Panel at ISEA 2011 Istanbul

Dates: Mon­day, 19 Sep­tem­ber, 2011 – 09:00 – 10:30
Chair Per­sons: Geoff Cox & Ta­tiana Bazz­ichelli
Pre­sen­ters: Dmytri Kleiner, Elanor Colleoni, Chris­t­ian Ulrik An­der­sen & Søren Bro Pold, Maya Bal­cioglu
Lo­ca­tion: Sa­banci Cen­ter Room 3, Sa­banci Cen­ter, Lev­ent

The panel in­ves­ti­gates some of the in­ter­con­nec­tions be­tween art, ac­tivism and busi­ness. “Don’t hate the media, be­come the media”, was one of the slo­gans of In­dy­media. We are ap­ply­ing this crit­i­cal hands-on per­spec­tive to the busi­ness frame­work. Pre­sen­ters ex­am­ine how artists, rather than re­fus­ing the mar­ket, are pro­duc­ing crit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions from within. As the dis­tinc­tion be­tween pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion ap­pears to have col­lapsed, every in­ter­ac­tion in the info-sphere seems to have be­come a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity. There­fore, the cre­ative in­ter­sec­tions be­tween busi­ness and art be­come a cru­cial ter­ri­tory for re-in­ven­tion and the rewrit­ing of sym­bolic and cul­tural codes, gen­er­at­ing po­lit­i­cal ac­tions or so­cial hacks that use a deep level of irony, but also un­ex­pected con­se­quences. The tac­tics demon­strate the per­me­abil­ity of sys­tems — that these can be re­worked — and more so, that rad­i­cal in­no­va­tion re­quires mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the pre­vail­ing busi­ness logic.
The back­drop of the Is­tan­bul Bi­en­nale makes a use­ful ref­er­ence point here as one of the mark­ers along with art fairs in gen­eral for the com­mod­ity ex­change of artis­tic pro­duc­tion. We are not sug­gest­ing these are new is­sues — as there are many ex­am­ples of artists mak­ing in­ter­ven­tions into the art mar­ket and al­ter­na­tives to com­mod­ity ex­change — but we aim to dis­cuss some of the re­cent strate­gies that have emerged from a deep un­der­stand­ing of the net econ­omy and its mar­kets.
The panel ex­plores some of these con­tra­dic­tions: that on the one hand, there are al­ter­na­tive or dis­rup­tive busi­ness mod­els that de­rive from the art scene, often as crit­i­cal or ac­tivist in­ter­ven­tions, but on the other how these prac­tices can be eas­ily co-opted by pro­pri­etary busi­ness logic. This is per­haps ex­em­pli­fied by the busi­ness idea of ‘dis­rup­tion-in­no­va­tion’, where dis­rup­tion is con­sid­ered to be a cre­ative act that shifts the way a par­tic­u­lar logic op­er­ates and thus pre­sents new­found op­por­tu­ni­ties. Does this mean that well-mean­ing crit­i­cal strate­gies of artists and ac­tivists are self-de­feat­ing? How do we de­velop dis­rup­tive busi­ness mod­els that do not sim­ply be­come new mod­els for busi­ness that ul­ti­mately fol­low cap­i­tal­ist logic? We main­tain there is noth­ing wrong with doing busi­ness as such.

Paper Ab­stracts

Venture Communism, Dmytri Kleiner
In the age of international telecommunications, global migration and the emergence of the information economy, how can class conflict and property be understood? Drawing from critiques of political economy and intellectual property, The Telekommunist Manifesto is a contribution to commons-based, collaborative and shared forms of cultural production and economic distribution.
Proposing “venture communism” as a new model for workers’ self-organization, Kleiner spins Marx and Engels’ seminal Manifesto of the Communist Party into the age of the internet. As a peer-to-peer model, venture communism allocates capital that is critically needed to accomplish what capitalism cannot: the ongoing proliferation of free culture and free networks.
In developing the concept of venture communism, Kleiner provides a critique of copyright regimes, and current liberal views of free software and free culture which seek to trap culture within capitalism. Kleiner proposes copyfarleft, and provides a usable model of a Peer Production License.
Encouraging hackers and artists to embrace the revoluty potential of the internet for a truly free society, The Telekommunist Manifesto is a political-conceptual call to arms in the fight against capitalism.

