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SPECIAL / 2012

we and the arts


we and the arts / mindkiss

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untitled 1982 209 x 277 mm felt pen on paper


EDITORIAL

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At we_magazine we believe that the Internet has the power to change the world for the better and to build a Greater WE. A world in which more people are able to live better lives. The Web is re-writing the way we work, live, produce and consume things and act as a society. It nurtures our capacity to drive change and innovation. It offers us so many new possibilities – possibilities which we still have to figure out how to use.


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we and the arts


... is trying to connect the WE and the arts by showing art works from all over the world rooted in various disciplines. Whenever we could we linked our stories to the art of OUBEY and the MINDKISS Project, because his art · celebrates complexity and diversity in arts (including physics, astrophysics, complexity research and biology) · is an attempt to visualize collective intelligence · symbolizes that everything is connected with everything > NETWORK · resists “traditional” structures in the art scene · was made to create something bigger; art as one way to achieve a common understanding of what a greater WE could be


ENCOUNTER

INTERVIEW

ESSAY / STORY

IMPRINT we_magazine · www.we-magazine.net · we@we-magazine.net Bea Gschwend · Paul Morland · Ulrike Reinhard · Dominik Wind c/o Ulrike Reinhard · Faehrweg 2 · 69239 Neckarhausen · +49 151 58748588 · we@we-magazine.net Special thanks to Dagmar Woyde-Koehler, MINDKISS Project. All artwork printed in this magazine was produced by OUBEY.


12 Immediate and Unimpeded DAGMAR WOYDE-KOEHLER 20 A Journey with OUBEY PETER KALVELAGE 28 A Shameless Picture PETER KRUSE 36 The Heart and The Mind LIZ HOWARD 42 Is Occupy Art? CARL SCRASE 52 Revealing a New Way of Seeing INDY JOHAR 62 The WE brings Performative Aspects into the Arts PETER WEIBEL 72 Creative Power on the Margins of Society HANNAH RIEGER 78 Infinite Possibilities VANESSA BRANSON AND JON NASH 84 The Flesh Becomes WE. The WE Becomes Flesh. JOHN STUBLEY 92 Togetherness JUSTUS BRUNS 98 The Empty Space What it takes to build a greater WE ULRIKE REINHARD


we and the arts and OUBEY


OUBEY – The Source of Inspiration for WE and the Arts The art of OUBEY is the central point of reference to which all the articles in this edition of we_magazine radiate. Not because his art is a cut above over kinds of art, but because in his art the idea of the WE is expressed in a particularly immediate and powerful way. OUBEY was an artist who could equally have been a good physicist, mathematician, architect, designer, composer, film director, writer or poet. He chose to be an inquiring spirit. Complexity, chaos, order and entropy, biology, astrophysics, quantum physics, and the science and philosophy of the ancient Greeks were his fields of predilection which he explored with great passion and commitment throughout his short life. His decision to devote himself to art has brought forth a body of work which can be seen as the pure unfiltered expression of this radical proponent of interdisciplinary thinking and free-ranging inquiry. This is art born of a free spirit whose love of unfettered inquiry and discovery knows no bounds. Like all truly creative minds who see deep into the world, he was strangely unworldly. OUBEY was so intent on bigger things that he had no time or patience for trivialities, conventions and hypocritical politeness which get in the way and obscure the view. And this is precisely the connecting bridge to the idea of WE.


Immediate and Unimpeded DAGMAR WOYDE-KOEHLER

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self portrait 1988 variable PhotonPainting

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ESSAY / STORY


OUBEY WAS JUST BEGINNING TO PREPARE FOR OFFERING HIS ART TO THE PUBLIC GAZE AFTER A LONG CREATIVE PERIOD OF WITHDRAWAL WHEN HE WAS KILLED IN A CAR CRASH IN 2004. FOLLOWING HIS UNTIMELY DEATH, DAGMAR WOYDE-KOEHLER, HIS “PARTNER IN CRIME” FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS, DEDICATED HERSELF TO THE POSTHUMOUS REALIZATION OF HIS PLAN AND HIS VISION. IN THE OUBEY MINDKISS PROJECT SHE HAS CHOSEN AN APPROACH THAT IS MODELED AS FAITHFULLY AS POSSIBLE ON THE INTERDISCIPLINARY AND UNCOMPROMISING CREATIVE PROCESSES OF OUBEYS ART, ONE THAT FOLLOWS IN HIS FOOTSTEPS AND THUS ESCHEWS CONVENTIONAL WELL TRODDEN PATHS IN ITS ATTEMPT TO PRESENT OUBEYs ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL LEGACY TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD. THE PROJECT FIRST CAUGHT PUBLIC ATTENTION WITH THE PUBLICATION OF THE OUBEY MINDKISS BOOK IN 2010. YET THE INTERNET WITH THE WEB SITE AND THE MINDKISS BLOG WAS AND STILL REMAINS THE CENTRAL CHANNEL FOR OUTREACH. THROUGH IT AN INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUNDS HAS NOW GROWN UP WHO KEENLY FOLLOW AND SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT AND WHO IN DOING SO ARE CONNECTED WITH ONE ANOTHER AND FORM IN THE SPIRIT OF OUBEYs ART – A WE OF A VERY SPECIAL KIND.

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Dagmar Woyde-Koehler is co-founder and CEO of EnBW Akademie GmbH and in this capacity acts as a consultant to the EnBW Group and other companies on issues of the integrated development of human resources, management and organization. She was voted Chief Learning Officer of the Year 2009 for her development of the Akademie business model and her work on the implementation of knowledge-based management. Dagmar Woyde-Koehler is a member of the New Club of Paris, the Wertekommission – an Initiative for Value-oriented Leadership and Corporate Culture, and the European Corporate Learning Forum. She is also an Ambassador of the Leonardo Award Council.Working together with Stefan Sagmeister, renowned New Yorker graphic designer, she conceived and published the first book about OUBEYs art: OUBEY MINDKISS.

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ENCOUNTER


“The rapport between the Individual and the Whole is one of the great themes which resonates through my paintings. It’s the great composite arc straddling space. Art can construct arcs of great majesty connecting the Private with the Universal. Where else can such a venture succeed? Nowhere. Therein lies its singularity – in its ability to pass from the One to the Many and back again from the Many to the total Singular and Isolated.” OUBEY

A universal spirit lives in OUBEYs pictures which dynamites and rides roughshod over the frontiers thrown up by the development of culture and science over the centuries. In his paintings the awareness that everything is connected with everything, and that this awareness holds a key to the better understanding of the world and the universe from which we have emerged and which is our cosmic habitat, finds a visual expression that can be understood by all the people of this earth. This also includes the realization that even time levels in the cosmos are inextricably linked with each other. Past, present and future melt into one another when we think beyond the fourth dimension. Which means that we are not only connected with everything that exists in our present here and now; we are also connected with everything that has existed and everything that will ever exist. This is an aspect of WE that was clearly present in OUBEYs mind and is still embodied in his art. Every single entity, no matter how large or small, forms an element of the Whole and the existence of the Whole is based on all the living parts of which it is composed – whether human beings, animals, plants, drops of water or grains of sand. After all, we can also trace our existence on this earth back to the dust of dead stars which forms the chemical building blocks for our Periodic Table of the Elements. Such knowledge, and above all such awareness that this is how it is, was an unshakably fixed point in OUBEYs spiritual outlook.

SO WHAT I WOULD DESCRIBE AS AN ELEMENT OF THE WE IN HIS ART IS – AN INNER FEELING OF BEING RELATED TO EVERYTHING, FROM THE SMALLEST TO THE VERY LARGEST ELEMENT; AN ABILITY TO CONCEPTUALIZE AND EXPERIENCE THIS VAST INTERCONNECTING ARC AND TO EXPRESS IT IN WORKS OF ART; AND AT THE SAME TIME TO ESCHEW THE NARROW LIMITS IMPOSED BY THE ZEITGEIST IN FAVOR OF A SELF-CREATED FREE RANGING SPACE IN WHICH THE ARTIST CAN BESPORT HIMSELF. “EVERYTHING IS RELATED TO EVERYTHING ELSE AND MY ART IS A VISUAL STATEMENT OF SUCH KNOWLEDGE. IT SIMPLY REFLECTS THE JOYFUL EXUBERANCE OF SUCH KNOWLEDGE AND IS BASICALLY AN ODE TO IT, A POEM.” OUBEY

ESSAY / STORY

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The fact that – after his first and very successful commercial exhibition – for many years OUBEY pursued his creative work at a far remove from the art world, shunning any form of publicity is testimony to his convictions and his awareness of this inextricable interconnectivity. Whoever understands his work as an Ode to Joy extolling such perceptions is obviously going to have considerable difficulty with a reference system that gives precedence to material effects. Yet OUBEY was no conscientious objector. He simply had no choice. He could never subjugate himself to a mechanism that demanded anything other from him than what his own spirit prescribed and brought forth. And in this way – never compromising – he created the widest possible free space for himself, from where the body of work emerged which, now that he is no longer, is being presented to the public in the MINDKISS Project. Making OUBEYs art accessible to a broad public has also lent a new kind of vitality to the living WE in his paintings. The project’s consistent use of the Internet as the key communication channel has given people all over the world the opportunity to view OUBEYs pictures and become acquainted with his way of thinking. The Encounters which bring together his paintings and scientists and artists from a wide range of disciplines have given birth to a compelling and fully in-the-round view which – quite independently of the interpretations of the experts – is now gaining increasing traction. A kind of resonating space has been created in which the WE in the previously unknown paintings by OUBEY can meet with the previously unknown WE of a broad worldwide public which is now getting to know OUBEYs work. This present edition of we_magazine is part of this process and one which will hopefully drive it forward.

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ESSAY / STORY


AS A FREE COMMUNICATION SPACE WITH NO ACCESS RESTRICTIONS, THE INTERNET GIVES EVERYONE WITH SOMETHING TO OFFER A CHALLENGING PERSPECTIVE. ABOVE ALL ELSE, THE INTERNET OFFERS DIRECT ACCESS TO PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD. WHAT A STUPENDOUS RESONANCE CHAMBER IT IS! PRECISELY WHAT THIS PROJECT NEEDED AND WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR – WHEN I HAD TO DECIDE WHICH WAY WOULD BE THE RIGHT WAY FOR OUBEYs LEGACY TO ENCOUNTER THE PUBLIC SCENE: A SPACE OF MAXIMUM FREEDOM IN WHICH OUBEYS ART CAN UNRESERVEDLY MOVE AND BE VIEWED, WHERE THE MAGNETIC ATTRACTION OF HIS WORK CAN DEVELOP TO FULL EFFECT – IMMEDIATE AND UNIMPEDED.

ESSAY / STORY

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“The rapport between Whole is one of the great through my paintings. It’s straddling space. Art can majesty connecting the Where else can such a Nowhere. Therein lies its to pass from the One to from the Many to the total

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QUOTATION


the Individual and the themes which resonates the great composite arc construct arcs of great Private with the Universal. venture succeed? singularity – in its ability the Many and back again Singular and Isolated.� OUBEY

QUOTATION

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A Journey with OUBEY INTERVIEW WITH PETER KALVELAGE

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INTERVIEW


I WAS INTRODUCED TO PETER KALVELAGE BY DAGMAR WOYDE-KOEHLER. SHE TOLD ME THAT HE WAS INTERESTED IN MAKING A FILM ABOUT THE MINDKISS PROJECT AND THAT HIS WORK WAS CLOSELY RELATED TO THE WE IDEA. SO I IMMEDIATELY AGREED TO DO THIS INTERVIEW. PETER IS AN ANTHROPOLOGIST BY TRAINING AND HE THINKS A LOT ABOUT HOW SOCIETY WORKS, WHAT THE GLUE CONNECTING PEOPLE IS MADE OF, AND WHAT KIND OF RHETORICAL DEVICES THEY USE. FOR HIM, IN SHORT, ANTHROPOLOGY IS A WE SCIENCE; IT FOCUSES CRUCIALLY ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE I AND THE WE, A UNIVERSAL AND EXISTENTIAL POLARITY.

INTERVIEW

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Peter Kalvelage studied anthropology and philosophy at the Universities of Göttingen and Mainz. After teaching visual anthropology at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Mainz University, since 1992 he has worked as a freelance filmmaker, author and producer. His work ranges from documentaries for public service television in the fields of culture and science to communications for industry and scientific research institutes, and has also included the conception and realization of various major exhibitions. His special interest in processes of change and innovation in organizational and regional development has led him over the past seven years to be part of a think tank for a company in the Ruhr district. As a filmmaker he has also participated in an ongoing project on cooperation strategies in a city district of Detroit. One recent project was a scientific program for the German ZDF channel on High Performance Teams. Peter Kalvelage is also an associate lecturer in media theory at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences.

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INTERVIEW


WE_MAGAZINE What is your perspective on the concept of WE as an anthropologist?

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PETER KALVELAGE: In any culture there’s always a juxtaposition of I and WE, and there’s always a contradiction and a tension between the interests of I, the individual, and WE, the group – not tension between me – as a person – and the group, but between the cultural concept of an I and a WE. Social rules and habits and culture in general are the media through which this existential contradiction and tension is evened out.

WE_MAGAZINE What is your understanding of WE? Are there various WE’s or is there just one specific WE?

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PETER KALVELAGE: There is not one specific WE; after all, we all hope there’s something behind the word WE, a definite meaning or something we can hold on to. WE is a small grammatical entity, it’s purely and simply a phoneme. But what does it evocate and what does it mean? What does it mean to put the WE into being, to live it? It depends on how we look – what perspectives we take. As an individual I always want to be part of a WE. I want to be part of a WE and sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. And that can either hurt – because I’m excluded from a certain group – or it can be a very pleasant state of being, gratifying and socially satisfying.

WE_MAGAZINE So it’s kind of fluid?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Yes, of course it’s fluid, we always have to move from I to WE and somehow balance this.

WE_MAGAZINE How is your work related to this idea of WE?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Well, one thematic objective is to work on something I call the ‘art of cooperation’. This takes place in companies, in organizations, inner city neighborhoods or even in small teams in schools and universities. It’s a universal issue. I’m trying to focus on topics that consider and explore what cooperation means.

WE_MAGAZINE For example?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Cooperation, Collaboration, Co-creativeness is something which might seem natural and self-evident but as we can see in organizations, and especially in very hierarchical big organizations, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. WE is something we pay lip service to – something we know is important even while we work against it. In my filmwork I try to explore how highly efficient groups (like sailing crews or orchestras) work together. And this may serve as a blueprint for the viewer to get a better understanding of the inner mechanics of cooperation and hand-in-hand processes.

WE_MAGAZINE When does a WE work, when does it flow?

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PETER KALVELAGE: One prerequisite is that the group or team members must have an experience of how it feels when it doesn’t work due to a lack of communication flow. Then they can become very aware and develop techniques to make things work, techniques which lie mainly in the intuitive realm. A good team performs according to the ability of its members to “walk in the same mental landscape”, to anticipate all eventualities and cooperatively react to them. You trust those who give you clear signs of their awareness of the situation. Leadership is not obsolete, but the question is then who is leading? If it’s the WE, then there surely is flow. This is something that can be learnt but you have to internalize it. It has to become part of the personality. Of course it’s much easier if a person has a WE-character by nature.

WE_MAGAZINE So it’s more like a value set?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Yes, it’s a value set but from the value set you develop a certain responsiveness to your social environment, a certain awareness or respect. It’s a big word ‘respect’ everybody uses it – excessively so. But in fact, yes, it’s a question of attitude and

INTERVIEW

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then it’s a question of the chemistry of the team or the chemistry of the group, and the will to develop that chemistry. If you have a community or group-based job and you do it well as a team, then everybody sees that this chemistry happens in the moment, in the here and now. And it reminds us of what life is actually about – about being and doing things, bringing things to a successful outcome, but also enjoying the process and having fun doing work.

WE_MAGAZINE Would you consider that it takes a pretty strong ME to do a great job on the WE?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Yes, you have to be determined to do it. It takes a strong ME and that’s always relative to the WE. It’s interdependent, but how do I know how strong my ME is? And where does the particular strength of my own ME lie? I have to be a listener – to both the inside and the outside.Generally, we have this mindset: “ME against the world. I have to trespass and trespassing is difficult: the OTHER is keeping me away from the well, from the water hole, so the OTHER is an enemy.” Which of course, you know, is true sometimes.

WE_MAGAZINE Why are you interested in the MINDKISS Project? Why did you get involved?

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PETER KALVELAGE: MINDKISS is a very interesting undertaking. There’s a definite communication that Dagmar Woyde-Koehler is trying to establish – a very unplanned and unorganized and deep communication – with the work of OUBEY.

SO, BY PRESENTING A CERTAIN PAINTING OF OUBEY TO SOMEBODY WHO HAS NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE, IT PROVOKES, IT EVOKES SOMETHING. AND WHAT IT PROVOKES IS A VERY DIRECT AND DEEP REFLECTION OF THE ONE WHO SEES THE PICTURE, WHO ENCOUNTERS IT. IT TEARS OPEN A CURTAIN TO A VERY SPECIFIC VIEW GUIDED BY THE LIFE-THEME OR PROFESSION OF THIS PERSON. A CONTINUATION OF OUBEYS EXPLORATION OF THE UNIVERSE. IS THIS A WE THING?

> WE_MAGAZINE For me it is, of course, it’s a WE thing. But as a filmmaker – if you can now think as a filmmaker – why are youinterested in this MINDKISS Project?

PETER KALVELAGE: I think there’s a deep story in handling the cognitive and the artistic – the creative heritage of somebody like OUBEY. OUBEY had a very strong interest in understanding the world through his art. So it’s also a way of exploring OUBEY. Making a film is exploring in all these different directions, exploring what his questions were and making the relevance of his questions visible. And then bringing in his voice and witnessing the communication between him and somebody else who has something to say about the world, someone who is also very curious, who has also chosen his topic. And in this way, it opens up new perspectives. So, in follow-

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ing the voyages of OUBEY, something which is very virtual becomes very real. That’s a challenge, but it’s always a challenge for a filmmaker to step into the unknown because you never know beforehand if it’s really going to work.

