Week 16: Collective Foundation

[Joseph]: Their chat side.  This is the first I’ve done the voice oddly enough.  By the time we talked about Pickpocket Almanac it was just text.

[Scott]: Yeah, that’s right.  Interesting.  I guess we had done voice maybe like a year before that.  In any case, awesome.  So, yeah, great.  So this week I guess the plan was to, I mean there is a lot of things to talk about with you.  I guess the plan was we were going to focus mainly on your micro funding project or I guess y you could say experimental grant structures that the collective foundation set up.  You may have noticed this Salem, the description, not our description but the description that we sent out, we basically said “as recently noted in Artwork Newspaper” and basically just cut and pasted what you had.  Perfect description of these systems.  But for everybody here that didn’t either see that email or didn’t get to read it, it was a little big long for one of these intro emails.  Would you mind describing a little bit Joseph?  Or do you want way to pick one and ask you about it?  Or is it easier to just kind of jump right in it and tell us a little bit about it.  Like give everyone an intro to why you guys started that.

[Joseph]:  Right.  Um, I’ll kind of like start talking and you can kind of interrupt me and ask questions.  It’s sort of a monster, the Collective Foundation.  It’s a fairly large beast.  It came out of research into groups like kind of the early stages of the alternative space movement in the late sixties and early seventies and thinking about the history of these spaces as in responding to specific needs and concerns of the day.  People, there’s actually a wonderful book by Julie Alts that was like a key text, it’s called Alternate Art New York” and with the dates which go through the eighties and start with the early seventies.  Anyway, in the various kinds of contributors to that book, that collection we’ll talk about that and enforces why these spaces started.  There were things like a need to have a space to exhibit the work of women and minorities or a need for space to exhibit experimental media installation performance and space for radical political work or group thinking or organization for self representation of artists or supportive representation of artists who were doing outside of a commercial gallery sort of representation system.  So these were kind of specific needs that were kind of, not exactly oppositional,  although some sort of post themselves as a more political structure, but a  kind of rationale and certain forces at work that were being kind of dealt with and considered when they were founded.  And how over the years those forces have shifted.  You know, a lot of museum (inaudible 0:03:47.05) now bring in the work of women and minorities.  Maybe not as much as we would like but it does happen.  And the same thing with installation and video and even performance.  So., the question that a lot of people who are involved in the alternative space network and, you know, history now because many of the spaces that are running now have been doing so for 30+ years, are asking themselves the question of “what is the function of these spaces?”  And so, that combined with an interest in the art worker coalition and in thinking about their statement of demands and the work of people like Lucy (inaudible 0:04:30.5) and Andre (inaudible 0:04:32.8) who are all involved in that origin in the moment of that art worker coalition.  And thinking of the things that they set out to do and that they were kind of hoping for some reforms in the museum.  I mean, the demands were originally, at least, directed to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  

Anyway, so those two things were kind of the background in the foundation for what became the Collective Foundation.  So in a sense it is a proposal, not just for a new kind of space and space in the broadest sense of the word.  You know, as a metaphor more than a grounded term.  And the problems of like the economic situations for the alternative spaces in the Bay area but sort of nationally too.  You know the rising costs of renting a space and that in relation to the amount of money available to actually fund projects at that more experimental level than the lower or smaller budgets of these kinds of spaces.  Anyway, we were trying to deal with that complex constellation of problems in doing this in these spaces already thinking about.  And so, in a sense, it’s presented The Collective Foundation as a research and development organization.  It’s thinking about things that the alternative space and network doesn’t really have time, money or personnel to deal with or think about.  So it has a number of different programs that try to accomplish or peek at development seriously.  They started with a shotgun review which was kind of an early days of art blogs.  It was an attempt to kind of distribute the critical dialog about exhibitions and events in the Bay area with a goal of having as many writers as possible.  A lot of blogs now operate on this sort of (inaudible 0:06:53.4) of people who are regular contributors and we wanted to have 100, 200 or 500 people contributing.  The idea was that if we could get to that point, even if any individual only contributed once a month, that was a total cloud of critical (inaudible 0:07:11.6).  It’s sort of to culminate and create this sort of ferment and build on that kind of excitement.  And the idea is sort of a dream of having every exhibition having a possible response.  The idea that even the small exhibition in out of the way spaces could have a chance to be part of a larger discussion. So anyway, the key to the Shotgun Review is the idea of reducing administration and (inaudible 0:07:46.1) kind of collecting small contributions from lots of people.  And that led to a larger thinking of distribution ideas.  I feel like I’m just talking and talking and talking (laughing).   

[Scott]:  That’s okay Joseph.  I’ve muted myself so we didn’t get total feedback.  I think the other reason you’re talking is because what you’re saying is super interesting.  So I’m guessing everybody is just listening.  But uh…

[Joseph]: Right.  But uh, maybe I should, while I’m sort of talking since it would be useful since we’re on computers anyway, would be to click over to  Then I can kind of narrate a little bit with some images.  I think it would be useful.

[Scott]: That would be great.  And before you do, I wanted to paste this link here just in the frameset.  The statements, The Collective Foundation statements which kind of summarize six of the points.  I think you’ve pretty much covered most of these briefly over the last few minutes.  Some of the background of these came to be or some of the reasons why you’re interested in these.  I just wanted to ask you, when were these set up?  Pretty early on right?

[Joseph]: Yes, I think we set the Shotgun Review up in 2006, or 2005.  I can look it up, the site is still going and it has an archive.  I worked on that with Scott Oliver, who when we were in school together we had this idea to take advantage of (inaudible 0:09:43.9) and develop.   It’s quite common now to have this sort of art blogs and journals that happen primarily online and through that work together we kind of spun onto while we were in school.  It started while we were finishing our masters program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  So, I think it’s useful to talk a little but about, well the name is Collective Foundation, which implies granting and that a key part of the work of The Collective Foundation.  And it’s the only thing at the moment that kind of continues on.  You know, I asked Oliver Wise to join me today because The Collective Foundation at the moment is just starting a new grant partnership with The Present Group, which is a wonderful really subscription project in Oakland that it works with (inaudible 0:10:47.7) and produces projects.  And we’ve worked together on another thing as well, which we can talk about later. The…

[Scott]: Is Oliver with you there now?

[Joseph]: He’s not.  He’s connected to us but he’s not in the room.

[Scott]: Oh!  Is there an Oliver online?

[Oliver]: I’m here now.

[Scott]: There you are.  I guess I wasn’t sure who that was.

[Joseph]: He’s the rocket ship.

[Scott]: Yeah, Mr. Rocketship.  How are you?

[Oliver]: I’m pretty good, how are you?

[Scott]: Awesome.  Yeah, that would definitely be good to.   I know I would be interested in that.  I don’t know about everyone how.  But about how that shaped up, at some point.

[Joseph]: Yeah, maybe I can give kind of a little background and history of some of the grant programs of The Collective Foundation and then we can sit and talk a little bit about the travel programs that we are working on together.  How does that sound Oliver?

[Oliver]: Sure.

[Joseph]: So, the idea of the grants came out of the wanting to find us our third option in relation to the sort of non-profit fundraising.  You know, the 501c3 sending out applications to other foundations in the state or that kind government or asking for money to support programming.  And, you know, reading people out of college who are thinking after the culture wars brought down things like individual artists and the NAA and thinking about how important it was to try to work out schemes outside of the different funding structures, also, sort of outside of this kind of marketplace selling objects, selling artworks as commodities.  So yeah, trying to be outside of that market and also outside of the 501c3 was the goal of The Collective Foundation grants.   So it became primarily about trying to identify surplus and really trying to transform it or repurposing into funding for artists.  We did three grants all of which involved going around to all the art spaces in the area and asking for one copy of every publication that they had ever produced.  We did this knowing that there would be boxes of catalogs and such in the basement.  We produced a gigantic library that was like 5-6’ long and sold it as kind of a survey of the Bay Area activity for $500.  That $500 became a grant for an individual artist.  

