Cultures of Resilience

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Cultures of Resilience is a two year UAL-wide initiative, the goal of which is to build “multiple visions” of the cultural side of resilience by putting together a set of narratives, values and ideas that are coherent in that they are all based on resilient systems, but in many other aspects are very diverse.

As part of Cultures of Resilience, Critical Practice are proposing a Market of Values, that may enable a second iteration of our developing market form and research into communities of evaluation.

We have been asked to draft a 100 word description

Market of Values

Critical Practice is researching values and their economies. Values have a tendency to be fleeting and abstract. They need to be performed. Competitive markets and their values dominate, especially in the overlapping fields of art and design. By contrast, we are interested in the intimate, local and social processes of evaluation: who, how, with what, when and where. We intend to explore a more resilient, diverse (perhaps even conflictual) range of evaluative communities, and convene a flea-market like event – the Market of Values, to enact and share our research.

We have been asked to draft a 1000 word description

Context: Markets are brilliant bundles of technologies, assembled to exchange things. All kinds of things - from living labour to resources and foodstuffs as well as public services. And because markets broker our big systems like healthcare and education, they also determine our futures in ways we don't always think about. The most visible form of the market is a competitive one. The neo-classical economic model pictures rational individuals pursuing their own self-interest - without regard for others - as the motive force for markets. The laws of supply and demand that organise these homo economicus extrude the values - often represented by a financial price – exchanged, in any transaction. These fundamental elements - rational agents, supply and demand and the 'efficiency' produced by price mechanisms - function in most markets, making them like natural laws.

Except of course, not all economies are markets, and even competitive markets don’t actually work like this, or at least, only in theoretical models. And yet, outside of public museums, and some secretive private collections, art, artists and their artworlds reproduce through competitive markets. Even art and design education is riven with 'market forces'. Why have we enabled the values of competitive markets to dominate our recent evaluations of contemporary cultural production? We inhabit a mono-culture of evaluation, and this is not resilient.

Resilient Values: evaluative communities Building resilience in art and design communities will involve learning to value other kinds of values, like care and generosity. It will entail building peer-networks, and prioritising cooperation over individuation and attention seeking. We will need to overwrite scarcity with creative abundance, build a commons of creative resources, enjoy complexity and distribute decision making. We might also need to re-imagine the University as a social enterprise.

Taking our model from resilient ecologies (where diversity is essential for their reproduction), we intend to research different, varied, even conflictual evaluative communities. We start from the assumption that all values and evaluation takes place through social processes that bring actors together into communities of varying scales; from intimate personal exchanges - family gifts, to terrifying international power- trade sanctions. Communities of evaluation give values their emotional, monetary or material texture, and simultaneously enable these communities to be visible. Values, especially abstract values are not qualities of things or people, but momentary judgements -value judgements- given a 'sensible' (meaning apprehensible) form, and are able to be transacted.

Evaluative communities choreograph the exchange of values within any given society.These communities are scalable in number, distributed in space (near or far) and variously durational (they can be fleeting, or durable enough to aggregate institutions). As the values they produce persist, the communities themselves become more resilient. Other values are introduced and purged through feedback loops that test and stretch each community's scope, relative to other communities in their proximity.

Examples of evaluative Evaluative Communities may include (and in no particular order):

  • Skill sharing networks, like the upsurge in maker libraries, communal workshops and hacklabs
  • Blood, bodily-organ and other donation systems (commons-like resources)
  • Wikipedia, bitcoin, and Creative Commons as digital commons - What are the values we value in peer-2-peer exchanges, or commons-like and communal creative resources?
  • A tournament of evaluation - An art auction - (art's value as purposive purposeless (Adorno) is useful for its circulation in competitive markets, but is it a price we can still afford?)
  • Time banks, where time replaces money as a currency
  • Localised currencies - The Brixton Pound
  • Crowdfunding/ skillsourcing and non-financial enthusiasm communities
  • Non-human values; biotic, geological, machinic
  • Microfinancing networks
  • Reputaional ecosystems
  • Reading groups, knitting circles and other discursive cells
  • Economies of attention
  • Temporary and fleeting evaluative communities, such as festivals like Roskilde, Burning Man or Glastonbury
  • Gift economies: various volunteer and exchange communities and their hidden obligations
  • Upcycled Waste-management streams, and repurposed asset valuations
  • Occupy Finance - ie. Ethical investment,
  • Communal ownership of public resources, or other forms of resource management
  • Imaging alternative forms of profit
  • loyalty and fandom

In an attempt to insert different values into political discourse, the New Economics Foundation designed a 'happiness index'. In 2010 they persuaded Prime Minister David Cameron to launch a £2m plan to measure the nation's happiness, with the Office for National Statistics collating data as people rated their own well-being and happiness. This is a double edged sword; to make happiness accountable to public policy, NEF economised happiness and gave it a price.

We are interested in exploring the complex assemblies of value that art and design can generate, and then to try and test whether these values can be resilient - values that persist after their (inevitable) competitive market expropriation. We aim to produce meshworks rather than monocultures of evaluation. We intend to assemble a new lexicon of resilient values for the 21stC, and new 'communities of evaluation'.

We will collaborate with artists, designers, economists, academics, ecologists, anthropologists, civil-society groups, donorpreneurs, sales-persons, activists and others.
CoR members Neil Cummings and Marsha Bradfield are both members of Critical Practice, and David Cross has worked with the cluster on various projects for more than five years.

In the structure and lexicon of CoR, we imagine contributing (although not exclusively) to: 

2. Disruptive and regenerative attitudes (ref. transitional systems):


3 Trust, knowledge and values building (ref. auto-organizing systems):


Here's the text on Cultures of Resilience, with all the others.

October 9, 2014

  • The spirit - we have a two-year project - to bring together people by establishing a common language, and start a discussion isn't so easy. If we try to say that we tried to do it, it was an experiment, this is a result. From the beginning, we said that we should write statements. It should have been generated through the discussion.
  • Ezio will identify two pull quotes from the texts - so he'll take a bit of an editorial role.
  • What's the target audience for the book? It's basically internal.
  • We want to have this all wrapped up by early November so the deadline is the end of October.
  • Phase 2 of CoR is now open! We're doing an exhibition in March at LCC - probably the Well Gallery. It's a work in progress, research in progress. Is there a way to make it really personal? It's a just a question of determining how much space you need and then you can get on with it. Week-long exhibition with short events in the middle - and maybe we'll do a closing at the end? What do we share? Is it a lens? Each person comes at it from a different angel? Different perspective?
  • Reference to our market comes up - there is discussion about 'Hyper Hyper' in London.
  • Maybe we need to meet in December?

Visit Cultures of Resilience or The Market of Values - Proposal or Market Research