> WE_MAGAZINE If what is really going to work?

PETER KALVELAGE: If it’s going to make a really strong story. If the story is evocative and generates energy – because it should generate a certain kind of emotional energy. If someone who encounters this art is moved and provoked to respond and react, he is motivated to share something of himself or herself. So, all of a sudden, different realms – the ‘I’ of OUBEY and the ‘WE’ of the communication – come together, merge, and something new is established or happens. Putting all this together – the various stories of the various people encountering OUBEY and his work – is a story in itself. It’s a story about the unknown. Of exposing oneself to the unexpected and trusting it will make sense. And it’s a story about curiosity, about the wish to see into the heart of things, the same desire that motivated Goethe’s Faust: “That I may detect the inmost force / Which binds the world, and guides its course …” I think OUBEY had a polymath’s perspective. I have this idea that he was transdisciplinary in the sense that he couldn’t accept the mainstream perception of art as production of values for well-heeled collectors. He wanted to know, and for him his paintings may have been like stepping stones crossing and exploring the immensity of life! “M'illumino / d'immenso” Ungaretti said in his shortest poem. With such an attitude art is science and science is art. MINDKISS in this sense has very many facets that I'm interested in.

WE_MAGAZINE What is art for you? I mean you’ve just said that art is science and science is art, but what is art for you?

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WE_MAGAZINE Would you consider filmmaking as an art form?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Oh, there are many answers to that question and I have only a few!

I THINK A WORK OF ART IS LIKE A MEMBRANE. THE VERY SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE OF THE ARTIST AND HIS EXPRESSION IS SET FREE. AND THEN THERE’S ME AS THE RECIPIENT OR THE VIEWER OR THE LISTENER OR THE ESSENTIAL COUNTERPART. IT’S LIKE A DOOR OPENING ONTO THE HEART OF THE ARTIST. AND IT’S ALSO LIKE A DOOR INTO THE HEART OF DARKNESS. TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, IT’S ALWAYS DARK INSIDE THE OTHER.

PETER KALVELAGE: Yes, in a certain way I consider filmmaking as an art form. Well, I consider it as a form of art as well as a form of craft, more a craft but also an art. And if you go back to the septem artes liberales, the liberal arts as the old perception of arts, the disciplines that permeate the world and shape our perceptions of it, then film involves some of these arts. It’s grammar, it’s rhetoric, music and dialectics. It’s story-telling on many levels. A visual song actually.

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A film has to have a certain order which is reflected in our inner being – the viewers also have a certain order in themselves to categorize the world and understand it. So the discourse of the film, the story or the rhetoric, should match with the internal cognitive order of the viewer, with his mindset. And vice versa. Film is an ambiguous and multidimensional medium. It combines many channels of communication. A big part of film reaches us on an emotional level, pictures, music and the fine organization of time evoke feelings, but even so, what makes a “good” film is that WE feel the logic and truth in it. That’s why we all like certain film classics. That’s why we like Chaplin for instance, that delver into the human psyche or soul. He’s so archetypal and he touches so many patterns, we can’t really withdraw from that. We’re drawn in.

WE_MAGAZINE So, what you are describing and actually saying is that art somehow needs a WE? Is there art without a WE or can there be art without a WE?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Yes, of course. Of course. Artists have a feeling they have to express. You can’t think it without a WE but it’s mainly their own drive and their existential battle with the exterior and the interior – the reflections of the interior and the exterior – which makes them produce art, in my understanding at least. Many other theories are possible. But something drives them to do so. The inside of course is a reflection of the outer world, and art is a way of reorganizing these two aspects. But then what makes art valuable is that it touches the world from a completely outward and different and non-rational perspective. And it touches us, it surprises us, it makes us play, it leaves us with the freedom to play and to look at things from a completely different angle, one that was unknown to us a minute before. And then, of course, there must be certain structures in everybody which makes art a universal language. Why is it that our prehistoric pictures and cave paintings are so touching? Because there's something deep inside most of us that communicates with them. So, in this sense art is of course a WE thing, a WE thinking, a WE business, a WE matter. Like for example, what we started with – this existential contradiction between the I and the WE.

WE_MAGAZINE The existential contradiction, yes.

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PETER KALVELAGE: The existential contradiction which we all have to deal with. There’s a fascinating short story by Albert Camus:“The Artist at Work” about the painter Jonas who, caught in the straightjacket of his rising reputation, withdraws more and more from his admirers, friends, family and society in general until he finally retreats to a little dark cabin high under the ceiling in his atelier where people come to look at his art or visit him and he’s not interested. He ends up with a blank white canvas with only one word on it, a word so blurred that it can be read either as “solitary” or “solidary”. SOLIDAIRE – SOLITAIRE. The whole conflict is contained in the nutshell of these two words. I think that OUBEY must have found himself trapped in the Jonas dilemma to a certain extent.

WE_MAGAZINE If you look back at the work you have done, the films you have made, in terms of this understanding of WE, what was the most challenging job you ever did and why?

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PETER KALVELAGE: One of the really challenging ones was doing the first program on team work because I was convinced that this was a very relevant issue. A very relevant issue in terms of societal change and the change of paradigms, one that people should be interested in. And then when it was already accepted, some high-level TV people said, “We don’t want this soft-skills stuff. We’re cancelling the commission.” I had to decide then – do I want to do it or not and if I want to do it I have to fight for it. Which I did. It worked out and it so happened that many other things developed from this point.

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But I don’t know if this is what I would call the most challenging job. There’s always the challenge of following your ideas and then getting things done as a group.

WE_MAGAZINE Do you see any kind of paradigm shift nowadays in society?

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PETER KALVELAGE: I think there’s an emerging awareness (which is nothing new) that the hierarchical top-down decision-making structures to get things done on a grand scale have in many cases forgotten about the hidden energies which everybody has to contribute to make things grow, to make the wheels spin, to make things go the right way. So as far as my own experience goes, I think there’s now much more awareness of the hidden factors that underpin success. Successful action, production, communication and giving space to this part of ourselves which throughout evolution has been tuned in to help others. Man is a WE-Animal, as the developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello put it. I agree with him. I think we are much more cooperative by nature as human beings than people probably realize. To be aware of that, of course, also gives space to greater satisfaction, to a better flow, to better relationships between colleagues, and it makes things much faster, much easier.

WE_MAGAZINE Why do you think this is emerging right now? Do you have any ideas on this?

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PETER KALVELAGE: I’d say that we have now come to a point where so much information is available on the right way and the wrong way to run things. Over the past decade we’ve had a few major breaks that produced a very natural and hopefully salutary fear. Things need time and patience and a certain kind of conviction that the very limited influence each of us has on existing economic structures can have an impact. Private and professional networks are merging, new approaches are popping up everywhere and they are communicated: we hear about them, we see them, we may even be part of them. It’s a huge testing field. And we have access to all this knowledge.

WE_MAGAZINE So the Internet has something to do with it?

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PETER KALVELAGE: Of course, it’s spreading the virus in the good and the bad sense.

IT’S A QUESTION OF HOW WE DIGEST THIS KNOWLEDGE. WE ARE DIGESTING IT, IT’S A FERMENTATION PROCESS, LIKE WITH BACTERIA.

INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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One of the features of the MINDKISS Project run by Dagmar Woyde-Koehler – who has collaborated on this edition of we_magazine – is a series of “Encounters” organized at irregular intervals. An Encounter is a meeting between a person invited by Dagmar and a painting by her late husband, the artist OUBEY. The guests take the wraps off the painting selected for them and which they have never seen before and begin a dialog with it. The whole Encounter is filmed on video and posted on the Internet. The Encounter between Prof. Peter Kruse and the painting by OUBEY took place in January 2010. Kruse was immediately “electrified” by the idea of being visited by a painting. He was fascinated to learn that after his first successful commercial exhibition, the artist OUBEY opted to withdraw from the glare of public life with its lures of celebrity, reputation and riches to dedicate himself entirely to following wherever his own inner logic and dynamic might lead. Kruse found it remarkable that there was still something to discover in an age when even the most singularly ungifted, those without a single ounce of talent, had no compunctions whatsoever about parading and preening themselves – and that this something, moreover, was born and nurtured in the sanctuary of a self-imposed seclusion. Peter Kruse was equally enthusiastic about the unusual form taken by the Encounter – which chose to publicize original works through the channels of the Internet and not the usual shows and exhibitions of the art market. As Kruse himself is a leading expert on the Internet who has analyzed its specific ways of functioning and its special dynamics, his Encounter was particularly revealing and impressive as he brought to light the various layers of meaning inherent in OUBEYs work. The following text contains extracts from this Encounter in which aspects of the Internet and its impact on society (= the WE) and art are very much at the fore.

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A Shameless Picture PETER KRUSE

Peter Kruse is managing partner of nextpractice GmbH and honorary professor for general and organizational psychology at the University of Bremen. The main focus of his work is on the development of new methods for the promotion and use of collective intelligence and the professionalization of entrepreneurship as a means of building a stabilizing form of culture.

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A SYMBOL OF OUR TIMES The Internet has one very special peculiarity: it removes things from their context. And something similar has happened to this picture. Torn from its history, it’s exposed and very vulnerable. Nothing goes before it to prepare the way. There’s no information to classify it, it’s freed of its context and reaches me as an autonomous free-moving unit of information. The only thing I know is that this painting is very important for somebody – important enough for this moment of encounter to be arranged for me. This situation is very similar to what we are now experiencing with the Internet. With its hyperlink structure, information is also radically removed from the context in which it was generated, and such context is really necessary for the receiver to decipher the information to discover the sender’s intention. The explanatory background is lacking. The only thing we know for sure on the Net is that whatever is represented there was important enough to the person who sent or posted it for him or her to make it accessible to us. In other words, at the point of contact the question of meaning is reduced to a question of significance. (He now takes the cover off the painting).

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untitled 1981 800 x 1000 mm pigment-mix on laminated hardboard

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IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS FIRST SIGHT OF THE PAINTING KRUSE SAYS THAT FOR HIM THE PICTURE IS CLOSELY RELATED TO THE INTERNET – NOT JUST IN TERMS OF THE UNFILTERED DIRECTNESS OF THE ENCOUNTER BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF ITS SUBJECT MATTER AND EXPRESSIVITY. TO KRUSE THE PAINTING SEEMS TO BE A SYMBOL OF THE NETWORK PARED DOWN TO THE BARE ESSENTIALS. SPONTANEOUSLY HE REMOVES THE PAINTING FROM THE ORIGINAL SPOT CHOSEN FOR THE ENCOUNTER BY AN OLIVE TREE IN HIS OFFICE, AND RELOCATES IT IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER WALL OF HUNDREDS OF LAPTOPS FOR EDP-ASSISTED LARGE GROUP EVENTS – HIS OWN IDEAL SPOT TO LET THE PAINTING WORK ON HIM AND UNFOLD ITS EFFECTS. WHY AM I PUTTING THE PAINTING IN FRONT OF THIS COMPUTER WALL? It’s exciting to put the painting in a new setting because the overwhelming presence of technology only makes its extreme vulnerability even more apparent. Normally paintings are embedded in an obviously dignified context – in museums, galleries and exhibitions – which lends them value and importance. This painting eludes any such context. The mere fact that it is quite happy to run the risk of appearing irrelevant makes it interesting. Its context is not the only thing from which it has detached itself, and this is precisely what gives it such a close relationship to network reality. Like everything presented on the Internet, it has become part of an uncontrollable dynamic. Vulnerability, however, is always ambivalent: on the one hand the painting’s liberation from the restrictive context of museums and galleries strengthens the curiosity of viewers and their wish for their own point of view; on the other, the painting must rely purely on itself to produce its effects. There’s nobody there to explain it. It’s long been separated from the loving attention of the artist. And now the moment of encounter is critical in deciding on its value and the degree of attention it will merit. Such radical separation actually only happens to works of art in absolutely exceptional cases. When does an artist die so young and when does a painting lie in obscurity for such a long time to justify its present frameless condition? This painting shoulders its own responsibility. The artist who might explain it is no longer, nor has it been subject to the classificatory gaze of the experts. There is only the picture itself and the viewer, and the two must work together to give the picture meaning. You might argue that its detachment from its original context could expose it to any and every kind of interpretation. But that can only be the case when the direct encounter with the painting is refused. In the Internet there is a radical shift of power and thus of responsibility: a tip in the balance from supply to demand. Effectiveness is no longer a function of how much energy you invest to get your message across but is increasingly becoming a question of resonance: the trend from push to pull. What kind of importance do I give to what I see, what I hear, what I read? How do I categorize it? What meaning does it have for me? I like or I dislike.I ignore or I affirm. This is why I put the painting in front of the computer wall – so that it doesn’t swagger up on me and force my attention with spotlights, cord barriers and please-do-not-touch signs. It’s just there before me and I take my own sweet time: I like, retweet.

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THIS PAINTING IS ALIVE WITH MY OWN LIFE HISTORY. I find it astonishingly easy to open myself up to this painting. It seems as familiar to me as a forgotten notebook I suddenly come across when tidying up. The number of associations it evokes is clearly much bigger than the number of those actually represented. Each line negates the edges of the canvas to continue far beyond what is visible to the eye. The painting seems to me like an intelligent discourse on intricacy and complexity. The dynamics of processes of order formation as described in modern network and self-organization theory could hardly be represented in a finer and more apposite way than they are in this painting. When I first looked at it, that famous line of Nietzsche from Thus Spoke Zarathustra went through my head: One must still have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star. This painting carries sufficient chaos in itself. From a blurry distance it seems like the cross section of a human brain, unquiet and agitated with the audible hiss of electrical discharges. Move closer in, however, and it seems like an entry into the earth’s atmosphere from outer space, a panoramic view of the infinite diversity of networks in nature and civilization, rivers and lakes, streets and cities, connecting lines and nodes. The painting is most certainly one of those original works which cannot be satisfactorily reproduced. The mind is not part of the world; the world is rather created in the mind. I wonder if the painting is the product of rational analysis, intuitive insight or an exuberant joy in the act of creation? Is it possible that OUBEY had read the same books and learnt from the selfsame teachers who drove me to rage and fired me with such enthusiasm? Did he immerse himself passionately in the thought experiments of constructivism? Did he perhaps take part in those heated discussions on autopoiesis and self-referentiality? Was it important for him to search for patterns of connectivity? In OUBEYs painting a wave-like motion runs through the filigree of branches and the overwhelming plenitude of the network structures. What a stroke of genius to use this to symbolize the interaction of micro and macro levels in the self-organization of complex systems! From this vantage point the painting’s parts and layers coalesce almost too coherently to form a meaningful whole. Upon whose authority can such interpretive certainty be based?

THIS PAINTING IS SHAMELESS ... ... because it forces me to assume total responsibility for my own point of view, and since in spite of – or rather because of – its vulnerability it draws me into it with such insouciance. As in a good conversation I lose all feeling for time and follow the drift of my own associations. It’s not just the structure of the painting that reminds me of network dynamics; it also evokes similar feelings in me. I delve into the depths of the picture and follow a chain of loose connections as if I were surfing on the Internet – naive, curious and always pushing myself to the limit. With the painting I embark on a very personal voyage of discovery switching between surface and depths – which is also the key fascination of the Internet. The more I delve into details, the quicker the overarching contexts reveal themselves, and the more connectivity I discover the longer I can delve into detail. The message is potent and is given the viewer in an off-hand manner that borders on arrogance. The density of networks in the world increases the risk of losing both meaning and context. Networks are worthless without knowledge of patterns that reduce complexity. Radically, responsibility always remains with the viewer.

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„Ideally the go straight into the heart

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picture should into the eye or like a sound or ray of light.“ OUBEY

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falling angel 1992 variable PhotonPainting

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The Heart and The Mind INTERVIEW WITH LIZ HOWARD

WHOEVER HAS BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO SEE LIZ HOWARD IN ACTION ON THE STAGE OR IN ONE OF HER WORKSHOPS AS I HAVE, WILL KNOW THAT SHE BRINGS ENORMOUS EMOTIONAL ENERGY TO EVERYTHING SHE DOES. HER SPONTANEITY IS AS INSPIRATIONAL AS HER VOICE. SHE THINKS WITH HER HEART. INTELLECT AND FEELING PLAYED AN EQUALLY IMPORTANT ROLE IN OUBEYS CREATIVE PROCESS AND MUSIC IS AN ART FORM THAT CAN CONSUMMATELY COMBINE THESE TWO STRANDS AND IT WAS FOR THESE REASONS THAT TWO YEARS AGO DAGMAR WOYDE-KOEHLER INVITED THE MEZZOSOPRANO LIZ HOWARD TO ENCOUNTER ONE OF OUBEYs PAINTINGS. NATURALLY A WRITTEN TEXT CAN’T DO PROPER JUSTICE TO THE SHEER EMOTIONALITY AND DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF SUCH AN ENCOUNTER. YET THE EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON ART IS IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO DESERVE ITS OWN SEPARATE SPACE IN THIS COLLECTION.

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Liz Howard is a woman of strong passions – as is readily apparent in this interview. It’s her free-reining emotionality that connects her to OUBEY. Her highly emotional approach to the paintings is miles away from the intellectual analysis and interpretation which typifies most approaches to art. In a totally unique and compelling way, she represents that “Principle of Immediacy” which was so dear to OUBEY in his artistic creation. Emotionality in the spontaneous, unfiltered encounter holds the key to art for her – in both painting and song. It gives an incredible sense of freedom which is precisely the sense that animates OUBEYs art. She is the consummate model of a self-confident individual who takes art as a means for furthering the discovery of the self. In September 2012 her new coaching book will be published: Als Eva noch mit Äpfeln warf – Soulfood für Frauen, Kösel Verlag

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WE_MAGAZINE Liz Howard, who are you and what are you doing?

