Lebenskünstler

I am an Amateur Expert

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 09/20/2016

BRAND NEW WEBSITE HERE.

designelivenment

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Social Practice – Social Poetry – Social Poiesis: aesthetic experimentalism and the creation of public life

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 05/06/2017

[mise en scène]
Multiple lines of inquiry – to enact a series of expansions from art to aesthetics and thus art education to aesthetic education. This would then entail using a synthesis of John Dewey’s theory of experience and experimentalism. The model of “experiment” would be the iterative approach of design rather than the narrower scientific model of experimentation. Ideas, actions, and other modes then become experiments in public culture. I re-frame social practice (with its narrow art focus) as social poiesis, and try to tackle the relationship between this aesthetic practice and the practice of democracy – again largely via Dewey, subsequent scholars, and especially Jane Addams. I would argue that Hull House was an exemplar of this aesthetic, experiential, experimental notion of social poiesis (Addams spoke of social ethics).

hemodynamics

[scene 1]
Granted, we are in the midst of an epistemic crisis, however, academics of a certain persuasion share a large measure of blame. The arts could have embraced the humanistic qualities for which they are so well suited, instead they sought respectability within the regime of criticality. Artists were to become political theorists and philosophers, usually quite shoddy ones. The sharp knife of reason and analysis gave modest protection to the fledgling artist, but the world grew darker and more dangerous. Everywhere critique multiplied, while empathy and visionary spirit weakened. “Without a cadre of people with these sort of imaginative and emotional capacities, there is no hope for democracy.”

[scene 2]
The proceduralism and planning of liberalism relied too heavily on institutions, rather than embodied habits of the heart. Liberals became enamored with rules, deliberation, and rights rather than virtues, associated living, and responsibilities. A polity of discourse among individuals, rather than of meaning within communities.

[scene 3 – courtesy of Mary Midgley]
We need the vast world, and it must be a world that does not need us; a world constantly capable of surprising us, a world we did not program, since only such a world is the proper object of wonder. Any kind of Humanism which deprives us of this, which insists on treating the universe as a mere projection screen for showing off human capacities, cripples and curtails humanity. “Humanists” often do this, because where there is wonder they think they smell religion, and they move hastily in to crush that unclean thing. ***But things much more unclean than traditional religion will follow the death of wonder.***

[scene 4]
Liberalism’s obsession with institutionalizing, economizing, and professionalizing every sphere of human endeavor leaves us out of love’s reach. We need human scale, affectionate practices that generate enchantment, and numinous experience.The liberal project is a dead end – Entzauberung.

Ronald Osborn (quoting Wendell Berry):
“Our politics and science have never mastered the fact that people need more than to **understand** their obligation to one another and the earth; they need also the **feeling** of such obligation, and the feeling can come only within the patterns of familiarity.”

The affection and skill necessary to prevent the depletion of top-soil, for example, only arises through intimate knowledge of and devotion to a concrete locality and its supporting natural and human relationships. There simply are no technical or global solutions to the crisis of soil loss brought on by extractive chemical and machine-based farming methods. What are needed are cultural solutions that take diverse local forms and emerge as a deeply rooted and affectionate responsiveness to place.

“When one works beyond the reach of one’s love for
the place one is working in and for the things and creatures one
is working with and among, then destruction inevitably results,”
Berry writes. “An adequate local culture, among other things,
keeps work within the reach of love.”

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[scene 5]
The wizards of explicit knowledge subvert the power of implicit experience. The artist as comedian then is forced to explain the joke, robbing it of all force. Art enters the pornographic regime of criticality, or performs the ventriloquism of critique in which art becomes the otherwise mute mannequin delivering the punchlines for its omnipotent master.

[interlude]

Social practice, to the extent it defines itself as another term for socially engaged art, repeats the mistakes of procedure and institution driven liberal democracy. Rather than approaching public life with an open question as to the best means for achieving one’s ends, social practice forecloses the choice to (an admittedly expansive definition of) art. Social practice, in the end, really means social practice art and with that casts its lot with a set of histories, institutions, and preconceived roles that limit its scope.  It mimics the idea of democracy as a political system with readily identifiable structures, instead of democracy as an experimental, experiential ethos.

