Questioning a “Shared Culture”

Hi everyone! This week me and Joamir were thinking that it would be really awesome to talk about the documentary “Press Pause Play” this week. You can view it for free online (here: and it’s only 80 minutes long.

 “Concerned with the larger questions of technology’s problematic side, the most interesting angle Press, Pause Play takes, relates to standards and how these issues have affected our collective notion of “The Artist”. Prior to the digital revolution, standards in creativity tended to lean towards a black and white approach of ‘good art’ vs. ‘bad art’. Generally dictated by organizations, be it, Schools of Fine Art, record companies or Museums, art was delivered to the masses through a top down approach. What we are culturally experiencing today is a polar shift in the traditional methods that dictate fame and success. Art is growing from the ground up, but quantity is altering quality.

Is the democratic self-filtering approach emerging in art a successful one? Or will mediocrity be all you need to survive.”

Here are some other questions to consider when viewing the film: How does new technology inspire collaboration? How has new technology democratised media? What possibilities and problems are posed by this democratisation? How did file sharing influence the music industry? How has this technology influenced the way that we listen to and interact with media?
Here are a few projects to consider that utilize this process through crowdsourcing and scaling collaboration:
Also- If you are interested in the future of publishing, take a look at The Domino Project from Amazon.
How does new technology change the relationship between artists, traditional media companies and publishers, and the audience ? How has the power shifted between the different stake holders, and how has this affected the seriousness of the work produced?
Please share other projects that you think have benefited or suffered from advances in new technology and a shared culture.
Stephanie and Joamir

Upcoming Event

Hey everyone! I came across this event at Eyebeam and thought I’d pass it along in case you haven’t heard about it – seemed relevant to our class.

Who Cares About Collaboration?


Utopic visions of communications have suggested  that technology would alter the way we worked together – bringing us closer, allowing for new forms of intimacy to burgeon. While this is many respects true, the over-saturated sphere, which involves one being ‘connected’ has shifted the nature in which we are able to engage with one another. How then do we form a framework for collaboration? This talk seeks to consider what it means to collaborate with artists, curators, writers, and institutions in a networked era, where conflict can be transposed across epic distances at the click of a button. As arts practitioners, we seek to ask: should we collaborate, and if so, why, and what is the best practice that we can adopt?
This talk is part of a public reception for the recipient of the inaugural residency collaboration between The White Building and Eyebeam.

Speakers include: Kristin Lucas and Joe McKay, Artists; Ramsey Nasser, Artist; Sarah Perks, Artistic Director, Cornerhouse, Manchester; Omar Kholeif, Curator, Writer and Editor and Head of Programming The WhiteBuilding, London, and Roddy Schrock,  Director of Programmes and Residencies, Eyebeam.

Dreaming the Dark

This reading talked about how a group’s structure can be thought of “as patterns of communication that determine how information flows,” and specifically noted the benefits of a circle or web structure. People often think equality is a natural state that doesn’t have to be managed, but there still needs to be a way of organizing information, including information about relationships among people. The difficulty of actually doing this, makes me wonder if mutuality is ever really viable in our mainstream culture. Even the reading referred to moments of group implosion (during the air, fire, water, earth stages) and talked about how human nature  makes it impossible for the group dynamic to not be affected by other human impulses (such as attraction to one another). In nature, resources are used in a sustainable way, while humans exploit resources until they no longer exist. That notion reminds me of a game called, Fish Banks*, which is a tool used to teach people about the mechanics behind over fishing. The only way to win the game is by working across groups to share information in order to sustain enough fish for everyone, but people don’t figure it out until it’s too late since it is set up as a game where whoever makes the most money from fishing wins.

While there might be pockets of this idea of a shared culture in specific communities, I think that overall, people are stuck in the hierarchal model at this point in evolution. But is it worth trying to change the structure of hierarchal groups, or better to learn how to work those systems in a mutually beneficial way? I think a blend of hierarchy and equality is the ideal form for a group to have the most success.

And as far as the roles that Starhawk describes, I think they are a bit superficial. I don’t believe that one person is solely the clown or the self-hater. I think people are more complex than that, and different aspects of their personality come through at different times and in the presence of different people.





Culture of New Capitalism

Richard Sennett addresses three challenges that he sees as the sociological aspects of the global capitalist workplace in developed countries. The first one, is how to manage short term relationships and how to adapt to a changing “life narrative.” Bennett suggests that people take pride in being good at something and need this to be happy. The second challenge is how to develop new skills as “reality’s demands shift.” This idea of learning to do many skills is short lived, one that has many skills Bennett feels are displaced with a loose narrative.  The third one is about surrendering, every one is replaceable. No one is entitled to his or her position at an organization. Pass services do not mean that an employee is entitled to their position.

While Bennett views the capacity to learn new skills as being economically valuable, his lack of appreciation for the role of the “expert” is troubling. In cross disciplinary collaborations, success isn’t necessary achieved by teams being comprise of many people who are all somewhat flexible in their skills. Often times, it is the various mastering of skills across members that benefit the group as a whole. The ability for everyone to think outside their own craft’s “box” is important, but the skills needed for many complex social problems often require years of study and work. It is unrealistic to think that the same level of progress can be achieved by someone or a group that has to constantly learn a new skill and will not have the time to fully comprehend. Our ability to learn is important to our life’s narratives, and Bennett makes an interesting argument that an individual’s personal identity is deeply affected by one’s inability or ability to achieve success. However, there has been a strong movement in the DIY front as the internet makes it incredibly easy to access instructions for learning basically any skill.

Furthermore, it seems unfair to generalize that people define their happiness by how well they do a job, we would argue that it’s more about what that job is. What collaboration needs is passionate people from different backgrounds who all have something to contribute to the whole, and are able to be flexible with learning the skills they need to accomplish their goal. The ability to move between different worlds is more important for the role of facilitator in collaborative groups or workplaces.

Do you agree or disagree?  Think about how you identify yourself based on your skills and skill level. Write down each skill you have, skill level, and level of happiness. Do you feel that these skills will be transferable to many different careers?


Joamir and Stephanie