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LIZ HOWARD: Who am I and what am I doing in this world? I consider myself a sound healer. I think I’ve been put on this earth to motivate people through music, through sound, so that they can learn to accept themselves better. Accept their bodies, accept their voices, accept who they are. I do it through music and I love it. It’s the best thing that I can do. I’m a passionate singer. I love singing Gospel, I love a little bit of jazz. Yes, that’s who I am. When I die that’s how I want to be remembered, that I was just able to motivate another soul through the art of music.

> WE_MAGAZINE You are an artist – you use art in your way to deal with people …

LIZ HOWARD: Exactly.

WE_MAGAZINE Art is business as well for you. So, what is your understanding of art?

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LIZ HOWARD: Art has no boundaries. It’s universal. Art has no colors – it’s just there. It exists like the universe exists. Like trees, like water, like the mountains. It’s a wonderful thing. And I believe that if we can all share it we can have a peaceful world – you can look at it, you can hear it, you can do it, you can make it, you can try it, you can create it. It comes from a place of the soul. Art is another way for me to express love.

WE_MAGAZINE How is it related to your passion for working with people?

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LIZ HOWARD: Because it’s so profound. When you take people out of the idea of trying to be perfect and you try instead to entice them to be more – to use their creativity and to find their own way of expressing their own art, then you open up brand new doors for a person’s mind and soul and being.

WE_MAGAZINE Would you consider everybody an artist?

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LIZ HOWARD: Yes. Yes. And yes! There’s a little artist in all of us. Every single one of us that walks this earth, there’s something there. But a lot of times, either your family, your siblings, your teachers, your professors, your colleagues, somebody tries to take it from you. Somebody, somewhere in your life may perhaps tell you that it’s not good enough and then you stop it. It’s almost like you pack it up in your soul somewhere in a drawer and you never really want to take it out again. But everyone should, you should play with it every now and then.

> WE_MAGAZINE Since we’re doing this interview for we_magazine, what is your understanding of WE? What does WE mean to you?

LIZ HOWARD: I find WE a really wonderful word to be honest. Just “WE”. It’s not “I, I, I, I” – you know. WE means for me, to share, to rise above and become one.

WE_MAGAZINE How does your work, your art contribute to this WE?

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LIZ HOWARD: How does my art and my work contribute to WE?

WE_MAGAZINE Does it?

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LIZ HOWARD: Well, I would have to say yes. When I work with other people or when I coach other people or tickle the art out of another human being, then it’s no longer “I”, because we do this together. We open these doors together, we open the drawers together and discover what we can find to make life better and what it takes to learn to play.

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I think WE fits in there because WE is also global, in other words a universal ... You believe that WE – enabled and empowered by the Internet – is also key to driving change for the better. WE can do it! It’s no longer “I”, is it? It’s no longer you standing there or me standing here – it’s we who come together, we become connected. So, WE is – how can you say it? It’s almost too complex to explain, isn’t it? You have to see the whole picture, look outside the box, go outside the paradigms.

WE_MAGAZINE You contributed to the MINDKISS Project with an encounter1.How do you think MINDKISS relates to your work and to WE? Do you see any relations at all?

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WE_MAGAZINE But don’t we need it in our hearts as well?

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LIZ HOWARD: That’s what I wanted to say. I was just going to say this. You have to go to another place, you have to – I don’t say you have to, but you should, – we should try to go to another place to find that. And I think with OUBEY I just would have loved playing and exchanging music and his art, his paintings, his drawings. Playing is like a new language, isn’t it? I am sure we would have found this place, our common language. Just imagine if the whole universe could be like that and everybody could understand it.

WE_MAGAZINE What made you participate in MINDKISS?

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LIZ HOWARD: Curiosity. I knew Dagmar before and we’d spoken about the project. When she arrived with the painting – I wanted to open it, I wanted to open it so desperately and she made me wait so long. And this white cover was over it (laughing) and I was so excited to see what she had picked for my soul. To open my soul, to open the inside of me, to entice my creativity, to take me to a place that I’d never been before.

LIZ HOWARD: I’m sorry that I never got a chance to meet OUBEY but I’m thrilled that I had a chance to connect with him through the MINDKISS project. I was curious to see what picture was coming. When I saw it I wanted to keep it. I said, “You know, can we keep it here for a few days? Can it just stay here for a few days?” It was in this room and it was just so amazing. I know some people see OUBEYs art as complex but there’s a little kid in there. Somewhere – this is what I see. And that’s who I would have loved to know, to play with. For me it’s like OUBEY used his art to open new doors and give us the opportunity to peek inside them and use our fantasy to open another door for our creativity. And I think what we have in common is, I try to do exactly that with music. I am trying to inspire people to go to another level. We all have our master degrees, we have our doctorates, we’ve studied. The academic is there, it’s in the mind.

And I will tell you the honest truth: I am not an art freak – I know very little about art. Actually I’m ignorant about it. But that’s okay, that’s outside judgments. What I love about Dagmar is she didn’t mind that, she just wanted to see how I felt and how this painting, how this drawing, how this picture made me feel. And that’s what OUBEY, that’s what he did, I believe. I think he put his ego aside and whatever he did, whatever he created, he created it from another space. I think he just let his inspiration completely manifest in his entire body – and that’s what he worked from and that’s what I could see when I saw his work. It just simply amazed me. And at the very end of the encounter when I said, no, no, no, you can’t take this picture and then I said, you know, I had this feeling that he was somewhere in the universe way high up – somewhere over the rainbow. When Dagmar told me later what the title of the picture was, I was pretty close. It was amazing. He has secret languages in his pictures. You really have to look, you have to look deep. You have to live with these pictures for a while. I think if we all could do that we’d all speak a different language, a language of love. INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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Is Occupy Art? INTERVIEW WITH CARL SCRASE

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THE COMMON GROUND SHARED BY OUBEY AND CARL SCARSE HAS NO BEARING ON WHETHER THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT IS ART OR NOT. IT’S MUCH MORE TO DO WITH THE OPENNESS OF ART, ITS RELATIONSHIP TO SOCIETY AND UNDERSTANDING ART AS A PROCESS. ANOTHER PART OF THE COMMON GROUND IS JOSEPH BEUYS – EVEN THOUGH SCARSE IS MORE INTERESTED IN BEUYS’ IDEA OF “EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST” WHILE OUBEY WAS MORE CONCERNED WITH HIS ENTIRE OEUVRE AND THE INSTINCTIVE CONFIDENCE WITH WHICH HE SELECTED THE MATERIALS FOR HIS ART OBJECTS.

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Carl Scrase was born in 1983 in Melbourne, Australia. He is currently still there. He does a lot of things; most of them are based around the intersections between concepts such as empathy, parallel thinking, collaboration, perspective, systemic change, creativity and reality.

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WE_MAGAZINE I assume Carl, you’d argue #occupy is art. Why?

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CARL SCRASE: To be honest, I’m not sure if ‘argue’ is the correct verb. I may ‘propose’, ‘put forward’ or ‘ponder whether’. But no, no, I would not fervently argue such potentially slippery logic. If I were to be pressured into giving an answer – which I suppose I am by virtue of being interviewed – I would offer the following. I would suggest that in attempting to link ‘occupy’ and ‘art’ one could begin with a paper written in 2008 by Malcolm Miles, entitled Society As a Work of Art and then go on to watch the You Tube clip of him giving a lecture on the same theme. Malcolm gives a fantastic overview of the writing of Herbert Marcuse, talks about Joseph Beuys and touches on the topics of utopia, revolution, the history of occupations and how they all relate to art. This is a really interesting and informative summation of the historical underpinnings of ‘art’ and revolutionary social movements. In the question and answer session at the end of the lecture Malcolm talks about Joseph Beuys’ claim that “Everyone is an artist”. To paraphrase Malcolm’s take on this famous phrase: Joseph Beuys means by this that everyone has a creative imagination and can envisage new social as well as artistic forms. The definition of art dissolves here into free living. Joseph Beuys called himself a ‘social sculpture’, expanding and adding to the ambitions of the artist. This following quote from Beuys sums up his stance, and I believe is very interesting when linking ‘art’ + ‘occupy’. His words seem very prescient now, considering they were spoken in 1987, some 25 years ago: “In the future all truly political intentions will have to be artistic ones. ... they will have to stem from human creativity and individual liberty. ... this cultural sector ... would be a free press, free TV, and so on ... free from all state intervention. I am trying to develop a revolutionary model that formulates the basic democratic order in accordance with the people’s wishes ... that changes the basic democratic order and then restructures the economic sector in a way that will serve the people’s needs and not the needs of a minority that wants to make its profits. That is the connection, and this I define as Art.”

WE_MAGAZINE That’s a really interesting take on #occupy and art. But I was wondering what your direct experience has been? And is “everyone really an artist”, or does that only work in theoretical tropes of the imagination or in the safety of the gallery setting?

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CARL SCRASE: Beuys has been a huge influence on me. In late 2010 I augmented the title of my profession from ‘artist’ to ‘social engineer’ – paying homage to Beuys but also attempting to stake out my own ground. The reason I chose ‘engineer’ over ‘sculpture’ is because I proposed that the Internet has exponentially amplified the scope and rate of effect that a small bunch of cultural change makers could make. In 2010 the Internet felt like the medium that the WE creatives had been waiting for – the alchemic missing element that enabled transmission of the transformational potential of ‘participatory creation’. As I was playing out in my last we_magazine interview, I spent most of 2011 developing lots of WE-powered artworks. I won’t again dive into what I have done in the past; have a look at the WE_Australia publication if you’re curious. But suffice to say, I was attempting to create an artwork that would harness this new power of the Internet. An artwork that would spread around the world encouraging people to turn off their TVs and participate. An artwork that would enhance social cohesion. An artwork that would make people wake up to the insane corporate capitalist nightmare WE inhabit. I was hoping to develop the ultimate WE artwork – my magnum opus. I have often called this artwork the ‘Empathy Virus’. Then on 14th of October 2011, just after the we_australia magazine interview, I watched the amazing Consensus YouTube video that was released by Occupy Wall St, and realized

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that something curious had occurred – it appeared as though someone had opened Pandora’s box and released hope – and she was spreading quickly – Beuys’ dream seemed to be becoming real. All I needed to do at this stage was to participate. And participate I did. The co-creation of an ever expanding WE kicked into gear with me a dedicated “key player” of Occupy Melbourne. I might add here that I did not label myself a “key player”. It was a title forced upon me by the corporate media in collaboration with our Lord Mayor Robert Doyle. In a disparaging article targeted at me entitled “Occupy Melbourne protestor Carl Scrase takes the cash” a poorly formulated and incredibly dangerous logic was laid out that reasons that artists funded by the State can’t question the State.

I DO, HOWEVER, LIKE THE USE OF THE WORD “PLAYER” TO DESCRIBE WHAT I – ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER EQUALLY HARD WORKING OCCUPIERS – WERE DOING. SO I HAVE CONTINUED TO USE IT. I won’t delve too far into the drama that was, is, and continues to be, Occupy Melbourne. But to give a quick overview: the downsides involve lots of police, the full sting of the corporate media, lots of injured citizens and the realization that we don’t actually have the right to protest in Australia. Yet the positives far outweigh the negatives – friends, collaborators, skills and a pathway leading forward where there wasn’t one before. A clearing up ahead that leads to a better future is emerging. I emerged after three hectic, amazing months inside Occupy Melbourne. A forced sojourn on the other side of this big country for a pre-organized three month art residency has allowed me to objectively step back, move past the trauma, and respond evenly to what has happened. I would support the concept that everyone that was and is involved in Occupy Melbourne, especially in the first six days before the state oppression kicked in, are artists, artists beyond whatever the current institution claims to be ‘art’. We were using direct democracy to implement a new social form in the heart of the old. Direct democracy was our medium, method and message.

WE_MAGAZINE But isn’t it problematic to consider everyone an artist?

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CARL SCRASE: The residency I mentioned earlier was at SymbioticA, an “artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning, critique and hands-on engagement with the life sciences” based within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia. Which is basically code for ‘artists getting to play with scientists’. It’s a pretty amazing place – and I can think of no better place to ponder the big questions that Occupy has stirred up in my head. One of the privileges afforded to me as a resident within a top university is access to some great minds. I spoke to Professor Alan Harvey today – I think his research on the neurological basis for music may shed some serious light on this sensitive question. He argues that music may have major “evolutionary importance” for us Homo sapiens, especially in relation to “social cooperation”. He says “the emergence of our own species released a torrent of creativity that is still gathering speed”.

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I believe art has allowed us to go beyond the biological imperatives of ‘survival of the fittest’. It is now ‘survival of most connected’, ‘survival of the most cohesive’, ‘survival of the most empathic’ ... WE have one planet, for almost 8 billion people ... the rules of survival have changed. Alan seems to be putting forward a new theory of evolution – a theory that claims that art started us down this path of being social creatures. That art made us capable of acting beyond the imperatives of just propagating our genes to the next generation. Interesting stuff – Beuys would love it.

SCIENCE MIGHT SOON SUGGEST THAT ART IS INHERENTLY CONNECTED TO BEING HUMAN – THAT IS BIG NEWS, AND I THINK IT SHOULD SERIOUSLY MAKE US RECONSIDER SOME OF OUR SOCIAL STRUCTURES. One example of arts power that springs to mind is the tribal tradition of the sing-sing in Papua New Guinea. This distinctive tradition brings together many tribes to participate and share culture, dance and music – it’s a great example of how ‘art’ can overcome competition.

AS MY MENTOR DONALD BROOK SAYS: “THE PRIMARY USE OF THE WORD ‘ART’ IS TO COLLECT TOGETHER CASES OF MEMETIC INNOVATION, AS CONTRASTED WITH CASES IN WHICH FAMILIAR MEMES ARE DELIBE-RATELY DEPLOYED.” I love the almost onomatopoeic nature of the term ‘memetic innovation’ – it sounds like the zap of two neurons connecting, jumping the gaps between them in what seems like a magical and unpredictable act. I think of art as that ‘zap’ that elucidates a connection not yet made or rather the fostering of an environment where that ‘zap’ may be more likely to occur. Just like the sing-sing or the town hall process of direct democracy that Joseph Beuys was championing.

> WE_MAGAZINE Are you suggesting that “connectedness” takes on a new meaning for artists? If so, – in which ways?

CARL SCRASE: Communication, cooperation, co-creation, cosmos, connectedness ... what I have been trying to say through my answers is that it is not a “new meaning” – it is the ‘only meaning’ for artists – ‘artists’ being everyone that is actively part of imaging and creating society. I might jump off the deep end here. Get a bit matrix. These times call for loose minds that are willing to ‘zap’ beyond the status quo. God is a complex eternal user-generated system. This is my new catchphrase. The key word in this sentence being ‘eternal’ – because that means that it is constantly creative and has no boundaries. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Beuys ... I reckon these guys were aware that they were artists – they tried to tell and empower others so they could also become artists. Again

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I underscore that ‘artists’ are anyone that is actively part of imagining and creating society. But the concept of eternity is really hard to communicate with words – language is a very inaccurate art, full of analogies that can be misinterpreted. As most people will probably find when reading this interview! I wonder if the concept of eternity actually can’t be explained or taught. It can only be experienced through the act of creation, through participation in the ‘eternal user-generated system’ we call society. The problem as I see it is this – somewhere along the line someone always seems to anthropomorphize eternity and then, all of a sudden, a religion is born ... usually with some sort of dogmatic rule book. A rule book that forcibly takes creativity out of the hands of everyone and places it into the mythical hands of some dude sitting in the cloud and his hierarchy of worldly rule enforcers. I think the Internet, or as I like to call it the ‘Macroscope’, is humanities’ best artwork yet, a beautiful partner for the microscope. These two instruments used in tandem will allow us to map the whole and prove that ‘WE are part of a complex eternal user-generated system’, that ‘WE are all artists’ and that ‘WE are all creating this together’. I have never labeled myself an atheist, but I do hope art and science will come together and dispel these false figurations of a monotheistic, anthropomorphist, all-powerful creator. And in turn redistribute the power of creativity to all.

> WE_MAGAZINE I like this idea of the Internet being humanities’ best artwork and a beautiful partner for the microscope. I would call this the balance between the ME and the WE. DO you sometimes struggle between this ME and the WE?

CARL SCRASE: WE and ME live in a world where science has consistently told us that “there are no immutable truths” – a world where paradox is always just a fresh perspective away. The beauty of knowingly living within a paradoxical world is that all dogma is nullified – everything is united under its paradoxical nature – which is incredibly freeing and powerful knowledge to have. Life becomes more playful and generative – more holistic in its ever expanding field of creativity. I believe paradox and eternity are closely related. Although I definitely can’t articulate that link just yet. To those who would disagree with my grey area thinking , I would say this – there is no doubt that both left and right exist, as does love and hate, hot/cold, big/small, up/down, war/peace, art/science, fiction/reality, self/community, ME/WE, etc. For me an understanding of dichotomies does not need to totally falsify them, as I have been guilty of suggesting in the past, maybe just disarm them – make them workable.

THE ABILITY TO ACKNOWLEDGE PERSPECTIVES OTHER THAN THE ONE YOU ARE CURRENTLY SEEING IS A BIG PART OF PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY AND ART. > WE_MAGAZINE You have been touching on the relationship of art and science. How might this relate to Occupy?

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CARL SCRASE: There is an artwork of Joseph Beuys called Rose for Direct Democracy. This work is a great example of how Beuys was trying to harmonize the forces of nature and civilization, man and technology, and art and life. I have just made my own tribute to this work. Follow this link if you want to have a look. (https://vimeo.com/39743112) The password is ‘empathy’.

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There are layers of impact at play when art and science dance. WE are like a couple of longlost lovers touching at the hips staring into each other’s eyes – magic is about to happen. Science with its Microscope and Art with its Macroscope. I was reading the Harvard Business Review this morning and stumbled across a very interesting development coming out of the MIT Media lab. Sociometric badges – “a wearable electronic device capable of automatically measuring the amount of face-to-face interaction, conversational time, physical proximity to other people, and physical activity levels using social signals derived from vocal features, body motion, and relative location.” This really is the coming together of art and science under the advancements of technology. This is why I call myself a ‘social engineer’ ... we are entering into a brave new world.

