Dear Aacorners,
it was already october 27 when I asked:
"
What I'm interested in is to know if you perceive this crisis as a chance for art/aesthetics in business/organisation/management?"
Some Aacroners answered and then suddenly, the discussion stopped. (See below) It's already half a year ago. The economic crisis is still a matter of fact. What do you think now?

And I will ask another existential question:
Who are the artists within the aacorn network (who are not already in contact with me) making a living exclusively by artprojects in companies?
What are the consequences of the financial and economic crisis for you and how do you deal with that collapsing situation where all efforts of the past seem to be in vain.

Thanks for any comment.
Best
Jügen



Jügen,

Thanks for reviving your timely question. There are probably many unique responses to the economic crisis from within our profession. Many of my American colleagues are impacted by their major clients' withdrawal into a reactive state of innovation dormancy and short-term thinking. We believe this protective mode will soon produce its own problems. Creativity, innovation and artful thinking are needed now more than ever. Some of us practitioners are endeavoring to position ourselves in anticipation of this second realization, that creativity holds at least some of the keys to working ourselves out of the mire of the present economy. I also find more and more pracitioners turning to one another in what feels like a very healthy dialogue, establishing bonds of friendship and a level of sharing more rare in prosperous times. I experience this as a silver lining to the present crisis, something from which much good may come.

Secondly, I also perceive at least some of our arts/aesthetics dialogue merging with the dialogue around "design thinking" which may result in some healthy cross-fertilization and a strenghtening of the cases for both in the wider world.

I look forward to your comments and others as well. Our own community might well be strengthened by this dialogue. Best.
John


I'm with John in that I think the financial crisis is an opportunity for
arts-based thinking/work. As we start to move beyond the initial panic
responses and start to look for new practices that may be better suited to
working with the complexities of the world the arts offers a lot.

- Steve

I agree with these sentiments - that there is an opportunity for the arts to have a positive affect on the current economic situation.

I hear time and time again from people in business that there is a need to be 'creative' in order to survive. I hear that as both an inward (how we work) and outward (products and services) statement. My interest is in the extent to which the arts can create paradigm shifts in business, because that is what I believe is needed in order to take business minds into new ways of thinking. To achieve that at a cognitive-thinking level invites the old paradigm to keep it's bag of tricks active, making change difficult. In my view the arts can offer incredibly effective ways to create sustainable paradigm shifts in the way that people engage in leadership, management and business practice (in both the HOW and the WHAT) stepping around old established patterns which no longer work.

Is it the case that there is a window of opportunity open right now that will close soon? If so what does it mean to build on the opportunity that is open to us?

Interested in your thoughts on this.

Sue

Hi Sue,
With all due respects, let's leave the rhetoric out about opportunities at the moment.I get emails from the erudite through to spam daily exhorting me to adopt new thinking, new design processes and thinking, creativity and innovation programmes, arts based processes etc that will lead me out of this mess.

After two weeks of interviewing CEO's in middle to large corporations in Australia around leadership, creativity and innovation, I can categorically state where business is focused.

Back to basic business fundamentals particularly revenues that are dropping rapidly in every industry regardless; prices, costs and head counts and the cutting of all surplus expenditure especially those to do with what are perceived as non essential services such as training, O&D, HR where outcomes cannot be calculated and expressed in hard and fast monetary terms.

I found that as opposed to 12 months ago, at least the CEO's are now prepared to listen. They acknowledge they don't know where things are going. They want creative conversations. However, in all the discussions without exception they ask to be shown the tangible outcomes art based processes and creativity and innovation programmes etc will have on their bottom line in order to help them make their figures so their people can retain their jobs!! It's that focused!

Senior management is not interested in theorising, they are seeking practical financial outcomes..NOW..it is a matter of survival. So here is the challenge for all of us as I see it involved in this field.

How does one respond to that from an aesthetic, creativity and organisations research perspective?

Ralph


Well, I cannot resist now. Ralph’s words are exactly right, and I think the thoughtful dialogue that has shown up embodies both the challenge and opportunity for the AACORN community. It is not about business leaders embracing the ‘arts’ or any aspect of the ‘artist’s world’. It is about introducing fresh ways of approaching long standing challenges and opportunities, and in that sense, understanding, appreciating and adopting some of the ways an artist approaches their work can offer such fresh ideas for some segment of the business community. This is the essence of what I tried to do with a book I just finished, that will be available this summer…………its all about the application and the result, the bottom line. The real world leaders and managers who have reviewed the book, have said just that…practical, fresh, conversational…and though it may sound like a ‘pitch’ here, I do hope that it can help open up the dialogue with leaders across industry and function. As Ralph points out…unprecedented crisis, and unprecedented challenges, by definition allow for alternatives ways of thinking to get an audience. But without a way to connect those ways to tangible, audible, visible results, it becomes just a nice to have conversation. I think we all try in our ways, depending on the ‘play yard’ we are in to do that, but my experience resonates with Ralph. More than ever, business leaders are eliminating what is perceived as discretionary activities, and at the same time searching for investments that will launch new growth and organizational health.



Rochelle


Ralph, Sue and friends
I heartily agree with your sentiments. My own business collapsed around me in August last year, as I failed to raise sufficient finance to make further acquisitions of small businesses. The board and other shareholders laid the blame at my feet, as CEO, and I accepted their desire to see me leave.

Since then, I have been applying creativity and innovation to see where I can get to now. I have recently put together a research proposal to undertake a multi-level analysis of creativity/innovation as a socially negotiated response to states of distress (within the SME sector). I have no answers to your question yet, but I believe I have a direction to go in.

As artists (and I use the word with caution), we can help as catalysts to creative conversations - but only if those conversations are related to specific states of distress; i.e we need to understand the problems faced by those we have the conversations with. Now is not the time to present a theory about thinking differently, or to float the idea of an artist in residence, or some other such scheme. We need problem solvers who think as artists think - they needn't be painters, poets, musicians, dancers etc - they just need to see the business world differently, while at the same time understanding it from its current reality.

If we can engage in useful conversations now, we will earn a right to theorise later.

Best to all

David

Dear David and friends,

Maybe some AACORN members have a non-profit or work with the
government, how does the crisis have an impact there? I know of at
least one new faculty that is under attack in Holland now due to the
expected cut-backs in next year's budgets of the University in
question.

As far as business is concerned, Orgacom.nl got one new commission to
create an art work due to two separate offices from two different
locations that are currently moving into one and the same building as
a result of the crisis. I am also using the crisis to set up two new
businesses. It is a good time to finally get those websites build etc.

I wonder who else in AACORN is taking any actions themselves to set up
new structures and build up new proposals?

Greetings and success with all your endeavours,
Teike

A last note to say I am with Ralph in this debate. With some of my clients, the problem is not persuading them that arts-based interventions will be helpful, it is persuading them that any development intervention will be useful. One of my larger clients has cut their training budget by two-thirds this year (and they already cut it by half last year) – and they are still very profitable. Another (less profitable!) has chopped their training budget entirely for the first half of this year. Despite this, I am actually seeing an upturn at the moment with projects getting booked even into 2010, but for those of us in the UK who make our full-time living from delivering arts-based development in organisations, the last six months has been a bit of a roller-coaster time (and I don’t think I am alone in having experienced this – correct me if I am wrong, guys!).

