It is vital to understand what the term “art” refers to in the world and for the people who produce and consume it. This notion holds for many such terms that divide the horizon of our existence into different categories for which we have varying degrees of interest and concern. It is particularly true for “art” because of the legacy of works that continue to draw interest, the joy that it results in, and the extent to which “art” stands out from the rest of the world. Engaging in such a pursuit allows us to understand the physical material configurations that are associated with art, the relationship between those configurations and the broader world, and the network of judgment that arises in close proximity to evaluate, profit from, and take joy in the events that are unfolding around something called “art.” It opens the possibility of tracking how this process has occurred at different points in order to arrive at a broader understanding of the term and how it is situated.
I will explore how the term “art” is situated, performs, and affects rather than what it means. This is a result of little interest in challenging the sprawling set of experiences and objects, art histories and aesthetic systems that have arisen through attempts to do so. I take the diffuse field of art production and consumption coupled with the myriad opinions and stances towards it as a given that summarizes the immense and varied capacity to create heightened experiences filled with information as a field of potential for future innovation, action, and progression. This field cannot be said to have a sensible meaning when taken in its entirety. It is defined by overlapping and conflicting energy and materiality. These dynamic relationships trace how “art” is situated in the world and for the receiver through local instances where art is given meaning. It is these specific moments of situatedness that I am interested in exploring at both the material level and the descriptive level of discourse. Doing so will allow us to understand not only how art is situated in an everyday encounter, but how art is situated at the level of language. It is such language that creates a prejudice or frame that limits how – and with what level of accuracy – we describe phenomena and ultimately what new actions and capacities result.
It is at the level of language and how art is situated through language that I will begin. I will do so by considering the distinction between art for the market and art in and with the market and world. I will do so with the understanding that how we resolve this question – our expectations of what is possible – will determine how art is encountered in the world as a specific situation and ultimately what we understand art to mean. By clarifying where we go looking for art and what we believe it is capable of doing when we find it, we will be better equipped to understand the merits of certain contemporary art practices and the capacities that those practices have to affect positive change in the world. To ask the question of how art can affect the world implies subscribing to a particular understanding of how the world is affected and where the line that divides types of affects is drawn. In many ways, it is to confront the dominance that corporations and investment groups have in affecting how built space is produced and appears. In doing so, we have the opportunity to ask how one might come to affect and even structure such businesses and investment strategies. What this might mean in the context of art production will be explored in what follows. Doing so will help us to understand the increasing presence and importance of creative industries within and for the general economy and how art itself can guide the process by which such presence expands through investment. Ultimately, it will allow us to understand how the agency of art evolves when art is in rather than for.
The distinction is not merely semantic. In and for refer to concrete ways that art is situated and perceived. Art for the world at once inscribes the agent of the author who makes the work for the world. In doing so, we understand the capacity of art through a classic system of subjects and objects. The agency of the object is invested through the period of material becoming when the artist exerts his power over the object in order to master it in such a way that it is installed with prestige in the world. Such art objects are made for the consuming public that includes patrons, critics, and civilians of varying classes and levels of interest. The objects are located within a space that can be accounted for and known. They are part of a geography and geometry that configures the world and that they configure by contributing to how this space is represented. The work ceases to be defined by motion and becoming, is no longer an energetic vector, and becomes a static object that is assigned a value and cared for. This care ultimately drives the economy of art that is made for – to serve – the world. As a result, all art that seeks to enter this realm of circulation – to be given a starting point and assigned a value – must be addressed to a particular variable of the broader monetary or aesthetic economy. For the most part, new work must be conceived and made for this market. The exception, however, is when this market appropriates the avant-garde that makes art beyond the museum and in and with the world in order to infuse the market with a new source of capital.