> WE_MAGAZINE You have also announced that you are going to run for Mayor of Melbourne later this year? Are you nuts? How do you find the time?

CARL SCRASE: I ask myself – What would Beuys do? I think he would throw his hat in the ring and try and become Mayor. I don’t have the same respect for politics as I do for science – that much is probably obvious by now. I think the disrespect stems from the fact that I can see it has stolen some moves from the artist’s repertoire and is misusing them for short sighted self-gain – fiction, drama, image ... I intend to expose these moves for what they are. This may seem antithetical to my campaign to become Mayor of Melbourne later this year. But I think there is currently not enough science in politics. As I mentioned earlier, I think the Macroscope has emerged and now we will be able to develop the science of society. Maybe the alchemical dance that art and science are now performing will show up politics and its current bed buddy ‘corporate capitalist greed’.

MAYBE OCCUPY IS ART AND SCIENCE ... WORKING TOGETHER TO CREATE A COHESIVE WE? MAY BE THAT IS JUST WHAT OCCUPY SHOULD BE? HMMM – BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD, INTO THE LAB AND ONWARD TO THE TOWN HALL. INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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“I consciously irreversible open

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accept an structure for processes”

OUBEY

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TITLE: YEAR: FORMAT: TECHNIQUE:

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untitled 1985 240 x 175 mm various materials on paper

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Revealing a New Way of Seeing INTERVIEW WITH INDY JOHAR

AN AFFINITY WITH COMPLEX NETWORK STRUCTURES, OPENNESS, PROCESS-BASED THINKING AND SMALL STEPS SMARTLY MADE ARE ALL POINTS THAT INDY JOHAR AND OUBEY SHARE IN COMMON. ARCHITECTURE TOO – BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH OUBEY NEVER WORKED AS AN ARCHITECT, HE TRAINED AS ONE BEFORE DECIDING TO BECOME AN ARTIST. I ALSO THINK THAT THE ORGANIZATIONAL MODEL CHOSEN BY 00:/, INDY JOHAR’S FIRM OF ARCHITECTS, IS ONE THAT OUBEY WOULD HAVE APPROVED OF.

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Indy Johar is a qualiďŹ ed architect, co-founder of 00:/ [zero zero], Hub Westminster and Hub Venture Laboratory, and is a director of the Global Hub Association. He has taught at the TU Berlin, the University of Bath, the Architectural Association, the LSE and University College London. Indy is a commissioner on the NLGN Commission for Local Government and the coauthor of a new book on the civic economy launched on May 12, 2011. He has written for many national and international journals on the future of design and social practice. He is also a Demos Associate and Fellow of Republica .

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> WE_MAGAZINE What is your understanding of WE and has it changed since the rise of the Internet?

INDY JOHAR: Yes it has. That’s a really straightforward answer for you! WE is a concept that was probably born or started accelerating about 2001. This was when people start to talk about Web 2.0. Something phenomenal happened: we started to think about the Internet as a social mechanism, as a method to aggregate and organize people – and it became an alternative. I think what we’re starting to prove with the platform economy is that it’s becoming the basis of an alternative to the structural corporate economy. It’s starting to become a different mechanism of organizing civilization. So I think we’re probably now in the biggest WE in civilization. They used to say that the degrees of separation were six in number. But Facebook did a kind of very PR sort of analysis where they turned around and said it was about 3.74 now, because the degree of platform connectivity that's being built now is huge. And, we don’t even have to go that far: if you look at the level of mobile phone penetration, we are creating a degree of global public addressability where you can actually connect to so many people. And this isn’t a rich person thing: I mean really, if you look at mobile phone penetration, it’s huge. So, we’re in the midst of a type of global WE that wasn’t even dreamt about, only talked about in religious senses as a mythical moment, as a mythical or ideological way of seeing the world. And I think now we can start to see this kind of new emergence of it as a practical method of organization.

> WE_MAGAZINE So, for you, yourself and your job … How has it changed your job? Since we are doing this interview for WE and the arts, and I would consider architecture as some kind of art form, how does the Internet and your understanding of WE have an impact on your work, on the way you build up your structures and everything?

INDY JOHAR: What I find interesting is that the WE was accelerated into the Internet, and has culturally changed us as human beings. In a sense, it’s been a feedback mechanism into culture. So, from my perspective I think this whole framework, the social WE, has fundamentally changed the nature of how we organize. And by “organize” I mean organize ideas, organize thoughts, organize commitment, organize passion, organize change. It’s changed every order, and I think we’re seeing it most fundamentally in the role of the profession. I think there’s a lot more due diligence, a lot more responsibility going to the designers of platforms, because of the latent “nudges” these platforms have. A lot has been talked about recently on how we can actually nudge decisions and behaviors. And designers can have an influence. So, for example, the classic behavioral economics’ understanding is that if on a pension form you have to tick something to get insurance or if you have to untick something to get insurance, actually you can bias this result by nearly sixty percent, just by that decision. Now, what we are starting to understand is that actually the designers of forms and platforms can have so much influence on the behavior of people. And so, as we move into this platform economy where power moves from being organized in hard power methods, to being organized in ecosystems, in cultures, I think the role of platform and the role of design becomes much more critical, which means, even more importantly, that we have to have very clean ethics in our behavior. Not only has it changed our fundamental process, I think it’s also changing the ethical basis on which we practice, and re-birthing the idea of a professional as somebody who looks after the public value as opposed to the private value. In the Royal Institute for British Architects, the RIBA, the terminology is we should look after public value, regardless of whoever pays us. We’re meant to be indifferent to whether it’s private capital or public capital. Our only responsibility is to public value. And I think we’re now at a moment when that sort of ethos and ethics are fundamentally crucial to actually building the profession. And for me, we’re in this kind of really remarkable place where our ethical basis, our practical basis and our capabilities are all being fundamentally re-imagined.

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>

INDY JOHAR: I’d like to turn that around: I don’t think it’s about refusing jobs. I think the sort of jobs we’re getting are the sort of jobs we would never have got. For example, we’re doing a social investment fund for a geography, a place. So we’re looking at how you do investment in new interesting ways, using tech platforms to help people improve their neighborhoods. How do you do crowd-sourced funding in that infrastructure, what’s the role of events? We’re also designing a school, the scale-free school which is a model of schooling using redundant infrastructure. What we’re doing there is organizing redundant infrastructure in smart ways and sharing that infrastructure to provide services and education in a new way. Right now, we’re in the middle of building a global university. And we’re looking at a completely different way of talking about the university and learning. We’re organizing some pretty remarkable people from all over the world in this project. We’re doing it slowly in an open social way. We’re not trying to lead it; we’re actually trying to evolve the system socially. So basically we’re not just designing a plan and executing it; we’re creating a social legitimacy around the idea; we're slowly evolving into it. So I’ve seen the type of jobs we’re doing, but also the nature of the work we’re doing, fundamentally change.

> WE_MAGAZINE What does all this have to do with this discipline of architecture? I mean you’re still putting up buildings, aren’t you?

INDY JOHAR: Sure we are. I think one of the key things we have realized is that cities are made as much of software as they are of hardware. The last thirty years has been entirely focused on real estate – the creation of physical real estate. It’s not been created on the basis of any functional value for citizens or economies; it’s been entirely built on a speculative real estate economy. And I think one of the big things is that we’re changing the relationship where our value is attributed. A lot of the value and work we do is on how we can functionally – in a sort of a social and economic sense, not in a programmatic sense – functionally accelerate the value of cities – not in a sort of a real estate sense, but in a kind of contributory sense to a social economy. And that’s about people. That’s about how people organize themselves, how people build new institutions. So it’s about changing the outcome. It’s not about building more buildings. 99 per cent of our buildings will be around for 1,400 years or some ridiculous time. You know, very little change occurs to the built environment, certainly in the developed world. So, if we’re going to have radical change – which we are in the midst of – most of this radical change is going to happen through the software and the social reorganization of cities. And that's where I think our work is focused, and we recognize the role of architecture as absolutely critical, because we have to nudge an influence. Actually we have so much impact on culture in terms of the default nudges we create that it’s micro interventions within actual institutional frameworks.

WE_MAGAZINE You are actually broadening the scope architects are working in?

>

INDY JOHAR: You could say we are broadening it, or you could say that we’re focusing on the outcome that architecture should deliver. We could say, yes, we’re broadening the tools we use, but I think we’re actually focusing more precisely on the outcome architects try to deliver.

WE_MAGAZINE And you would say that this is very closely related to the Internet?

>

INDY JOHAR: I think culturally it’s a product of that generation, no doubt. I think culturally, this WE aspect of it, the social aspect of it, the sort of things that are possible, would never have been possible because the transaction costs would be too high. The transaction costs – the cost of that level of sociability – is just too high. And what the Internet has done is to reduce the cost of that sociability to the point where it’s much more effective than pretty much any corporate means of organizing. So, I think there is something quite profound going on.

WE_MAGAZINE But what does this mean precisely for your daily work? Are you refusing jobs right now which you would have done ten years ago?

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INDY JOHAR: It’s a good question. Personally, I think the whole notion of these sorts of discipline silos is questionable. I find it difficult to attribute value on that basis. You know, whether I would say I’m an engineer or some part of the engineering discipline or a business discipline or a science discipline or an arts discipline – I find all that very problematic. Because I think what we are is system-builders, and in a way our role is to synthesize across many, many spaces and organize and create deep institutional infrastructures for those systems to evolve. So I think it’s a very precise action on our side. So, whether I would define architecture as being an “arts” discipline, I don’t know. But then again my perennial question is what is art right now? You know, what is actually philosophically the role of art in this 21st century? And I think that’s even questionable as well. So, strangely enough, I'm not even sure that the question itself leads us anywhere.

> WE_MAGAZINE So what is your understanding of art in the 21st century? What would you consider as art? To ask a very precise question: Is the Occupy movement, art for you?

INDY JOHAR: For me personally, art is something which sort of homes in on a truth which hasn’t been articulated before. So it unveils a truth which is psychologically deeply buried inside people, which has not been articulated. And it probably can’t be articulated through the inquiries of logic and other behaviors.

WE_MAGAZINE Would you consider architecture as a discipline within the arts?

And that’s where my personal experience of art is always positive: when art reveals a way of seeing, a way of understanding which could never have been revealed through another device or another way of organizing.

WE_MAGAZINE So, it’s also for your discipline, so it can happen everywhere, basically.

>

INDY JOHAR: For me, yes.

WE_MAGAZINE Do you think that this new understanding of WE as you described it, has an impact on art?

>

INDY JOHAR: I figure it should. I don’t think we’ve really understood the medium yet. I don’t think we’ve understood how to play with it yet. I think we haven’t seen the great Twitter or Facebook artists of our generation; we’ve not seen the great Twitter or Facebook social media artists of our generation yet. Somebody that can actually do that scale of profound effect. And the power of this generation will be so large when they do it, I think they will be able to have such huge impact so quickly, it’ll be phenomenal.

> WE_MAGAZINE Do you think that this new understanding of WE as you described it, has an impact on art?

>

WE_MAGAZINE Yeah.

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INDY JOHAR: It’s difficult to say … but one interesting project is the Wikihouse.

INDY JOHAR: It’s interesting, because I think it is a poem, it’s not a reality, but it has hit as a Zeitgeist for people. And I found that interesting – just how it unveiled the Zeitgeist. In a sense in terms of its level of engagement with people, its level of discourse in terms of people aspiring to it. What we’ve created is a platform which allows people to automatically take a design and Google SketchUp and be able to print it on a CNC milling machine via G-code and effectively print their own houses. You know, now make it without bolts – we’ve just done a version without bolts. And in a sense, what we like about this is a kind of democratization of the means of production. This kind of whole radical democratization of design, of fabrication, of the production side. And in a sense this journey from the factory all the way back to the garage with 21st century technology is phenomenal. And it’s social in the sense that it’s fundamentally social in its design, its sharing and its infra-

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structure, and its kind of additive process of behavior and building. But also it’s fundamentally democratizing in its sense of actual completion and empowerment. I think these two things are quite potent. We’ve had numerous inquiries, people wanted to build it in Haiti; we’ve had people wanting to build it in disaster zones; we’ve had people wanting to turn it into formal housing. So, lots of people are trying to work with it. And we’ll see where it goes. I think the first level of engagement is just the level of engagement with people sort of saying I would like to have a house like this, I would like to build something like this. I find this really interesting, this psychological engagement. It’s almost like what I meant by the artists – that it has unveiled a truth for people of what they would like. And that for me is probably more powerful right now than “we’ve had many exhibitions of people wanting to build one.” We’ve build one in Westminster, we’ve build one in Chelmsford, we’re building one in Milan. We’ve had lots of people wanting to build one all over the world in various different conditions. But I think the most telling for me is the psychological unveiling it has done. Many, many people around the world are psyched and perceive this as a possible reality.

> WE_MAGAZINE You’ve also built this idea of WE into your company concept.

INDY JOHAR: Yes.

> WE_MAGAZINE Can you explain this a little bit?

INDY JOHAR: Sure. Fundamentally, one of the things we realized when we set up Zero Zero is that too many architects were built around the signature of an individual. And we, you know, we can name any of them, named around their founders and actually created an ego, an ego built into the fundamental design of the model. So if I start a practice, in a traditional sense, I will at first be highly engaged with the projects, I will be leading on the projects. Slowly, as the organization grows I will still be working on many of the projects, but when it grows to more than seventeen to twenty people what happens is that I actually become distant from the reality of the project. This was my personal experience. And when you go from seventeen to twenty people to maybe eighty people, what happens is the role of the principal or founder becomes a kind of caricature. You design a caricature that someone else then executes in an environment. The practical example for me was when I was working in an office, where there were seventeen people, we were designing handrails with nodules on them, a tactile memory, one of the last memories to go. Whereas when we became an office of eighty people, we were designing with color and sketches, because actually what happened was that as the founders become more and more removed from the situation, their method of imprinting became more a sketch. And the sketch was then transmitted down the production line in order to materialize it as a product. And so, one of the things we realized when we wanted to set up Zero Zero was that we wanted to actually change this ecosystem. Because we realized that if you’re going do anything interesting you have to bury your intelligence closest to the front line, and if you’re going to bury your intelligence and your group closest to the front line you have to create a ownership structure which is actually democratic, because if you don’t there’s no way you can create this sort of virtuous economy. So Zero Zero is owned by everyone in the business. It’s remarkably old-fashioned in the sense that for every year you stay there you get more voting equity. Voting equity is not something that can be bought and sold; it’s something that is really there for effectively everyone as they stay for to about ten years. You can’t get any more than ten years, but up till about ten years you can effectively grow your voting influence into the organization. And in that sense it really is a democratic model.

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WE_MAGAZINE How would you say this model has changed the way people work at your place, think at your place and, you know, get engaged with the stuff they are doing there?

>

INDY JOHAR: Well, the reality is we’re a twelve-person office, and if you look at the quantum of work and the diversity of work we’ve done, I don’t think it would have been possible for anyone of that size of organization to do this quantum and diversity of work – and quality of work as well if I may say so! – because in a sense it required that devolved authority, leadership and power for that embedment of people to do the things they were doing. So I think it’s fundamental. I don’t think it’s an add-on at all. I don’t think we could have achieved this in any other way.

WE_MAGAZINE What is next, in your mind, with this WE idea related to the work you’re doing? What do you see next?

>

INDY JOHAR: I think the big challenge we face is that not many people really know how to behave like a WE. So recruitment is really difficult. So I think, for me, that one of the big challenges is finding people who really in the deep sense understand how to behave in the WE, and how they can grow. It’s impossible to talk about the near future. I would never even have dreamt of doing the stuff that we are doing. So I find it really impossible to say this is what I ... I think the whole WE aspect of us will become more and more fundamental: it will change the way of building tech platforms, we’re investing in new ways of thinking, we’re building universities which will, I think, be radically different to what we’ve got. So, I don’t know. It’s impossible to say, to be really honest. This is like the crude beginning. It’s like when Henry Ford built the Model T ...You know this is like a very, rudimenary beginning of a new age. Like I say, we’ve not even seen the great artists yet: you know, we’ve discovered the paint, but no one has really discovered how to paint yet. INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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“As artists we should in our own vision. to use all technical But we should never technical possibilities, we only on our

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always have confidence We should not be afraid possibilities. pin our faith on these should aways pin our faith own vision.� OUBEY

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The WE Brings Performative Aspects Into The Arts INTERVIEW WITH PETER WEIBEL

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AT THE TIME OF THIS INTERVIEW PETER WEIBEL HAD NEVER HEARD OF OUBEY OR THE MINDKISS PROJECT. YET IT IS PERHAPS PRECISELY SUCH UNAWARENESS WHICH MAKES THIS INTERVIEW SO ESPECIALLY POIGNANT. IT WAS MORE A PREMONITION THAN A DIRECT EXPECTATION THAT SOMETHING EXTREMELY INTERESTING WOULD COME TO THE FORE WHEN OUBEYs THOUGHTS AND VIEWS ENCOUNTERED THOSE OF WEIBEL FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. AND THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT DID HAPPEN. THERE IS AN ASTONISHING CONGRUENCY IN THE THINKING OF THE TWO MEN – IN THE WAY THEY INTERWEAVE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY AND ART; IN THEIR INTEREST IN THE LATEST TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; IN THEIR EARLY RECOGNITION OF THE ENORMOUS POTENTIAL OF THE ROLE PLAYED BY COMPUTERS, AND IN PARTICULAR BY THE INTERNET, IN SHAPING THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND CULTURAL SYSTEMS THAT MAKE UP HUMAN LIFE. THERE IS ANOTHER INTERESTING SIMILARITY OF QUITE A DIFFERENT KIND: EVER SINCE HIS EARLY DEATH PUT A STOP TO HIS ARTISTIC WORK, THE OUBEY MINDKISS PROJECT HAS CONSISTENTLY MADE USE OF THE INTERNET AS THE KEY MEDIUM FOR DISTRIBUTION, SHARING AND ALL ASSOCIATED COMMUNICATION OF HIS ART – A POSITION THAT PETER WEIBEL FULLY ENDORSES AS MAY BE SEEN IN THE INTERVIEW.