Tim


Tim Stockil


I suspect that if an arts enriched paradigm does emerge over time in the corporate sector, we will have succeeded in validating a certain very critical complementarity between both modes of processing as essential to doing business. Stock in the arts/aesthetic mode will rise because we discover we cannot live without its ingredients fully absorbed into the mix. The integration of these multiple levels of thinking will require a level-shifting or modality-shifting flexibility of the sort that Bateson advocated in coping with different logical levels of processing - his ecology of mind concept. Under the right circumstances, this nimble shifting of levels can be experienced as playful, refreshing, even ingenious. The arts will make their worth known and felt without any sense of "taking over", but rather by working powerfully in tandem with our level one tendencies and guaranteeing ready access to crucial felt knowledge, values and our deeper humanity. When we work with our clients, it's the alternation, sequencing and eventual setting of the stage for synthesis of both types of experiences that yields the biggest dividends and appreciation. Would you agree?
John



Dear colleagues,
I am new in the network and I find very inspiring to talk about these type of issues. For many, creativity and arts may be a luxury, meaning an extra-expenditure that in times of 'credit crunch' would not be possible to afford... however, it is there where money should go in time of crisis. This may not be very philosophical but my dad was telling me that in times of crisis people in Colombia have two options: some may go out to the streets crying and sobbing, and the other type of people would start selling handkerchiefs and kleenex!
Anyway, I am trying to articulate an aesthetic sensibility that it is not only for 'certain' arty occasions, but as the core and the motor of every action. I just finished reading a book by Michael Onfray, I read it in spanish, but can be translated as Manifest Hedonist: the power of being/existing (in original french: La puissance d'exister 2006 ) which I found interesting. Onfray proposes an articulation between ethics and aesthetics, as a counterpart to a theological moral. What really stroke me about my reading and perhaps also linked to our historical moment is to understand (not only as a concept but as a more pragmatic level in the body and practice) that aesthetics, or art, or enjoyment / pleasure (I also would use those words at a surface -l yet not supefluous - level) should guide the actions throughout this crisis (an ethical driver). This is a great moment for moving toward sustainable practices, for evaluating what are the moral and ethical conditions that allowed the excess and the greed as highest values in business practices... and indeed, from there to re-build a more fulfilling and pleasant present/future. I feel that these conversations are part of this promising avenue,

Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts in this network,

Best w

Jurgen and AACORN

Thanks for urging us to continue this conversation. Following the news and studying the financial crisis, over the past year I have come to better appreciate the fine art of finance. Ralph and Susan's posts are very illuminating. We need to address the challenges to make our area relevant to organizational and economic concerns. Sveral issues come to mind.

One is the use of "creativity" (both the substance and the rhetoric) in the financial industry. Over the past two decades so called "creative" and innovative financial products (financial derivatives) were created and lauded by all - investors and purveyors alike. Today these creative products are at the heart of the current financial crisis. The whole financial industry and certainly some famous professors at major business and economics schools prided themselves in this sort of creativity - writing complex mathematical formulas that mixed and obscured risks. For me this raises issues about the "ethics of creativity". Not all creativity is good or to be espoused. Creativity for the sake of personal aggrandizement could be an outright dangerous thing. Links between creativity and "freedom" are also suspect and deserve to be questioned.

Second, the costs and benefits of creative processes clearly go beyond simple financial measures to include other forms of value - social, emotional, cultural etc. We need to develop multi criteria metrics to characterise and measure creativity in organizations. Without that the pursuit of creativity in organizations will become increasingly more difficult to actualise.

Finally, Don Hill and I are starting to explore the rhythms of organizational life. One idea we are kicking around is to create sound analogs of the variations in stock prices of individual firms, and stock indices, markets, ETFs, etc. to understand their rhythmic patterns. Do firms' or markets stock price variations follow any known, meaningful or rhythmic patterns from the audio arts? Does financial booms (crecendo) or financial crises (diminuendo), or financial mergers (melodic tango?) show specific patterns? Do such patterns have diagnostic value? Is anyone doing (interested in) this sort of work? We are just getting started and looking to learn from and engage people with similar interests.

Best regards,


Paul



Hi all,

I am responding the the inquiry about doing our work for the
government. I have just led a series of expressive arts retreats for
the top management (2 full days) and the middle management (1 day each
for two teams) of Camp Pendleton - one of the largest military bases in
the US. They were very open and willing to explore issues about team
building and burnout. In fact, at the end of the series, they said they
want to make this an annual event. Even with cuts to the military
budget, they felt this was worth it.

Warmly,
Ellen Speert

With all due respects to both yourself and the fine words of John Cimino, what I read here is polemic. Stand in front of a CEO of an organisation who is looking to survive and suggest to him (mostly hims, still!) that he needs to consider the aesthetic of his organisation, cite literary references and suggest he read more theoretical works to enrich his thinking right now and you will get one of either two reactions - a question as to how that might help him in the business basics of immediate survival or the rolling of eyeballs back into their sockets and quick instructions as to how to find the door.

No, the aesthetics, creativity and organisations research group are part of and participants in this global financial crisis. This moment is as much a challenge for relevancy and survival for the theorists, the academics in our field as it is for business leaders, practitioners and politicians who are grappling with this crisis. If anything, this moment has shown us, again, the folly of righteous theories and advocacy.

If our field of endeavour is to have meaning and value right now, indeed, relevancy, it needs to show its body of work and its theories can contribute in a practical way in the moment to the solution.

How has ACCORN participated and contributed to the problem and how as a knowledgeable and highly articulate group can we contribute to the solution? What would we say about our work and its value to the G20 summit? What are the aesthetics of unemployment?


ralph kerle
chairman
the creative leadership forum
http://www.thecreativeleadershipforum.com
p 612 9403 5327 m 0412 559 603





My two cents would be that I hope as we are able to intervene in organizations, we are costing the benefits for our clients. If we expect to sit at the table with CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, etc, then we need to be able to speak their language – now more than ever – and that’s numbers.

I believe that the arts are a necessity in all the arenas of our life, as they open and build cognitive paths for new ideas. (I have evidence to back this up, but not going down the grounded theory route here). That said, we still need to be able to speak the language of the culture in which we are working. Speaking the language provides credibility as well as allowing our audience to “hear” us.

FYI: a good book to start with if you haven’t done this sort of thing is:

Costing Human Resources: The Financial Impact of Behavior in Organizations
By Wayne Cascio
(1982) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

We have long secluded the arts from the other areas of our society’s functioning rather than embracing it as an integral part of our operation as humans. Now more than ever, we need to use the benefits of a creative process to break through the reified barriers that are holding this culture hostage. I see this time as the supreme opportunity in our lifetime – much like our parents grappled with WWII and the Depression.

As a new member to AACORN myself, I find this discussion stimulating and exciting. Yes, as one member stated previously, through debate and conversation, we are engaging and finding our process, too. I’m honored to be a part of so many thoughtful and practical (at the same time!) colleagues!

Ok, this ended up being more than two cents…

leslie


Nice debate -

Perhaps you would be interested in some notes from the recent CAL event.