Art in / with the market and world is installed and constructed out of the networks, businesses, values, spaces, and phenomena that serve the mechanisms and activities that drive the general economy and make it possible to live life from day to day. In this sense, art work is found through an unexpected configuration of that which is not typically used to make art. The location of these works are not merely at sites of direct engagement of nature as opposed to a representation of that nature for the market, but are within the ethereal realm that remakes nature to serve the demands of a highly evolved civilization. Art is located as a force rather than object through how it reconfigures existing economies in order to create new sources of sustainable and increasing value. In this sense, art in / with the world is a series of performances that configure an evolving set of relationships between subjects and objects, forces and spaces. This performance takes place at the level of the body of the artist moving through and interacting with the world, but also at the level of the agents that the artist authorizes, the companies that they set up, the machines that they put in place, the feedback they receive, and the general web that they cast in / with the world.
An artist such as Oprah could be seen as creating artwork for the world via the shows that she produces and in / with the world through the investments she makes, the networking she does, the conversations she has, and the public support that she lends. This distinction that divides Oprah’s practice should serve not only to call attention to the invisible realm that so often is downplayed in favor of the material trace, but to ask the question of where the majority of value is located and where the innovative avant-garde work is taking place. Through this examination, it is possible to begin to understand how activities in the world take on an artistic dimension not just because they serve trace objects that the artist makes, but because they conform to a mission that an artist may support in stark contrast to a strictly profit driven enterprise.
This is not to say that an artist’s enterprise in any way ignores the logic of business or the monetary economy. It is merely to suggest that the way that the artist understands and uses these rules is different and serves alternate ends. The capacity to achieve these ends through an enhanced understanding of how to install, promote, sell, create an industry around, and profit from art in / with the world defines the agency of the artist. It does so beyond the traditional boundaries of artistic power in such a way that the artist is given a wide range of new options that can benefit them, the creative industries, and the general economy. In what follows, I will seek to understand this agency, what it might allow for, how I can contribute, and how you might be involved.
This distinction between for and in opens the possibility of asking the question of what art should be and how working at the level of a definition, pressure can be exerted such that what “art” is in the world and the mind begins to change. In this sense, by acknowledging the dual nature of art for and in / with, it is possible to expand the limits of art and ultimately arrive at a new frame for understanding what art is. We have a new stance from which to consider the fragmented realm of art production, the distorted values of the art market, the hegemony of western museums, and the proliferation of entertainment, fashion, style, food, designed objects, and architecture. In particular, we have the opportunity to consider how by actively controlling how art is in / with the world we can control an orientation to objects that are for the world. Doing so will allow us to understand more things that art can be and how this wider range creates a new horizon of possibility for how art can support positive change. This greater field of vision will ultimately help us understand where we want to invest in the future and how we can create optimal conditions in which to see a return on that investment.
The ability for an artist to work in / with as opposed to for is a relatively recent development. For the vast majority of recorded history, the artist has been largely placed in the service of the patron who is invested with the agency to work in / with the world. In some cases, the work that results is quite artistic and perhaps even art. The exquisite network of cities that the Roman emperors built over centuries might be one such example. That being said, the origins of the artist attaining such agency lie at the end of history rather than the beginning. The French Revolution opened new possibilities of freedom and agency for the individual. Artists such as David took advantage of this capacity in how they aligned with political leaders and the power that they attained in how the broader revolution was organized, promoted, and sold. Less than one hundred years later, Wagner had attained such agency that he was not only able to assault the traditional space in which his art might be expected to take place, but launch an itinerant international career by networking often competing royal interests from across Europe. He ultimately was able to create a local economy around the new platform he built for himself at Bayreuth at such a cost that he was quickly thrown back to the world to make up the deficit. Additional innovation occurred when it became possible for a group of artists to form a loosely defined coalition that would allow them to work together in order to create greater impact than they would have been capable of individually. Artists such as Duchamp, Breton, and Le Corbusier set up firms that actively sought not just to leave material traces, but to reconfigure how we saw the world the begin with. They actively lobbied to be included in the process of governing and sought complete autonomy to remake both space and time. They did so in large part through the new agency that mechanical techniques gave to the artist.