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Born in 1944 in Odessa, USSR, Peter Weibel is an artist, curator and theoretician. His work spans a wide range of categories from conceptual art, performance, and experimental film to video art and computer art. Informed by his study of semiotics and linguistics including authors such as Austin, Jakobson, Peirce and Wittgenstein, in 1965 Peter Weibel started to develop an artistic language which led him from experimental literature to performance. In his performance art he explored not only the media of language and the body but also film, video, audiotape and interactive electronic environments, embarking on a critical analysis of the roles they play in the construction of reality. In his lectures and articles Peter Weibel deals with contemporary art, media history and theory, film, video art and philosophy. As a theoretician and curator, he advocates a form of art and art history that embraces the history of technology and the history of science. As a university professor and director of institutions like the Ars Electronica Linz, the Institute for New Media in Frankfurt and the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, his conferences, exhibitions and publications have exerted a marked influence on the computer art scene in Europe.

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WE_MAGAZINE What is your understanding of WE and how has it changed since the rise of the Internet?

>

PETER WEIBEL:

I WOULD SAY THAT WE IS AN EXPRESSION OF A COMMUNITY WHICH MEANS A SET OR AN ASSOCIATION OF INDIVIDUALS. HOW INDIVIDUALS GET TOGETHER TO FORM A GROUP, TO FORM A COMMUNITY, TO FORM A COLLECTIVE HAS VARIOUS NATURAL OR SOCIAL REASONS. One natural reason would be groups, communities separated into women and men. What is still around are the biologically different doors: toilets for women, toilets for men. So we still have this natural bounce how to make the collective. Another reason is social – language, for instance. People make rules for German, English, etc. Another one is ethnic reasons – you are part of an ethnic population. Or political reasons like you are a part of India or Germany. Or religious reasons – you are Protestant, Catholic or Muslim. So we have two categories: natural categories and social, cultural and political categories. To keep it simple, we can say that we have a natural category of WE and a social category of WE. Only now with the Internet we have something new. We have a technological foundation of WE. It’s no longer important which language you speak, how old you are or what kind of sex you have. With the Internet we have a free floating identity. It’s the first time we have a WE based on a technological foundation. And this partly erases the biological differences like sex, gender and age, and also partially erases the social, political and religious differences. Truly the Internet is a new step in the evolution of WE, because it goes beyond natural and social foundations. For example, when we sit all together in the plane for several hours we are a group. And it’s not important what kind of religion you have or what kind of language you speak, because we all have to follow the rules of a technological program on how to stay in the air. As a pilot it doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you come from, because you must follow universal technological laws. So the WE that we have today based on the Internet is closer than ever before to the ideal of universal mankind. The Internet is the greatest set of WE and it includes many subsets. The subsets of people of different races or languages all participate in the Internet. So the highest level and the greatest community of WE is now the Internet.

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WE_MAGAZINE What kind of impact has this new understanding of WE on your understanding of art?

>

PETER WEIBEL: We have to learn that the Internet has brought about a new shift. Prior to this, everything in art was about production. The individual produced a work of art, meaning a painting or a sculpture. It took a great deal of time, maybe years, to create that piece of art. Sometimes it was done in groups when there were collectives of painters like there were in the Renaissance. But everything was centered obsessively on the idea of the technology of production: how to make a painting, how to make a sculpture. Even today we still have these categories – like “the making of a film”. So for several thousand years art was a technology of production. And then came something new – with media like newspapers, then film and television and now it’s the Internet, the culminating point. We have a new technology of distribution. The book was the beginning of distribution. Look at the word “manuscript”: “script” means “writing”, “manu” means “by hand”, so it’s a paper written by hand. When you produce a novel as a manuscript, this is production. But the monks and nuns in the monasteries could copy the handwriting so you could rewrite the hand of somebody else in your own hand. And with Gutenberg came the beginning of the technology of distribution fuelled by the “invention of mobile letters”. That’s how it started. We had prints, hand-outs and thousands of books, then hundreds of thousands of newspapers and finally we had television and radio which millions of people could listen to and see at the same time. And now we have everything together: we have the Internet which is a newspaper, radio and television, all rolled into one. We can write to each other, we can hear music, we can see images. The Internet is the culmination of the logic and technology of distribution. Only media art is still living in the past, it’s still to a great extent obsessed with the logic of production. So at the moment what we have is a separation. On the one hand in a museum you can show products and on the other hand you can distribute them via the Internet. The logic of distribution, technological distribution is not dominant in art at the moment. It is dominant in news and communication centers, but not in art. We are now using the Internet to add the technology of distribution to the logic of production. Artists should learn to make something for the technology of distribution. Here at ZKM we are the only museum in the world which tries to do this – for example we invite people to make iPod and iPad applications. We work with artists to make artworks for iPhones, for smartphones and for iPads, for mobile computers. What we want to do is say “OK, after the invention of mobile letters, now every individual is a mobile transmitter or disseminator”. Not everybody is an artist because to be an artist is in the logic of production. Joseph Beuys said in 1970, “Everybody is an artist” but that means still producing. Now we say “No no, everybody is a transmitter, a disseminator. Everyone can distribute something”. This is much more radical. Our aim is to make the technology of distribution available so everybody can become a transmitter to disseminate a message.

WE_MAGAZINE Are artists embracing these new technologies? And what about the art circus?

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>

PETER WEIBEL: The old classical artist is defending his monopoly. Around 1840 came the advent of photography. Up to then there was only one class of experts who could make images and that was the painters. The painters had a monopoly: if you wanted an image of a landscape or a portrait, you had to go to the expert, and say, “Please make the image”. But suddenly with photography, everybody could make an image. Therefore for 100 years painters claimed that photography is not an art. They said that a photographic portrait has no soul and is not the same as a painted portrait. So what we‘ve seen for the past 100150 years is painting defending its monopoly. And the price of a painting is still much higher than the price of a photograph. And the monopoly is still being defended. Then came the next thing – images starting to move like cinema etc. And cinema and video still don’t enjoy the same kind of acceptance as works of art that sculpture and painting do. So it’s a defense of a monopoly. Many artists are really reactionary and do not accept the new technology. The collectors, the market, the system of art says “We want to have culture, we want a painting, one single product, only one product, one painting, one sculpture, with

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one signature from one single artist”. So at the moment we are experiencing a rearguard action, a massive, nearly military rearguard action in defense of the monopoly on who can produce art. And in the midst of this war ZKM tries to say “No, the new technology must be made available to make a different kind of art.”

WE_MAGAZINE So are these new technologies expanding art?

>

PETER WEIBEL: Exactly, it’s what you could call the expansion of the concept of art. It’s expansion in a number of different ways. Not just an expansion in terms of the materials used as happened in the 20th century or an expansion of methods: suddenly people could use material that had not been available before. People could make paintings just by painting tools. You could take any material and make sculpture or installations out of it using different methods. And then came the next step: the most daily types of activity like walking and sitting could become art. Marina Abramovic is sitting in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, just sitting, and people are looking at her. So art expands to include daily activities. But now comes the next important step: we have to expand not only in terms of materials, activity and methods. The two most important expansions ahead of us are first an expansion of access – that means not only the artist is making and contributing to art, but also the spectator. So the viewer or spectator becomes an equally creative part of the production of artworks. This is the most important expansion. And the other one is to expand not only into everyday life, like pop arts did, but to expand into science. So we are on the threshold of a kind of rebirth of art, of the type which happened in the Renaissance. The Renaissance was this art movement that said “Now we go back to the Greeks.”

AND TODAY WE HAVE A KIND OF SECOND RENAISSANCE, A SECOND ENLIGHTENMENT. WE SAY WE HAVE TO BRING ART CLOSER TO TECHNOLOGY WHICH MEANS BRINGING IT CLOSER TO SCIENCE. ART MUST BECOME ONCE MORE SOMETHING LIKE SCIENCE. These are the two most important expansions – into science and into the audience.

WE_MAGAZINE What do you mean exactly by "art must become closer to science"?

>

PETER WEIBEL: I mean that artists must learn not only to make a painting of the human anatomy, what a man looks like, with his muscles and limbs. The artist must learn that the person also consists of neurons and molecules. So we have to learn how we can make works with molecules, how we can make works with neurons and so on. We don’t need to look at flesh and bones anymore. I would say looking at flesh and bones is still interesting but if we want to do this, well, we have fashion magazines. So art should separate from this kind of what I call “anatomical beauty”. Art must look for the beauty in molecules and neurons, to build a level of science.

WE_MAGAZINE A level of science?

>

PETER WEIBEL: As was done in the 60s, only that was prohibited. In the 60s we had what was called “psychedelic art”. This was an attempt to investigate what happens to my DNA when I take drugs. They were uncontrolled experiments which were very productive: making wonderful music, wonderful psychedelic fashion, wonderful psychedelic painting. It was a kind of reprogramming of our sensory life. Suddenly we had many different colors, we had different forms, different music – minimal music, pop music is one effect of this

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psychedelic programming which in fact was the first expression of “molecular aesthetics”, because people took drugs and drugs address the molecules. Unfortunately it was not understood. Therefore it was forbidden, so people were uncontrolled in their experiments and many people died. But one thing is clear: these kinds of color, of fashion and music would not have happened without these molecular explorations and experiments.

WE_MAGAZINE How does the Internet change the WE?

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PETER WEIBEL: I would say that just as we knew communities in the past that were based on natural and social rules, we are now experiencing what I would call “uncommon communities”. What we have now – which marks out the difference to the “common” communities – is a new performative aspect. “Performative aspect” means the following: in 1962, a book was published by the philosopher of language J. L. Austin. It was language philosophy, ordinary language philosophy, and the title of the book was How to Do Things With Words . That means if you are a registrar you say to two people, “Now you are married”. It’s just words and yet the people behave physically like they’re married. A judge says, “Now you’re sentenced to prison.” It’s just words. And yet you get sent to prison. This is the power of words combined with institutions; this is what we call “performativity”. You say something and it becomes fact. And normally – and this is another point – this is also a monopoly; once more it’s like art because it’s a certain class of people who have this monopoly. As a priest, for instance, you have the “institution of the Church” behind you to lend weight to your words. If you’re a judge you have the power of institutions behind you to lend your words weight. And then you have politicians, the class of politicians who say ”We are the rulers. We say ‘lower taxes, raise taxes’ and so on. And now there are these new uncommon communities. There is this new WE which comes with the Internet. People are addressing this power monopoly and fighting it. And this is also the reason behind what we call the Arab Spring. In Europe – with its consumer society and entertainment industry – the people are very apathetic, very passive. They get what they want; they can buy what they want; they can watch television. Then you have Stuttgart, where many people came out to protest against the new railway station. So what you see now is that the people who are part of this uncommon community, the so-called “Internet revolution”, like the people in the Arab Spring, like the Spanish protestors, are nothing more than people on the Internet who say, “We will not allow you anymore to hold your monopoly of performativity”. The government says “We want a new railway station”; the government says “We want this and that”. But the people are saying for the first time, with the help of the Internet, “No, we don’t want it. We want to participate in the decision making”. Now the point is that up to present we have had a so-called “representative democracy” where every five years the people can elect the party which represents them. We have believed that this or that party will represent us. Only now we discover that these parties do not represent us anymore. So the people say “We want to represent ourselves”. This is what we call a shift from representative democracy to performative democracy. The people become like the judges, priests, or politicians. They say “This is what we want and this is what we want you to do.” Normally it’s the politicians who say, “We have to do it”. But now the people are saying, “No, no, we want you who represent us to do what we want”. This happened in Stuttgart, it happened in North Africa. So the uncommon communities based on the Internet are bringing about a change of democracy by enriching it with more performativity from the public, the people.

WE_MAGAZINE So you would consider the Occupy movement as art?

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PETER WEIBEL: Exactly. It’s very ably supported. And it’s very interesting to see that Joi Ito, who is now the director of the MIT Media Lab represents this very important shift. What we are seeing is precisely the shift from a logic of production to a logic of distribution.

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The way he did this was extremely clever. And I’m very enthusiastic about it. I’ve known him since the 90s, I was one of the first to invite him to Ars Electronica in Linz. And it is very clear that MIT says: “No, we don’t want to take an architect or an artist, we want to take somebody who knows the Internet.” So it’s very clear that the expertise must lie in distribution technology. This links in with what I said before – that art is much too centered on production. It would be correct and very good to say “Occupy-it-art”. Because art has become in a certain sense very reactionary, highly conservative.

> WE_MAGAZINE So the ME becomes much more important in this concept. ME as an individual has to take responsibility, right?

PETER WEIBEL: Ulrike, this is precisely the question. This is the heart of the matter. We have to learn freedom, which we can now acquire more than ever before because we now have the freedom of performativity. But freedom demands an ethic of responsibility and a responsibility for shouldering the consequences. When I decide for or against Stuttgart 21, or for or against this or that government in North Africa, it is me who is responsible for the consequences. And it is very difficult to predict what these consequences might be. The question whether you are right or wrong is a question that it will take one hundred years to settle. To look at history, we could say with Walter Lippmann that the nation with the longest experience of the problems and paradoxes of democracy is unfortunately America. Even if America at the moment in my opinion is not a democracy, it still has the longest experience of democracy. Back in the 1920s philosophers like John Dewey and publicists like Walter Lippmann discovered that when we have democracy, we need a public, we need voters who are competent, who are responsible, who know something. They said that if a democracy is to exist we need the kind of citizens who can only be created by democracy. So there we have one paradox: a democracy can only exist when we have people who are educated, competent and can share responsibility. But this kind of citizens is not being produced by our education systems anymore. These philosophers wrote two books. Walter Lippmann wrote a book called The Phantom Public in which he argued that democracy could only function if we had what he called “omnicompetent citizens”. So our ideal of the voter is a citizen who is omnicompetent, who knows everything. But today we know that it is difficult to know things. That was 1925. In 1926 came a book by John Dewey, a response to Lippmann, called The Public and its Problems. One thing is very sure: only if we have a well educated public can we have democracy. Otherwise people can be manipulated as you can see sometimes in Afghanistan. Where there is no educated population, people become victims of propaganda, and that is a problem. What we have to do is to decide what you do. We have enlightenment – we have to give the best opportunities to everybody to be educated and to know something. Look at the German word “Mitteilung” for instance. It means generally “information” or “message” but in fact if you break it down it means sharing something with someone. The German word for information implicitly carries with it the idea of sharing.

AND SHARING MEANS I’M SHARING MY IDEAS, MY KNOWLEDGE, MY SKILLS AND ABILITIES, MY POSSESSIONS WITH OTHER PEOPLE. Sharing means dissemination. So information only works if it’s communicated. Only shared knowledge is stored knowledge, you could say. But I can lose information. That’s why in technology we always make a back-up copy or a mirror system where I store something and you store something. Earlier on communication was oral communication that didn’t involve writing instruments. Like with the shamen, the priests, there was always someone there

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who remembered it. I have always shared what I know, mainly with a student who in turn has passed on what I shared with him or her to other students. That’s a way of storing and securing knowledge. Only shared knowledge, knowledge that you share, is good knowledge, safe knowledge. And now we are learning – and this is the problem that the people will have to learn to deal with – that only shared power is good power. This is the crux of the matter in what is happening now. Sharing of information leads to sharing of the monopoly of power. You have your skills and abilities and I have mine. And we can no longer say “I am the only one who is authorized to do this or that thing.” No, I have to share my monopoly of power. That’s the idea. A new level of sharing is being reached – sharing with one another.

WE_MAGAZINE So what are you doing as the director of ZKM to build this greater WE?

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PETER WEIBEL: We are publishing our books with The MIT Press, fortunately, and we are publishing books like the one we made in collaboration with a great number of philosophers and sociologists called Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy. You see, before I quoted Austen’s How to Do Things with Words and our book is about making things public; “res publica” means “public things”, “public affairs”. We stage art exhibitions together with social scientists and Internet scientists to encourage debate, to open up public awareness of the issues involved. In February 1999 we opened the first big exhibition on the Internet. Called Net-Condition, it explored what kinds of conditions are needed on the Net for it to become an instrument that can change society. So what we try and do is to make exhibitions and books – very often in conjunction with The MIT Press – that help to shape or change the world for a democratic future. INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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And sharing means I’m sharing my ideas, my knowledge, my skills and abilities, my possessions with other people. INTERVIEW

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Creative Power on the Margins of Society INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH RIEGER

IT WAS DURING MY CONVERSATIONS WITH HANNAH RIEGER IN NOVEMBER LAST YEAR THAT I LEARNT OF HER PASSION FOR ART BRUT – A FIELD OF ART OF WHICH UP TO THEN I HAD ONLY THE VAGUEST KNOWLEDGE. YET GIVEN THE PARTICULAR THEME OF THE PRESENT WE_MAGAZINE, DRAWING IN THESE SOCIAL MARGINALIZED, SO-CALLED “CRAZY” ARTISTS AND CONSIDERING THEIR VIEWS ON ART, AND IN PARTICULAR THE WAY THEY RELATE TO THE WE, SEEMED A PRETTY OBVIOUS MOVE. OBVIOUSLY IN TERMS OF THEIR SUBJECT MATTER ART BRUT AND OUBEYs ART ARE WORLDS APART. YET EVEN SO, PERHAPS THERE IS A SIMILARITY IN TERMS OF THE UNCOMPROMISINGLY RADICAL FREEDOM OF WHICH OUBEY AVAILED HIMSELF IN ESTABLISHING HIS OWN VANTAGE POINT AMONG THE INTERFACES OF A HUGE RANGE OF DIFFERENT DISCIPLINES FROM WHICH TO ILLUMINATE THE KEY QUESTIONS OF HIS THINKING AND CREATIVITY – AT A GREAT REMOVE FROM MAINSTREAM ART AND SCIENCE.

