. And,
in this sense, the Mediterranean offers wonderful examples.

> To put it another way:
> Our political enemies are all wrong on science because they are evil
> people.
> Our friends should challenge science because their hearts are in the right
> place.
Fine about the citation, but I don't see how any of this fits what I said.
Sorry. I suggest you re-read what I wrote without any preconceptions (and,
possibly, by also framing it into the context of my practice)

> If we are going to be serious about art-science, we've got to think deeply
> about the kinds of discourse we see as useful.

If we are going to be serious about art-science we've got to think deeply
about the kinds of things which change people's behavior.

> I do not think that getting scientists out of laboratories is useful. And
> it is not useful to get us all into the endless bazaar where we consume
> increasingly more of everything linked by increasingly dense trade routes
> with more shipping, more transport, more robots, more electronics, more
> fishing and more …

By now, I hope you understood that that is not at all what I intended.

> We expect scientists to offer responsible and substantive evidence for
> their claims. I expect the same of artist-scientists.

hope to have contributed in this direction

all the best!

*[**MUTATION**]* *Art is Open Source *-
*[**CITIES**]* *Human Ecosystems Relazioni* - http://he-r.i
*[**NEAR FUTURE DESIGN**]* *Nefula Ltd* -
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Professor of Near Future and Transmedia Design at ISIA Design Florence:

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