These early evolutions were characterized by an evolution of the political, social, and mechanical technology that allowed room for new agents to come onto the stage and take power from the traditional hierarchy. The ability of these artists to take advantage of these shifts is tied to the extent to which artists found themselves already engaged in sectors where new technology was becoming available. In each case, the artist’s existing pre-occupation with materiality, representation, production, reproduction, illustration, and narrative made them uniquely poised to take advantage of new technologies that grew out of industrial and commercial realms that were themselves becoming increasingly stylish and concerned with art. This evolution allowed artists to take on an unprecedented prominence in the years following World War II. Artists such as Stockhaussen, Cage, Klein, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones among others made work that sought to stand out from the economy in order to constitute an entirely autonomous realm that would proliferate as a new mode of existing. These artists defined an entirely new market and created their own unique structure and sphere within a ballooning industry. Moreover, the pieces of art that they created had such resonance that they were not merely confined to a catalogue or wall, but became living entities incorporated into new works and spaces.
These market defining artists were followed by a generation of artists who took an even more performative and avant-garde position that at once combined the serious European tradition of art work and the pop tradition of mass culture. Artists such as Beuys, Warhol, Burroughs, Smithson, and Christo and Jean-Claude explored the intersection of the deep and the surface through practices driven by motion, travel, and intense personal engagement of situations. These artists explored the possibility of life as art that by definition was made in / with the world. Their innovative work was in large part driven by this manner of dwelling and their capacity to collapse the distinction between art and life in order to build a community that could actualize ever larger works that took on new dimensions in the world than most others had in the past. Each built large and loyal networks around them that extended into myriad industries and resonated from the object of art to a headline in the newspaper. In each case, the structure that held it together was a very delicate blend of quantitative and qualitative value that was powerful enough to maintain the central point of focus that drew monetary capital and propelled the collection of people forward to the next work.
In doing so, each illustrated the extent to which it would be hard to imagine a for whom, what, or where their works might have been. An unknown man from Germany taking up residence with a wolf in his apartment upon arrival in New York, an endless series of “screen tests” of “superstars,” an account of navigating between realms of consciousness and pleasure, an acid induced tour of deindustrialization by a person pretending to be an archeologist from the museum of natural history, or an island wrapped in fabric. In this sense, these artists created the first set of objects that transcended their objecthood and, in doing so, created the necessity of understanding their practice not through a logic of reflection, but through a logic of interaction in / with the world.
The subsequent generations of artists pursued various paths that extended the capacity of the artist to work in / with the world. Some artists such as Herzog sought to create conditions that mirror the world in their work such that when they then endeavor to explore a plot that involves affecting change in built space and the broader economy, they can do so by actually affecting that changing and then documenting the results. Others such as Lucas were interested in fantasy. Through that interest, they invented entirely new technologies that revolutionized related industries and led to extreme wealth. Other artists continued the tradition extending from western art in order to create works that framed and explored perception, inclusion, culture, and capacity for activism and mutual support. Artists such as General Idea, Asher, Haacke, Koolhaas, Hirst, Hirschhorn, Eliasson, Chan, Gates, and Ai Weiwei have created firms founded on creativity. They manifest art in unlikely manners and locations. They have created networks of value that extend directly into the monetary economy. Ultimately, they bridge the monetary and aesthetic economy in order to propel the general economy.
These practices led to the current generation of socially engaged practitioners. In order to better understand these practices and how they might lead to new practices, I have begun to relax a reliance on understanding these practices through classical art historical terms by reading them on “economic terms” as determining how the work relates to and in some cases defines an aesthetic and monetary economy. This relationship constitutes a general economy in which the work sits and describes how the work operates through force. This general economy is neither the property of the art or the world, but a dynamic interaction. This general economy is largely evidenced through a variety of material conditions as phenomena. The manner in which an artists uses a material for their own work versus how it might be used otherwise plays a determining role in tracing these “economic terms.” The location is often found at the site where artist offers an element as a trace of the process as a souvenir for support of the broader edifice that the artist is constructing in the world. This requires separating the in from the for by rendering the specific scales at which the artist will operate in order to determine how the work fits and is exchanged in the world. Ultimately, this investigation will help us to understand the tools and variables that an art practice has to operate in the economy. Such an understanding will be necessary if we are to move beyond these prototypical examples and to art driven by making art in the market and world in order to drive a new era of entrepreneurship led by artists.