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TITLE: YEAR: FORMAT: TECHNIQUE:

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StarPixel 2004 400 x 400 mm oil on laminated hardboard

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Photo Š Petra Spiola

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Hannah Rieger was born in 1957 in Vienna to which her parents had returned after 20 years emigration in England. She is an economist (University of Vienna, post graduate studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna) who works as a consultant for professional development and also supports various non-proďŹ t projects on the interface between enterprises, sustainable development and art. From 1983 to 2010 she was employed in a variety of functions with the Investkredit/Volksbank Group where her last position was as Director of Corporate Communications. Hannah Rieger is a writer and editor of reference books (The Handbook of EU-Conforming Subsidies, The Family Business Handbook). In 2008 she was appointed as a Member of the Universty Council at the University of Applied Arts (Angewandte) in Vienna and since the 1980s has been an enthusiastic collector of art brut.

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“Outsiders are people who SHIFT the borderlines, thus creating new spaces. Such spaces are conducive to very special developments. And a position on the borderline affords you the opportunity to take a privileged view of the center.”

> WE_MAGAZINE What has the above mentioned statement to do with your own collection of art brut, Mrs. Rieger?

HANNAH RIEGER: Yes, most definitely there is a connection! My own collection is a collection of outsider art. Collecting art brut has been a passion of mine for the past 25 years. My collection now consists of some 300 works by over 40 art brut artists. Roughly two thirds of the works come from the Haus der Künstler in Gugging. I’ve been fascinated by art brut ever since I first saw the exhibition by Johann Hauser and Oswald Tschirtner, two of the most famous artists from the Gugging group, in the Museum of 20th Century Art in Vienna back in 1980. Though I must say that it took me a couple more years before I actually bought my first pictures. The way I see it, art brut or outsider art is a unique way of connecting social and cultural responsibility. Obviously, art brut artists are influenced by the social and cultural currents in which they live. It’s all about creative power on the margins of society which at the present point in time – and this is a very curious phenomenon – is increasingly coming to the forefront of public attention. Art brut is innovative, it’s now on the crest of a wave and is becoming increasingly trendy. I think mainly because it resonates so well with the Zeitgeist’s hankering after originality and authenticity.

WE_MAGAZINE Has your collecting changed your understanding of WE in any way?

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HANNAH RIEGER: Yes, it has and it’s still doing so.

WE_MAGAZINE Could you say how?

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HANNAH RIEGER: Art brut is reaching and touching ever greater circles of people. And I firmly believe that I can make a difference in the particular world I move in, and play a part in helping to give art brut greater visibility. As you know – as we know and everyone knows: things only exist to the extent that they can be perceived. And this is especially true when it comes to art brut. People report about collections, exhibitions, publications and awards. Specifically, what I’m now doing is putting much more effort into opening up my collection to the public. I’ve already introduced various people in my own circles to art brut through exhibitions, art brut trips, visits to museums and galleries, and networking. Working on the lines of “how we discover our lives through our passions”, I’ve also made art part of my professional activities. For instance at GLOBArt I’m now holding a workshop on Art Brut – a Model for Social Change?

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> WE_MAGAZINE What other examples can you give of the increasing trendiness of art brut?

HANNAH RIEGER: A short time ago probably the world’s biggest collector of art brut, James Brett, set up a museum, the Museum of Everything: “a non-museum for non-art”. Basically this means that museums no longer have any one fixed location and that exhibitions are only now organized to cover “non-art”, in other words art brut, outsider art, or self taught art. Last year for instance he organized the Exhibition #4 in the hallowed halls of Selfridges department store in London’s Oxford Street. His exhibition comprised of some 400 works by over 50 artists from across the world and was visited by over 100,000 people in just a few short weeks. For Selfridges it was the biggest venture into the world of art the company had ever embarked on. Never before had an exhibition been given so much floor space in a department store or a company. So with interdisciplinary alliances like the one with the department store, art brut and enterprises can strike out together on some pretty wonderful paths to reach out to much bigger groups of people in a short space of time. The future belongs to those companies who have the courage to take and actually put creative social and cultural ideas into action. Another interesting trend is the way art brut is becoming part of the art of the 20th and 21st century. The LaM Museum in Lille is a good illustration of this. The main part of the museum’s art brut section is made up of the L’ Aracine collection (Michel Nedjar, Madeleine Lommel, Claire Teller) with some 3,500 works by roughly 170 artists. Manuelle Gautrand, the architect of this new part of the museum, talks about “Bringing outsider art onto the inside”.

WE_MAGAZINE How can you make art accessible to a broad public? And do you really need to do so?

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HANNAH RIEGER: Yes, I think it’s really necessary. To quote the German neurobiologist Gerald Hüther – if art can create spaces where emotionally significant experiences can be made, then what we need is a culture of sustainability in the art business. In my view, commercial enterprises are a very important target group for the general public. Selfridges is a case in point because it shows that art brut can act as a catalyst for innovation in the company. And another example comes to mind: I was recently in Istanbul and had the chance to visit the marvelous art collection at Borusan Holding, a successful industrial conglomerate. They’ve adopted a really fascinating concept: the art collection is housed in the company headquarters which open up as a public museum every weekend. The Essl Museum in Austria is also adopting a similar model. It was originally founded as a private museum to house the collection of the bauMax family business who made their money in a chain of DIY outlets. But it’s now working once more to create a much stronger rapport between the art collection and the people in company headquarters. The old idea of the role of the museum was to build it up so it could rival other famous state-run museums in Austria.

WE_MAGAZINE What does art mean to you?

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HANNAH RIEGER: For me art is communication in the here and now and for generations to come. But more importantly, there’s also my understanding of art brut. It’s based on the notion of the French artist and wine dealer Jean Dubuffet who first coined the term art brut and meant by it an original, raw, rough and ready kind of art based on a highly idiosyncratic and unconventional approach. He derived the term ‘brut’ from ‘brut champagne’! Creators of art brut have no formal artistic training. Contemporary trends in the art world mean nothing to them. You can often find them in a psychiatric context, in connection with people with handicaps or among social outsiders. So art brut is made by people with a special way of accessing reality. Art brut has also recently developed into an internationally

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recognized branch of art. Yet the French term art brut never really caught on in the English-speaking world. The art critic Roger Cardinal coined the alternative term outsider art.

WE_MAGAZINE Is the WE really an essential part of art – or can art safely do without it?

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HANNAH RIEGER: Yes, the WE is part and parcel of what I understand art to be. As I said, my understanding of art is that art is communication in the here and now and for generations to come. In his book Schizophrenia and Language, Leo Navratil the founder of the Gugging Center makes a point that illustrates what I mean. He says: “Because art is a message from one person to another, and it is without sense and without value when it isn’t understood as a medium between the creator and the recipient.”

WE_MAGAZINE In what kind of ways would you like to see art develop?

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HANNAH RIEGER: I’d like to see it develop in three ways: 1. To become a natural and indispensable part of people’s lives. Both their private and professional lives. This takes us back to the WE. And also takes us away from elitist thinking. 2. To see the art world become less obsessed with money. Since I became interested in art, I’ve found that in the art world I’m practically dealing with more financial issues than I used to in my previous work for a banking group. 3. I’d also like to see art open up and make connections with other worlds. And to see it making more connections with art brut.

> WE_MAGAZINE Do you see any parallels between the MINDKISS Project and the way you’ve built your own collection?

WE_MAGAZINE How can the WE serve to strengthen art?

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HANNAH RIEGER: OUBEY was an architect by training and a self-taught artist. So there’s obviously some close connections to my own collection – but with one very important difference! Both intellectually and in interdisciplinary terms, OUBEY mounted a critique of the dominant art world. And this is something which simply never happens in art brut. Art brut requires a definite distance to the milieu of culturally organized art. I’m very much looking forward to seeing his art in the original and will soon be going to Karlsruhe. HANNAH RIEGER: I think it can strengthen art in two main ways: 1. The fact that we bear responsibility for one another and are all interconnected is something that art can make visible and tangible once more, something that art can reaffirm. What we need is the interest and the awareness and the questioning of the value and role of the visual arts through to Joseph Beuys’ “Everyone is an artist”. Art – art brut – could become a much more natural part of our lives, much more “normal” ... 2. I’ve given my own definition of art as communication in the here and now and for generations to come. What do I mean by this? I mean that visual art allows us to experience our present whilst also creating a bridge to the future. The future isn’t predetermined; it’s brought into the world by the way we all interact today. Who and what do we want to be; who and what do we want to become? It’s through the continuity of the impact it has on both present and future that art makes people truly human. INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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Infinite Possibilities INTERVIEW WITH VANESSA BRANSON AND JON NASH

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THIS INTERVIEW WAS ACTUALLY THE FIRST OF THE WE AND THE ARTS SERIES. I VISITED VANESSA BRANSON IN LONDON LAST SEPTEMBER SHORTLY AFTER THE IDEA FOR THIS EDITION OF THE MAGAZINE WAS BORN.WE TALKED LESS ABOUT THE MINDKISS PROJECT AND MORE ON HOW THE INTERNET IS CHANGING THE MARRAKECH BIENNALE. EVEN SO, THE LEARNING CURVE THAT BRANSON AND NASH WENT THROUGH IN THIS PROCESS IS CLOSELY RELATED TO OUBEYs UNDERSTANDING OF HOW ART SHOULD REACH OUT TO THE PUBLIC AND HOW ART CAN BE PERCEIVED IN SUCH A RICH VARIETY OF WAYS.

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Vanessa Branson is President and Founder of the Marrakech Biennale – North Africa’s only trilingual arts festival – covering visual art, literature and film programs and featuring acclaimed international and Moroccan artists. Prior to this, from 1999 to 2004, she was co-founding curator with Prue O’Day of The Wonderful Fund Collection. The idea was that ownership would be shared but that the purchasing would be done by Branson and O’Day. Over the next five years, the pair visited artists’ studios, galleries, degree shows and art fairs in Britain, America and Europe looking for as broad a spectrum of work as possible. Their collection was then exhibited at the first Marrakech Biennale at the Museum of Marrakech. Active as an entrepreneur, she founded the Vanessa Devereux Gallery (1986–91) in London, where she showed a number of emerging artists including William Kentridge’s UK debut exhibition. In 2002, along with her business partner Howell James CBE, she developed an ancient crumbling palace in the centre of Marrakech into a beautiful boutique hotel – the Riad El Fenn. With her partner she owns and runs Eilean Shona a tidal island on the west coast of Scotland at the entrance to Loch Moidart where J M Barrie wrote the screenplay for Peter Pan. She is a trustee of the British Moroccan Society and Virgin Unite, and a member of the board of trustees of the Global Diversity Foundation.

Jon Nash was born in 1986. He lives and works in London. He studied at The Arts Institute at Bournemouth from 2006 to 2007 followed by the London College of Communication from 2007 to 2010. In 2008 he curated the exhibition Turning Around in a Circle at Coleman Road in South East London. The artist run space which ran from 2008 to 2009 showed the work of local and international artists and gained private funding. Since graduating Nash has continued to exhibit in London. His work has featured in group shows including Between The Eyes at Coleman Road, Practice at Southwark Art Space and Television at French Riviera. His recent solo show at French Riviera titled You know you’re not the first included sculpture, painting and photography. Nash’s work has been published in the Financial Times, iD magazine and the Sunday Times among others. His work will be included in the 4th Marrakech Biennale.

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VANESSA BRANSON: We started in 2004. I was sort of incandescent with frustration about all the anti-Islamic feeling emanating out of the Western world. I’ve a hotel in Marrakech and I’ve had very positive experience with Moroccan people and people from North Africa in general, and I wanted to sort of rectify the balance. I was also aware of the need for this part of the world to find a platform for expressing their views. So I started the Biennale. And, – you know I really believe this! – by using art to debate quite contingent ideas, you can really get to the nub of a point. We’re talking about women’s rights or some head-on issue – it can be a bit offensive. If you’re talking about somebody’s role in a movie or a book or indeed in an artwork, you can really, really get right into the subject. So in 2005 we held the first festival and it was just so exciting and we’re now on our fourth, our fourth event.

> WE_MAGAZINE You said before that the next Marrakech Biennale will be also a kind of huge online event. Why are you doing this? Why are you moving on, why are you including the virtual world?

VANESSA BRANSON: Well, the virtual world has come to us – so it would be foolish not to include it. And the virtual world has made it possible for us to do this. I mean our curators are based in London, New York, Berlin; the exhibition, the main exhibition, is happening in Marrakech, so the website becomes a sort of extraordinary portal for people to investigate what we’re doing, exchange ideas, and debate. It’s a living event even before it’s happened. It has a life of its own and it’s very exciting.

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JON NASH: It’s funny, I was born in ‘86 so I was kind of raised by the Internet. And for my generation the rules have changed, I can explore the world from my computer. I can have friends who earn thousands and thousands of pounds mining gold in computer games and then selling it to people. So the Internet has brought into play a whole new set of dynamics to explore – whether it’s making work through a street view or exploring digital painting software and seeing what I can get out of it. It also provides a platform for other artists who produce work and produce websites of artwork and get millions of hits a month, far in excess of what any show at MoMA would get. It’s my generation and the generation before me who spent most of their time trying to work out what the implications of the Internet are. It does seem to be something that’s more than just a new step in technology; it’s a lot more than television ever was. It brings into play a kind of feedback and it’s introducing new realities in a way that television and telephones and canvas painting and frescos and cave painting did. It seems to have gone into a new realm of development which is exciting. So it’s a good time to be alive.

WE_MAGAZINE So what is the Marrakech Biennale all about? Why did you initiate it? I think it’s the fourth edition in 2012?

WE_MAGAZINE So how has the Internet influenced your work as an artist and then your work as somebody who collects art and makes festivals?

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VANESSA BRANSON: Well, I was born in 1959, so you know I’m always surprised by the Internet’s infinite capabilities. And just on a very prosaic level, we’d probably have 1,000 people coming to the opening event and we’ll be filming. We do literature, we’ve got some wonderful writers and filmmakers coming as well, so all the conversation-based and talk-based events will be filmed and go up on the website – it will be very informationrich as well as virtually very exciting. I’ll let you know but we’ll probably get 60,000 people walking through the exhibition over the three months that it’s up, and we will have many millions of visitors online. So, there’s a massive, massive audience.

WE_MAGAZINE How has this changed the relation to the audience – I mean hasn’t the Web completely changed it?

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VANESSA BRANSON: Yes, well, that’s Jon’s thing. I mean it’s not my generation. I love being better in seeing things and I’m not … I don’t speak the language as well but spending time with younger artists who do, I can see that they have a very comfortable relationship with it. JON NASH: Yes, it’s sort of two-fold: first there’s dissemination so there are tiny galleries in Mexico City that I look at on a regular basis. And the other dynamic is just recognizing that that’s the main platform and making work that’s tailored for it. So there are whole groups of artists that simply make work that looks good as jpegs, that take it and embrace it as a practice, as an operating mode. And I think that's really fascinating.

> WE_MAGAZINE You said you had a conversation before I arrived to kind of prepare for this interview. What were the questions or the topics you put to the young artist and what did he ask you?

VANESSA BRANSON: Well, I want to say thank you for giving us this opportunity to do a bit more investigation into the creative world and this area. But you know, I’m just beginning to have my eyes opened to the infinite possibilities. And you know, whether artists are responding to the Internet or whether they’re actually using it as a tool to push their work further ... this is what we were talking about before you came. I don’t think we’ve even begun to investigate this and there’s still a long long way to go.

> WE_MAGAZINE What are you learning from this – let’s call it “Old World” or “Older World”?

JON NASH: Well, we were talking about this before and whether you can put it in terms of early developments like going from painting on a ceiling in Venice to painting on canvas. I think a lot of things haven’t changed, so a lot of things you can view in those terms. I mean the references are still there, for example, so I’ve made work that strongly references American romantic painting. Or you can see lots of examples of abstract paintings from the 80s and America coming through or a lot of digital painting. A lot of it is a complete overhaul of traditional models – how you get work out there and how you make work. A lot of it is kind of mind-blowing: artists building their own social networks and sort of manipulating characters within this. It’s a leap but then that’s just a reflection of the leap in the technology.

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> WE_MAGAZINE How is the online and offline world reflected? Is it reflected in your work as an artist or is there purely this underlying presence? Do you take something out into the offline world?

> WE_MAGAZINE The last question, Vanessa, is for you: You were saying that you don’t have that much experience with the Internet, that it’s not your generation’s thing. Now, you’re including and embracing this virtual world in the next Marrakech Biennale. What are the biggest challenges for you in doing so?

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JON NASH: I think it’s harder and harder to draw a line between them. I take great pleasure in pulling things between the two. VANESSA BRANSON: Tell Ulrike about your project in Marrakech. JON NASH: The project for the Marrakech manual comes from an Internet phenomenon that I stumbled across in Marrakech – well, actually on YouTube – which shows Moroccan guys filming themselves doing burn-outs or drifting cars in circles and uploading these with certain key words. This is an example of virtual space allowing something to happen that can’t really happen. And then you end up with these sub-cultural groupings under suggested video tabs of key words like, “Drift” or “Tuning” that bring these groups together. And these sit alongside more official, traditional footage of camels and sand dunes, and my intention was to first recognize this but also take it offline and bring it into the exhibition space and create a similar flattering contrast. You have the pallets where it’s being shown traditionally and then you have this youth-driven sub-cultural phenomenon. So that’s been really exciting to explore, and my intention is to produce a huge amount of video and participate in that ... steal that aura. So there’s a lot of feedback and imitation. Often these videos are just imitating the film Fast and Furious and this is where the unique feedback quality is at a bit today. Particularly in that you cannot only just get information, you can contribute back and that keeps it going. And you end up with these weird, sometimes dark and horrific but also fantastic situations. And it’s been fantastic to work on this.

