Whether you agree with Karl Marx’s analyses of political economy or not, he was a darned clever creative, taking the norm and remaking it, creating something for the many from something for the few.
Better representation for more people means finding new ways to represent them, how they look, feel, experience the world. Hostilities, often against victims, by media, don’t help anyone.
As Baroness Hollick, champion of broadcasting equalities says:
‘Be persistent, be focused, but start with your own community….’January 2018 Sussex University website.
The way we represent and are represented in our social, economic and cultural currencies affects who we think we and others are and what is possible. It also, even in 2019, determines who can contribute. Social Exclusion is a very big bureaucracy and business.
At the moment, we believe mass media versions through segmented representation of divided lives that seem to do little more than perpetuate incapacities. We say ‘never again’ about wars, while increasingly using technologies to gamify and normalise ways of working and discrimination, waging security wars online against perceived enemies within our society.
In my opinion, challenging big structure everywhere, looking at ways of localising, familiarising it, creates an organic beauty beyond the kinds of fragmented representation we’ve been socialised to think is normal.
Finding something small and understanding how it works, might work, produces voices, cadences, narratives, signatures, brands and identities that come from the thing itself and can be read and appreciated by everyone whether they’re educated or not.
You could see this in the recent end of year shows for undergraduate and post graduate students at Nottingham Trent and Nottingham Universities.
Walking around these shows made me realise that access to quality from our own experience of life is the right of everyone: we need to help more people in Nottingham to understand and reach that: but how?
Particularly stunning was the work of Trent’s Department of Interior Architecture in their recent end of year show Small is Beautiful, the show accompanied by a publication, Made@ Trent, article to follow). As I walked round this exhibition I thought ‘Yes!” it moved me to think: “Here is the news, this is the form news could/should be taking, how can this way of thinking and seeing the world be shared with more people, more of the time?”
The bigger question was, could this work be developed into art that could be incorporated into the fabric of the institutions?
If you imagine anyone who is going to really make a change, it’s going to have to be someone, or some kinds of people who are just ordinary and conversational, whose only ‘vested interest’ is to produce great work and improve culture and social mobility for everyone.
Since the development of Creative Quarters in Europe, throughout world and the UK there’s been a real sense that anything is possible and particularly in Nottingham.
There are so many people already doing this but for some reason, instead of their work being part of a wider capacity development, it falls,
becoming marketing for an existing status quo when it needs to be seen as a new insightful direction that is seen to regularly connect and document its impact on other ordinary people.
It’s vital that we realise that we need to regenerate and reach out to more people, more of the time, all ways and always. We’re all ordinary wonders.
Mosaic segmentation, historically, evolved from a post second world war vision of community and national leadership of economies that understood economic development and communities as fixed, one way, rigid, captured and captive markets, determined from the top down.
The chance for different types of people and versions of economic activity to challenge the local scene was limited. Where it was contested and new kinds of relationships, more equal, more inclusive, with capacity, they were often taken up, funded for a while and then
becoming marketing for the old form and understanding of economics as exploitation.
The cross fertilisation of military command, too much social control, mass manufacture and data gathering after the second world war in the new consumer economy can be seen in the evolution of Cavendish Woodhouse, a local company that sold furniture on hire purchase on weekly or monthly instalments to local people in the early post war austerity heady dreams of the nineteen fifties and sixties.
Through its massive growth and development into the catalogue companies and group, Great Universal Stores, which recognised the value of american systems in its in-house credit referencing department CCN Systems, from the very beginning really, it was about social control of supply chains that had their roots in understandings of the sources of raw materials, products and profit in manufacture in the old empire systems of plantation and exploitation, where the world was James Bond’s Oyster with An Ain’t Half Hot Mum view of import and export from that wider world.
Instead of people on the newly built estates who might want to break away from increasing social conformity to set up their own business from the home they believed was theirs, to make things, to solve things, to drive a many faceted version of post war development, they found their home ground had been curtailed and would be increasingly surveiled. This massification (itself a self serving mass fiction), was literally pouring weedkiller on difference and social change from the ground up
By 1997, the same year as the County Council Network was established, CCN Systems became Experian but the notion that the people who bought furniture and catalogue items and paid on weekly instalments were irrelevant and in the past had become the norm in social planning too.