My interest in how efforts to create art in / with the world will evolve is supported by the positive change that these practices have realized coupled with continued advances in sectors that operate in close proximity to art. In particular, I am compelled by the use of capital to invest in ethereal endeavors whose returns are driven by the quality of an experience. The proliferation of design and interest in style suggests that the reach of the artist is greater now than ever before. At the same time, the market is oversaturated with art of varying degrees of quality. A great deal of this art is made strictly for the market and with limited understanding of the increased agency that the artist can achieve through performance. This proliferation not only distracts from greater interest in the agency of art but also contributes to a crisis of representation. It contributes to an addiction to representing the world in a certain way and to particular subjects that arise during that process of representation.
This addiction is not without material repercussions. At the level of artistic production, it contributes to the proliferation of myriad art objects that have minimal value beyond the decorative role they play. In a broader sense, it leads to the various images that abound in magazines, the drive to be contemporary and stylish, and all the material that is thrown away as a result. This habit contributes to an ecological crisis. Together, they create an opportunity to consider the merits of shifting art to a virtual plane that controls a variety of endeavors outside the immediate purview of art while insisting that we get more out of the material investments that are made.
As a result, we have the opportunity to dismiss the assumption that art must take place on a surface, through a publication, and authorized by a critic in order to explore the possibility that art occurs in the lived realm of the day to day. In order to do so, we must investigate the specific context of what that lived realm constitutes today for a wide range of individuals and for a wide range of mechanisms, businesses, networks, and general power structures. Our ability to represent and access these connections has taken on entirely new dimension through digital technology. An opportunity exists to use digital support systems to localize a particular installation of art while at the same time exploring how that installation is scaled and related to other entities within the system that may in other contexts be used for non-art work. The result would allow individuals to continue to explore their addiction to the sensational and marginal through direct engagement of the world as facilitated by the space the artist creates. This capacity would be fueled by a desire to compensate for wealth by balancing the support of culture and new approaches to crises facing the world.
Under the current model, largely material traces as art objects continue to be produced in order to mark this exploration. One purpose of the work being done here is to consider whether it is possible to explore an alternative context of production, reception, and materiality that can bear the trace that supports an experience. This context is one that might grow out of the experiential and existential set of phenomenon that the “super-consumers” occupy. To do so would be to consider whether the existing set of hotels, art fairs, galleries, offices, and studios that connect various aspect of the creative industry could become the receptacle in which new industry and business grow. It is to consider whether the people with financial, legal, medical, manufacturing, and technological expertise who might have the capital to participate in the glamorous art circuit might come to speak a language that allows their interests and investments to intersect with those of an artist. Doing so would be to actively embrace making art out of, in, and with the world that this collection of people represents and that represents them in order to create a series of specific endeavors that benefit this initial group. Addressing work to this world that has come to replace the natural world to which we seek to escape creates an opportunity to make a work in a language that is more commonly used and accepted. It is in this language that the pleasure and pain of the world actually transpire. Ultimately, it leads to a capacity for this work to generate a return in this language in order to give back to the community and sustain future investment.
In this context, sectors of the economy in close proximity to art and that support it – fashion, graphic design, coding, digital infrastructure, software, food and entertainment, architecture, and urbanism – are growing at an unprecedented rate. These sectors have taken on increasing prominence in the global economy. It is increasingly possible to invest in these qualitative realms with a degree of certainty. We are capable of guiding activities in supporting realms with a work of art that cuts between and coordinates these activities. This results in the capacity to remain invested in a logic of art making that is true to the goals that an artist sets earlier in their career. In particular, it is possible to invest in artistic production in order to explore the liberating power of art in the world, to use it as a gateway to personal and collective imagination, and to increase hope and happiness such that the spaces affected by such art investment become desirable places in which to dwell. This mode of investment will anchor the long-term return on investment.