A fundamental problem of democracy is the negotiation of associated living, of social life. This is an aesthetic problem, not a cognitive problem. Thus it would appear that art is of particular advantage in addressing this problem. However, art is but a small subset of aesthetic experience. Gregory Pappas says of democracy, “It would be more accurate to say that a democratic society is one that is composed of democratic associations than to say that a democratic association is one that exists because of a democratic society.” Similarly, it would be more accurate to say that art is predicated on aesthetic experience than to say aesthetic experience exists because of art.

The proposal then, is to shift to social poiesis as the mode of inquiry. I described it previously:


“social poiesis” (despite its even more obscure quality) might be a better term. If we don’t limit ourselves to art, social poiesis (née practice) could be more dynamic and encompass not only art actions and art environments, but also – urban planning, sports leagues, communes, be-ins, residencies, raves, state fairs, theme parks, cults, encounter groups, chautauquas, even nations…and would also apply to a much broader demographic of participants rather than artists and their audiences…

 

Michael Atkinson does not preface poiesis with social, however describes it as a “public method,” which I find resonant:

Poiesis is an artistic, aesthetic, emotional, and public method of revealing “different” human truths…humanistic, moral, ethical, spiritual…Poiesis arises from an act, a symbol, a thought, a feeling, or an expression that brings forth knowledge of the human condition falling outside of rationally technological ways of understanding human essences. Those interested in poiesis are less concerned then with measuring and accounting for something quantifiable in the world than the possibility of simultaneously experiencing the material and nonmaterial parameters of human existence.

As with Atkinson, this reading of poiesis from Robert D. Stolorow (via a review of a book by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly) gets at the spiritual aspect that seems important:

Dreyfus and Kelly examine and seek to resuscitate a kind of sacred practice, still marginally available to us, that the ancient Greeks called poiesis:

Until about a hundred years ago, the cultivating and nurturing practices of poiesis organized a central way things mattered. The poietic style manifested itself…in the craftsman’s skills for bringing things out at their best.…This cultivating, craftsman-like, poietic understanding of how to bring out meanings at their best was alive and well into the late nineteenth century, but it is under attack in our technological age. (Dreyfus and Kelly, 2011, p. 206)

Using woodworking as their principal example, Dreyfus and Kelly show that poietic understanding is both practical and embodied and that it enables us to see distinctions of meaning and value that those without such poietic understanding cannot see. Poietic practice makes it possible for us to apprehend entities and situations in their uniqueness and is thus a source of care, respect, and even reverence.

Finally there is the dimension of power in social poiesis. Anne Quéma goes into substantial detail in Power and Legitimacy: Law, Culture, and Literature, but her quick summary: “[social poiesis is]…a formidable process of creating meaning and regulating the practices and structures of social reality through symbolic and narrative means.”

I am here (self-portrait in grey).

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 04/08/2017

selfportraitingrey

What is Public Culture?

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 04/06/2017

A partial answer is here.
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Further exploration of librarianship as social design.

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/26/2017

Screenshot 2017-03-25 at 12.06.02 PM

Brief notes on librarian as designer.

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/21/2017

designlibrarian

The shift: Library science -> Information Science only tells part of the story. Science is an inadequate model, as is information.

The dominant paradigm:  Information -> Knowledge is incomplete.

Librarians must be attentive to meaning, not just information/knowledge.

Epistemology -> Semiotics but ultimately the core of librarianship is experience design. 

Aesthetics then, becomes a core concern and the librarian’s new pedagogical model should be design school, specifically social design. [1]

libsocialdesign

[1] A case could be made for curatorial studies,  and although insights from the field would surely aid librarianship, it lacks some fundamental skill sets of design.