We also did a hosting grant.  Actually (inaudible 0:14:00.6) before because that sort of leads into the (inaudible 0:14:04.1) with Oliver.  (Ringing) oh, now I’m getting a ring.

[Scott]: Yeah, we’re just adding Steven to the right chat

[Joseph]: Oh.

[Steven]: I’m on.

[Scott]: Hey Steven!  Welcome.

[Steven]: Thank you.

[Joseph]: So Steven, we were just talking about the grants produced by The Collective Foundation and I just mentioned the, actually, if you click.  If you go to the website and click on that initial image, it takes you to a page with a list of programs of The Collective Foundation.  The one of the top right is the Collective Grants and if you click on that it will take you to a sort of blog page that has the three grants that back in 2007 when The Collective Foundation was happening.  Well, I should say launched since it hasn’t exactly gone away but, this is sort of an act leading up to the big exhibition at the Yerba Buena Convention Center in San Francisco.

So we just talked about the Library Grant and so the YBCA Grant was a kind of combination of those things that were happening, during the exhibition.  The most interesting of which was the club art that was produce in collaboration with Steve Lambert.  Now this was in New York, I didn’t live in the Bay Area at the time but anyway, he and I worked on a sort of… You know every opening has a bar, at least at the Yerba Buena Center, so we saw that as an opportunity to kind of create a micro economy.  We invited individuals to contribute a little bottle of alcohol in which they became a shareholder in the Co-op.  So each time a drink was poured it was a mark on the bottle and they received part of the profits.  After that percentage the total profits from the bar were into the Yerba Buena Grant.  And part of that included the sale of pod cast publications which I can talk about a little later.  So the idea there is just like drinking happens and there is an incredible mark up on how you pour a shot.  It costs $0.50 and you charge $6.00 or whatever.   And so we kind of took advantage of that situation and turned it into an experiment.

And the last thing, which leads mostly into the conversation with Oliver and the travel grant is the collective hosting grant and it is instead of paying $100 or $90 or whatever for an artist to pay a company for yearly hosting of their website, we hosted five artists on The Collective Foundation’s server and they each paid $100 into the fund and (inaudible 0:17.13.1) program.  So it actually was taking advantage of the surplus of a typical webhosting account that was like several gigs and needed to be fast to download you know with images and texts and we ended up using 3%-5% of what they were actually paying for. So it was taking advantage of that left open 95% of space.  And so right now we’re hosting a number of different people who, three years later, we’ve asked to kind of like follow up and do it again with a final Hosting Grant.  Five people which paid $100.  And then while working with Oliver… Hey Oliver, do you want to post the link for the for the present group hosting?

[Oliver]: Okay.

[Scott]: And while you’re doing that Oliver, how many people did you say you were hosting now?

[Joseph]: Well, two people have multiple sites on the server.  So right now we’re at five people who are hosting a bunch of things.

[Scott]: Okay, cool.

[Joseph]: To kind of, uh yeah.  Oliver has just posted the link for the new group hosting.  So we’re sort of like picking up on that strategy of simply working with artists and providing what (inaudible 0:18:56.2) works for them, the hosting group.  Maybe you can just have a quick look at that just the general (inaudible 01:19:06.07 – 0:19:12.9)   

So (coughing) that’s the kind of Collective Foundation grant section in general but we’ll send you guys the link to the blog so you guys can read about the Travel Grant. So the Travel Grant is, and a again The Collective Foundation is about picking up on needs and specific conditions of the Bay Area.  Alrighty, there it is.  Thanks Oliver.

[Scott]: So can I just recap for just a super quick sec about what we’re talking about now because the BaseKamp, via Meg, just logged on.  We’re talking about is that Joseph is describing one of the collective grants that is part of The Collective Foundation.  There’s some links above but I’ll just read posts and you can follow them and follow what he’s… Okay, there.  Cool. Great.

[Joseph]: Yeah, this is um (inaudible 0:20:38.5) on this blog (inaudible 0:20:44.5) There was a recent post by a man named Renny Pritikin about artists leaving the Bay Area and artists staying in the Bay Area and quite common for people to (inaudible 0:20:59.0) here and schools are quite good.  So thoughts are that we’ll come here and stay for a few years and then we all have to judge the limitation to being here.  So, there is this kind of loose, this idea on a kind of informal conversation of how useful it would be if there were a travel grant.  You know, to kind of increase mobility and do it in a way to increase people to travel, add more mobility and access to (inaudible 0:21:17.6) that actually might be easier to make a home here.  The idea of the Travel Grant kind of came about.  Partnering with the present group was a way to think of the life span of the Collective Hosting Grant as a strategy which as they build, actually continues to do that.  They’re kind of going forward and Oliver has a tremendous amount of experience in like internet applications and much more than me (laughing).  And so they have developed this package and we’re kind of working on it together and I had recommended a couple of web content managing systems that I think are key and useful for artists and one of them is Monitored by WordPress.  Actually, back to Steve Lambert because he worked on what’s called WPfolio and it’s quite a simple thing to install with WordPress and it allows you to (inaudible 0:22:51.5) for artists basically.  So it’s a mod of WordPress.  Another one is (inaudible 0:22:59.4).  Those are the only two.  Right Oliver?

[Oliver]: Uh, yeah.

[Joseph]: So, given the option for artists to sign up with this package to have one of those like automatically installed.  And that’s part of the feature for this set of web hosting package.  Anyway, it’s $25 a year for the total and well go (inaudible 0:23:30.2) grant with the present group.  Hopefully it will make it so much easier that there’s like thousands of dollars to have been given away.  That’s only my hope for it.

[Oliver]: Oh boy.

[Joseph]: (Laughing) so yeah, we’ve just kind of kicked this off a couple weeks ago.  So it’s just like in the first phase since the beginning.  We’ll see how long it takes to build it up to give $1,000.   I can’t imagine an artist who like has a website that wouldn’t rather send their money rather to the arts rather than to any internet company.  Certainly there are internet companies with value and that’s…

[Scott]: I don’t know.  I kind of like Go Daddy.  

[Joseph]: Something about the NASCAR and the…anyway, go on.

[Joseph]: (Laughing) there are some free ones.  Is that what you’re talking about? The Go Daddy free one?

[Scott]: No (laughing).  I’m like definitely kidding.


(Inaudible comment or question from background 0:24:50.0)

[Joseph]: Post Papa.  Is that the one you meant to say? (Inaudible 0:25:21.0) that’s an example of an ISP has its values, we can say. (Mumbling or reading out loud)

So anyway, that’s the overview.  In a way that’s why we wanted to bring up The Collective Foundation again.  For me it serves in 2007 and 2008 it was a fairly elaborate proposal for a new kind of an institution.  One that didn’t rely on space and you could use the capabilities of the internet and technology to allow for inexpensive structure to make things happen in terms of cultural production.  For example, we for the exhibition produced I think five publications, which using print on demand and (inaudible 0:26.14.1) I hope that one of them was a different provider.  Um, but, that was more for those five publications that was more than any non profit.  It is still, I think. To my knowledge doing in the Bay Area in any given year.  We sort of are prototyping a lot of these things and know that many of these non profits are now using print on demand, not that we necessarily gave them the ideas.   It was out there to begin with.  I think to, in some sense, demonstrate that it is a useful tool for artists and some things, and some applications anyway.  And that it’s a smarter economic processing that maybe ideally you could spend more of your money on paying rent or as an  artist produce incredible content on the $5,000 or $10,000 it takes to produce a minimum of a publication.  And then again, you don’t have boxes of dead trees in your basement rotting away.  And that seemed like an important proposal to make.

And so The Collective Foundation kind of was a kind of capsule of these proposals.  Do we want to talk about some of the other things The Collective Foundation is involved in?

[Scott]: Um, yeah.  Definitely.

[Joseph]: Okay, and then maybe I should open it up to question or directions that are more interesting for you guys to sort of like follow.

[Scott]: Well, I’m definitely really interested in these grants and how they’ve evolved.  I guess my Understanding before has kind of changed.  I was kind of thinking that the baton has sort of been passed.