Creative and design thinking is essential in solving problems that relate to the space and environment that we inhabit. Decaying infrastructure, inefficient homes and buildings, increasing energy costs, and rising population densities all make employing art to solve problems compelling. At the same time, as we deplete resources and the elements that anchor a national narrative, employing creativity can help us create a new story that sustains our interest in living together and building a compelling world. Large numbers of graduates of art schools enter the workforce each year without full-time jobs within the realm of avant-garde art practice that they studied and aspired to while in school. They have even less hope of selling their work within the more traditional market for art objects – the most exclusive of which are traces of past movements of the avant-garde. This is in large part because schools are only just beginning to confront overproduction and the merits of offering guidance in how to work more closely with lucrative sectors of the economy. This is the first step to acknowledging the general economic rather than strictly aesthetic / art historical / critical system that will ultimately be the metric and method by which the practices that grow out of the school will be evaluated.
Expanding art working in the world can balance a strictly quantitatively driven world. It can increase points of access for those who might otherwise be excluded. In order to do so, we cannot appropriate art or design thinking within an existing corporate structure, but must use it to make new structures that challenge the assumptions of what an art practice is to begin with. The art assets that have been solidified through the auction, museum, and fair circuit have generated excessive surplus capital that few have found productive ways to reinvest. If new routes are not found, it will be spent on lavish dinners without lingering affect or even much cultural resonance.
The present opportunity allows us to think otherwise by configuring capital drawn from disparate realms in an unexpected manner. Through this specific alliance, boundaries are collapsed and inefficiencies are eliminated. We can pin down particular moments of inefficiency that often results from allegiance to waning worlds and regimes of representation and power that have been debunked for undesirable consequences to how some people must be treated under that regime in order to balance the equation and make it a coherent and scalable system to begin with. In this sense, art working in / with the world sets up a revelation of the underlying condition in the world as an unfolding set of experiences that result from an initial investment. The revelation will ultimately affect a narrative of those who participate in determining how it plays out and who profits from the value that is created by the alternative mode of subjectivity, objectivity, and representation that results.
The preceding sections have called attention to art practices that have successfully made work in / with the world. They have described various contexts that have made it possible to do so. In particular, they have suggested the necessity of understanding these installations in terms and via a discourse other than conventional aesthetics and art history. In doing so, I have attempted to show the difference between work that may have a social benefit such as a job training facility or site at which one can access social services from an art work in / with the world that makes use of similar facilities and services. The crux of this distinction rests in using these facilities and services in an “other” manner than might traditionally occur, connecting these activities to a broader system of artistic production, and guiding this work through the sensibility of someone trained as an artist. Such work stands out through its relationship to the broader history of the artistic avant-garde and through the mission that the artist sets in extending this tradition through their work.
If we are to move beyond the practices that we have investigated and seize the current opportunity, we should do so by framing practices as in / with the world and create a framework for investing in those practices. This would create an atmosphere of sufficient authority to draw interest from investors, collaborators, and audience members. It would create a safe zone in which such work could be conducted. This would support the capacity of the work to benefit populations that would not otherwise come into contact with avant-garde art practice and the ideals that it represents. It would also support a return on an initial investment. This framing and authority can be supported via social networking, narratives that explain the work, theoretical writing, letters that build support, solidifying an investor base, securing commitments of money, material, and land, creating events that build an audience, leaving art objects as traces in the world, networking businesses, and guaranteeing loans. These activities locate the origin of art work beyond a single point of view from which the world is rendered. Art work is developed while moving from one point to another as one builds the network in / with the work will take form. In this sense, it begins by carving out a portion of the world that is conducive to understanding and receiving art in / with.
The motion that builds the space in which art can work in / with is characteristic of many of the practices that illustrate the difference between art in / with the world and art for the world. This motion supports the capacity not to be pinned down to one culture of material production. It gives the artist room to explore various methods of narration. It creates opportunities to add new and diverse experiences to the vocabulary out of which an artist might make their work. In many cases, the material is collected from one location before being transformed in the studio and installed in the world. The distance over which the art is made adds to the mystery of its production and increases the power of the artist.
Sustaining this power is contingent on the possibility that the space and set of productive capacities is something novel. It stands out and creates new value that sustains the lives of those who participate and build out from the initial site through innovation. It is in part driven by the extent to which the space can be inclusive of a wide range of people – some of whom would not otherwise have been included within a productive economy. It is also driven by the extent to which it relates to industries that have a broad connection to the rest of the economy – glass, ceramics, metal, graphic design, code, etc… – and the extent to which they can be put to use for unexpected and often experiential purposes.