This week the Center for Art & Leadership at Copenhagen Business School invited a roundtable discussion (Ole Fogh Kirkeby, Shannon O'Donnell, Daniel Hjorth, Søren Friis Møller, Rob Austin, Henrik Hermansen, Karen Humle, Karen Dyhr, Peter Hanke and a guest Mark Payne) on the following subject:

- What can art do for business in the crisis? or “How does the leader remain standing during the crisis”

It enabled a pretty interesting discussion on the philosophy of "stand" - opposed to "move" and and developed into a survey on the aesthetic values' ability to sharpening sensitivity and serenity for the leader as well as an opportunity to go under the surface and search for purpose instead of another rush for the next consumer-trend. The crisis has a potential to enable the mindful leader to replace plans and strategies with purpose and sustainability.

Some of the keywords:

What characterises the ability to Stand steadily in the Now and meet the emptiness of the event, because you cannot (and nobody else can) predict the future? A consequence of this is to deliberately replace Plans with Purpose.

Homo Oeconomicus vs. the Passionate Individual. Can we consider a purpose-driven economy?

Look upon Needs instead of Wants scaled up on society or global level.
A fight between the Carnival and the Lent embodiment of being. To what extend is it a good idea to resist and discipline yourself, and to what extend is imagination and fabulation relevant?

Using the concept of growth as a lens instead of a goal (3rd world need conventional growth other parts need a new concept of growth)

Models replaced by Examples, i.e. every model implies a reduction of reality whereas the example gives us the focused glimpses of map and landscape 1:1 with no loss of aesthetic impact.

Models replaced by Frames of understanding - enables the artistic interpretations of organisational reality

Models replaced by Plots. We have 2500 years of experience with plots given the ancient Greek drama tradition. The Fable in action.



I think that the discussion on "How to Persuade the Business Manager to Take Art Seriously" in some of the responses in this aacorn debate needs a sidestep away from the trap of Utility. Artful approaches are not tools - they are attitudes and an emotional-intellectual life-form. In our experience it will be far more fruitful to insist on the reflective modes (yet more demanding) and imbed the artistic and aesthetic aspects in the mutual endeavour, no matter where your starting point might be - artist, researcher, manager, non-profit organiser etc. This is not a fight between Theory and Practise - it is Mindfulness vs. Quick Fix.

Best regards

Peter



Peter Hanke


OK Let me hold up my hand in response to Ralph's question about responsibility.

About four years ago I led a major arts based intervention for an international group of the worlds rising stars of the banking industry who were gathered in Europe for a major international conference. The theme was growth and risk. We passionately advocated and demonstrated the attitudes of risk-taking and improvisation that are the pre-cursors to creativity in the theatre. We even used the Nietsche quote " that which does not destroy me makes me stronger" to encourage bold and intuitive action over considered caution. They lapped it up with great enthusiasm.
Topics on the conference agenda meanwhile were: "driving revenue growth in North American retail banking" and "unleashing the value of outsourcing and offshoring".
I wonder sometimes about the influence of this event. At the very least we were in tune with the times and supporting a perceived need in the industry for innovation and a new attitude to risk. We may even have been promoting it.

Someone has already mentioned that the power of artistic processes can be double-edged. And in retrospect, the choice of Neitsche to quote is apposite, given his disturbing and ambivalent place in European culture. The lesson from this for me seems to be that artistic processes have enormous power and potential, but like any potent source of energy they can be as destructive as they can be useful. Mostly, I suspect, people in our field still have very little real influence. How do we both get more - really bring to bear the enormous potential for transformation that applied arts has - and yet ensure that if we do get it, we know what we are doing?

In order to earn my fee at the moment - I have to serve my clients ends - that's the nature of the contract. How do we contract on the basis of subverting, changing or transforming the client? In my experience the desire for change in a client is,usually, really a re-framing of the desire for bigger margins or faster growth, or in todays climate - survival as profitable going concern.

Piers


Hello all,

To piggy-back on what Peter has written, I want to elaborate on one point from our discussion – the idea that the arts might help us identify needs which we have to some degree submerged, as the commercial world has taken over the role of dictating to us what we should want and possibly shamed us out of wanting other things. Needs that go beyond the ones we routinely recite: food, shelter, security, healthcare, procreation.... Or buy: pampers, gasoline, cell phones, insurance....

What can arts do for advocating the parallel deep need for stuff like emotional outbursts, adventure, eye contact, community, plot development, spiritual development, or, as Daniel suggested in our meeting, someone to fiddle while you listen?

How can arts work to (re)articulate the needs of people? And maybe ask for those things on behalf of people, and go about it loudly, to be heard over the factories making more and more crap that supposedly the mere supply of will generate demand, and forge a way towards the trading and exchanging and gifting of goods and experiences we “really” “need.”


Best wishes,
Shannon

Peter

You bring some new dimensions to this debate, ways of thinking about this issue of a place for the arts in business at this time. I like your concept of growth as a lens and shifting from Plans to Purpose. I am sure that many organisations at this time are focusing on planning, goals, actions to survive. I also know that many people I have spoken to are shifting their attitudes towards purpose, conversations, inclusivity and connectedness in the view that leaders need a workforce with which to succeed. With this comes more reflective ways of working and a better understanding of the emotional contribution - it is here that I believe the arts can provide a useful contribution to learning and thinking differently.

I too have been wondering if there are issues here that have more relevance than the debate concerning theory and practice. As this discussion expands I notice myself wondering how people already use the arts in business and what assumptions that I am making (and others may be making about me also) when the subject of practice comes up. I am more familiar with the work of some of you than others.

My main work is in consultancy and professional development, in PhD research I am studying leadership as an organisational process, what it is, what we don't yet see or acknowledge as contributing to leadership, and what this means to leadership development and leadership practice. As I invite narratives from CEO's, people in senior roles as well as middle managers and people in non-leader roles, a rich picture is emerging and in that rich picture there already exists hints of an aesthetic and artistic world within the narrative - 'the artistic interpretation of organisational reality' is then up to me (or the artistic mind) to reflect this back, building on the language of the narrator - something that I do in my practice also. Another practitioner may bring in a scientific interpretation of organisational reality, another a psychological interpretation - how I interpret and engage in conversation with the client has a particular influence - how I attune myself to the client is critical to our level of engagement. How I use my artistic attitude is what makes the difference in my work, and I wonder if there is something critical here that so far has not been discussed - the meeting between the arts, arts-informed learning and learning approaches in professional work (consultants, coaches, trainers, developers), a place where artistic attitudes could be developed. This also is significant to me in both my research and my work, I would be interested in any responses to this because it seems to me the focus is so often on the corporate client rather than the external intervener - and this profession is a big industry.

Regards Sue

Hi everyone,

I am an artist and have been closely following what's been said about how the economic crisis might effect the relationship between the business world and the practices of the Aacorners and thought that I should tell you about my art practice which I developed within the frame of my own business. For me, one of the important issues relating to art and its relationship to its subject is the risk of art becoming indistinguishable from its subject, i.e. business. That being said, I am very interested in many of the issues touched upon in your emails since I built a new art practice from scratch in a country which was emerging from a crisis state - Serbia i.e. how to be self-sustainable, the functional relevance of art practices in a business context etc.

In more detail, my story is this: In 2005, I moved to Belgrade, Serbia with my wife. After a year of not being able to find work in the art academies here, I had the idea of setting up a small market research call centre in the city employing 3 - 4 Serbs. I had no experience of business so this was very challenging - I am trained as an artist but before this, I studied economics. In fact it was so challenging in the first few year that it left very little room for me to make art which wasn’t too different to the situation I was in when living in London when I had to work to live and tried to squeeze in a few days or evenings at the studio each week. However, there was a difference – I was my own boss and this left me a lot of time to reflect on this position, and to use my artistic background as a means to do this.