The Values of Online Social Relations, Elanor Colleoni
The development of an information economy, and in particular its more recent ‘social economy’ phase, has seen the pluralization of conceptions of value (Stark, 2009). The rise of brands, the growing importance of reputation, both for individuals and for companies, the need to attract affective investments and in general to establish a positive large-scale recognition for companies are all manifestation of this.
While companies have clearly identified the strategic importance of these “intangible assets”, an adequate and broadly accepted interpretation of how such immaterial wealth is transformed into tangible monetary value still lack. The issue of the new forms of value creation has grown in importance with the diffusion of online social media. This is because social media, such as Facebook and Twitter allow these subjective perceptions of “value”, like the experience of or affective ties that people can construct with a company or a brand, to acquire an objective existence as observable and measurable forms of value.
As a consequence, several new data mining techniques, such as opinion mining and sentiment analysis have emerged in the last few years. Among other things, such as marketing and profiling, these algorithms are aimed to create a common “measure” of social affective investments around a brand or a company which can serves as a base to establish a new “general equivalent”, i.e. general sentiment (Arvidsson, forthcoming).
My presentation will try to disentangle how the online social relations are integrated into the process of value creation and in the monetary circuit.

A Conceptual Gap Between Art and Business? Christian Ulrik Andersen Søren Bro Pold
What does the capitalisation of art mean? Joseph Beuys declared that “the silence of Marcel Duchamp is overrated.” It is up to us to put value on this silence. How can you make art out of the convergence of the aesthetic field (and aesthetic judgement) with that of political economy?
In the history of art, artists have often addressed this relationship both speculatively and critically. Andy Warhol went shopping. At the same time, the Beatles made their own record label to assume full control of the production process (and almost went bankrupt). What seems to be the case is that not only affirmation but also critique of the relationship between art and business develops new kinds of businesses. After all, where would design be without avant-garde (and Bauhaus)? Where would fashion be without punk?
Artists often critically interfere and play with the convergence and transaction between aesthetic capital and financial capital. The paper will present key examples of this (from Marcel Duchamp to Christophe Bruno), and argue that the best critical artists also potentially propose the best and most innovative business models.

From Turkey With Love, Maya Balcioglu
When Wen Jiabao visited Turkey in October 2010 (the first Chinese premier to do so) a bilateral agreement to triple trade to $50bn within five years was the most significant outcome. Also in October Turkish newspapers reported that Chinese warplanes took part in a military training exercise at an airbase in central Turkey, in what is a first involving China and a Nato member country. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Turkey has been positioning itself to boost economic and trade relations across the region as well as globally. The cultural discourses encouraged in Turkey today should be seen as part of the central plank of the Turkish foreign policy: economic development and culture as part of a package of trade and investment portfolio. As state funding for the arts in Turkey hardly exists and what there is has historically been understood in nationalist, heritage and tourism terms, my presentation will contextualise the business arm of the arts and the almost exclusive private patronage that is the contemporary arts in Turkey today.

Bios of the Par­tic­i­pants:

Chris­t­ian Ulrik An­der­sen, PhD, is As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor and chair of Dig­i­tal Aes­thet­ics Re­search Cen­tre, Aarhus Uni­ver­sity, Den­mark. He re­searches within dig­i­tal aes­thet­ics, soft­ware cities and com­puter games. To­gether with Søren Pold he is the ed­i­tor of a new book In­ter­face Crit­i­cism – Aes­thet­ics Be­yond But­tons (2011). He is also a re­searcher in Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Urban Liv­ing, Aarhus Uni­ver­sity.