I will explore 5 significant barriers to creating a safe haven of authority in which practices that aim to create art in / with the world, market, and economy as their primary goal might operate.
First, artists are not trained in business or economics. Not only are they not trained in business, they often attend schools that place limited emphasis on the liberal arts in general. In many cases, art students and artists in general are pigeonholed as being too whimsical for a discipline as practical as business. Non-artists often go so far as to segregate art from the practical world so that it can serve them as an escape. All this occurs for the benefit of the consumer and at the expense of the artist. This results in individual artists having to take it upon themselves to learn specific skills that are required to develop art in / with the world. It leads those with capital to be hesitant to make an investment in an artwork unless it is guaranteed by a shrewd and trusted gallery owner. This is coupled with the largely untested and unprecedented direct investing in a start-up art work in the economy as oppose to prototypical examples where the in evolved out of and alongside the for.
In order to address this, we have to invest authority in the artist that is derived from the quality of past work and the clarity with which they present future art in the economy. We should actively build the market for such work through representation in existing markets by relying on the capacity to promote how these elements and events are placed through publicity. We must prove that it can be done by using art to address a “universally” agreed upon crisis of the city and crisis of imagination that sustains creativity and innovation. In this sense, we must prove that art can be used to create a rainforest of innovation. Once this has taken place, we can explore more localized and specific interventions that take advantage of the broader ecology of investment and interest that would transfer wealth to those with the knowledge to replicate and educate based on this initial work.
Second, the art market itself is a profound barrier to art in / with the world. Those invested in the market as a collection of objects and transactions have a great deal of capital tied to the current set of objects, their designated value, and the system that drives this valuation. Those who control the market through supply and ability to guide demand have a strong desire to increase overall value over time via demand by inflating the sphere around a particular object, artist, or the market in general. This method of propping up a myth that an object has relevance can only continue so long as there is general attention being paid to the market. Capital accumulated from earlier cycles of interest can go a long way to delaying the reckoning, but make it all the more painful and destructive of value when the reckoning actually comes to pass.
We should address this situation by creating specific commissions for artists associated with the market and the galleries that dominate it to engage the world. We should create opportunities to represent more artists who are participating in this culture of innovation. Doing so will sustain an interest in trace objects and events off of which those invested in the market can profit in a traditional sense. Over time, this will encourage current stakeholders in the market to invest increasing amounts of excess capital in these endeavors. This will create an expanding local economy via the jobs that result. Those who occupy these jobs will in turn be capable of buying a trace of the process of which they were a part. This trace might in turn increase in value over time. Ultimately this would open a bridge out of the isolation of the art market by connecting it with greater efficiency to the monetary economy in order to strengthen the general economy.
Third, the public that acknowledges, receives, and judges art is not equipped to understand a shift to art in / with the world. They are not necessarily prepared to accept that what they are participating in is part of a much broader structure and set of phenomenon that constitutes the work of art. In many ways, they are hesitant to support art that goes well beyond their own frame of reference and, in doing so, reduces their capacity to take in its totality and be prepared to render judgment. This fear is largely unfounded. Even the most adept art receiver lacks knowledge of some aspect of the art and rarely understands or even perceives the totality of the work. In many ways, it is a reflection of a general desire of the public to cling to what they understand and a general unwillingness to relinquish agency to a new group who seek to have influence in the world – namely, the artist-entrepreneur. It ultimately stems from a skepticism of new regimes of representation and especially those that collapse regimes as such.
We should address this situation by offering different conceptions, frames, and views of the system to different groups in such a way that we appeal to what the receiver expects and the language that they already understand. In particular, we should never necessarily invalidate a traditional orientation to art. In many ways, classical perspectives should be encouraged as the grounds from which one might begin to understand the merits of creating art in / with the world. From this ground, we should build access points that look onto the horizon of an expanded field of art that allows the receiver to join an expanding group that wants to understand and invest in art in / with the world.