[Joseph]: I think that’s right in the case of this grant.  Oh but…

[Scott]: Except that Oliver was involved sort of early on, right? Or was that just later on?

[Joseph]: Sorry?  Oliver?

[Scott]: I was under the impression that Oliver from this chat was involved from the outset.

[Joseph]: No.  Oliver and I just work on this travel grant.  I mean, Oliver and Eleanor, the other half of the present group.  We’ve kind of just, a few weeks ago, worked out this and at the end of last month worked out this idea to compose this travel grant together.

[Scott]: I see.  Oh, cool.  Okay.

[Joseph]: And they have been slowly behind the scenes working on launchi8ng this new hosting platform and kind of providing that service to artists.  I think in general, I supposed.  It’s not always artists right Oliver?  It’s just that culture workers are sort of the target and who you’re interested in working there.  It’s just a hosting thing.

[Oliver]: We are just hosting.  We were just trying to think of another way to produce grant5 money basically.   

[Joseph]: And then kind of mapping and crossing, in some extent, into the present group and the production of the additions, right?

[Oliver]: Yeah, to help support the project.  That was the other idea behind it.

[Scott]: Did you guys see this question from Adam?  Do you want to ask that Adam or do you want me to sort of…

[Adam] Q: Is there anything different in the grant recipients are selected?

[Joseph] A: Yeah.  We wanted the process to be more transparent.  A big part of us prototyping in the original phase of the grant making process was to kind of think about the process of the grants as well and transparency this idea.  Like is it possible and what are the limitations of transparency? So we actually had a Wiki, it’s not up online anymore, but use the Wiki to have kind of a transparent process of (inaudible 0:30:21.2) for the grant.  And we felt like because the amount of money we’d be giving away was quite small, that asking for artists to even propose anything there just wasn’t enough money involved to do that.  So for example, the calling for Hosting Grant, we invited each of the artists who were paying into the grant and were ultimately the jury to nominate.  And so that nomination process was on the Wiki.  It’s also a blog as well.  You can see if you click on the bottom.  The $500 Hosting Grant.  It says the jurors and the name of the artists and then eventually who won the grant.  And then a very funny picture of me and Rene Gisman giving it away and no Amy.  Which I guess is strange.   

An anyway we kind of wanted to open up part of the exhibition of The Collective Foundation.  If you click on the pull down menu on the top right of The Collective Foundation window you can go into installation images.  And it sort of gives you an overview of the actual installation which I mentioned to Scott however earlier in relation to the Shotgun Review.  And Scott did all of the furniture, which is also a project which I can tell you a little bit about too.

 But what I wanted to mention before was the Service Works project by Josh Green which was included in the exhibition as a kind of autonomous thing that is like related in spirit.  Josh green worked at a fine dining restaurant in San Francisco and once a month he took all of the money he made as a waiter in tips and turned that into a grant and gave it away to anyone that sort of emailed and sent him a brief proposal.  The idea was to kind of cut out the bureaucratic process of applying for money to set up a foundation or something like that.  There may be a jury and everything is fair but you have no idea what the process actually is.  Josh was a just hinting that he was very explicit of about what he was interested and what kind of work that he was making and what to support and you could directly send him an e-mail or have a conversation with him.  That sort of like cutting through the bureaucratic (inaudible 0:33:10.0) of it (inaudible 0:33:10.9) was important to him in that project.  And I think crossed over into (inaudible 0:33:18.1) The Collective Foundation too.  You know, wanting to make it simple for those involved especially given the level of money they were working with.  The idea was that some of these could be scalable.  It might be possible to sort of prototype a kind of grant with $500 and then over time scale it up to, say, $5000.  I think that that's more realistic for some more than others.

Yet, maybe since we're looking at the images of installation we can talk a little bit about that.  Does that make sense?

[Scott]:  Yeah, absolutely.  From my point of view.  I have just a quick question.  

[Joseph]: Sure yeah, go ahead.

[Scott] Q: will enter my mind is you are talking about Josh Green's Service Works and as you were also talking about The Collective Foundation's, well this particular grant in the same breath.  It ties with something that I've been thinking about, but you and I have discussed before kind of a lot in the past.  I hate to get bogged down with some kind of focusing strictly on the art status of these projects but I'm kind of curious because we are looking at artworlds as models to sustain creative practice and also to see what kind of practices can cannot of these different kinds of structures.  Artworlds structures.  It seems that what you guys have set up with The Collective Foundation is a series of proposals were there are several different models being proposed.  But overall it's a kind of art world in itself, a small one maybe?  You know?  But one that basically says like you had just said, it's scalable and it says "Hey! This could be expanded to a larger scale!"  These ways of doing things could be on a citywide or an international scale.  I guess my question was that you identify as a curator.  An independent curator.  But ultimately you're a transdisciplinary person and a lot of what you guys do and what The Collective Foundation does is, maybe I should just focus on that, could be described in lots of different ways.  But what I was thinking about in comparing Matt to jot screens project I wonder what makes a more of a curatorial initiatives and the other in our project?  

[Joseph] A: Yeah.  No, it's a good question.  I think probably the Josh would say he's an artist with curatorial leanings and I would say that I am a curator what kind of artistic means.

[Scott]: Yeah, totally.

[Joseph] A:  Maybe that's not enough to some. (Inaudible 0:36:15.4) I had the same conversation and I think the…  You know, I've always worked with artists and cultural producers in general but I think that artists have more flexible, well not that they, yeah, it's kind of blurry.  A lot of times artists work with other people as collaborators on projects were as I'm pretty much just presenting and developing programs that people work with and respond to and that sort of thing.  I mean, I guess the general kind of role (inaudible 0:36.51.3) is that I'm always still working with artists and that's how I makes sense of it.

[Scott]: Yeah, that makes sense.  Say you include the work of, I mean, it definitely seems like you adopt curatorial strategies and the things that you do and in a lot of The Collective Foundation's components.  You know like" what is this".  So anyway, if you get why am asking it was mainly not so much to try to make the conversation born all of a sudden...


[Joseph]: That's okay.

[Scott]: It was more to, I guess, to think about the reproducibility of this because when these things get reproduced there not only going to be, I mean, maybe they will.  But it seems that your hope might be that they may not only be reproduced, shoot a lost my (inaudible 0:37:46.5)

[Joseph]: I mean, in part, let me try to pick that up.  I think that the thing that we're interested in proposing (audio feedback 0:37:54.6)...

[Scott]: Hey Jonathan, are you there?  I was just adding someone else to the call.

[Joseph]: Oh.  I mean the thing that we're interested in was propagating it as this idea as this kind of thinking about surplus as a strategy.  You know the idea.  There's a series of statements that we call out and serve as little anchor points.  It's a kind of like really (inaudible 0:38:30.3) we to say but thinking about (inaudible 0:38:32.8) tie and how a society uses its surplus it defines this culture and the kind of values the society gives in kind of speaking through kind of like excess or an expenditure of excess.  I think it's crucial in sort of like a really macro way of thinking about general economics after Mouse's "The Gift".  And it was sort of a response to that.  There's lots of like thinking and economics that came after that but were trying to just pick upon the idea of surplus as defining culture and how, there is a lot of ways, and how a lot of it has value.  I've actually been working on this project off to decide with Marisa Jahn about byproducts and artists roles in sort of working with business and government and on and on.  Enough about that.  So anyway…  

[Scott]: If you don't mind just quickly before moving on.  I think what I was really, why I was really asking about roles is that part of how, part of the ways that we can have access to both identify and ultimately have more access to different kinds of surpluses depend on the certain types of roles that we take and how we define those.  At least to others that they know how to give us those access points, you know (laughing)?  I guess what I was asking you earlier I got kind of distracted because I'm realized I needed at somebody to the call, but what I meant to ask was about the artist vs. curator roles and how those can be useful or leveraged.  Mainly I was asking because if this is something that could be scaled or reproduced, it could be scaled in reproduced by others more.  It would be good to sort of help others to know how they can reproduce these kinds of things.  And how we identify what these projects are have a lot to do with that.  Don't you think?