This is important as economic determination and de-capacitation are two features of this cynical determination of the lives of others that had its root in economic and social reconstruction after world war two.
The Mosaic works everywhere and has been sold on to the health, education, local government construction, infrastructure development environments. We need to understand though that it’s selling a passive consumption driven model of society where the consumer is ‘prey’ in all their iterations. This needs to be addressed and challenged on where its values and morality came from, will rest and develop.
We need to look at what the sharing and distribution of these kinds of informas do to economic activity and regeneration. I’d argue that they limit human rights, freedom of association and how public space can be used.
I’ve studied the Mosaic and, as a local person interested in art as journalism because I don’t think the media we have, use, engage with is sufficient to help us reach our potential. The problem is noone really visualises the way the Experian system, is a kind of Hawthorne effect because it’s travelled into every corner of our society and has affected how we see each other, how we see the local: how we see ourselves first as consumers, not makers, how as a society it’s now normal to use its figures on space, time, place and risk, audience and capacities.
I see the way the local company selling furniture, selling things through catalogues needs to be the way we reinvent the Mosaic for the 21st century but with local makers, creatives who come from the estates and also come, as students from former colonial countries in all their diversity, with all of their perspectives that we need to respect, nurture and develop.
The Mosaic we have now fosters structured confusion and alienation. In its jolly, merry, post graduate sounding language of social segmentation it’s really delivering social apartheid and it needs a corrective, it needs to be satirised.
If I could visualise Experian, I’d say its mosaic expresses societal decomposition (and pixelation!), fragmentation and alienation, where local, regional, national and international representation into ‘identities’ are sticky fixed and determined but for manipulation and a kind of permanent attrition rather than the insight and enlightenment we can find in the ONS and other open source ways of looking at the world.
Although there is some truth hidden in the continually sparring, divided and managed groups and individuals that these data sets express, the problem is that it’s increasingly treated as the working reality by commissioners of all kinds of services who are themselves increasingly bullied in and by bureaucracies into producing more metrics and outcomes based on increasingly limited views of social capacities.
Experian, in creating highly segmented identities proscribes and prescribes social mobilities through gatekeeping encouraging the successful to pull the ladder away from the less successful and lock down and protect their assets because they are socially and genetically more competent and superior. You can make up anything to prove who you are in these social hives.
It’s not true, fair or just though. This is where lack of the kind of trust in others has been removed but also the capacity of those outside to make a living on their own terms. It actually encourages theft and crime through notions of entitlement that are not met in society.
We’ve now got a situation where we have ‘pick and mix ‘equalities as marketing for a ‘vibrant culture’ that’s effectively managed by people who come from the same kinds of backgrounds and culture but with no drive to encourage equalities as a fact and a result as the recent Select Committee on Communication explained.
If we’re going to create social mobility we need to get out more, use our own eyes, talk to people about how damaged and under siege their lives are and how they feel at home and work by massification and the division between luxury and throwaway that’s been with us since the 1950’s.
Creativities don’t belong by proxy to the next big company that as a city we blindly woo in the next iteration of the story of the contribution of the BIG over the small. Shock and awe tactics of the war time periods need to be challenged, they’re obsolescent and need to be satirised and overcome.
Creativities, like regeneration, come from the micro climate of who we are and what we aspire to be. If we’ve deliberately poisoned the ground for the many in giving too much support to the history of the Mosaic of human misunderstandings then we need to repair, reuse and mend that damage.
Above: Julia K Szołtysek’s study of caricature of difference as exoticism in Opera which looks at how we can localise and normalise our sense of difference and other.
Creativities are our birthright – just something that we exploit to encourage Mr and Mrs Big to invest. To produce really outstanding and really different work, more of us need to own the right to bring our difference to work and play with it and relate it to what went before, create new versions that mean something to our home audiences.
We need to create challenge, to reference our work, concerns issues on the walls in the buildings we walk through and work in through all kinds of arts, to produce art as news about the things that matter to us in our immediate institutions and we need to communicate that desire beyond our immediate networks and groups and certainly beyond becalmed groups of community visitors who’ve had their capacity stolen from them by these gigantic processes.
People coming to places they pretend they don’t know for the purpose of the visit. We need to encourage ownership and expectation.