I would describe my attitude to the market research business as ambivalent and I didn’t realistically expect that anyone else could have a different attitude. I wanted to test this idea so I began to make and show demo films of call centre situations to enthusiastic job applicants which saved the effort of lengthy and awkward explanations about what the job involved and helped to put job applicants into the ‘skin’ of a call center worker. I documented with CCTV cameras reactions to the films and to the simulated situations I asked job applicants to act in and used this video material to produce more demo films. I was interested in the idea of cognitive – dissonance (the uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously) and how conflicts of beliefs and attitudes in this particular situation affected myself, the employees and job applicants.

Here are two links to video works made in the past few years:

http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/the+typical+reject/video/x2q1zw_the-typical-reject_politics

http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/in+a+remote+corner+of+europe/video/x53hxu_in-a-remote-corner-of-europe_creation

Looking forward to playing a more active role in the Aacorn community...
Best regards,
Mark Brogan

Hello colleagues;
breaking my unaccustomed silence over many months.
I do agree with Shannon about the "submerged needs" agenda.
Times of economic crisis inevitably can be times of creative opportunity, not least because there are people with more time on their hands. And they march to the beat of their era's technology. Some of them travelling, looking for work, singing, playing the kind of music that you can carry around in your pocket...
Its obvious that we wouldn't have had Woody Guthrie, and thus maybe not Dylan without the special experience of the specifically American experience of the Great Depression, no mouth-organ and train song genre, no "Freight Train", no "Streamline Train", no "Train and the River"... and maybe no John Lennon.
Where's the creative nexus coming in our era with our technology?
Maybe with Video Gaming, Second Life and other interactive technologies?
And how will this work to use this opportunity to emancipate the little people?

Best
David

Friends,

Many thanks for the contributions. I know others have picked up from Peter's comments, and moved the conversation on, however I just wanted to expand on one other point that Peter made.

I am intrigued, in particular, about the idea that we might replace models with examples/frames-of-understanding/plots.

Firstly, examples. I see your point, in that, as with case studies, there is a richness of detail, with less abstraction towards some vague concept of a universal. However, an example is still an abstraction is it not - unless of course you go to the extreme of the example being real-life - in which case we are presented with experience itself. We could throw away our maps and just get on with life.
Secondly, unless I am missing something, what is a frame-of-reference, if it is not a model or some other abstraction to achieve a meaningful (universal) purpose or view of something?
Finally, is not a plot a model? And I say this as a writer of fiction also. Aristotle's Poetics is a handy reference point here. The inference is that all plots are, in effect, (as models are) imitations of a universal whole.

I think the fundamental problem is that we have come to read our models and maps as reality, and not a guide to the possibilities of a reality. Here Baudrillard (writing in 1981) has a point... ‘[t]oday abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. …It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory.'

We have forgotten how to read maps and explore unknown territory - for that we need judgement.

Long may insight continue.

Cheers

David

David M Atkinson


David,

Pretty good comments. I basically agree with you in the unfolding of these notions.
We ought to scrutinise the idea of the Model according to your remarks - and get rid of the constant utility-focus on Art in organisational environments.

For all the thoughtful minds gathered in Aacorn:
Perhaps you would consider participating in the Bramstrup Performing Arts 19-21 June hosted by the Center for Art & Leadership outside Copenhagen.
Many aspects of the recent discussions will be taken up here.

http://cbs.dk/forskning_viden/institutter_centre/institutter/ckl/hoejreboks/arrangementer/2009_06_19_10_00_00_bramstrup_2009


Peter

This is a really fascinating debate, but shouldn’t we be having it offline? My inbox is suffering from a form of de-actualisation…

Amities a tous

Tim



Hi David Atkinson.

Thanks for these comments:
"I think the fundamental problem is that we have come to read our models and maps as reality, and not a guide to the possibilities of a reality. Here Baudrillard (writing in 1981) has a point... ‘[t]oday abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. …It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory.'
We have forgotten how to read maps and explore unknown territory - for that we need judgement."

I'm just one of those artists, you aacorners are theorizing about.
Not a scholar at your level.
I just paint! Believing that organizations are all about human beings.

I think I just painted what you said about mistaking maps for reality.
I'd like to send it to you. Here you are: I call the painting Terra Nova or Terra Incognota. (Attached)
Thank you for helping to understand my painting deeper - enabling me to paint the next version.


This morning I read trough the whole "actualisation"-debate, and found David Weir quoting someone else:
"Draw it!!" or "If you can't see it, you can't say it!"

I wonder what would happen to our aacorn conversation if we ate our own medicine: The arts
Yummy!
Less words.
More colour.

Best
Karsten Auerbach


Thank you Karsten - appreciate your sentiments and your picture!!


Sue


Hi Karsten;
thank you for sharing Terra Incognita.
It certainly inspires some vision of reality, if there is "reality".
This is the best discussion ever I think on this theme.
I like this AAcorn network because it makes me think always how many options we have for opening our minds, eyes and ears.
It is now 22:00 here and I propose to open even more gates of experience with a long slow malt whisky.
But then will I dream of men and women falling from the skies or dancing round a lake?

Thank You again
David

Hi all;
My feeling is that although not a very active participant, I am gaining much from the debate so I want it to continue.
It is the best thing in my week this week (sad but true)

Best to all
David

Peter et al,
This is such a rich conversation. I feel faintly reprimanded for a focus on utility but its a problem for me. I am completely with you on the stuff about models/examples. Something i've been thinking about is metaphor, inspired by the writer Jane Hilberry who I work with at the Banff Centre - metaphors as fractal existence. Pursue the metaphor and it will unfold the question for you.
However....In my practise in the room with the people in the companies I work with, we are miles away from having a meaningful dialogue in these terms. Perhaps others have the opportunity to go into this with their clients if so I'd love to hear how they get there. I am stuck with the organisations burning focus on utility and fixing things, helping them to fix it is usually their perception of why I am there. I am always struck by the way in which organisations always seem to think they are following or being driven by external factors. they are constrained in their actions by the customers wants, the competition, their supply chains, the regulations, the shareholders. They often perceive themselves as struggling to maintain their business within a packed competing landscape that they must serve or imitate. Many I suspect regret the way they act but they do not see themselves as in control. They do this stuff because they have to. If they don't they go bust. GM regrets making Hummers, they probably regretted it at the time, many of them, but so many people "wanted" them they responded to that "want" and made them. Now indeed they regret it.

If we step aside from utility we are then surely back to just doing art. ( John Ruskin- Unto This Last is v. relevant to this debate i think) When I was just doing art in the theatre I often comforted myself with the idea that although I may not be doing much good in the world with my performances ( compared to say a doctor) I was definitely doing no harm.

Piers


Dear Piers and all
I have really enjoyed this discussion and for the first time have been prompted to contribute with a scenario that brings a different turn and/or offers the possibility of looking at the issues raised from a different angle.