[Joseph]: Yeah.  I would agree with that for the most part.  I mean I think…

[Scott] Q: It's also good to blur those and sometimes ambiguity can be super helpful.  But I was just curious if there was something in that.

[Joseph] A: I think, one of my favorite conversations after a presentation of The Collective Foundation was with Robert who was like teaching (inaudible 0:41:05.2) state schools in California and he was talking about how (inaudible 0:41:12.7) to stick with it and taking advantages of that is a way to concrete resources quickly and (inaudible 0:41:18.5) and how it is sort of like a field and you can just interpret and find ways to identify the surplus and transform it.  What he thought was potentially useful was the like activist groups and us just sort of like a general strategy.  To think about surplus and identify it and kind of track it down and (inaudible 0:41:41.1) how hard would it be to transform this particular excess into something that is useful whether it is literally transforming someone's money and buying things or funding things with it or building things.  I guess I'm interested in this toxibility of surplus in general in thinking about art, not just as a surplus.  That's just too easy were simple.  But kind of thinking through how (inaudible 0:42:26.6) there is this excess time and energy and it's pointing me to this guy (inaudible 0:42:32.5) who talks about gin and sitcoms and Wikipedia and saying how like people have this sort of cognitive surplus correct and (inaudible 0:42:43.4).  I watched some YouTube video that was a little fuzzy but basically the idea that Wikipedia takes images like cognitive surplus so that before we volunteer, it's a way to kind of funnel the sort of cognitive surplus and it's mutually useful for a kind of common experience.  So anyway…

[Scott] Q: Is this kind of where the reason for the focus on collective and The Collective Foundation comes into play do you think?  Where the overlap of people's ideas and interests can create more than what they do individually?  I mean I would want to try to turn this into (laughing).

[Joseph] A: Yeah.  I mean, I think there's more like in the collective and The Collective Foundation comes into play like with the grants the in the right kind of (inaudible 0:43:39.0) that individuals are each paying $100.  It's time to find something that, like in that case, is mutually beneficial.  You're not just paying $100 as a kind of philanthropist.  You're paying $100 for something you need and then we are transforming that money into a grant.  And so we have just been able to identify this sort of virtual or sort of (inaudible 0:44:03.1) somewhere on the Internet into money.  And that's like a strategy.  I don't know (inaudible -reading question to himself 0:44:15.0).  For artists per say, but and I am kind of like skeptical of this kind of venture philanthropy.  There is something interesting about its potential but I am not (inaudible 0:44:29.1) in effect, right?

But anyway I still think that if he can do it and have values and be really open about it and do good things with it if and ideally do it without having (inaudible 0:44:42.3) and having it take up to much of your time as the organizer of this thing.  That's kind of a crucial goal.  In some ways I mean we haven't really like talked about whether we can assess the value of these (inaudible 0:44:53.8).  That's kind of a useful consideration to bring into the conversation but (inaudible 0:45:03.6).  And another kind of key idea here is about distribution and is one of our other statements.  It says something like the future is already here it's just not evenly distributed yet which is from William Gibson, a Canadian fiction writer.  And this idea is just like matter of finding ways to distribute our information and ideas and the money.  The process in which through distribution happens are kind of the future as well as the ideas that need to be distributed.

So, maybe I can kind of like shift gears and talk about a couple other programs in The Collective Foundation?

[Scott]: Yeah definitely.  Please feel free to chime in.

[Joseph]: I'm sorry?

[Scott]: I just talked over you accidentally.  I was just going to say, just to let everybody know that is listening, just to reiterate to totally please feel free to chime in at any point.  I know it's not always easy to know how to do this on a Skype call.  One of the really easy ways is to just like type something in if you have a thought or a question that want or can contribute.  If you want to know something more about it, it's perfectly fine at any point.  But yeah, for my sake, I'd be very interested and I think other people would probably want to hear more about other parts of The Collective Foundation, other projects.  Oh, but before, it looks like Steven did just send and something.

[Joseph]: I try to leave some spaces too when I'm talking about things for people to jump in.  I'm going to read Steven's question here.

(Inaudible Joseph reads question out loud to himself 0:47:09.5)

[Joseph]: Well, okay.  So (inaudible 0:47:48.4) talks about surplus and (inaudible0:47:50.8) he's thinking about not economics of (inaudible 0:47:57.2) but economics of excess right?  It sort of like a different, at that moment in time any ways, a different way of thinking beyond kind of a capitalist motto or as like now the gift is what we're trying to deal with.  There are political implications for thinking that way.  For me, the theory is (inaudible 0:48:19.2-0:48:28.5) so to me this motto is like okay well the status quo as far as (inaudible 0:48:31.8) talked about with surplus and excess energy is one of the first things that happens (inaudible 0:48:37.6) and, um, you know an expansion often leads to limitations.  Like you should hit a limitation within town or a group or a city.  And then as soon as you run up against those limitations you hit another town or another city and war happens in conflict happens and it becomes about surplus (inaudible 0:49:00.3).  And then he talks about the history of religion and a bunch of other things.  And I'm sort of interested in what those values are.  With surplus, you can put it into Wikipedia and GEN account.  I don't know how those things happen.  I don't pretend to understand the macro social economics to say I can make a call.  But I do see it as like more than just like carrying the artists but as kind of like a subject that is interesting to artists I guess.

(Inaudible Joseph reads question out loud to himself 0:49:42.3)

[Joseph]: I'm not sure I'm really hitting on your question Steven.  We can talk about it.  Are you still there?

[Scott]: I think Steven is still on the call.

[Joseph]: Did you want to follow up on that?

[Scott]:  Yeah.

[Joseph]: Okay. Did you?

[Scott] Q: Well, I had a question.  I was wondering if part of the, if part of your question Steven...  I mean, I think I get parts of that.  I'm wondering if part of that question comes from the fact... Oops.  Sorry.  Let me just add BaseKamp again for second.

[Joseph]: Okay.

[Scott] Q: It should be happening now.  Hey guys.  Cool. So, I guess I was wondering if part of Steven's question, I suppose this is directed to you Steven.  If this had something to do with the fact that these grants were kind of pulled from artists and then sort of given back to other artists as opposed to maybe crossing disciplines or cross and other areas of culture?

[Joseph] A: I'm just trying to read your question again Steven.  I guess I would say that it's a model of political implication but not a political model.  I think that the proposal of collective information is like kind of quietly embed values (inaudible 0:51:28.4) be a political statement (laughing).  Is that alright?  Was that responding to what you said or what Scott said?


[Joseph]: Sorry, I've kind of lost track...

[Steven] Q: Maybe my question wasn't entirely clear and maybe it's not actually entirely clear to me because maybe I tried to get a number of different things at once.  I think that you were being excessively humble when you say that it just has political implications.  I mean, if I understood correctly the way you describe the projects and then when you argue that surplus is something that defines culture, I mean I entirely endorsed those kinds of insights.  But I think that in going about this, you know, despite the relatively modest scale it really is experimenting with a truly political model redistribution of wealth and resources and what you call, I don't know, the drawing (inaudible 0:52:35.9).  What you call the excess drawn from me general economy rather than be restricted sense of the economy.  I mean most people will see things that way.  Most people will think that they have their (inaudible 0:52:45.9) they are just barely getting by.  You know?  

[Joseph] A: Right, right, right.  Yeah.  And I think that is something we wanted to draw attention to as a potential practice for artists and for social workers in general, just sort of a not just identify the surplus of their own practice but identify surplus and culture by been general.  I think you're right.  I'm not totally, I hadn't gone super deep and thinking through surplus and all that's sort of…  But there's something incredibly exciting to me about these ideas.  If only that's suddenly there was a new way to like raise funds outside of signing up for the bureaucratic trappings of a 501c3 or kind of like hocking artwork.  And that sort of like what registers.  But I think surplus in general there is kind of like a rug there that kind of crosses over.  Am I too quiet?