Such a strategy is not dissimilar from how avant-garde art practices ¬– earth art, surrealism, and constructivism in particular – were adopted. These new regimes of building and configuring space were only understandable via the guidance of critics, friends, patrons, and spaces that created a stable ground from which to depart into the new mode of building, dwelling, and thinking. Ultimately, each moment relied on the style and light emanating from the interior of the new space and time to draw additional people in. The process by which people cross over – exchange one space and time for another – gives value to this new space and time while creating various jobs to fill this new space and time with the objects that the artist deems necessary. It is a process of gradual revelation whereby the initiate explores the mysteries of this interior. In doing so, they explore where the art in / with the world, economy, market is. Through their inter-action with the new space and time, they gradually discover art beneath the surface. The promise of this revelation sustains the process by attracting new people.
Fourth, artists and the receivers of art are addicted to a particular set of subjects and to the proliferation of these subjects. We are addicted to the narrative of terrorism, to war and the spectacle of destruction, to the spectacle of the everyday, to death and narratives of depravity, to watching the unfortunate, and to the specter of our eminent destruction. At the same time, we are addicted to fantasies that offer an escape from negative circumstances. It is rare for art, entertainment, built space or new businesses to cross between the positive and negative, qualities and classes of built space, and sectors of the economy in order to explore a strategy that might alleviate the negative conditions that we cannot help but gaze at from a distance. Although a few philanthropies and policy groups have begun to challenge fixed boundaries and degrees of reach and engagement, few have challenged the underlying assumptions and adherence to a largely Western system of knowledge, power, and authority.
We should respond with direct engagement of what is generally only represented to the art-viewing public. This is not to say that we should send receivers of art to sites of terrorist. Instead, we should localize such spectacles in sites that are accessible to such receivers. In doing so, we should create routes to direct participation that support a visceral connection to those phenomena that might begin to break the addition through compassion. Such points of focus would not be the work of art itself, but would merely be one part of the broader work. They would cause people to break their assumptions of the distance at which art holds them from danger. In doing so, room would be created in which to act. It would shift the focus to real networks of actors who contribute to making and sustaining the artwork in the economy. It would support interest in the people and things that influences the space and products as well as the jobs and capacities that the work results in. This would not exclude past points of interest, but would situate them within a new framework of investment that might be more effective at changing the conditions that lead to so many deadly spectacles that draw our interest. It would create and expand a safe space that is a little closer to the crisis than the current iteration of art offers. Doing so would create a route by which we might move ever closer to an underlying reality. The art work that drives this motion might positively impact the world that is constructed and inhabited from, with, and in this underlying reality.
Fifth, we must overcome the prejudice that art cannot accomplish something real in the world. We must believe that it can be the source and agency of change. In doing so, we will move beyond the belief that the major events of history fall outside the direct purview and domain of art. Art in / with the world does not merely represent the political and social, but is actively entangled in their making. We must overcome the belief that art is free and not entangled in every aspect of how the world is materially configured. If we look at certain points in the arc of history, achievements of art have been so significant that they are revered and maintained for thousands of years – often at an extreme initial cost that the first generation can hardly imagine the impact of over time. In this sense, we must overcome the notion that an investment of art in the world has to appear immediately to make numerical sense. If we call examples such as the pyramids, the Parthenon, the Roman fora, cathedrals, the frescoes and sculptures of the Renaissance, the court of Louis XIV, Bayreuth, the arcades, the Hollywood studio system, and the National Park System to mind, we will realize that extreme startup costs are not new. With each work, new allegiances were created and the manner with which the rest of the world thought about that space or nation was redefined. Ultimately, the prestige that resulted anchored trade, respect, and even how families were structured.
We should address this barrier by looking to moments when art is already beginning to accomplish something in the world. In particular, we should call attention to large scale endeavors that are taking place without strict interest in a traditional logic of financial return. Such projects can serve as anchors for art work in / with the world. In many cases, these investments are not immediately apparent in the world. Instead, they exist within vast warehouses or even at a strictly virtual level. Such investments in digital infrastructure or even graphic productions such as films or advertising campaigns can be the starting point out of which new art-driven investments can take form. In doing so, we look for ways that new work can build off of past work in all media and with all degrees of artistry in order to take advantage of capital reserves. The result will put reserves of capital that might lie dormant in a museum or national park to work in order to stage tests of how much work art can do and how far art can extend into the world.