Our Faculty of Creative Arts and Media has asked for a Masters in Leadership and Management. I have been approached to co-ordinate this initiative, I think, because my of interests in things poetic, aesthetic, artistic and creative. I have a numbers of questions which I am hoping the AACORN community may help me with.
  • Why does this request emerge now?
  • What might the needs be - are they any different to the ones we are currently hearing expressed by managers, CEO'S etc in other businesses?
  • What might the provision look like?
If you have any thoughts or experience on this sort of thing - please let me know. It would be good to hear from you.

With warm wishes
Louise


Jürgen, David, Piers and all,

Sorry for my akward and obviously irrelevant precedent “contribution”.
My point was just to ask who are – why, how - the artists who have contributed in finding solutions in a global crisis. If we exclude the contre-reform artists, militants against Protestantism, the social realist painters, militants against capitalism, that left mostly modern architects.
Can we imagine industrialization and capitalism without the factories large halls to protect productive lines, without the skyscrapers to house headquarters and the standardized accommodations to house the new working class ?
Now we know that these "inventions", whose purpose was obviously to put people together in order to organize their work, their leisure, their movement (Le Corbusier was very directive in that respect : “Architecture or Revolution. We can avoid the revolution” Vers une architecture 1924) has some drawback in term of nowadays flexibility (I remember a discussion some years ago with the (Chinese) manager for the construction of the (French designed) nuclear plants in China. He said that when the people from the country will start to leave it to settle around the (already) big cities there will be a considerable and potentially very dangerous social unrest. Is it possible to achieve in one or two generations what has taken centuries for industrialized countries to achieve? How fast is it possible to change the map and redefine the territories? Some maps are evolutive, some are dead end.

Is not urbanism a way to discuss the map / territory question. And the fact that urbanism (imagined by architects, artists) has been superseded by space planning (utilitarian bureaucrats) probably means that what could have been imagined and done with an aesthetic representation of space, have been achieved with no representation at all.
Much to be said (has been written) about “space representation” : it can change for the same territory with time and it is not necessarily a map. Psychoanalysis has also developed many considerations on the mapping of mind and the constant redefinition of the territory of the unconscious. (interesting developments in Derrida’s “Freud et la scène de l’écriture”).
I fully agree with the “Unto this last” reference in the respect with the map/territory questions : is it a sound way to build (economic) theories on a representation (map ?) of the individual which does not exist.

Best to all

Vincent


Friends,

A focus on utility is, dare I suggest, the inevitable conclusion of an Enlightened perspective on knowledge. Even if we consider the various post-instrumental turns towards other aspects of knowledge (moral, cultural, aesthetic etc) our collective tendency is to instrumentalise even further. All our models/frames-of-reference/maps are an instrumentalisation of some aspect of life or other - and, collectively, we follow, forgetting the fact that the map is nothing but an individual's perception (albeit peer-reviewed) of their reality.

I started to write this latest response before receiving Vincent's illuminating architectural contribution. Perhaps it is these maps of an instrumentalised knowledge of architecture and space planning that have driven flexibility out of our reality and made it difficult to respond to change. Just as instrumentally efficient production processes are, like super-tankers, difficult to divert quickly.

Piers observations on the utility focus of organisations arise precisely, I believe (having led my own commercial venture), because organisations ARE engaged in a constant process of negotiation with external factors. It is the instrumentalised maps of the post modern - blindly followed in search of a corporate nirvana - that lead us away from the fact that the full scope of knowledge (scientific and narrative) cannot be assimilated in instrumental form. Are these maps the dead-end maps of Vincent's note? Surely we are better left with evolutionary maps.

Organisations no longer become subject to external forces if we (re)imagine that the organisational boundary now includes the external. But our current models do not permit this shift of viewpoint.

We cannot step aside from utility. We can step aside from instrumentalism, including the instrumentalism of morality, culture and the arts. We need models to come to terms with our reality but these models, I suggest, need to be different - they need to provide for, and encourage, interpretivism. Interpretivism will engender, in the individual, the need to question the map before them, to encourage exploration and evolution.

My own belief is that, just as art is an economic activity in its own right (regardless of an individual's motivations as an artist), then our models need to integrate art, not reify it as a panacea.

Best

David

David M Atkinson

Hi all!

Eventuall reading lures one into action. So I am joining the discussion with a little note --
Thanks Vincent for your link to the Bauhaus - it makes perfect sense for me!

As for finding solutions to the global crisis - I would not exclude all the types you exclude, and I am sure that every shift in discoursive formats, and thats what artists - but not only artists - are concerned with, is a substantial step.

Apart from that, a little teasing comment: I dont think, nothing better could have happened than the crisis! I am really enjoying it. I think about George Bataille and his notion of expenditure as the priest of what is going on. It is a gigantic celebration of potency, an orgiastic overspending. Why don’t people finally stop complaining, it is pathetic. The globe winces. It remains to be seen whether the West has taken Viagra and will continue hammering away. Otherwise sleep, grief and humility will follow. That too is wonderful. (((-;

Henrik


Hi Everyone. I am personally really enjoying the discussion, as well as all the reading sources. But if any of you feel overwhelmed, there are several features in the jiscmail system where you can stop your subscription for a period, or have the responses put into digest form. To make this happen, go to the aacorn part of jiscmail (https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=aacorn), then log in, then go to “subscriber’s corner”, and then scroll down and where it says “Aacorn [Settings], click on the settings. You’ll then get something that looks like the window below. If you temporarily stop your mail, you can always look at the postings directly on the jiscmail webpage. Hope this helps. D


Hi all;
I am enjoying these many thoughtful and thought-provoking contributions.Pleaee keep this debate coming.
but I wonder about these questions.
"What can art do for business in the crisis? or "How does the leader
remain standing during the crisis""
I wonder to what extent these are relevant questions for either artists or scholars not just in the present crisis but at all?

The present business models based on an unsustainable "globalisation" on which are based both the inflated credit-based inflation of values not just in retail generally but in the art market as a branch of retail are clearly unsustainable and actually harmful to the future possibilities of human life.
The present systems of economic and political structures have produced a world with too many people, too much money in certain places, too much inequity and too much emphasis on what art can do for capitalism. But capitalism is a historically-specific system that has good and bad aspects. Its outcomes have been desperately bad for many of the world's people and its eco-sphere.Its time will surely pass and seque into something more human-friendly.

The most expensive collections of modern paintings I ever saw in one place at one time were in the Arthur Andersen offices of the 1980s and 1990s.
Why does it matter and to whom that that client has disappeared?

Is Art or indeed any cultural artefact essentially produced for a particular structure of economic arrangements or are the economic arrangements of society to be valued in so far as they permit members of society to live valuable lives full of beauty and love?
From Aristotle onwards many scholars and artists have preferred the latter alternative.
This is a naive, un-nuanced and simplistic view doubtless but maybe we need in the present crisis to re-paraphrase Kennedy and ask "not what Art can do for you, but what you can do for Art"?

Best regards
David



Dear David, Henrik and colleagues;

I am enjoying these many thoughtful and thought-provoking contributions.Please keep this debate coming.
But I wonder about these questions.
"What can art do for business in the crisis? or "How does the leader
remain standing during the crisis""
I wonder to what extent these are relevant questions for either artists or scholars not just in the present crisis but at all?

Moreover while I respect what David Boje and others are doing to connect with community leaders and activists I am wondering if this is the best use of their time. There is an assumption that its important to connect but its a mutual responsibility. Many of us have been through a lot of that (and I am currently under pressure from my institution to do more because "you're good at it" but too much time spent in marketing is at the expense of production and design... you can't be good at everything. I want to do my stuff, in a sense regardless of whether anybody at all is listening.