[Scott]: No actually our setup at BaseKamp got a little compromise this week because our audio setup was different.  Hold on; let me talk a little louder.  Um, okay great.  Yes oh, I think that maybe the voice level is normal but maybe we can try to speak just a little bit louder for...Oh great! A little bit louder for their sake.

[Joseph]: Steven, I know that you were sort of deeply thinking about these issues and maybe you have some (inaudible 0:54:29.2) if you want to copy me in making sense of what we are doing in making an (inaudible 0:54:33.0) read of this.  Sometimes it's (inaudible 0:54:37.2) but I haven't necessarily been able to find the time and information and I also haven't been digging deep.  And in fact if there are some key facts, I'd love to know about it because thinking about surplus in this way has been really exciting for the project.

[Steven]: Yeah I know, but you guys are actually doing it.  That's the thing.  It's kind of like you're raising taxes.  It's something that normally someone does on a scale where there is legitimacy on a state or some kind of institutionalized level.  But you are actually doing on a voluntary basis within sort of a self identified community.  And that's what makes absolutely fascinating.  But the process is the same.  Basically it's suggesting that there is redistribution of resources and there needs to be democratic oversight.  So, I think that it really is excessively humble to not described in those terms because it's precisely what your experimenting with and yet what you're doing is totally different than what, for example, in places Canada, in Quebec or in France where surplus is sort of redistributed to artists or whatever for whatever system.  They obviously with entirely different results.  I think it's super important also, is who it is that's organizing.  It's not passing through a state sanctified kind of structure.  I mean, these are not really questions their kind of suggestions.  And very much to mix with a lot of praise also.  The encouraged emulation of these things that you set up.  

[Scott]: I kind of agree that they should be taken seriously both in terms of praise and criticism wherever possible.  You know, not to be, not that I actually have that right at this second, but I'm just saying.  I think that we often sort of what verged on various projects.  Sometimes seemingly unfairly because they are so small it's like "why are you kind of taking this task is so much?" And I…

[Steven]: Seriously, right?  

[Scott]: Yeah, I think it's important to take something seriously as a model if it's been put forward as something that could be considered for, like you said emulation.  For doing it for other people as well as in other ways and finding ways to overlap different examples are practices or even just sort of take it to the next level whenever possible.  Whether it's only five people hosting and sort of channeling this monthly or whether it's 50,000 people doing it.  I think the model is just as important and that that needs to be thought of and considered.  I mean, had fun with too but, you know.  All of that should be…  I think it's important to think about and look at.

[Joseph]: Yeah.  I think that, you know one of the things that I didn't mention early on when I was just laying the groundwork for The Collective Foundation and how it came to be was my sort of excitement about the (inaudible 0:57:47.6) interpretation and worked a little bit with (inaudible 0:57:51.8) when I was in graduate school and learn a lot about how they work.  The network model of the interpretation.  And how a lot of the work they do; the tours, the sites, the kind of thinking about when.  It's kind of like their following this simple strategy of sort of uncovering things and talking about things and finding sort of like hidden and stories.  There actually is that kind of political implication and everything they do but they don't present it in that way. It's not even an indication of a strong political kind of aspect to what they're doing.  And I guess I can sort of identify with that, which is to say that there is certainly kind of underneath.  I don't know, maybe I'm totally off here.  But there is some sense that like the values are embedded rather than having been sort of like a stigma of chronic, you know, in itself.  It's about surplus and surplus has political implications.  I'm trying to kind of like just do the work and make it work and just stating that through that, I guess show the potential that maybe something kind of grows out of that.

[Oliver]: Can I ask something about the Present Group real quick because I feel like it might be related?

[Joseph]: Yeah, definitely.

[Oliver]  Q: Um, for people who don't know what that Present Group is, it's sort of a subscription based model for creating work.  Basically artist multiples and limited additions and then redistributing them to all subscribers.  And going along with what you're saying about the models can be reproduced.  When we first started and in 2006 there really wasn't anything like that and one of the goals was to spread this idea, basically like an artsy essay sort of.  People put all of their money in a pot and that money produces surplus or whatever and it's redistributed again.  But that idea, now there is probably eight different ones and in all different styles on that same basic model.  Like Helena as hers and there's one in Oakland called Art in a Box were they all have sort of different parameters but they are all sort of built out of this subscription model.

[Joseph]: Right, and the thing.

[Oliver]: And the thing.  There's one with paper mateese or something where it's like paper, flat paper works.  But the only thing that I would say that I wouldn't get too carried away with, I don't know, the thing I think about a lot is sort of that it's more like a conservative idea.  This idea is more conservative.  It's like the ownership society.  Carry and the government is not going to support you, you have to do it on your own.  I don't know.  That's just one of the things that I worry about sometimes.

[Scott]: You mean that it might seem sort of libertarian sometimes?

[Oliver]:  Yeah.  You're right.  That line runs into problems too.  You know, there's problems sort of.  I mean, you can try to keep it as democratic as possible if everyone is aware that sort of (inaudible 1:01:56.7) that happens with private institutions or just large institutions in general than maybe you can sort of avoid pitfalls.  But that is basically what it is.  You know, I mean…

[Joseph]: I'm not sure that, I'm sorry I want to think about this for a little bit.  I'm not sure if the present group are involved (inaudible 1:02:21.2) exactly.  I mean I think the people are buying a subscription and their potentially funding artworks that they then receive.  So they're buying kind of a distributed series of things for a year, right?  And they are paying the cost of producing the objects and to some small extent, the labor for the people who produce it.

[Oliver]: And, right.  And the grant is what they paid up artist stipend to.

[Joseph]: Right.

(Inaudible - speaking over each other 1:02:52.8)

[Joseph]: I can see where that would be where paying the artists type would be like a place where after the production costs there is money to pay the artists a stipend.

[Oliver]: I mean, really what it is that, you know, the cost of an artwork is of physically producing a piece of art as much cheaper than it actually worth.  It's almost like surplus is art itself.  I don't know.  But yeah, maybe you are right.  Maybe it doesn't fit into the...

[Joseph]: No, I mean (inaudible 1:03:27.1) production.

[Joseph] Q: Yeah, I'm not particularly sure.  Certainly with the collective host, with the hosting thing the Present Group is like in a way more apparent or something to me.  $25.00 comes out each year towards payment of the hosting, which is like after the kind of costs for hosting has been paid.  Am I right?

[Oliver]: Right.

[Steven]: How would you feel about upscale in your grants allocation system on a very large scale?  I mean is it important to you that the grants are $500 or $1000 at a time or would you like to go up to the Guggenheim scale?  Say $60,000 at a time?  I mean it's not just (inaudible 1:04:25.3) question because you don't have the means to do it but the notion is really whether you see the essence of what you're doing in these kind of a more grassroots modest structure and it kind of goes back to this idea of what kind of experimental model you were composing.  Or do actually like to replace the overwhelmingly bureaucratic top heavy kinds of grant allocation systems which exist on state or on very large institutional levels which is something that is much more democratically controlled?  But still, with 1000 bucks that's helpful but it's not the same kind of thing.  You can't live for a year on that, you know?  It can help you do a project but it can't help you.  Whereas a Guggenheim grant, if you ever get one, you can go nuts right?

[Joseph]: Right, right.  Part of the question of scalability is the transition from the sort of prototype of the collective hosting grant into what the present group that Oliver and I are doing, which is a much more (inaudible 1:05:26.3) and it's more thought out.  It can accommodate.  We sort hit the limit in terms of like the hosting, actually sort of like the service that we have.  We can't really host too many more people.  You know, Oliver has a mechanism to keep the cost low and actually to be able to afford to do it which means that you have to be a realistic and take $25.00 out of the hosting fees rather than 100% of that fee which we were a little bit optimistic.  Yeah, it is more kind of grassroots thing.  I would love to see these things get scaled way up.  I mean, I'm not sure that any of these here are that exactly.  But we did take seriously, we had some conversations with a few investors about taking on (inaudible 1:06:17.5) or other people's pixels that hosts like hundreds of artists and they make almost $0.5 million a year, so I've been told.  That's significant.  They don't give any of that money back to the artists.  So it should follow that if someone was doing that potentially the same thing that giving a significant percentage of that money, I mean hopefully (inaudible 1:06:46.4) and kind of transparent, but in a strange transparent way that art would work for that.  I'm not sure anyone is really doing it but the present groups hosting could very well be that thing.  And maybe it's just a (inaudible 1:07:05.0) making and presenting it clearly.