 

 

Democracy, Education, and Community in Vermont: A Barnard Manifesto

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/19/2017

demoedu

“The competence of the exploiter is in organization; that of the nurturer is in order…The exploiter typically serves an institution or an organization; the nurturer serves land, household, community, place. The exploiter thinks in terms of numbers, quantities, ‘hard facts’; the nurturer in terms of character, condition, quality, kind.” – Wendell Berry

 

“No substantive sense of civic virtue, no vision of political community that might serve as the groundwork for a life in common, is possible within a political life dominated by a self-interested, predatory, individualism.” – Jean Bethke Elshtain

 

“If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the union and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.” – Calvin Coolidge

 

Unfortunately, recent debates around education in Vermont have demonstrated that we are losing the battle to preserve the spirit of liberty Coolidge invokes. A pernicious vocabulary is being imported from other parts of the country – performance, value, efficiency, choice, accountability – are among the most common terms. These words have their origin in an equally pernicious worldview that sees economic questions at the center of human society, rather than questions of ethics or democratic governance. The exploiters are slowly displacing the nurturers and civic virtue is being sacrificed for the allure of individual achievement.

State government in Vermont is following a familiar path that seeks to centralize decision making into fewer and fewer hands. Proponents speak of modernizing, of expertise, of metrics, but they fail to acknowledge that a citizenry that can’t be trusted to control its own educational decisions is not comprised of citizens at all. And they fail to acknowledge that an education imposed by bureaucrats is not an education, it is indoctrination. Most importantly, they fail to acknowledge that the idea of education being relegated to administration by experts has failed throughout the country.

The model of education the state is attempting to impose might produce tremendous gains for some, but will relegate many more to the margins. School consolidation driven by a market mentality simply reproduces for students the same inequality that the market produces elsewhere. Equality of access, a liberal dream, is not equality. Thus, although everyone is, in theory, free to compete in the market, that freedom is curtailed by large structural inequalities. And given that school consolidation and increased curricular offerings have been instituted throughout the United States, it should be clear, given that economic inequality has skyrocketed, that any talk of educational equity is just cover for the centralization of power. Educational administration serves primarily to preserve the institution, the organization rather than the community and the will of its people. It serves itself, not the spirit of liberty.

Of course, education entails much more than schooling. As Vermonter John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” Thus, the resistance in Vermont to Act 46 is educational. Communities standing up for their right of self-governance is educational. Townspeople fighting to change the law, rather than simply caving into it, is educational too.

These are not mere philosophical disagreements, they are fundamental philosophical disagreements. It is an argument about whether education is a vehicle for individual accomplishment, or a community resource. It is an argument about whether education is meant to train future participants in the global economy or to nurture civic life. Of course it can be all those things, but the worldview of economic rationality so permeates the discussion, that one is considered a fool to argue against such hallowed concepts as “increased choice,” “flexibility,” or “economies of scale.”

Sadly, many of our democratic institutions have been eroded by a consumerist mentality that privileges convenience, standardization and cost efficiency over complexity, diversity and intrinsic value. Democracy, is inherently connected to education, and education to community, and all of them to scale. Democracy, education, and community are more than mere institutions, they are ways of living.

Thus, human life and human values must always be at the center of the discussion, rather than the operational needs of administrators. “Get big, or get out,” was a famous admonishment to farmers from the Nixon administration. That policy served agribusiness and government agencies quite well, but has been a disaster for our food system and environment. Vermont has been a leading voice for the value of human scale farming. It should do the same for education.

Vermont thrives, not despite its small size, but because of it. If it is to continue to thrive, rather than merely survive, we need to protect what makes Vermont different from other places, not eliminate those differences.