VANESSA BRANSON: I don’t see it so much as a challenge. I’ve just got to surrender to it. JON NASH: It’s an exciting new dimension. VANESSA BRANSON: Embrace it, yes, and learn. I mean no, I find it exciting as a possibility but my primary aim is to make a really interesting, stimulating event in real-time. And it’s up to Jon and my colleagues to spin it off into virtual space. INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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synthetic body 1993 variable PhotonPainting

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The Flesh Becomes WE. The WE Becomes Flesh. JOHN STUBLEY

FROM AN EARLY AGE OUBEY WAS INTERESTED IN POETRY, READING WIDELY IN THE LYRICAL WORKS OF POETS SUCH AS RILKE, PAUL CELAN, GEORG TRAKL AND GOTTFRIED BENN. HE WAS FASCINATED WITH HOW LANGUAGE AS AN EXPRESSION OF THE HUMAN MIND, OF HUMAN THOUGHT AND FEELING COULD BE BROUGHT TO THE METICULOUSLY CULTIVATED FORM OF A POETIC EXPRESSION THAT TRANSCENDS MERE SELF-EXPRESSION TO REACH A TRULY MASTERFUL SUPRA-INDIVIDUALITY. OF EQUAL FASCINATION TO HIM WAS ALSO THE QUESTION OF HOW THE MEDIUM OF LANGUAGE CAN BE USED TO EXPRESS THE CONNECTIVITY OF HUMANKIND TO – YET ALSO ITS ALIENATION FROM – THE MAJOR FIELDS OF ACTIVITY AND EFFECT IN THE UNIVERSE (SEE GOTTFRIED BENN’S VERLORENES ICH POEM WHICH FIGURES AS THE CENTERPIECE OF THE “ON PAPER” SECTION OF THE OUBEY MINDKISS BOOK).

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John Stubley, Ph.D., is a widely-published writer of poetry, prose, journalism and essays. He is the founder of the Centre for Social Poetry (socialpoetry.net) and a co-founder of occupythefuture.org. He is also the co-founder and co-director of MacroScope Solutions – a facilitation and community-development business based in Western Australia.

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We currently live in a world which is – from one direction – nothing other than an expression of the difficulties associated with approaching a certain mystery. And the mystery is this: How are we, as individual human beings aspiring towards freedom, supposed to live in community with other, individual human beings?

WHEREVER WE TURN – ON WHATEVER SOCIAL LEVEL WE CHOOSE – WE CAN SEE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR STRUGGLE TO FIND AN APPROPRIATE WAY OF DEALING WITH THIS MYSTERY. AT THE SAME TIME, WE CAN SEE, ON THE ONE HAND, EXISTING POWER STRUCTURES WHICH ARE ATTEMPTING TO CARRY ON WITH BUSINESS AS USUAL, AS IF THIS QUESTION WAS NOT ALIVE.

On the other hand we are seeing the beginning of numerous uprisings of human beings attempting, out of an inner necessity, to change the existing social climate into ‘something else’. But what, in reality, could this something else be? And what is this something else asking from us? What has carried human beings for millennia – namely, the given community – has been a kind of community which has flowed through the arteries and veins of human beings and of different groups. It has been a kind of community which has flowed through the blood (families etc.). At the same time, it has also flowed through language (races, nationalities etc.). Up until relatively recently, all that has lived in the bloodlines and in the ‘language-lines’ of human beings has provided a given community life. This situation has now, however – on the whole – run its course.

Joseph Beuys has, famously, said that every human being is an artist. If so, we must add to this, as we shall see, that every human being is also a community being. In Beuys’ sense, artistry can be seen as the individual, creative and, indeed, spiritual capacity of human beings, no matter where it is directed. It is not limited to art in a narrow or traditional sense, but includes anything humans turn their hands and minds to, including social life.

ARTISTIC CAPACITY,

in Beuys’ sense, can be seen as a given. Its realisation is, however, not given. We all have it as potential within us, but it requires us to awaken it if it is to be realised. So it is today with community. All that has lived in the blood has run dry. Language too has run dry. Community is no longer provided for us in the same way as it once was. So then, how are we to re-enliven social life – how are we to realise and create any art of WE – based upon the current reality we find today?

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It is all too easy to see the consequence of falling too much to the extreme of one-sided individualism cut off from community life. This manifests in the kind of extreme capitalism currently ravaging the world. It manifests in families and marriages falling apart. It manifests in the breakdown of communities, drug and alcohol addiction, and the exploitation of human beings. At the same time, we have also seen the effects of a kind of enforced community life that negates the free, individual, creative, spiritual capacities of the human being. Communism, for instance (as well as dictatorship, for that matter), rather than creating community, has the actual effect of hindering true art and, thereby, true community. All of these symptoms represent a kind of ‘speaking’, a kind of language. They speak of the un-health – the cancerous disease – that has spread throughout social life in our time. The revolutions we have observed in recent years are an acting out – a speaking out – against this, though they too are at risk in any moment of falling into old habits. For this article I was asked to say something of the power of writing to create the WE. In considering this, I had to consider the power of the word itself. Though the power of language and of words have, of themselves, grown weak in our own time, this has not always been the case. Indeed, it is hard to move far in an exploration of the word without calling to mind one of the most poetic of all texts – whatever one’s religious persuasion – the Gospel of St John. Here the creative power of the Word is both the subject and the activity required to grasp it. “In the beginning was the Word”. The Word – the Logos – can be found in the beginning of all things. And yet, if we are to follow the trajectory of the Word, we must also come to observe, as St John did, that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”. What does this say, then, about the significance of language and of ‘writing’, of community life and creativity in our time?

CREATIVE POWER – ART, AS BEUYS WOULD HAVE IT – DWELT (i.e. WAS) IN THE BEGINNING AS THE ALLPERVASIVE, CREATIVE POWER OF THE WORLD.

In becoming flesh, this creative power has made its way into the hands of individual human beings (indeed, it is itself the individualising force). The Word, the Logos capacity, became flesh. Every individual human being now has the possibility to create, to be artistic, to shape community and social life as a whole. And yet, in order to realise this possibility, we must add another step to the path outlined in St John’s work. And if we are to do this without prejudice, looking at the situation of the world today and all we have so far been observing, we can say that to “In the beginning was the Word” and “The Word became flesh”, we must now also add, “And the flesh becomes Word”.

To do so, however, we must, again, see the situation in the right light. We are not referring here to a return to “the beginning” – to a time of all-pervasive communal life – communal Wording – void of the individual and free nature of the human being. The individualised nature we currently possess is the consequence of a long journey of this creative element – this Logos activity – becoming earthly – becoming flesh. We ourselves, as free individuals, now contain within us the creative power of all that lived in the beginning as the creative Word. To turn back to some previous time when individual freedom was not possible for the human being would be to run counter to the whole course of the evolution of human consciousness and world becoming itself. This kind of thinking runs into the dead-end of communism or, essentially, any form of social life which does not respect individual, creative freedom.

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WE CANNOT TURN BACK. WE MUST STEP FORWARD ON THE PATH.

And to step forward means to realise our own creative capacities, and offer the opportunity for others to realise theirs. The capacity we have within us must be realised – must be actualised – the flesh must begin to become Word – if we are to have any art, any community, any future worth speaking of. And yet, as we have seen, the pitfalls on this path are significant. On the one side the temptation to turn back appears as a kind of pink, warm cloud. It tempts us to forgo our own individualised nature and surrender to the whole. It is a cloud that would take us away from the earth, back to the beginning. On the other side of us on the path there appears, out of a murky abyss, a kind of cold, bony hand that would pull us even further down – even further into the flesh. It would, in a way, project us too far into the future, individualising us even further and completely cutting us off from our fellow human beings. We would become completely isolated. Each of us imaginatively walks this path today. We walk between, in a real way, two evils. It can be observed everywhere – and perhaps nowhere more obviously than in technology. In using the Internet, for example, we can find that, at one extreme, we are pulled further into the flesh – pulled down into a kind of mechanicalcomputational thinking, a mechanical ‘flesh’ – where it is quite possible to experience ourselves as mechanical, computational beings. Within this one-sided extreme, the proponents of technological singularity and artificial intelligence, including Ray Kurzweil, are quite correct – that the human being is a kind of machine, and that in the future the best that we can hope for is that human beings merge with machines, and that machines merge with human beings. On the other side we are tempted, constantly, by a kind of thinking that would take us away from ourselves. Our attention while ‘surfing’ the Internet can flit about wherever it is taken – our thinking floats, in a way, on a cloud of interaction wherever it is drawn next. Countless advertising, scams, pornographic content and predatory activity can take place in this realm, preying upon, at times, people’s earnest desire for community itself. Wherever we turn on the Internet, our thinking is confronted with the tempting and warm cloud that life can somehow be better here – that we will find here all the community we ever need. Here, it is all too possible to see the bony hand of a kind of mechanical individualism wrapped up together with the cloud of communal temptation – they weave together. And yet, where is the space for the human being? Again, the Internet is only one such place where we can observe this activity – it can be seen everywhere. The only remedy available is to create for one’s-self the necessary path through these two forces which, though having their role, become evil when we stray too far to one extreme. The creative Logos – the Creative Word – as we have been describing it here, is the only sure path through the centre of these two evils, holding them in a kind of balance.

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WE CAN ASK OURSELVES, WHAT WAS OUR EXPERIENCE DURING THE MOST CREATIVE TIME OF OUR LIVES?

If we do so seriously, it is possible to observe that during such moments it is not only us who are active or creative, but that something other than us is creative in us. We are active, and then it is as if something creative comes to our aid in the creative deed. Creativity itself – in the sense we have been talking of it here – allows a kind of speaking in which we are ‘inspired’ in our act of creativity. We may wonder, then, if in this moment we lose any of our individuality, any of our freedom. In such moments, it is possible to observe that rather than losing any of our individual human freedom, we actually feel the most free, the most individual, the most human. That which makes us human is of the same substance as that which comes to our aid in moments of true creativity, true artistry, and yes, true community. We here realise the Logos – the creative Word – within us, and we are able to make a space for the same in others. We thereby overcome the experience that we are simply mechanical objects – mere machines – to realize that we are rather, human beings; that we are communal beings related to all the creative beings of the world; that our very nature is that of creativity, of artistry, of spiritual activity, and that we can create community/communion with other creative, spiritual beings.

In realising this in any moment, we are able to hold the two evils of the world in their rightful places, whether we are using the Internet or anything else (for we cannot turn away from the world, we must engage with it). We are able to move from the i-cloud (or i-life, i-pod, i-pad etc.) to a true community with other I beings. The i-cloud then becomes a kind of capital ‘I’ I-cloud; we move from a little ‘i’-life to a capital ‘I’-life. We become more fully human in a human community of other I-beings, and more fully ourselves. We are thereby able to work with the Internet (which, as we well know, is possible), or anything in social life, in a way that is artistic, creative, human and based upon true community because the Logos is there present. In doing so we can become co-writers, co-authors, co-poets with the creative powers of the universe. We move from an original, unconscious/un-individualised presence in creative activity (“the beginning” Word), to holding unrealised potential, to an active participation in shaping the world as individual, creative, spiritual beings. At the same time, our artistry must be turned also to the organisation – to the artwork, to the poem – of social life as a whole. The imagination of the way in which social life needs to be structured is the true – i.e. artistic – human being. The human being is how we must picture society as a whole. In this way can we understand Plato’s idea that the state is the soul “writ large” – except now we expand the state to encompass all social life, or rather, place the state in its rightful place within society as a whole. Only in this way will we create a social life in which it is possible to find the human being as human being. And in order to shape the social organism in the direction of health, we must have the courage to again and again come to the wellspring – to the source – of the Logos. We must come again and again with our individual, fellow human beings not to an un-free “beginning” but in freedom to the ‘ever-present future’ – to the fountainhead of the Word. Here we can find one another as human beings. Here we can find the field of prelinguistic Wording – the place from which all words (i.e. deeds) flow. And they must flow. For if we do not provide very real and practical avenues and applications for this wellspring to flow into, it will float away – it will waft away with the clouds. At the same time, we cannot ‘dam’ the flow of the Word – we cannot dam the creative, artistic and spiritual capacity of each one of us as human beings. For if we do, more and more illness will occur, both for individuals and for society as a whole. Instead, we must create the right kind of

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channels, the right kind of vessels for the creative Word to flow into the world. And these right kind of vessels are artistic, creative, human beings. And when these human beings turn their attention to the social organism on whatever level, they will see that it needs to be organised in a way that is fit for artistic, creative, human beings – that is, for the whole – not just mechanical – human being. In so doing can the creative Word flow, as it longs to do, through the previously dry arteries and veins of the human being, as well as through the arteries and veins of the world itself. In so doing can the organisms of the human being and society grow towards health. In so doing can language and words find new life among human beings, so that each one of us may take up our rightful place as co-authors and co-poets of the future of the world, in service of and in accordance with the creative speaking of the cosmos.

IN SO DOING MAY THE HUMAN BEING AND THE WORLD REALISE THEIR FREE, ARTISTIC, SPIRITUAL AND COMMUNAL CAPACITIES. IN SO DOING, MAY THE FLESH BECOME WORD.

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Togetherness INTERVIEW WITH JUSTUS BRUNS

I INTRODUCED JUSTUS BRUNS TO DAGMAR WOYDE-KOEHLER LAST YEAR BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE GREAT IF JUSTUS INCLUDED THE MINDKISS PROJECT IN TIMES SQUARE ART SQUARE. THE TWO OF THEM EXCHANGED EMAILS AND A LITTLE WHILE AGO THEY MET UP IN NEW YORK. DAGMAR WAS SO EXCITED BY JUSTUS AND THE AFFINITY HE EXPRESSED TO OUBEYs ART THAT SHE ASKED ME TO MEET HIM IN ANTWERP AND DO AN INTERVIEW. AND THAT’S JUST WHAT I DID. IN OUR CONVERSATION WE FOUND THAT JUSTUS AND DAGMAR ARE BASICALLY FOLLOWING A SIMILAR APPROACH IN THEIR VERY DIFFERENT PROJECTS – AN APPROACH WHICH INVOLVES SETTING UP A FRAME WITHIN WHICH THINGS CAN EVOLVE.

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Raised in Belgium and schooled at the University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands (B.S. in Industrial Design Engineering), Justus Bruns is committed to combining his professional training and personal passions for the global propagation of art and culture. In his eorts to provide artists and arts organizations with a platform in the largest exhibition space the world has ever known, Justus is committed to preserving the integrity and spirit of human expression. As Chief Evangelist, Justus speaks at international conferences and events, engaging creators, supporters and observers alike. As wide-eyed wunderkind, he champions limitless possibility and inspires us all to re-imagine our world.

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I would call myself an ideas machine. For instance, one of my ideas is the Time Square Art Square where we actually try to turn all the billboards in Time Square into an Art Square, replacing them with art and doing art installations in the Square and so on. And I’m very obsessed with realizing ideas that make people think and also with helping other people realize their ideas.

WE_MAGAZINE How can design help in this context?

>

JUSTUS BRUNS: Design? I recently wrote a little blog post about it. The biggest problem I think we have nowadays, for example in politics, is that when we look at politics people are trying to solve problems by arguing, by putting down the best arguments and by being the best debater or talker, of having the best haircut coming up with the best solution. But I think in general, when you want to solve problems, you have to do it by working together. And the process of actually designing a particular product is always about sitting down together and coming up with different ideas, no matter how crazy they are. It’s a bit like a tree that has all these different branches and at a certain moment you have these different crazy ideas that are so good and when you put them together you have the best solution. And the only way you can reach that is actually by leaving people how they are, by not criticizing them but by stimulating their creativity. So, I think in the design process it’s very important to realize ideas and to have these ideas solving problems.

>

JUSTUS BRUNS: One of the things that we try to do is to create a platform. We basically remove every single applied expression form which we know as advertising and replace it by a sort of free expression form. And when we do that, we create an environment which is very similar to what you experience in a design environment. So when you are brainstorming, you try to stimulate as many people as possible to come up with ideas and be more creative. We basically try to scale this by providing big public spaces. In the case of Times Square Art Square it’s billboards for artists to express their ideas and stimulate others to realize their own.

> WE_MAGAZINE Since we are doing this interview for we_magazine, how is this idea of WE, whatever it means to you, how is this realized in your design ideas, in your Times Square Art Square idea? Is it realized at all?

JUSTUS BRUNS: When I think of WE I think of togetherness, I think of people doing something together and I think definitely that that is something you need when you’re realizing ideas. I mean the biggest thing I’ve learnt in the past year is that there’re always people who are smarter than you and there’re always people who will have better strengths, so you should work together with these people in order to realize your ideas. And also I think that in order to pull this off, we need people to spread the idea with us and to feel the same passion that we have in creating a platform for creative people, for artists, who have the same passion, in getting the movement going. And that is something you really do together, that you can call the WE you mentioned.

>

JUSTUS BRUNS: One of the things is that we reach out to every single party. So we are not afraid of reaching out to the companies currently advertising. Neither are we afraid of reaching out to extreme artists or art institutions like the museums in New York and basically bringing them all together to realize this. So our mindset is very much that we should do it together and the best outcome is when you work together. I think that the organization itself very much resembles this in its form like the legal form: we’re a nonprofit organization which means we have no interest in making lots of money, we only have an interest in pulling this off and having more art in the world. And in that form we are a neutral party. So, for every single company or person that’s involved, we try to bring them all together and the sort of collision that’s involved then makes things happen.

WE_MAGAZINE And how is this design process related to your idea of art?

WE_MAGAZINE How is this implemented in Times Square Art Square?

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WE_MAGAZINE So there is a world without money in your vision?