Maya Bal­cioglu was born in Is­tan­bul in 1955, and ar­rived in Lon­don in 1977. She stud­ied at Brighton (be­cause it was by the sea) and the Slade School of Fine Art, Lon­don, sup­port­ing her own ed­u­ca­tion by work­ing in fac­to­ries, night shifts and cater­ing jobs. She col­lab­o­rated with Stu­art Bris­ley on The Ceno­taph Pro­ject (1987-1991) and edited the pub­li­ca­tion for this pro­ject.
De­cided to mir­ror a busi­ness and set up a shop as an ex­per­i­men­tal space and a pro­posal to test ideas in pub­lic with an im­me­di­ate and un­am­bigu­ous risk el­e­ment. This space was es­tab­lished within the com­mer­cial par­a­digm, fail­ure was real and meant se­ri­ous losses. It had a core iden­tity es­tab­lished by pre­sent­ing cer­tain ‘goods’, other than that it had no am­bi­tions as a busi­ness and its pur­pose was kept de­lib­er­ately un­clear. The flex­i­bil­ity of the spec­u­la­tion proved to be a light footed suc­cess. The “shop” was voted as one of the best 50 in the world. At the height of its suc­cess the busi­ness was no longer rel­e­vant. It be­came a model for oth­ers to fol­low, and there­fore was closed. Maya Bal­cioglu is part of the cu­ra­to­r­ial team of the Mu­seum of Or­dure.

Ta­tiana Bazz­ichelli is PhD Scholar at Aarhus Uni­ver­sity. She is board mem­ber of the Dig­i­tal Aes­thet­ics Re­search Cen­ter in Aarhus and vis­it­ing scholar at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity (2009). She has been ac­tive in the Ital­ian hacker com­mu­nity since the end of the ’90s and is the founder of the AHA: Ac­tivism-Hack­ing-Artivism pro­ject (, which won the hon­orary men­tion for dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ties at Ars Elec­tron­ica (2007). She wrote the book Net­work­ing. The Net as Art­work (Costa & Nolan, 2006/DARC, 2009).

Elanor Colleoni is a Post-Doc Re­searcher at the De­part­ment of In­ter­cul­tural Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Man­age­ment, Copen­hagen Busi­ness School. With a back­ground in com­puter sci­ence and so­ci­ol­ogy, she is cur­rently work­ing on the pro­ject “Re­spon­si­ble Busi­ness in the Bl­o­gos­phere” (RBB). Elanor is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween in­for­ma­tion dif­fu­sion and emo­tional con­tent in so­cial media and the im­pact of so­cial re­la­tions on brand and cor­po­rate rep­u­ta­tion in new media.

Geoff Cox is a Post-Doc Re­searcher in Dig­i­tal Aes­thet­ics as part of the Dig­i­tal Urban Liv­ing Re­search Cen­ter, Aarhus Uni­ver­sity (DK). He is also As­so­ci­ate Cu­ra­tor of On­line Pro­jects, Arnolfini, Bris­tol (UK), ad­junct fac­ulty, Transart In­sti­tute, Berlin/New York (DE/US), As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor (Reader), Uni­ver­sity of Ply­mouth (UK) and trea­surer of the Mu­seum of Or­dure (UK). He is an ed­i­tor for the DATA Browser book se­ries (pub­lished by Au­tono­me­dia, New York), and most re­cently co-edited Cre­at­ing In­se­cu­rity (2009).

Dmytri Kleiner is a soft­ware de­vel­oper work­ing on pro­jects that in­ves­ti­gate the po­lit­i­cal econ­omy of the in­ter­net, and the ideal of work­ers’ self-or­ga­ni­za­tion of pro­duc­tion as a form of class strug­gle. Born in the USSR, Dmytri grew up in Toronto and now lives in Berlin. He is a founder of the Telekom­mu­nis­ten Col­lec­tive, which pro­vides in­ter­net and tele­phone ser­vices, as well as un­der­takes artis­tic pro­jects that ex­plore the way com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies have so­cial re­la­tions em­bed­ded within them, such as deadSwap (2009) and Thimbl (2010).

Søren Bro Pold, PhD, is As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor of dig­i­tal aes­thet­ics at IMV, Uni­ver­sity of Aarhus, Den­mark, part of DUL ( and found­ing mem­ber of DARC (Dig­i­tal Aes­thet­ics Re­search Cen­ter, He has pub­lished in Dan­ish and Eng­lish on dig­i­tal and media aes­thet­ics – from the 19th c. panorama to the in­ter­face, e.g. on elec­tronic lit­er­a­ture, net art, soft­ware art, cre­ative soft­ware, urban in­ter­faces and dig­i­tal cul­ture. To­gether with Chris­t­ian Ulrik An­der­sen he edited the an­thol­ogy In­ter­face Crit­i­cism – Aes­thet­ics Be­yond But­tons (2011).