Answers without questions: On exactitude in (art)

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 12/10/2016

screenshot-2016-12-10-at-7-02-15-am-edited Image via Jerzy Ludwiński Notes from the Future of Art

“…one can think of art as a star that exploded long ago and we mistakenly believe that the originating object still exists because the light from it still shines so brightly. This would mean that what we call “the art world” now is just the Baudrillardian death throes of a distant star and we are trapped in its immense gravitational pull, destined to be sucked into the black hole as it were.” – from an earlier post of mine “Escape, Invisibility, and Professional Suicide in Art – A brief foray into science fiction and a detective story”

“Post Art—things that aren’t artworks so much as they are about the drive to make things that, like art, embed imagination in material and grasp that creativity is a cosmic force…Things that couldn’t be fitted into old categories embody powerfully creative forms, capable of carrying meaning and making change. Post Art doesn’t see art as medicine, relief, or religion; Post Art doesn’t even see art as separate from living. A chemist or a general may be making Post Art every day at the office.” – Jerry Saltz “A Glimpse of Art’s Future at Documenta”

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“I suspect that one reason for the artworld’s warm embrace of Rancière’s aesthetic theory is that it tells the artworld what it wants to hear about itself; it reinforces the glowing stereotype that the artworld fancies for itself – that is, as an inherently political and almost subversive place, whatever sort of predictable and conventional buffoonery it actually engages in.

And it may well be for this reason that ever more artists today are quitting the artworld, sacrificing their coefficient of artistic visibility in favour of a more corrosively dissensus-engendering capacity in the dominant semiotic order. For to see something as art according to the dominant performative paradigm of the contemporary artworld, is to acknowledge something terribly debilitating: that it is just art – not the dangerous, litigious, real thing. It is not my intent to deny that art can, on occasion, do what Rancière claims it can: for the artworld élite that likes that sort of thing, the concentrated, composed and self-reflective works one finds in museums have a disruptive value that is far from negligible. But deliberately circumscribing it within the policed structure of the artworld is to ensure that our relationship to art remains one of constantly renewed, constantly dashed hopes.” – Stephen Wright “Behind Police Lines: Art Visible and Invisible” 

“Artists, as I have said, have made their retreat into theories of art, and art theorists into art. There emerges in art a gigantic whirlpool with no way out. The same holds true about art criticism. The most eminent art critics are absent from art journals. And though they continue writing, it is not for the magazines that shape public opinion and it is not about art. Their writing is no longer art criticism.” – Jerzy Ludwiński Notes from the Future of Art

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“It is now possible to say that much art and entertainment are pseudo-brend; that your brend is the total originality beyond art; that your brend is the absolute self-expression and the absolute enjoyment beyond art. Can brend, then, replace art, can it expand to fill the space now occupied by art and entertainment? To ask this question is to ask when utopia will arrive, when the barrier between work and leisure will be broken down, when work will be abolished. Rather than holding out utopian promises, it is better to give whoever can grasp it the realization that the experience beyond art already occurs in his or her life–but is totally suppressed by the general repressiveness of society.” – Henry A. Flynt, Jr. “ART or BREND?”

“Examples of Yellowism can look like works of art, but are not works of art. We believe that the context for works of art is already art. The context for Yellowism is nothing but Yellowism. Pieces of Yellowism are only about yellow and nothing more. All manifestations of Yellowism have the same sense and meaning and express exactly the same. In Yellowism, all the possible interpretations are reduced to one – are equalized, flattened to yellow. Interpreting Yellowism as art and being about something other than just yellow deprives Yellowism of its only purpose.” – Manifesto of Yellowism

yellowism

“…the idea of art cannot easily be gotten rid of (even if one wisely never utter the word). But it is possible to slyly shift the whole un-artistic operation away from where the arts customarily congregate, to become, for instance, an account executive, an ecologist, a stunt rider, a politician, a beach bum. In these different capacities…[art] would operate indirectly as a stored code that, instead of programming a specific course of behavior, would facilitate an attitude of deliberate playfulness toward all professionalizing activities well beyond art. Signal scrambling, perhaps. Something like those venerable baseball aficionados in the vaudeville act that began, “Who’s on first?” – Allan Kaprow “Education of the Un-Artist Part I”