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JUSTUS BRUNS: Talking about money, I think the problem with the current currency is that it’s very much based on getting and not so much on giving. If you were thinking of re-designing currency or actually designing a world without money, it would be more or less based on how can we become rich through sharing knowledge which is a very interesting – almost an abstract – thing to think about. But I do feel very compelled to actually start to question the world we live in right now and to start to change it and make it less abstract. I think we should actually look at why we should always have the idea that someone running with hot coffee and a bagel from A to B on Wall Street is more successful than someone who eats two mangos a day and sits all day in the sun. I really want to change that sort of perspective. And one of the things you need to do is to influence. Because I, for example, think that teachers are much more important than lawyers or someone who builds swimming pools. Sorry, I’d say that’s going a little bit too far.

> WE_MAGAZINE I think it’s perfectly on the mark. You don’t have to convince me about that. What do you think the individual can do – I mean these are huge tasks you are talking about ...

JUSTUS BRUNS: Yes.

> WE_MAGAZINE ... you know, it’s about literally changing the world. What can the individual contribute to such a process?

JUSTUS BRUNS: One of the first things I really had to acknowledge – and it took me a very long time is to do this – is that there are already a lot of people doing these things. You’re working on your school project and other people are working on making governments more open so there’re lots of things going on. So the first thing you should think is never think that you should do it all by yourself. Always think if you have a particular interest or idea, suppose you’re interested in politics or you’re interested in agriculture, say, just try to look at projects that are up and running and actually support and get involved in them – or start your own idea and share it with them. Only never come up with a whole new package and start to reinvent everything. So I think the first thing that you as an individual should do, if you want to participate in actually changing something, is acknowledging the fact that there’re many of you and then work together – which comes back to the WE part. That’s one thing. And the other thing is that if an idea really appeals to you – and I think it’s very important that it does have a strong appeal – that you should follow your dreams, I think it’s very important that you care about friendships, and that you care about the people who are close to you, and that you don’t work too hard and that you embrace laziness. I mean the fact that we are always thinking that we need to work – why can’t we ask some day, “Why is it so good to work every single minute of our day?” I think it’s much more sustainable to just sit and enjoy the blue sky or whatever.

> WE_MAGAZINE You recently had a conversation with Dagmar Woyde-Koehler about the MINDKISS Project? Is this somehow related to your work? Do you see any common ground there?

JUSTUS BRUNS: I don’t directly see how I’m personally related in the project, because I think it’s a very personal thing. And what I think is very beautiful about it and how I see a lot of similarities with the way I work is that I’m very bad at executing. MINDKISS sounds very real to me because I’m executing all these ideas but it’s not because I’m executing them, it’s because I’m working with people that are capable of executing them. And I’m capable of exciting them to join me in executing these plans. And from what I see, this OUBEY MINDKISS project has sort of the same view. It has the same view in terms of bringing people together and exciting people, and the excitement revolves very much around the work of OUBEY which I’m literally psyched about. I really love to see and this is also one of the reasons why I’m doing art – the Art Time Art Square project. It’s because I see the arts bringing people together. Art motivates people, art creates more creativity, it makes more people think and that is what I really love about the OUBEY MINDKISS

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project – that it brings not only the artist himself in front of the people but also graphic designers, motion designers, Dagmar herself, and that drives me. I think that’s very cool.

WE_MAGAZINE What is actually your understanding of art?

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JUSTUS BRUNS: It’s a very personal thing for me. I think we don’t have a definition for art first of all so I don’t have one either. The best explanation I can give is that it’s really, really about giving people the child-like imagination that they ...

WE_MAGAZINE The child-like imagination?

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JUSTUS BRUNS: Yes, like if you put a class with 20 people together, say 20 kids and then ask them, “Who is an artist?”, they all would raise their hands. If you asked, “Who is a musician?” they’d all raise their hands. If you asked them, “Are you a singer?” they’d all raise their hands. But if you put the same kids 30 years on in the same class and asked the same questions, almost none of them would raise their hands. And I think what art is capable of – and art in general, it can be music, it can be performance it can be literally anything – is to bring back that moment when you felt you could do literally everything. And that is for me one of the biggest reasons why I’m doing this project. But besides that, I think that art is a very abstract thing and I think it’s personal for everybody. So, I mean I’m sort of implying my own definition of it.

> WE_MAGAZINE The project you’re working on Time Square Art Square is a very complex thing. And you’re quite a small team. How do you think this is going to pan out?

JUSTUS BRUNS: It is going to happen. Of course it’s a small team, but it’s a big dream and a big conviction. The thing is I started this two and a half years ago so I’m quite used to hearing a lot of people say, “Ah, this isn’t going to work”. Luckily, I’m also very experienced with hearing people say, “I want to see this happening” and that sort of excites you every single day. The fact that you came over from Berlin to do this interview is one of the reasons why we are actually still running it and it excites us. That’s one reason. The second thing is that it excites others too to join the team, and the people who work here are very talented people. They are people that have experience with working with the type of companies that are in Time Square. And having that and having these people around you and also people advising you.Of course it’s a small team but there’re also a lot of people around wanting to help, wanting you to connect with all these people and so on which makes it feasible ...

> WE_MAGAZINE So what is your vision with this project, how would you describe your vision?

JUSTUS BRUNS: My personal vision is very much about having more people think and having more people come to a point where they say, “Hey, life is not all about working very hard and getting a safe and secure job”. Life is also just about being here and now and looking around you and just literally watching. There’s this quote of Oscar Wilde who said, “We’re all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”. And I think the main goal of this project is just simply having more people looking at the stars. And so basically, having people think and question – question themselves but also the environment we’re living in. I think when people do that, they actually see sometimes that they are making wrong decisions or they’re making the right decisions and they will continue in that way. In that way we can actually create a world that is more sustainable and also start re-thinking ... We should re-think about the way we produce and consume goods because the current economy is literally based on waste. I have an iPhone 3G, for instance. But I need to have at least an iPhone 3GS because the updates make my iPhone so slow that I can’t use it anymore. So that model doesn’t work for the future because we keep on needing more and more resources. To repair a product nowadays is much more expensive than to buy a new one and that is so weird, it doesn’t fit. So, really, I think I want to make people think more, thinking not only about this but also about bigger issues and get them sort of started with that. INTERVIEW BY ULRIKE REINHARD

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The Empty Space What it takes to build a greater WE ULRIKE REINHARD BASED UPON PETER BROOK’S LECTURE THE EMPTY SPACE

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WHEN I FIRST READ PETER BROOK’S THE EMPTY SPACE I WAS DEEPLY IMPRESSED BY HIS ELEGANT ENGLISH AND THE POWER OF HIS WORDS TO CREATE PICTURES IN MY MIND. TO ME HIS MESSAGE SEEMED VERY SIMPLE: REDUCE WHAT YOU ARE WORKING ON TO THE FUNDAMENTALLY IMPORTANT FACTS AND ONLY ADD THINGS IF THEY REALLY DO IMPROVE IT; OTHERWISE GET RID OF THEM. ALWAYS KEEP THE GREATER, LONG-TERM PICTURE IN MIND; TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND TRY TO MAKE CONNECTIONS. PETER BROOK WAS TALKING ABOUT THE THEATRE WHEN HE SAID THIS, BUT I THINK IT EQUALLY APPLIES TO ANY KIND OF INTERACTION BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE. HIS LECTURE ON THE DEADLY THEATRE – THE FIRST OF THE FOUR THAT MAKE UP THE EMPTY SPACE – BUBBLED WITH SO MANY METAPHORS THAT WERE RELEVANT TO MY OWN WORK THAT I COULDN’T RESIST PLAYING AROUND WITH THEM. AND BY DOING SO, IT GRADUALLY DAWNED ON ME THAT PETER BROOK’S UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT MAKES GOOD THEATRE IS STRIKINGLY SIMILAR TO WHAT OUBEY EXPRESSED IN SOME OF HIS PAINTINGS ON HARDBOARD. A PAINTED VERSION OF GOOD THEATRE, SO TO SPEAK. BUT NOT ONLY THAT: HIS IDEAS OF GOOD THEATRE ALSO RESONATE WELL WITH WHAT PETER KRUSE SAYS IN HIS ENCOUNTER WITH OUBEYs ART. WHICH NICELY CLOSES THE CIRCLE – IN THIS MAGAZINE AT LEAST.

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Peter Brook is an English theatre and film director and innovator, who has been based in France since the early 1970s. He directed Doctor Faustus, his first production, in 1943 at the Torch Theatre in London, followed at the Chanticleer Theatre in 1945 with a revival of The Infernal Machine. In 1947, he went to Stratford-upon-Avon as assistant director on Romeo and Juliet and Love’s Labours Lost. From 1947 to 1950, he was Director of Productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. His work there included a highly controversial staging of Strauss’ Salome with sets by Salvador Dalí and also an effective re-staging of Puccini’s La Bohème using sets dating from 1899. A proliferation of stage and screen work as producer and director followed. In 1970, with Micheline Rozan, Brook founded the International Centre for Theatre Research, a multinational company of actors, dancers, musicians and others which travelled widely in the Middle East and Africa in the early 1970s. It is now based in Paris at the Bouffes du Nord theatre. In 2008 he made the decision to resign as artistic director of the Bouffes du Nord, handing over to Olivier Mantei and Olivier Poubelle.

Ulrike Reinhard is consultant, author, visionary, free spirit and passionate digital native rolled into one. Her belief in the Internet’s ability to empower people and change our lives and worlds for the better drives all her work, whether it be investigating global movements or establishing grassroots self-help projects in Africa and India.

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THE GREATER WE As we point out in the first pages of this we_magazine, we believe that the Internet has the potential to change the world for the better and to build a Greater WE. A Greater WE in the sense that more and more people are working to raise the living standards of everybody in each and every part of the world, and that more and more people are not only feeling that they should do something but also shouldering the responsibility for what they do. To create this Greater WE it’s necessary to realize and understand more broadly what its potentials are and how we can use them so that everybody really benefits. If we don’t, there’s the danger that we might soon realize that all we’ve done is waste our resources and efforts on the wrong things. Towards the end of The Deadly Theatre Peter Brook says, “I don’t particularly mind waste, but I think it’s a pity not to know what one is wasting.” He gives an example which is not drawn from the world of art, and has no hesitation in “translating” it into his own theatre world – exactly what OUBEY did with sciences. What he says is, “In Mexico, before the wheel was invented, gangs of slaves had to carry giant stones through the jungle and up the mountains, while their children pulled their toys on tiny rollers. The slaves made the toys, but for centuries failed to make the connection” ... to use the rollers for that purpose as well. I believe that today WE are failing in similar ways. Many of us – for whatever reasons – don’t make the connection between economy and environment, between “the rich and the poor”, between business and social, between formal and informal learning. We don't see the connections and patterns. It seems as though we are lost and wandering within this vast complexity. And it’s the same thing on the Web: we are pretty cool in building ego chambers and using the Internet as just another communication channel. But we’ve been pretty bad so far in engaging with the possibilities these new technologies offer us and building real alternatives to existing systems. There are indeed some hopeful signs – look at Wikipedia, Global Voices, Ushahidi, the way Iceland’s new constitution was written, avaaz.org and Greenpeace campaigns, and flash mobs in local areas – but we are still a long way off from a real breakthrough. We’re not joining up the right dots so that all of us can benefit. We keep on following the “same old ways” and are surprised when we find ourselves stuck in a dead end.

WHY DON’T WE SEE THESE CONNECTIONS? WHY DON’T WE “FEEL” THEM? WHY AREN’T WE AWARE OF THEM? HAVE WE NO IDEA OF WHAT WE’RE WASTING? WE BETTER SHOULD HAVE. JUST LIKE THE SLAVES. The Internet – and art too, especially OUBEYs art – is a pool and tool to make these connections. At the same time it enables us to collaborate and find helpful answers without much money being involved. What the Net definitely can’t do is to make decisions. So it is up to us and us alone to make them. However, what the Net definitely can do is enable us to find better answers.

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SO HOW DO WE LEARN NOT TO WASTE THESE OPPORTUNITIES? HOW CAN WE LEARN TO SEE AND REALIZE WHAT WE ARE ACTUALLY WASTING? HOW CAN WE CONNECT THE DOTS AND MAKE PATTERNS VISIBLE IN OUR EFFORTS TO BUILD AND REALIZE THIS GREATER WE?

EMPATHIZE AND ENGAGE Peter Brook’s opening words in The Deadly Theatre put us on the right track: “I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.” He emphasizes that add-ons to such a “reduced format” can and should be made – but only if they add value! He encourages theatre people to make such valuable add-ons, and gives many examples of how this can be achieved by fragmenting the overall totality of theatre into tiny little valuable components without ever losing sight of the bigger picture. The same goes for the Web. It provides us with an empty vulnerable space. It’s an invitation.

JUST LIKE A PAINTING INVITES YOU: LOOK AT ME! BUT A GOOD PAINTING INVITES YOU TO DO MORE THAN JUST LOOK AT IT. IT INVITES YOU TO ENGAGE. PERHAPS TO EMPATHIZE WITH ITS CREATOR. TO MAKE CONTACT. TO ENCOUNTER. I think that we need to take this invitation on the part of the Web very seriously. We need to engage and add only those things which improve the Web in the way Peter Brook describes. Improve it to help us to build the Greater WE. Thus we need to empathize with those who take up this invitation to find out what’s valuable for them. And we only add it if we have the feeling that it really does add value. If not, we’d better leave it. That’s WE_thinking. When we think as WE, it’s easy enough to find out what resonates on the Web, what’s important for all of us. Just like the actor finds out what resonates with his or her audience. And this is a foundation on which we really should build. Some people may object that such thinking is naive and unworldly. It could well be – but I still firmly believe that this is the only way to get the best out of the Web. Otherwise all WE are doing is steadily digging our own graves. Just as Peter Brook says The Deadly Theatre is doing. And WE don’t want this. It’s a waste. WE can do better.

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THE ME AND THE WE If WE need to do better, the best thing to do is that I myself start to do better. It’s our own individual responsibility. We are left alone with it. Just as Peter Kruse says in his Encounter with OUBEYs untitled picture (see p. 33): “This is a shameless picture because it forces me to assume total responsibility for my own point of view ...” What we as individuals are for the Web, the audience in the theatre is for the play. Peter Brook is very clear in saying that it’s the audience’s responsibility to get good theatre, that the audience simply gets the theatre it deserves. And he gives us a case in point: “When the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear toured through Europe the production was steadily improving and the best performances lay between Budapest and Moscow. It was fascinating to see how an audience composed largely of people with little knowledge of English could so influence a cast. These audiences brought them three things: a love for the play itself, real hunger for a contact with foreigners and, above all, an experience of life in Europe over the last years that enabled them to come directly to the play’s painful themes. The quality of the attention that this audience brought expressed itself in silence and concentration: a feeling in a house that affected the actors as though a brilliant light were turned on their work. As a result, the most obscure passages were illuminated; they were played with a complexity of meaning and a fine use of the English language that few of the audience could literally follow, but which all could sense ...” The same play with the same cast of actors was performed later on in Philadelphia. English wasn’t a problem here as it was an English-speaking audience. But even so Peter Brook realized that much of the quality had simply gone. He wanted to blame the actors, but it was clear that they were trying as hard as they could, he said. It was the relation with the audience that had changed. In Philadelphia the audience was composed largely of people who weren’t interested in the play, people who came for all the conventional reasons – because it was a glittering social event ... So what does this tell us? Even if we know little about the Web, if we love its possibilities, are hungry to connect and are willing to address painful topics – WE will improve. Painful topics such as lowering living standards in the minority (= western) world in order to improve living standards in the majority (= developing) world. Using less energy, driving less, sharing not stockpiling, balancing what is good for ME with the needs of the Greater WE. So it is up to us as individuals to shoulder responsibility, take action and start to build the Greater WE. Waiting for our neighbors to make the first move won't help. First of all it’s up to ME to leave my own comfort zone.

GO WITH THE FLOW Talking about an actor on stage, Peter Brook says: “Now the audience’s concentration began to guide him: his inflexions were simple, his rhythms true: this in turn increased the audience’s interest and so the two-way current began to flow. When this was ended, no explanations were needed, the audience had seen itself in action, it had seen how many layers silence can contain.” Obviously the Web, like the theatre, isn’t a one way street; it’s an open self-organizing structure of relationships which challenges all participants to remain open, to listen carefully, to empathize, to stay humble and not to overestimate themselves. Within such an environment or atmosphere in a theatre all of a sudden strong relationships can emerge – just as they happened between the actor and the audience. Barriers can break down. But breaking down barriers requires self-reflection and personal leadership.

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To go with the flow doesn’t mean losing the bigger picture or having no vision – much more it means taking small steps smartly towards it.

NO COMPROMISE NEEDED! “... a shifting, chaotic world often must choose between a playhouse that offers a spurious yes or a provocation so strong that it splinters its audience into fragments of vivid no’s,” this is what Peter Brook says. In my view, this is nothing less than a call for the acceptance of contrary opinions. And once again, this is what the Web offers us. Its chaotic and complex nature shows us multiple layers of differing opinions and solutions and we have to learn to disagree and to be comfortable with divergent viewpoints. Yet it won’t be easy and it won’t happen harmoniously. Co-creating the Greater WE and a better tomorrow won’t work in some cozy consensus; it has to be compiled in eye-to-eye discourse. If people don’t agree, it might be better to branch out and continue working on parallel solutions in the hope that at some point the results might fit together again. Written in the late 1960s way before the advent of the Internet, Peter Brook’s reflections on the elusive dynamics linking author and actor and audience in The Empty Space seem strangely to prefigure many of the issues which puzzle and confront our own Internet entangled times. In this short final essay there is no space to do more than briefly touch on the main ways in which his writing on the theatre parallels what is happening in the fertility of our own burgeoning netscape. This is the first time that such parallels have been drawn and I hope that, as brief as my remarks have been, they may shed some light on a by no means so empty space.

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we and the arts  

This issue of we_magazine deals with the manifestation of WE in the arts. What kind of role plays the WE in the arts? Does it play a role? A...

we and the arts  

This issue of we_magazine deals with the manifestation of WE in the arts. What kind of role plays the WE in the arts? Does it play a role? A...

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