[Oliver]: That actually sort of answers what you were talking about earlier Joseph.  Is that maybe the surplus in the Present Group is about $2.00 per subscription.

[Joseph]: Right.

[Oliver]: Right, and by binding them together they create something.

[Joseph]: But in a way, I mean like there should be in my mind, like an expectation to pay artists.  And so that's a built-in cost, right?  And so like if we were to say "what is that $2.00 per subscription going to" you know what I mean, just in terms of like (inaudible 1:07:48.9) of a grant.

Like my cat is meowing and meowing at the door.  I'm going to have to go letter in.  I'll be right back.

[Scott]: Awesome.

(Cat meows)

[Joseph]: Okay, sorry about that.

[Scott]: No, that's great.  What's your cat's name?

[Joseph]: Uh, her name is Melba.  

[Scott]: Nice.

[Joseph]: She's happy now.  So anyway, I don't know where we left off.  But I think the conversation about surplus is super interesting and I'd like to go a little deeper.  And actually just in recent weeks been looking back at the tying in and kind of rethink about how to use that as a starting point of the project rather than ending there and working.  Sort of more recent thinking about general economic theory because I don't have much thinking of knowledge about that stuff.  And there's a lot of work being done right now about irrationality and economics and how people's behavior influences.  Because economics is always considered with sort of rational thinking and I've been kind of working on gaining theories.  Even just like in the Obama administration.  They are rethinking that sort of like hyper rational expectation of people to behave like according to these charts and graphs and trying to take an account of people with a more irrational behavior.  So how about like affects our expenditures.  I truly want to think about (laughing) some way to do this.  Just kind of (inaudible 1:09:39.1) in a way that would actually work.  I haven't gotten there but these are kind of like examples and bread crumbs that could sort of lead to something more significant.  The things that I've done more recently, The Pickpocket Almanac, which we talked about awhile ago.  Their very much like in echoes of this sort of sphere of The Collective Foundation.  I think that the model that, I'm doing a much better job of working at certain scales, much larger scales.

A lot of the things that are a part of The Collective Foundation now, or have been kind of passed on or closed down for the time being, to make an example, I saw Meg and company (inaudible 1:10:31.6) had actually been picked up by a web kind of journal called Art Practical.  And we handed Shotgun Review over to them last year and they started a new site that incorporates the search (inaudible 1:10:48.2) for Shotgun Review which is like as many people as possible to kind of more measures and edited way of critical discourse.  So, and then Collective Playlist started by simply as a kind of project site for thinking about playlists as kind of a production, kind of a creative production.  And to do something that was a bit more like (inaudible 1:11:22.8) if you know what that is.  It's kind of a (inaudible 1:11:24.2) different mp3 media close.  

(Inaudible Joseph reads question out loud to himself 1:11:35.1)

This one is like actually super complicated technically.  It's pretty amazing.  It's like tens of thousands of mp3s here and it really compiles references links to all this music online so it makes it available.  It's actually not illegal because its separate links and you can create playlists based on mp3s based on people's computers and you know like e-mail them to people and stuff. (Inaudible 1:12:17.5 - 1:12:23.1)  Anyway, you can like look here and blog it and search it and tag it and do all kinds of things.  And sort of like halfway towards something interesting.

[Scott]: Joseph, aren't the Collective Playlists curated?

[Joseph]: Uh, no.  Well, originally they were.  And there is one on the left there called the Feature Playlist if you're looking at the website,  That one on the left there Product Placement Rap, it is kind of like curated you could say.  Curated is probably an understatement for this. By this artist, David Stein (inaudible 1:13:07.5) these songs that have like product placement in the songs.  

[Scott]: Yeah, I just remembered that from the past.  I wasn't sure where it....

[Joseph]: Yeah, I really like that kind of function.  That was sort of the idea to have that part of it.  But, you know it does get up into like turning into a copyright and just became in the end, a lot more interesting...

(Rap music playing loudly)

...collective action of all this activity.  All these music blogs and all these people uploading tracks and (inaudible 1:13:47.3) log in through the back here and figure it out. And the idea is you can add tracks in places and make your playlist.  It's free to sign up and this whole thing is just kind of bizarre experimental (inaudible 1:14:06.2).

(Middle Eastern music playing loudly)

But and there have been some kind of like experimental collaborations of people using this playlist in the database.  Anyway, that's probably something that should have second life because it's potentially like super interesting and scalable in a really extreme way.  But we started with just this simple collection of artists' playlists and they, in a very interesting way, scaled it up to something that's much more like ongoing and very active in terms of its input.  It's very aggregate.  We're scraping all these music boxes (inaudible 1:14:52.1- 1:15:02.7) we figured out how to manage this like mass of information.  You guys know about that?  Hype machines?  Pretty awesome.

[Scott]: Wait, what is that? Sorry?

[Joseph]: A good place to fine music.  Hype Machine.

[Scott]: Hype Machine? I don't know.  Maybe.

[Joseph]: It's mostly, it's more like a community.  People who are into like electronic music alternately.  But you can find just about anything through their search and figure out where it is on what blog.  Um, so, anyway.

[Scott]: But Joseph, the goal of this is not, the goal of the Collective Playlist wasn't just to have a new tool to share music right?  I mean, it seemed to me that this was a place where the idea was that people would generate these playlists that had some, I mean, they are exactly like what Meg, or whoever at BaseKamp was typing out, like these mixed tapes.  They make maybe a theme or something else, but there is some intention behind each clipping of music.

[Joseph]: I mean, like, again.  It was a rough prototype that evolved into something and this is what it evolved into.  You know what I mean?  It is ultimately now, the form that it's working in, is less programmed that it was when it started.  It became more open ended than a tool to be able to program your own playlist, your own collection.  Your dramatic thinking about a group of artists through a series of tracks.  But whether or not that's something interesting (laughing) is at least arguable.  I don't use it (laughing).  Maybe it's not so great.  But it's like what's the motivation to create a playlist?  It's not very clear.  These are things that we haven't thought through.  That was part of sort of like the irony attitude of The Collective Foundation.  Just like "let's try this out and see what happens!" Maybe it's going to be amazing.

[Scott]: Weren't there some statements before on that site that aren't there now?

[Joseph]: Sorry?

[Scott] Q: Weren't there some statements about, I just remember this from awhile ago; maybe I'm focusing on it way too much just asking it.  I get like that.  But, weren't there some statements on the Collective Playlist project page before it became its own site that um, sort of described what it was about and why this was here?  It sort of seems like even a tool can have a fore grounded mission.

[Joseph] A: This is the original site.  I just sent you a link.  The music doesn't work at the moment in part because they pulled, I think the server was just like killing mp3s everywhere (inaudible 1:18:18.4) Yeah, we were kind of like asking people, like Mark Fisher, who did the Screaming in Music production, which is like a much deeper thinking about the history of a particular genre and strategy and kind of politic even.  And those riot shows of Julie Myers.  There's like a lot of, these are super interesting.  Let's see if the music works at all.  Oh yeah, it does on some.  No, that's great. I mean, these are still here.  But yeah, it's like, I don't think that there is a statement of purpose and maybe that was kind of like the fault of the project.  It never kind of arrived in a clear goal.  I think it probably would have been better just like programming.  But then again, that's sort of like... Part of the overall goal of The Collective Foundation is to sort of like give out these structures that have lower administration because of these web interfaces.

[Scott]: Welcome back Salem.