“…They seem to be seeking to escape performative and ontological capture as art altogether. It is certainly possible to describe them as having a double ontology; but it seems more closely in keeping with their self-understanding to argue that this is not an ontological issue at all, but rather a question of the extent to which they are informed by a certain coefficient of art. Informed by artistic self-understanding, not framed as art.” – Stephen Wright “Use the country itself, as its own map”: operating on the 1:1 scale”

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“How can we observe disappearance? Or worse still: absence. Not absence in an aesthetic sense, known as a major subject in aesthetic theory. But the absence of a social actor. The absence of a person who chose to be elsewhere than where we were accustomed to seeing them. What could an art historian say about someone who deliberately turned his back on art, including art historians? Why would art history consider “elsewhere” (than art) a place to notice?” – Alexander Koch with Stephen Wright “Quitting: a conversation with Alexander Koch on the paradoxes of dropping out”

“Clearly, they never meant a word of it, about the infinite revolution. But it never bothered the pundits that artists were trifling with revolutionary claims and slogans. There was never a suggestion of holding the artists to account. It is shocking to realize how important posturing is in campaigning for social rewards. Somehow, it is implicitly understood that the “revolution” talk is fantasy; and it is palatable precisely because it changes nothing, precisely because it only gilds collectible objects. It was lying that brought the vanguard artists respect as heroes. The civilization has been carried up the mountain on the back of a lie. Are we to conclude that a white person is somebody who believes that saying ‘infinite revolution’ is an infinite revolution?” – Henry A. Flynt Jr “1998 thoughts for the next draft”

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Components of my life practices mapped onto thee schools ov magick in Dungeons and Dragons.

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 08/27/2016

terrain

 

Summaries found here.

Conjurations bring manifestations of objects, creatures, or some form of energy to you.

Transmutation spells change the properties of some creature, thing, or condition.

Abjurations are protective spells. They create physical or magical barriers.

Illusion spells deceive the senses or minds of others. They cause people to see things that are not there, not see things that are there, hear phantom noises, or remember things that never happened.

Necromancy spells manipulate, create, or destroy life or life force.

Evocation spells manipulate energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired end. In effect, they create something out of nothing.

Divination spells enable you to learn secrets long forgotten, to predict the future, to find hidden things, and to foil deceptive spells.

Enchantment spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior.

A relic unearthed.

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 08/25/2016

Way back in the day Jen Delos Reyes and I (among others), started a journal devoted to social practice. Gone, but not forgotten – the original domain is now a porn site, but you can still find the material here. I even gave it a face lift.

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Two models of change in systems.

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 08/24/2016

changetoynbee

The ascent of the disabling ecosystem of liberalism

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 08/21/2016

buberish

Thee square ov capture for design as enlivenment.

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 08/02/2016

designelivenment

A matrix of possibilities for food, leisure, democracy

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 06/29/2016

massprod222

Intensification without representation – a recipe for collapse

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 06/20/2016

Inspired by M. Jahi Chappell (title above), Ivan Illich (relationship of energy consumption, social/economic inequality, and specialization) and Joseph Tainter (quote below). Needless to say the arts are subject to the same law of declining marginal returns. Also note that there is immense energy consumption involved in administrators maintaining the social coercion necessary for institutional buy in from the administered.

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Toward a theory of spiritual ecology…

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 06/16/2016

soilsoulsocial

#soilpractice + #socialpractice coordinates with (mostly) unrelated notes

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 05/01/2016

solastalgia
 

 

Facebook comment of mine:

And thus the arts are subjugated to the disastrous apparatus constructed by the Enlightenment cleaving of self/other. One of the most egregious examples of this is the forced submission of all manner of creative play to (linguistic) domination in the form of “criticality,” which is a technique of dissociation that replicates the very mistakes that its proponents seek to solve using it as a tool!

“Criticality” as fertilizer

Initial applications lead to tremendous yields while ultimately degrading the ecological substrate. Everywhere the miraculous results are lauded as revolutionary, liberating us from various “externalities.” Criticality/fertilizer is seen as a cure all – making a degraded condition seem easily rectified while masking the fact that said cure alls are the mode of degraded experience itself. Criticality/fertilizer is supplied by large centralized institutions under the auspices of empowerment, but it really means a lifetime of debt and dependency.