I will advocate for this model and create a coalition of those interested in exploring art in the world that takes the world and its productive capacity as its medium. I will do so in order to define an ethics of engagement that increases local value and the ability to thrive through novel industries. In addition, I will create a series of works in the economy as a business, network, or framework that can be used as a tool and set of services that produce a wide range of products at different scales and for different consumers and investors. I will begin with Naught Company. Our first endeavor will be to create an Ecological Operating System (EOS) founded on art and the imaginative collaboration of investing simultaneously in real estate and digital technology. I will continue by creating a series of works in different categories that include the following:
• Systems – such as the EOS – that come first. Such work will support the other categories. It can be used to extend the reach and stability of other work that leads to a group of us who are committed to the success and impact of these investments.
• Experience, entertainment, and the intersections of production and consumption. These works will create physical and novel exchanges between levels, strata, spheres, and regimes that generate value through the pleasure of the visceral encounter and the traces that result.
• Incubators of such work that create the conditions for artists to explore such a career path. Incubators will ensure innovation continues and that other artists face less difficulty finding sources of investment.
• Whimsical and grand companies that could captivate many and solve a pressing concern. Such work would be funded out of pure excess capital, but will be sustained by the interest that it draws. Examples of such work might include an evolution of personal museums, islands with special ecosystems, foundations, etc… They will open the horizon of physical installations that trace the work.
• Spatial and temporal works. Such work will solve a problem that affects space and time through a reworking of how it is produced and consumed through an examination of the real and virtual components of that space and time.
• Culture works. Such work will be a direct expansion of the capacity of different organizations to serve an expanding population by creating routes through which these organizations can invest in these works. It will be a way of going beyond the inadequate grant making system that defines the present state of art investing.
• Ethereal and metaphysical works. Such works will explore the problems that do not directly manifest, but that lurk beneath the surface. They will allow us to confront elements in order to liberate us from the allegiances they represent and that we hold ourselves to. They are the ultimate requisite for resetting the frame before allowing us to intervene at the financial, spiritual, atomic, or psychological level. They define endeavors that aim to bring the repressed into the open so that it is subject to measurement rather than endless speculation.
In each work, I will guide the descent and ascent from global to local as a careful fitting and focusing of very different economies and frames. My aim is for this fitting of real and virtual wealth and poverty through the inspiration and light of art to support unity and balance for the world.
Others can support this work through putting their name behind the work, investing in the work, networking in order to increase the reach of the work, introducing existing organizations as part of the work, and creating access to space in which the work can occur. We must increase the group of those who believe that art can evolve in this manner in order to serve and support a far wider group than those who constitute the elite gallery scene of New York, London, Berlin, LA, Basal, SF, Chicago, etc… We must increase those who believe that art can be a development tool that will lead to innovation that supports broader revitalization of the economy.
In order to do so, we should create a fund designed to power such projects. Opportunities will arise to become part of the team that evaluates how investments are made. This will occur after the successful funding of an Ecological Operating System as the first work of art in / with the world. We will solidify those who will contribute the initial base of interest. These men and women will make the initial set of companies. They will work out the various practical and theoretical implications. As this occurs, opportunities will arise for existing organizations to engage new creative horizons.
We will increasingly find situations that can use art in order to support peace and sustainability by providing another perspective amidst entrenched assumptions. This work will require space that can host the physical components that enable the art to work in the world – the printers, walls, oils, pigments, electricity, etc… that constitute the substrate. At the same time, this space is the low-tech residual of the past. It is the trace and covering over of nature. In this sense, we must appeal to the custodians of historic spaces to provide access such that work in the economy unfolds before and is entangled with these surfaces and their histories. In doing so, we will not just create art in / for the world, but art in / for a multiplicity of worlds overlapping in space and extending from the earliest negotiations of nature to the present technological ether.