[Steven]: Steven here.  I was just reading your statements.  Um, the red manifesto statements?  Nicely written.  I was just wondering, it occurred to me in reading them if that kind of very self conscious articulated approach doesn't predetermined to a great extent that type of, I don't know, symbolic activities which you describe as art. Art is a word that's pretty unstable these days.  We tend to all use the same word but we're really not talking about the same things.  That's not a bad thing it's a good thing, probably.  But it's a bad thing when we don't recognize that and we start to think that we've the monopoly on the definition.  I was just wondering if there's something self consciously value laden about what you are doing.  Or the grants for example.  Can they go to like impressionist painters or does it have the kind of go to the type of thing that fits in with the kind of groove that you were talking about.  Do you know what I mean?

[Joseph]: Um, I think I know what you mean.  I mean, this value laden I think that these sort of like statements our kind of key for setting context for a foundation and how it behaves in trying to make sense of something that doesn't necessarily have an a ton of precedent.  For example, it's a collective foundation but it has no space.  So that's a really simple way of saying "how do you make sense of it?" Well we are making the argument and this obviously has sort of like a Marxist ring, but space is not a physical thing but rather a structure of relations.  You know, they have kind of histories and they're kind of complicated but in some sense like in thinking about them in practical ways.  I think trying to get to your kind of more complicated questions or the second part of your question about like who ends up with these grants. The Collective Foundation operates on the same network principle as the center for learning and interpretation which has grown and now has employees but is still a fairly a lightning fast network of internationally contributors.  Not everyone is interested in this kind of thinking and so we sort of tend and people who are tend to fall into the mix and knowing about the grants when they come about.  Or when we are looking for people to sign up for hosting we sort of (inaudible 1:23:08.3).  It's just a kind of default.  I mean I don't think that there's an explicit or calculated decision to sort of say that we want to end up finding people whose work we like.  It just sort of ends up happening with the circles that are available and interested and are enough affiliated with in terms like the interest and in terms of their politics and their practices.  I mean it's more of kind of like an accident, will not really an accident, just more of a default part of the process.  It's new and coming out into the world.  And maybe overtime you would see that.  I mean, I used to work at Artist Space and they have a wonderful artist file but its full of like impressionist painters and those are the kind of people, for whatever reason, are kind of like out there more so than the project artists or the people who were doing (inaudible 1:24:09.6) work and maybe that's just like different decisions have been made along the way.  I'm not sure what it is exactly.

But that's a good question.  I don't know that the values extend.  It's a problem of the artists and art spaces, the alternative art spaces in the sense that when you do have a truly democratic system I mean a lot of them were founded with that idea that politic was kind of post SDS and some of the founders who are involved in it were kind of like at that moment in the seventies do talk and point to you.  You know, artists run.  The idea of giving artists power and that was certainly a big part of what the imprint is for the Art Worker Coalition too.  Putting artists on the board at the Museum of Modern Art.  And all of those things if you really do have a democratic situation, you end up with not always the best stuff.  Does that mean you change the system?  I mean, The Collective Foundation never lived long enough to have run into the problem which could be a proof of some sort of problem at it aspect of it.  I think that's legitimate.

[Oliver]: Um, whenever we do subscribers choice ones, we narrow down the proposals to like five proposals and then the subscribers vote within that.  So it's not, at least for us, it's not fully democratic.  It's just one way.

[Joseph]: I think there's like really good practical considerations that make that a good idea.  Like you were gonna have to deal with this person.  You want to present the kind of work that is relatively interesting to you.  Let's say your constituency IE your subscribers.  I mean, you know, there are all kinds of forces at work there.  And to some extent the straight democratic coalition is it necessarily taking into account all those forces and conditions at work.  Wouldn't you agree?

[Oliver]: Yeah. Right.  It just wouldn't be practical to do.  To put out 50 proposals and have people try and go through them all too.  People just don't have the time for that.  That's another consideration.

[Joseph]: Without paying them something that like that you mean?

[Oliver]: Right.  Well I mean for the subscribers.  That's even the problem in California where we're voting on all these issues that really know when fully understands.  That's why we have representatives.  I don't know.

[Joseph]: I mean, to some extent we have a responsibility to understand when it comes to politics.  That's different than saying like you are paying money as a subscriber to in addition to a subscription projects and suddenly you have to do a bunch of work.  I mean, like reading 50 proposals is work that a jury gets paid for by a foundation.

[Oliver]: That's true, that's true.

[Scott]: I was just curious why do you actually even inject the voting site into this?

[Joseph]: for us, it was part of the original idea that this is a group funding project that they want.

[Scott]: But in a sense,  I mean, not to play devil's advocate too much because I'm not necessarily suggesting that you should do all of what you said what was completely impractical.  But say you were narrowing down these things in order to present selected choices.  Out of 50 present maybe five.  Or what if you narrowed it down to two?  Or why not just a " hey guys you're finding the kinds of projects that in general you think are good because you trust us to make these decisions" and that's part all works.  Ultimately, there's a lot of that going already so I guess I was just curious why.

[Oliver]: No, that's a good point.  Three of four issues a year we do that.  We do just that were we just pick and if you don't like the type of work that we pick a then you don't sign up.  But the reason, I mean, it was an experiment originally and we've got a lot of participation with it so that's what we kept going and its fun.  One of the other reasons that we started in the first place was in sort of gives you an appreciation of the process too.  So you get to see the row proposals, you get exposed to five different artist as opposed to one every season.  You can sort of see how the finished product ends up being different than the original proposal.  It's more collaborative.  But that was one reason.  But you're totally right.  By us choosing five we are, it's no longer a democratic.  But I still think there's value in that.

[Scott]: Yeah, yeah.  It sounded like I was kind of (laughing) suggesting that was sucky way to do it, I can see.  But that's not really how I feel personally.  It sounds like there's a really a lot of good things that come out of that process.

[Joseph]: So where are we?  Sorry.  I just had to step away for a minute.

[Scott]: Oh, I was just like "Hey! If you guys are narrowing down from 50 to five, why don't you just go ahead and pick one of them?"

[Joseph]: Pick one? Is that what you're saying?

[Scott]: Oh, I was just trying to catch up Joseph as he stepped away for a second.  I was just saying hey if your narrowing down from like 50 to five, like 50 proposals to five proposals, why are you actually present in these options in the end?  Was it just sort of to make it seem as if more people are involved in the process than they really are?

[Joseph]: Like it's a false choice sort of?

[Scott]: You know, just sort of asking the question.  Basically all over was saying, he just sort of explained some of the other…  First of all that this isn't an attempt to try to create a specific model of democracy but that there were practical reasons why this way of choosing was helpful.  Anyway, was that a good summary?  I don't know.


[Joseph]: Sounds good.

[Oliver]: Yeah.

[Scott]: So guys, we've got leaked T-5 minutes before we generally end our weekly chats.

[Joseph]: Right.  Well maybe we can open it up a little bit to any other directions or questions that are relevant two things that we've been talking about.  I was quite enjoying the kind of directions and thinking about surplus more specifically and its political indications, Steven, earlier.  But maybe there are other threads like that that we could pick up on (inaudible 1:32:32.6)

[Scott]: would you think about, you may have noticed a number of people have been proposing using the public school opened course proposals as a way to follow up on these weekly chats or different threads that have come out of them.  Would you think about having a micro class on surplus?

[Joseph]: Oh, you mean in Philadelphia?

[Scott]: May be between Philly and wherever else.

[Joseph]: Well it sounds interesting I wish I could be there for it (laughing).  I'd actually to learn a lot more about it and think a lot more about surplus.  I think that there's a lot (inaudible 1:33:19.8) to be sort of explored and considered.

[Scott]: I was actually thinking more along the lines of, yeah there we go.  Exactly.  We could do over Skype or what to do over IRC or we could do it over whatever.  And just sort of follow-up even whether it's just discursive and people just contribute things that they happened to have found in the meantime and are looking for and like.  Or you just want to tease out ideas or whether there are very specific resources that could be offered, texts or whatever, that might be helpful to some people.  That could be something that can be grouped together really easily and a course, and open Free course.  It's just a practical way.