Addendum as manifesto: “All we have to do is look around: toward a local social practice syllabus” Part II

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 04/11/2016

Robert L. Thayer’s LifePlace: Bioregional Thought and Practice should get all the credit (or blame) for this, especially his chapter “Learning” where many of the following quotes and paraphrases are lifted from.

In a a post from several years ago, I lamented the state of social practice education – a placeless, homogeneous, view from nowhere. In short, social practice education is like most so-called education in the United States an empty embrace of the values of abstraction and global capitalism.

All we have to do is look around: toward a local social practice syllabus – Or, an idiosyncratic “arty party” field guide to Vermont.

In the ensuing years, things have continued to devolve with students mostly being trained to join not a specific community rooted in a specific bioregion, but rather to join a global capitalist network – “the art world.” Ironically, the overwhelming emphasis in graduate art education is the inculcation of a fetish for criticality. Of course, it is a highly selective form of criticality, one that does not turn its gaze on the notion of criticality itself, but more importantly, does not turn its attention to the abstracted space and values of the educational apparatus. Well, it certainly does in terms of a liberal concern for identity politics and student debt, but does not seem to connect the dots to understand how debt is as disembodied as the structure of education – a purely fungible relationship of data points where course credit equals monetary credit…

So universities, banks and art schools continue to act as centripetal forces – pulling resources into vast global flows while the animate earth on which the entire edifice is built, continues to be ignored, or is itself only considered through the lens of a global climate crisis. And despite the congratulatory backslapping of an activist class that brings all of its intellectual and critical faculties to bear on the matter, they are blind to the fact that they have been trained by institutions mired in a fundamental category mistake which they themselves emulate.

To paraphrase David Orr, there are some debilitating myths at play – that ignorance is a solvable problem rather than a fundamental feature of being human; that knowledge (and technology) are, alone, enough to solve problems; that the increase in knowledge (rather than wisdom) is an inherent good; and that the education of students is primarily concerned with knowledge (or in the arts, with learning to be critical consumers of knowledge). But maybe it would be better to quote Orr:

All education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded, students are taught they are part or apart from the natural world. To teach economics [or social practice], for example, without reference to the laws of thermodynamics or ecology is to teach a fundamentally important ecological lesson: that physics and ecology have nothing to do with the economy. It just happens to be dead wrong.

So, in the intellectual parlor games of e-flux and other smarty pants organs of the academic-art-financial nexus we don’t find the cultivation of (via Thayer) spiritual sensitivity, gentleness, caring, compassion, or generosity. Some may bristle at the suggestion of a spiritual role in the crisis we face equating it with some sort of magical thinking, but in the downward spiral of an accelerationist embrace of an intellectual homeopathy, we find a truly absurd form of wizardry. As Orr notes, the earth has been degraded on a massive scale by the educated, by the products of a system of displacement that trains even its supposed avant garde to search for solutions in the very intellectual tools that are the cause of the problem.

An education must be rooted to be radical. As Wes Jackson has said, there is only one serious major on offer at colleges – upward mobility (be it in terms of financial, social, or cultural capital). But as generations leave their homes to become citizens of a discipline rather than citizens of a watershed, or biotic community, fundamental questions are cast aside – “who am I?” and “what should I do?” often remain, but the answer to those end up being distortions in which membership in a professional class becomes the enduring identity – I am an artist. I should make art (build a vitae).

But another question, one that provides an interlocking context for the other two – “where am I?” gets cast aside. In today’s refugee crisis we see the heartbreak of an uprooted people. Academics decry this, all the while being seemingly oblivious to their own displacement, having no home (that truly deserves such a name) of their own. They are adrift in the gig economy, in the cosmopolitan nomadism of academia, replicating “monocultures of the mind” as Vandana Shiva would put it. And like technological approaches to agriculture that apply a specialized, highly trained, expert perspective to solving an urgent issue, we are left with an illusion, not only of mastery, but of plenty. Meanwhile more and more communities are being poisoned or starved. We must abandon the rootless sky, settle upon the earth and build practices of permanence, regeneration, and love – or, you can’t have social practice without soil practice.