Some markets are expanding, some are contracting. The line doesn't always go inexorably upwards. This is a slump we're in, not a "blip". Hopefully we can as a society stop, look around...here it comes!! and realise that after the Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown its smart to understand that something is fundamentally wrong with your life.

The present business models based on an unsustainable "globalisation" on which are based both the inflated credit-based inflation of values not just in retail generally but in the art market as a branch of retail are clearly unsustainable and actually harmful to the future possibilities of human life.
The present systems of economic and political structures have produced a world with too many people, too much money in certain places, too much inequity and too much emphasis on what art can do for capitalism. But capitalism is a historically-specific system that has good and bad aspects. Its outcomes have been desperately bad for many of the world's people and its eco-sphere.Its time will surely pass and seque into something more human-friendly.

The most expensive collections of modern paintings I ever saw in one place at one time were in the Arthur Andersen offices of the 1980s and 1990s.
Why does it matter and to whom that that client has disappeared? But who has those pictures now and when can the rest of us enjoy them, that's a good set of questions.

Is Art or indeed any cultural artefact essentially produced for a particular structure of economic arrangements or are the economic arrangements of society to be valued in so far as they permit members of society to live valuable lives full of beauty and love?
From Aristotle onwards many scholars and artists have preferred the latter alternative.
This is a naive, un-nuanced and simplistic view doubtless but maybe we need in the present crisis to re-paraphrase Kennedy and ask "not what Art can do for you, but what you can do for Art"?

Best regards
David



Hi folks;
Sorry, through misunderstanding an error message I got back that said that my original message had not been distributed, I seem to have distributed substantially the same message but with some additions in the later version, more than once. I am truly sorry, regretful and contrite about this as I know how important time is in our society. But after all,which is the correct set of thoughts, and how much time do we have? St Exupery carried on revising until his translator tore the papers from his hand. And as an African friend of mine reminds me "God gave the Westerner a watch, and to the African he gave Time."
Sorry, really, really sorry..
Now to get back under my coconut tree.
David


Hi David,

I think ideas you expressed are more in line with the discussion that came of our intentionally broad and provocative question "What can art do for business in the crisis?" - More accurately perhaps (but too leading) we could have asked: How can we apply artful interests/values/making practices to aid business leaders as they face this crisis and have opportunity to reframe/re-imagine their strategies? Which certainly, in our discussion, included the desire to re-evaluate what kinds of "businesses" to be in, and how to become more sustainable, so on...

I have no interest in art becoming some kind of trophy wife for business. :-) As has been expressed in this discussion already, crisis is ripe opportunity for change. Let's make art part of the change!

Best,
s

Shannon O'Donnell, PhD Fellow


Thanks Shannon,

It is nice to be a part of this discussion.

I think a useful reference is Stephen Greenblatt's (1988) book, see last few pages of it on Shakespearean Negotiations. He suggests that Arts as a 'social energy' is a kind of Tempest because it acts as a doubleness, being pure creative energy of freedom of the mimicry economy versus a second way of storytelling it as a mimicry economy that is all about scarcity, setting exchange value, etc. Art as trophy wife of business seems to fall in between. Its all about the several types of appropriation that 'social energy' in the mimicry economy accomplishes (see pages 8-12).

For example, I am trying to make sense of several antenarratives (defined as bets on the future that are not yet coherent narratives suitable for retrospection). In September (8, 15 & 22nd) of 2008 colleagues (Virginia Maria Romero, Joe Gladstone, David Tobey) and I facilitated the 1st Annual arts & Culture convention of Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley, New Mexico. I am working with Joe and Virginia Maria to organize the Arts Convention 2009 which has an expanded geographic place of all of Dona Ana County, New Mexico (which borders Mexico to the south, the Mescalero Apache lands to the north, the White Sands Missile Range to the East, and some State land and Forest and desert to the West.

There are several antenarratives of appropriation going on. Ideas from the community were concentrated in 2007 in storytelling circles (more than just focus groups), and again in 2008 Arts Convention, as ideas were incubated in nine task forces that did more storytelling, and focused ideas into missions, goals, and action plans (in business parlance). Those task forces, composed of university students and artists, institutional leaders (government, the media, and economic development, Chambers of Commerce, etc) worked four months to bring ideas into fruition as material practices. These ranged from museum scavenger hunt, help in implementing Winter Fest (La Calljoureada), a website development
http://lascruces360.comand a documentary film the university public access channel did of the convention and a presentation I did to Mayor and City Council on Dec 8th 2008.

One cannot deny that in arts and business there is a creative urge to mimic, to acquire, and then to reauthor ideas. Ideas take flight and move from one community of artists to another, and from one sector of the arts and culture network of organizations to the other. As ideas are in movement, he appropriation and adoption and reownership takes on an antenarrtaive process.

First, ideas were picked up from the community in the 2007 and 2008 convention events, then were manifested in the several task force projects. Those ideas then gathered social energy and becme acquireable by the core coalition of more elite leaders in the arts and culture network. Here are examples of three symbolic acquisitions (Greenblatt, 1988: 10-11):

1. SIMULATION SOCIAL ENERGY TRANSFER - An idea is acquired in the elite core coalition of arts organizations, and taken up as a simulation that is acknowledged as having some relationship to the processes and task force work of the 2008 Arts Convention (Sep 2008) or the 2007 Talkingstick Circle events. (Oct & Nov 2007). An example is the Phantom Windows project, where downtown abandoned buildings (& some that need some window dress) are being redone with artists' paintings & sculptures. That idea came from the Visual Arts Task Force in deliberations in Sep 2008, and was picked up as a project by Virginia Maria, Downtown Main Street's Cindi Fargo, and Susan McNeill, all three of whom were part of Arts Convention 2008. Now the idea is a simulation, with growing shared co-authoring, as two of the more core arts organizations (Dona Ana Arts Council- DAAC , their core coalition leaders committee, and City of Artists Promotion Association - CAPA take charge of some of the 70 students in my leadership and small business classes, about 8 of whom are working with the local leaders and artist to help where they can. Ownership is extremely important to all the participants in Phantom Windows. There have been meetings, agreement on which art for which window with downtown Main Street property and building owners. In short the simulation social energy has shared governance, shared identity, and involves exchanges of arts and business.

2. METAPHORICAL ACQUISITION SOCIAL ENERGY TRANSFER - There is an idea borrowing from the 2007 Storytelling Circles, and 2008 Arts Convention, as they are indirectly removing the namves of acts from those events, and redeveloping them as original ideas of DAAC. For example, at the 2007 and 2008 events I helped to organize and facilitate, a recurring theme was the need for some 30 visual arts organization leaders in our community to begin a coalition that would wort out acts of cooperation, event scheduling, resource sharing, etc. I gave a detailed report (some 60 pages) and slide presentation to City Council on Dec 8 2008 which was attended by DAAC executive director, and incoming-and outgoing President of their Board. The proposal became part of the documentary film that circulated in following months. The metaphoric acquisition is that the coalition did form, but rehistoricized so as to distance any and all relation to Arts Convention, its visual arts taskforce, or organizers (Joe, Virginia Maria, David T, & myself). TO me this is just part of how an idea travels, and becomes adopted by the elite core coalition leaders, who seek out independent identity.