[Steven]: the one thing that um, I mean if you go back to (inaudible 1:34:11.6) idea of the general economy that type of excess that he was so radical about is approach to economics when he talks about the general economy and excess which is being produced, he's not talking about the universal equivalent.  I mean, he's not talking about money because that's what he calls the restricted economy.  That's the way economists think the economy is.  In fact, the excess that is being generated and absolute profusion according to him is all the other forms of energy and value which are in commence with the universal equivalents.  It's true that it becomes a model when you redistribute the surplus money but in fact, to follow on Scott's question I think he said that to redistribute resources but in fact it is even hard to put your finger on what those resources could be because...  For example, if you take a project like ARG, which is in a certain sense is facing difficulty I understand, what they're doing is using this proliferating capacity of digitizing things to really break the whole notion of a restricted economy.  It's a very Batai sort of conducive kind of endeavor because it's not taking anything away from anybody but it is identifying the surplus and making absolutely available all over the place.  So would be interesting to consider the generation and distribution of excess in terms other than of money.  Money is an interesting way of dealing with the universal equivalency, and that's how we do it, but there's so much other energy that can be and value that can be thrown into the mix.

[Joseph]: yet and I think that's a lot more interesting to me ultimately, the models like a ARG that you can give away, so to speak, a PDF without losing what you have so that kind of a feature of a copy is also true of mp3s.  And so the way that the Collective Playlist sort of operates in general strategy.  Which is to say like aggregating…

[Steven]: I just signed out.  I did know about it before, but now I'm a member.


[Joseph]: Cool.  I hope you can find some music.  I mean there's certainly lots of music there.  But you know it's like having other kinds of resources.  Its super great, I think.  Art is something that happens in other domains, right?  It happens in academic domains to write disciplines (inaudible 1:37:22.8) and distribution like informally around.  It's like just for some reason it's more recently happening, to me anyway, through ARG.   And I'm starting to scan text that I think are interesting to me (inaudible 1:37:42.7) making them searchable that spend kind of like the new addition of my kind of process and practice as a curator and researcher.  So we should all run to support ARG in my opinion, but it is the public good's dilemma.  Like the social economists talk about like where everyone loves the benefit but how many people contribute (inaudible 1:38:14.0) the number of people who were just like taking advantage, and not necessarily wrongly because they are welcome too.  But the very success of art might be its downfall because of bandwidth issues and stuff like that that are running (inaudible 1:38:31.0).

(Phone rings)

[Scott]: Yes.  It definitely seems like there's some mutual interest for us to cross the board here and having a follow-up course but some resources posted on ARG.

[Joseph]: I think it would be great to have liked a (inaudible 1:39:11.6) were like a reading list like with the issues.  Sort of like a....

[Scott]: Yeah. Exactly.

[Joseph]: I think it's pretty cool.

[Scott]: Well, the great thing about the public school courses is that they are integrated on the back end so you can pick text to add to a course.  And like you said, you can group them on the art side too under an issue or something.  So on both fronts it can be super helpful.  And since you want to follow up on this anyway, and we're interested.  Let's do it.

[Joseph]: Okay.

[Steven]: I have one last question. Slightly different but a little bit linked to this one. It came from (inaudible 1:39:58.6).  We identify The Collective Foundation as a Plausible Artworld.  It's easy for us to see why we did that and it's easy to see that it's justified on the basis, from our perspective and my perspective, in the light of this conversation, because we talk about an artworld, we're talking about an art sustain ecosystem.  A system where art can thrive and prosper and not only survive.  And in a sense, on a certain scale, this is what you're doing.  But how do you feel about being described as something that came into a Plausible Artworld?  Maybe that's not what you're up to at all.  Maybe you just didn't know.

[Joseph]: Um....

[Steven]: Maybe (inaudible 1:40:54.9) falls into something else and you don't want to be one.  I don't know.


[Joseph]: I'm interested in culture and arts (inaudible 1:41:06.6) sort of like ability to direct and participate in culture in general.  An artworld is a kind of like encapsulation and to an extent, you might even say isolation.  I think it was like Dante that proclaimed the term "artworld" in like the sixties or something.  And I think he was thinking about a very specific artworld, not definitive (inaudible 1:41:31.8).  The interest in the Plausible Artworld is that there can be many and they are layered as a constellation of them I think.  The idea that is kind of working for me and is interesting to me right now is the idea of algorithms or programs and like responding to the conditional complexity of various situations and trying to build a program that has the built in freedom, the built in flexibility but that also makes something kind of productive happen.  In that sense, those algorithms can (inaudible 1:42:11.1) and things like that so it's just one of those kinds of things.  For me it's a model for a new kind of institution which services artworlds.  I've always sort of like struggled when I've talked about, for I don't know, for over a year now and it's like I've never quite like clicked with this idea of Plausible Artworlds even in just understanding what it's goal is.

[Steven]: Yeah.  But, so you see Collective Foundation more as a kind of proto institution.  Is that right?

[Joseph]: Yeah.  A proto institution but that has a sort of shift and it does kind of like embed values and kind of directing.  It's more reformed that it is (inaudible 1:43:07.9).

[Steven]: Okay.  That's a very clear answer. Okay. Great.

[Joseph]: I'd say that it's a reform of the alternative which is a strange thing to.  But as the alternative becomes institutionalized, not homogenized, but standardized by the foundations which are supporting them, there's a need to kind of break away again and to kind to get back to something that's more alternative.  You can even say it's something like a lefty conservative (laughing).

[Scott]: Well yeah, definitely.  That's a common criticism against people that take a reformist stance like probably maybe 1/6 of all the different people we're talking to are people who are working with organizations directly.  You know, and who often take that kind of stance.  That's a legitimate position.  You kind of take it slightly differently because you often throw these proposals out there and let them spin themselves into something and then our willing to work with an institution at whatever point comes along, not necessarily doing one or the other.  You guys tend to see one leading into the other.  If you understand what I mean.

[Joseph]: Yeah, I think like (inaudible1:44:32.2)lets say like a bureaucratic (inaudible 1:44:40.9) make other things possible and have a value and kind of spread out like cancer (laughing).  Or a contagion I should say is better.  It does value.  And I think that's true in different kinds of groups and including BaseKamp.  Working from a curatorial perspective but also from a perspective that you are able to kind of create agency from within an institution that doesn't necessarily give that kind of flexibility in the agency out so freely to even artists.  And that's the great thing about working as an independent curator is you can actually fight for things and not feel like you're going to lose your job.  That's a Plausible Artworld in my mind.

[Scott]: Well, I'd like to recommend that we go ahead and wrap it up for the night to give a break to everybody who is either... For me, it's only 5:00 here but for Steven it's like 1:00am and for other people.  It's really been great having you man.  And having you too Oliver.  I'm glad that you were able to come.

[Oliver]: Thanks for the invitation.

[Joseph]: I'm just noticing that Steven put this quote from Dante (inaudible 1:46:05.7) and a bunch of the history of art and artworld.  Great to do that.  Thanks for that.  Yeah, and I guess maybe we can talk offline about the afternoon since you don't know where to go, we should hang out.

[Scott]: Yeah, definitely.  Now that I'm feeling a little less (expletive 1:46:29.4) up, I'm going to give you a call and try to get together.

[Joseph]: Maybe we should talk to Adam and see if he's got time.

[Scott]: That sounds perfect.  Yeah, see ya Salem. And with everyone else here, we'll...It sounds like someone will propose a course, a public school course, and we can tie in the text that Adam posted.  You know, we can start the discussion.  Like, with everybody who is interested and take it from there, let that have its own life and then we can get on our stuff.

[Joseph]: Sounds good.

[Scott]: Alright guys, have a good evening.

[Steven]: Thanks a lot Joe.  Thanks. It was super interesting.

[Joseph]: Thanks Steven.  Thanks for your comments and everything.

[Steven]: I must say that I'm very sympathetic to your social democratic radical reform approach to institutions.  It's maybe not one I always endorse publically, but it's one that bears a lot of reflection.  So I hope we'll have the occasion to think more about it and talk about it sometime.

[Joseph]: Thanks, I'd like that.

[Steven]: Okay.

[Scott]: Okay, bye BaseKamp.  Bye everybody.

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