See also: Toward a #soilpractice + #socialpractice manifesto: ending the art system and restoring aesthetic ecology

Thee eightfold building block ov ‪#‎soilpractice‬ + ‪#‎socialpractice‬ (design qualities, methods, goals)

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 04/10/2016

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s³ + sae = (#soilpractice + #socialpractice ecologies)

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/13/2016

soilsemiotics

Whereas art has become as obscure and reliant on specialist knowledge and infrastructure as physics, aesthetics is more akin to ecology, based more in an experiential and observation based rubric.

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/08/2016

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#soilpractice #socialpractice

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Toward a #soilpractice + #socialpractice manifesto: ending the art system and restoring aesthetic ecology

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/06/2016

 

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The art system is like industrial food production focusing on the products that are most readily brought to market. It creates monocultures, vast swaths of easily consumable, but highly infrastructure dependent crops.

Its model of research therefore requires institutional gatekeeping (museums, galleries, expert panels, curators, and especially credentialling – the MFA program, etc.) in order to maintain its economic viability. No seed sharing between neighbors, no advice from your grandmother will suffice. Folk wisdom is for anthropology, but not the arcane science of the fine arts. These institutions and their representatives act like Monsanto taking up vernacular practices, formalizing them, squeezing the living core out, and controlling their distribution and viability.

The study of art then becomes about how to increase yields of proven commodities, and how to effectively market those commodities to convince the public that there is no alternative (T.I.N.A.) to the shitty tomatoes on offer. Actually thriving aesthetic communities that exist outside the system are ignored at best, mocked and degraded at worst.

This degradation of the soil of aesthetic experience is the same folly conventional farming employs. The multi-century wisdom of soil ecology is plowed under and poisoned by the faddish inventions of centralized economic and cultural elites. “We are feeding the world!” they say. “Other methods will lead to starvation.” they say. And yet the hunger is a scarcity they invented by decimating communities and practices and also a hunger for something more substantial than the cleverness of packaging experts, or merchandising, of disconnected, consumerist art products.

So Sholette’s “dark matter,” is a metaphor from astronomy, but maybe we need one from agronomy instead. Rather than “dark matter” as the great missing mass of the art world, it is “mycorrhizae” that is more apropos. Art historians and critics completely miss the vitality and complexity upon which the monocultures they study depend, their eyes trained only to see the field of wheat rather than the diverse ecosystemic relationships on which it depends.

The art system must be destroyed before its toxic practices further degrade the potential quality of our aesthetic ecologies. We are being poisoned. To paraphrase Vandana Shiva, “NO MORE MONOCULTURES OF THE MIND.”

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With apologies to Darren O’Donnell

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/01/2016

soilacupuncture

A continuum along which soil practice and social practice occur

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 02/27/2016

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From notes today:

the art system has become industrial agriculture
aesthetic ecology as gardening – learn from your grandmother and your neighbor, pick up some magazines or books, watch some YouTube videos and get growing, no gatekeepers, no degrees required

the art system says the only real gardening is done by experts

seed saving (AE) vs. industrial ag research (AS) – person to person innovation (AE) vs. institutionally controlled validation (AS)

museums, galleries, and universities act much like Monsanto taking up vernacular practices, formalizing them, squeezing the living core out, and controlling their distribution and viability

aesthetic ecology favors diversity – formal, institutional practices, but also backyard gardeners, community gardeners, homesteaders, etc

The electric prod of professionalization

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 02/22/2016

Collaborative matrix for social practice

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 02/21/2016

collaboration

Logo for Human Ecology

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 02/20/2016

humanecologyseminar

MFA in Soil +Social Practice

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 02/20/2016

multicolor

Thee iceberg ov social practice

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 02/18/2016

horizonexperience

Social practice and ecological democracy

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 02/18/2016