BACKGROUND AND AIMS
In 2010 we were asked to join the Department of Art at the Aalto University School of Arts to conceptualize and start building a new autonomous institution of artistic research, social innovation and political intervention which was to become a similar structure as the “factories” already established in the Aalto University organization (new interdisciplinary platforms in between the Schools of Art, Economy and Technology) – but approaching everything from the perspective of art. We brought with us also a ready stooge, the Mollecular organization group and its international networks.
We started to call it Future Art Base. It is a name we took very seriously from the beginning. Our idea was that the aim of Future Art Base is to strengthen the radical creative core of Aalto University – from the perspective of art: by studying, using and experimenting with the power of art to create unforeseen, previously unknown and unthinkable (economic, political, social, emotional, organizational…) processes. We study, experiment and develop the bases of such an art, an art of imagining and creating a new social future, an art of reopening the field of possible.
In a sense we were trying to rethink the motto of the School of Arts – Pro Arte Utili – for useful art. After all in western history the aesthetic sphere is only quite recently separated as an action with its own axiological reference system from the economic, social and political action. In primitive societies for example dance, music, forming of plastic forms, signs in the body, in the ground, in the objects were essential part of the political organization, rituals, religious processes. Could art be thought as an essential part of social organization, economy, politics and life? In providing escape and ruptures in the self-evidencies and patterns of behaviour through which the preemptive controls work in us? In creating mutation of subjectivity, new sensitivity, resistance at the molecular level? We also soon realized that the relationship between art and economy and art and politics must be formal. It is not one of content, but of form: if art, politics and economy meet somewhere, the meeting takes place in the area where new social, economic, political and life forms are created at the moment when the old economic and social forms of industrial society do not work anymore or when they are about to collapse. What can these new forms be today? How can something new begin when the possible at our disposal is exhausted? This was also our question at the Kassel Documenta, where Robin Hood was presented as an experiment in the creation of new social forms.
During the two initial years we were able to initiate eight large scale international experimentations in these new forms, were invited to Kassel Documenta13 with one of them, established our own international book series to give expressive support for our experimentation (with 6 books out by the end of 2013), published four edited collections, 15 articles, organized 8 international workshops, participated in 13 art exhibitions, established a start-up company and began to receive a lot of international attention, also in media (in Finland, Russia, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Brazil…). It worked. It is important to understand that the results were built practically “out of nothing”, from bare cooperation and innovativeness and “love” (see below, last page), without any ready material resources or organizational structures. Indeed, in the organization of “immaterial production” certain other capacities and elements are far more important.
You will find here also our map or a topography of the problematic with which the Future Art Base is working on. Each experiment works with a particular place or dimension on the map, trying to understand and draw it better, approaching it from a particular angle.
In October 2012 Future Art Base was thought to be ready to enter Aalto University general budget negotiations as a School level key strategic initiative. But in December 2012 we received news that the entire funding for the unit was terminated – because of one of our projects: Robin Hood. The president of Aalto university and her lawyers had got scared and thought that Robin Hood was potentially dangerous for the reputation of the university. Next the dean went into panic and that was it. The university management didn’t care to find out what this project was about, but chose a “preemptive solution” which was never explained or justified in any way. This is how arbitrary power works, it tries to control the possibility of action and thought.
Since then we have been an autonomous unit.
PRODUCTION OF IMMATERIAL, PRODUCTION OF MONSTERS
We have been thinking about the organization of Future Art Base like this: The production and development of the tools and raw materials needed in the building of the bases of future art – the ideas, concepts, words, affects, methods, inventions, interventions, approaches, networks, relations, publications, exhibitions… – takes place in Future Art Base experiments.
Future Art Base experiments are like immaterial factories, production lines, to create new combinations of art, economy, politics, philosophy, technology, organization, partial components of subjectivities. The relationship between art and economy, or art and politics, cannot be about content: art expressing views of social resistance or art making things more sellable is not relevant. We think that the common ground of art and politics and art and economy is today in the collapse of old forms of life and in the creation of new forms, this is where they meet. Future Art Base experiments are a method to bring and hold together many essential but heterogeneous elements (art&economy&politics, art&life&technology, opportunismðics&weapons industry…). They create new forms, new combinations, paradoxes, monsters that don’t seem to fit the boundaries of normal life, the easy flow of things and action. “Paradox”, “concept” and “monster” are attempts to articulate this new form we are after. Paradox causes problems to common understanding and categorizations, as if it did not fit within the boundaries of normal life and thought. Paradox reveals the limits of our current understanding. It expresses the inability of used language and words to express what it is, it is like a rebel element which does not signify but only functions and forces a demonstrative gesture “there”. Monster instead is something unpleasant, disgusting and a-natural, where there are together elements which do not “normally” belong together like art, business and politics.
We may think these combinations also as expressions of the general dissolution of the boundaries between art and economy and politics: they express themselves the changed situation as their subject matter which the existing ways of thinking about economy, art, philosophy or politics cannot grasp. To understand our experience in a situation where our abilities to create meanings, to understand, to relate to the presence of others have become immediate factors of economic production and areas of political struggle, we need new kind of movement, new kind of approaches, new kind of cooperation. This is what Future Art Base is trying to build. Are its experiments art, business, research, or political activism? It is precisely this indeterminacy and boundlessness, which always characterizes the beginning of something new, where the energy of Future Art Base experiments emerges.