3. SYNECDOCHE or METONYMY ACQUISITION SOCIAL ENERGY - Here the cultural social energy isolates some part of practice to stand fro the whole, but does not or cannot represent it. Comments I made in the documentary (out of full context to begin with) are being further distorted.

So what is going on? I think that if you think of arts antenarrating as a kind of reacquiring, reauthoring, or readoption one gets some insight.

We have gotten word that the DAAC, its Coalition of Key Visual arts Organizations are not going to be official supporters of Arts Convention 2009. My options are

1. Quit the stage
2. Blow the Whistle
3. Organize the Margins and Periphery

I propose to adopt the 3rd strategy. The strategy is to engage the periphery of arts and culture in this network with the surrounding institutions from City & County government, Chambers of Commerce, Small Business (Synergy), the University, and lots of fringe arts and culture groups not treated seriously by the core coalition leaders of arts & culture network (see
http://talkingstick.infoand click arts Scene databases for listing).

The 2009 Arts Convention is the manifestation of collective intentions and its a collaborative result of work by 10 task forces of students and community members who are developing it. As in 2007 and 2008, arts Convention 2009 will attempt to awaken the sensibilities of the elite core to the fringe. We encourage the core to adopt and appropriate as many ideas incubated at Arts Convention tino their aesthetic strategies.

That there is no direct support by the elite core organizations (with the exception of my own University & downtown Main Street Partnership) does not mean there is no link between the core and the periphery. There is a long life of storytelling acts, and parallel acts of mission and action interventions as ideas migrate from community to Arts Convention, to task forces, to be appropriated by the core. The core also suggests ways the Arts Convention should and should not be. There is negotiation and exchange going on, because members are part of both Arts Convention and the core. Ideas are being transferred and refashioned, and that is a social energy that the core encodes. There is some minimal mimetic predictability to the idea transfer process.

Just talking about this mimetic transfer and appropriation at all, much less as an antenarrative assemblage mens I am going to evoke some powerful counter-force social and possibly institutional energy. As I trace and partially reconstruct social energy negotiation and exchange, it is apparent that a reauthoring change process is going on.

It is fruitless for me to search for the origins of the ideas, since they are born in a set of exchanges and mimetic representations, and lots of "complex, ceaseless borrowings and lendings" (Greenblatt, 1988: 7).

Its all about the movement of ideas across boundaries, borders, and jurisdictions. The core coalition cannot admit to borrowing from the fringe (in 1 of the 3 ways of appropriation). I am going to react with care and love, which means not blowing the whistle, but understanding the process unfolding here. The creative economy thesis emerged in the Sep 15 2008 Arts Convention, and now has some wobbly legs, as it morphs into Arts Convention 2009's theme. It is sort of like running an adoption agency. The parents of ideas can raise them or won't, and new parents are seeking to adopt ideas, but want to rename them. Arts Convention incubates ideas of individuals who agree to give them freely into the convention. The task forces care and nurture them, until they are graspable by the core of the network, but must rename them. This is where a very powerful social energy backlash takes place: eat the messenger. There is a literature on eating the leader as a social process (mostly speaking metaphorically). Arts organizations did not pay for the rights to ideas incubated in Arts Convention 2008 or in Storytelling Circle events in 2007. No doubt since task forces had members of DAAC, CAPA, and other core organizations on them, the ideas may well have circulated without taking root in their organizations. Social energies are difficult to pin down in terms of origin.

All I can tell you is that DAAC and the Coalition of Visual arts Organizations is not supporting Arts Convention 2009 (and we did not ask for money, in case you are wondering)
. See documentary at http://krwg-tv.org/almanac/AA_99.html

All the best


david


Hi to all;

this "art as trophy wife of business" seems a bit strange to me since, if we exclude Artemisia Gentileschi, Camille Claudel, Vieira da Silva for plastics arts, and a few other(may be a bit more in Literature : Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Margaret Mitchell), until (very) recently Art (like war and religion) has been essentially a man business either for the patrons, the artists or the collectors.
Even if we consider in France the attendance to art museum, according to recent official studies, the scores are 41% women and 38 % men (theater 31/30, concert the same); not an enormous gap.
But may be in other countries the situation is different, then why ?
And if we consider art as a "social energy" statistics suggest that its consumption is not equally distributed amongst various social "classes", (the "having" in yellow the "having not" in green). I think, personally, that with "production" it is even worse.

Just to conclude, art is sufficiently a world in itself (sexist anyway) that we discuss it it is probably better to do so with strong and precise grounds.
Art may be metaphoric, but let us not have a metaphoric (pre)conception of art...

Best
Vincent



Peter

You bring some new dimensions to this debate, ways of thinking about this issue of a place for the arts in business at this time. I like your concept of growth as a lens and shifting from Plans to Purpose. I am sure that many organisations at this time are focusing on planning, goals, actions to survive. I also know that many people I have spoken to are shifting their attitudes towards purpose, conversations, inclusivity and connectedness in the view that leaders need a workforce with which to succeed. With this comes more reflective ways of working and a better understanding of the emotional contribution - it is here that I believe the arts can provide a useful contribution to learning and thinking differently.

I too have been wondering if there are issues here that have more relevance than the debate concerning theory and practice. As this discussion expands I notice myself wondering how people already use the arts in business and what assumptions that I am making (and others may be making about me also) when the subject of practice comes up. I am more familiar with the work of some of you than others.

My main work is in consultancy and professional development, in PhD research I am studying leadership as an organisational process, what it is, what we don't yet see or acknowledge as contributing to leadership, and what this means to leadership development and leadership practice. As I invite narratives from CEO's, people in senior roles as well as middle managers and people in non-leader roles, a rich picture is emerging and in that rich picture there already exists hints of an aesthetic and artistic world within the narrative - 'the artistic interpretation of organisational reality' is then up to me (or the artistic mind) to reflect this back, building on the language of the narrator - something that I do in my practice also. Another practitioner may bring in a scientific interpretation of organisational reality, another a psychological interpretation - how I interpret and engage in conversation with the client has a particular influence - how I attune myself to the client is critical to our level of engagement. How I use my artistic attitude is what makes the difference in my work, and I wonder if there is something critical here that so far has not been discussed - the meeting between the arts, arts-informed learning and learning approaches in professional work (consultants, coaches, trainers, developers), a place where artistic attitudes could be developed. This also is significant to me in both my research and my work, I would be interested in any responses to this because it seems to me the focus is so often on the corporate client rather than the external intervener - and this profession is a big industry.

Regards

Sue



OK Let me hold up my hand in response to Ralph's question about responsibility.

About four years ago I led a major arts based intervention for an international group of the worlds rising stars of the banking industry who were gathered in Europe for a major international conference. The theme was growth and risk. We passionately advocated and demonstrated the attitudes of risk-taking and improvisation that are the pre-cursors to creativity in the theatre. We even used the Nietsche quote " that which does not destroy me makes me stronger" to encourage bold and intuitive action over considered caution. They lapped it up with great enthusiasm.
Topics on the conference agenda meanwhile were: "driving revenue growth in North American retail banking" and "unleashing the value of outsourcing and offshoring".
I wonder sometimes about the influence of this event. At the very least we were in tune with the times and supporting a perceived need in the industry for innovation and a new attitude to risk. We may even have been promoting it.

