British emerging artists wanted for Brazil residency

The British Council Brazil and People’s Palace Projects are offering a residency for emerging UK artists in Brazil.

The KLF want you to burn the Shard

The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu aka The KLF aka Rockman Rock and KingBoy D aka The Timelords aka Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty have invited all comers to do one thing in November: Burn the Shard.

Something is wrong on the internet

As someone who grew up on the internet, I credit it as one of the most important influences on who I am today. I had a computer with internet access in my bedroom from the age of 13. It gave me access to a lot of things which were totally inappropriate for a young teenager, but it was OK. The culture, politics, and interpersonal relationships which I consider to be central to my identity were shaped by the internet, in ways that I have always considered to be beneficial to me personally. I have always been a critical proponent of the internet and everything it has brought, and broadly considered it to be emancipatory and beneficial. I state this at the outset because thinking through the implications of the problem I am going to describe troubles my own assumptions and prejudices in significant ways.

One of so-far hypothetical questions I ask myself frequently is how I would feel about my own children having the same kind of access to the internet today. And I find the question increasingly difficult to answer. I understand that this is a natural evolution of attitudes which happens with age, and at some point this question might be a lot less hypothetical. I don’t want to be a hypocrite about it. I would want my kids to have the same opportunities to explore and grow and express themselves as I did. I would like them to have that choice. And this belief broadens into attitudes about the role of the internet in public life as whole.

I’ve also been aware for some time of the increasingly symbiotic relationship between younger children and YouTube. I see kids engrossed in screens all the time, in pushchairs and in restaurants, and there’s always a bit of a Luddite twinge there, but I am not a parent, and I’m not making parental judgments for or on anyone else. I’ve seen family members and friend’s children plugged into Peppa Pig and nursery rhyme videos, and it makes them happy and gives everyone a break, so OK.

But I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down.

Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what I am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring.

Read more (James Bridle, Medium)

Chump change: decrypting Bitcoin and Blockchain

At the 9th Berlin Biennale, artists Simon Denny and Linda Kantchev presented Blockchain Visionaries (2016), an exploration and celebration of the blockchain phenomena. Denny, a self-professed enthusiast described the blockchain as, "a great model for dreaming dreams and telling a diverse and divergent set of new (and not so new) stories about how the world might organize in the future". Similarly, in his New York show Blockchain Future States (2016) Denny set out to investigate ‘three financial companies at the forefront of Bitcoin’: Ethereum, 21 Inc. and Digital Asset. In the press release his gallery stated: "At a moment when public debate spotlights a global governance system that seems to ignore the needs of many of its participants, starkly contrasting visions for alternative political systems are emerging. What would a world look like where the collusion of an elite few would be rendered technically impossible? Can a truly inclusive global future exist?"

Whilst expressing a political vision familiar from any article on cryptocurrency, the bland inferences about a tech fix for ‘elite’ power read as a bromide. On closer inspection some of these assertions have a lineage that is far from emancipatory, however.

The art world is ardently advocating for Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies. For instance, it has recently been suggested that the blockchain might ensure a system by which artworks are provided with trustable provenance (‘a spreadsheet in the sky’); or used to enforce contractual obligations; or to establish a ledger so that artists are paid any royalties due. There is even a scheme to encourage small investors to acquire tiny portions of famous masterpieces – a form of fractional ownership that is clearly derived from the Bitcoin paradigm. Behind the digital dreaming much of this ‘utopianism’ appears as an effort to shore up value in the art market, which has been sagging ever since the 2008 crisis. None of this is particularly surprising given that art has long been a form of speculative investment, but this indicates how Bitcoin and blockchain boosterism regularly disguise baser imperatives (whether the boosters are themselves aware of it).

Read more (Mute)

Is efficiency killing brands?

Digital marketing has unleashed an obsession with efficiency and short-termism, one that's trading long-term brand-building for short-term ROI. We've put the golden goose in a battery farm of scientific efficiency, and it's killing the brand, business growth and profit.

Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Motorola, for example, have raised the issue recently. This past summer, the world's largest advertiser, P&G, announced it had slashed digital budgets by $140 million, and yet, sales still went up. In July, Motorola CMO Jan Huckfeldt went on the record saying, "If you want to revive a brand and you really want to build a brand quickly, if you bank on social and digital, it's not going to work."

Read more (Ad Age)

‘Artwashing’ gentrification is a problem – but vilifying the artists involved is not the answer

The value of culture in regenerating cities has long been recognised. Sometimes this happens centrally, whether via the commissioning of high profile public artworks, or the rebranding of city areas as cultural quarters. But in many cities, culture led redevelopment occurs organically.

VW gets its brands in a twist

It's common knowledge that Volkswagen Group likes to mix its brands up. Easily the largest car company in Europe, its brands including Skoda, Seat, Audi and of course VW dominate our roads. Now, however, this family of brands is in trouble

It's time to rethink the consumer journey

Customer journey mapping is a logical way to organize the elements of the consumer experience into a cohesive whole. It’s a framework that gives designers a way to better understand what users need.

But, in real life, people don’t follow logical paths. Technology, culture and basic human unpredictability mean that experience and service designers must assume that every customer journey will be unique, non-linear and fragmented. Therefore, if your narrative and benefits rely upon a linear interaction with all parts of an experience, it’s certain that the vast majority of customers/users will never experience most of them.

A simple journey with 4 steps in fact has 24 different possible paths. And this complexity is compounded dramatically for services or experiences that operate in multiple countries or regions or that need to serve multiple levels of user expertise. That means that for any substantial service or experience design project, it’s unrealistic to map all the possible paths.

Read more (Zeus Jones)

Rise Art Prize launches with £10k award

Online art marketplace Rise Art has launched an award for new artists and artworks, with a winner's prize of £10,000.

Two online magazines launch, covering contemporary art criticism

Two new digital magazines launched recently: one in the US, and one in the UK.

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