The Embedded Artist Project: Antennas Of The Race

A unique initiative offers governments a different perspective on cultural issues.

Ezra Pound once referred to artists as being “antennas of the race.” This could be interpreted as the artist’s knack for posing relevant questions and picking up on those cultural activites that lead to change. In turn, their ability to create works that instigate this change are their greatest assets.

On Frances Whitehead’s site for the Embedded Artists Project, she asks, “What do artists know?” For one, an understanding of composition and structures, but perhaps more importantly, in what Pound implies, is the ability to remain critical in the happenings of culture.

In keeping with this ability to be critical of structures, Whitehead’s Embedded Artist project offers the opportunity for artists and government officials to engage in dialogue, applying a critical eye to government infrastructures with the following methodologies:

  • Synthesizing diverse facts,goals,and references–making connections and speaking many “languages”. Artists are very “lateral” in their research and operations and have great intellectual and operational agility.
  • Production of new knowledge as evidenced by the 100+ year history of innovation and originality as a top criterion
  • Creative, in-process problem solving and ongoing processes, not all up- front creativity: responsivity.
  • Artists compose and perform, initiate and carry-thru,design and execute. This creates a relatively tight “feedback loop” in their process.
  • Pro-active not re-active practice: artists are trained to initiate, re-direct the brief, and consider their intentionality.
  • Acute cognizance of individual responsibility for the meanings, ramifications and consequences of their work. (The downside of this is that artists are not always team-oriented or willing to compromise due to the high premium placed on individual responsibility and sole authorship.)
  • Understanding of the language of cultural values and how they are embodied and represented – re-valuation and re-contextualization.
  • Participation and maneuvering in non-compensation (social) economies, idea economies, and other intangible values (capital).
  • Proficiency in evaluation and analysis along multiple-criteria–qualitative lines, qualitative assessment. Many are skilled in pattern and system recognition, especially with asymmetrical data.
  • Making explicit the implicit — making visible the invisible.
  • Artists do not think outside the box– there is no box.

Embedded Artists Project

[via Art 21]

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