Someone has already mentioned that the power of artistic processes can be double-edged. And in retrospect, the choice of Neitsche to quote is apposite, given his disturbing and ambivalent place in European culture. The lesson from this for me seems to be that artistic processes have enormous power and potential, but like any potent source of energy they can be as destructive as they can be useful. Mostly, I suspect, people in our field still have very little real influence. How do we both get more - really bring to bear the enormous potential for transformation that applied arts has - and yet ensure that if we do get it, we know what we are doing?

In order to earn my fee at the moment - I have to serve my clients ends - that's the nature of the contract. How do we contract on the basis of subverting, changing or transforming the client? In my experience the desire for change in a client is,usually, really a re-framing of the desire for bigger margins or faster growth, or in todays climate - survival as profitable going concern.

Piers

Hi,
as I initiated that thread, I followed the discussion with much attention. After the first bogged down attempt in autumn 2008 the actual huge participation indicates (me) that the awareness of the crisis is rising. The last information from Ted about the impact of the crisis on the mid-Hudson Valley creative ecosystem confirms that impression.

During that dense discussion (except some diluting deviations) I asked myself what I was looking for. Finally the discussion confirmed my own reflection about the dilemma between usefulness and uselessness.

Some time ago, I wrote:

“The uselessness (one of the key characteristics of art: the value in itself) includes the usefulness (the key characteristics of business: the added value), because we do not know, what is useful. To know what is useful we should know the meaning of the universe, the world and the life. What we consider as useful is the result of believes, fears, hopes, and concepts, etc. It’s all feelings. But we must survive, eat, earn money, etc. That’s an earthly task requiring production, organisation, and communication, etc. Nobody can say with absolute certitude what will happen, and how to unravel sustainably the earthly task. It’s an evolving issue. Evolving in which direction? It's a matter of fact: We move towards uselessness, because uselessness is the most efficient and durable state of existence as long as we don’t know why we exist. We don’t know what is useful, but we can clearly perceive uselessness, the value in itself. (See the book of Martin Heidegger: “Nihil est sine ratione” or “Nothing is without reason” (Der Satz vom Grund: Nichts ist ohne Grund). By consequence: Useful processes of production, organisation and communication are more durable and efficient if emerges something useless beyond their useful objectives. In other words: Use usefulness for the creation of uselessness, or: use business relevant issues to produce art. This is the way business may profit most from art.”

If it would be possible to measure by concrete figures the immediate ROI (= the king in French) of the use of business relevant issues producing art, the dilemma would be disentangled.

Who uses business relevant issues to produce art? How can be evaluated the outcome?

Jürgen
P.S.: When I will have some time, I will compile the whole thread and put it to the www.aacorn.wikispaces.com . There it will be possible to correct, improve, intensify, update, and continue the thread. If there are any objections, let me know.



Jürgen Hello,

I have some reservation on your use of the notions of usefulness ans uselessness.
As I know that you have a great interest in architecture I will remind you of the big debates at the end of last century on the use of ornament in architecture (starting from A. Loos "Ornament is a crime" to the "forms create function" by L. Sullivan).
It has turned that the main development in modern architecture: Mies, Gropius, Le Corbusier; Lloyd Wright have been again ornament. (I personally regrets that in our AACORN debates little use is made of examples from modern architecture, because of the notion of style I mentioned before, but also because of the early concern in modern architecture on how to combine aesthetic value with mass production, and also because urbanism shapes so much our living. And also because all these architects and some have been involved in the construction of industrial buildings; may be not Corbu if you do not take in this category convent and the “machines à habiter”).
I have the feeling that most of the development our countries have experienced since some time is based on ornament if you admit that including a camera in a telephone, or GPS in a car is ornamental (may be this reflect the point I don’t have car and only rent them). A lot of our industrial and technical developments have been dependent on leisure (video game, touristic activity), not industrially productive activities.
It is not useless in some way, but it is unnecessary. And comfort (without aesthetical dimension like seating in a Tank armchair) is a great imagination incentive.
"Nothing without reason" is then very ambiguous, because reason does not always pre-exist to creation, but sometimes creation generates its own reason through the development of new needs. So I totally agree with you that we move towards uselessness. But this uselessness is the basis of our development. And I think it has always been so.
I don't remember who was quoting G. Bataille in these pages, but is it not the superfluous which has produced the new development in art, is it not because our societies were affluent and leisurely enough that they could dissipate this extra wealth and time in artistic activities.
Sorry to be a bit confused, but may be some distinction between necessity and usefulness could be “useful”.

But the point you made (are they not all) are stimulating (for me anyway).

Regards
Vincent

Dear Vincent,
thanks for your comment, but contrary to the sentence you quoted: "Nothing without reason" Heidegger emphasises the notion of "being" in the principle "nihil est sine ratione" (Nothing IS without reason). I consider uselessness is a kind of derivative from nothing.
Best
Jürgen

Hallo all!

reading the last posts, I am tempted to say: What a useless dicsussion! (-; --
Its indeed a fascinating point-- (Vincent: is this a typing mistake after all the big names of architecture, are you meaning really AGAIN or AGAINST --?)

I see absolutely Jürgens point about about the uselessness/usefull in relation to the endless possibilities and that we DONT KNOW. Makes sense to me. BUT - Isnt USE a directed category, USE towards something - ? Shouldn we look as a help on Marx and his Use Value - ?
Which points towards the main problem I would have with Jürgens first point, playing in the hands of Vincent and his Ornament: I dont see usefulness equals added value, since in the realm of business it equals profit. And profit and usefulness are on two very different tables.
It was indeed me, who brought Bataille into play, it was just a nasty little note I wrote, and his notion of expenditure as patronage for the crisis. The idea, to link (business) ornament to it, and this as a sort of metaphorical cause of the crisis is a fascinating one. Nice image. Have to think about it. Sounds adventurous. But, hmhm.

We could need a few spices from Schiller here, his play drive as the utmost realisation of men, Pierre Guillet de Monthoux coined the nice term SCHWUNG as the mediating drive between form and matter. I kind of sense that this could help, what are you thinking? Play might be better as the term useless.... ??

another note: Arnt we repeating some categories establish in modernism here, with taking the ornament / form divide as a basis for something? Isnt - from the art side - the (rather unproductive) avant guard / art pour l art problem lurking? Jaques Ranciere's notion aesthetic regime could be a helpful term to work on this one...

All not thought through, just notes...

(((-:
Henrik

I am completely thrilled by a multinational discussion on the meaning of art in the world today.

This in and of itself is extremely useful in the sense of what Heidegger speaks of when he talks about "Dasien."

The nature of being- human being- actualizing it's potential.

For Heidegger, the process of artful making as a struggle between the will, the materials and the context or ontology in which that struggle takes place as a "bringing to a stand" certain truths about what that particular point in time and place means from the human perspective. Is the realm of creative relationships that are at the core of business processes all that different?

The more aware we are of the dynamics that are at the core of the artistic process- and to recognize the relevance to universal human qualities- the more we will understand that the dynamics of collaborative innovation are rooted in each individual struggling to actualize their own full potential.

I think Harvey Seifter makes some very good points when he suggests that the ecology of the mid hudson valley arts community needs among many things to turn to its own creative potential with a sense of relentless urgency.

Michael Gold, Ph.D.