Last week I was asked by the new Canadian Creative Commons Affiliate to be part of a salon on how artists are using the creative commons. This call sent me straight for the boxes of Mail Art that I accumulating during the final decade of the last millenium. From the top of one of the Renegade Library archive boxes, I found an "Add & Pass On" book that today is a perfect example of how marginalized artists in the 1990s were motivated to work collaboratively and in an international context. They were situating their early "scoial media" in the context of Fluxus and Ray Johnson. They were saying over, and over again: I make art in a social and open context.
At the salon, I also quoted a text that was written for the Creative Commons by Glen Lowry, Marina Roy, and Joomi Seo, Rob Stone, and Robert Sweeny during QR_U (an open school) at Emily Carr University Concourse Gallery last year. The entire text was written collaboratively over 24 hours using a shared google doc. It can be found in its entirety here: http://qruopenschool.ca/
This is the portion that I read at Creative Commons Salon:
Artists are amongst the most dedicated to the commons, as they do the most in funding the production of creative works that are freely shared with the public. In terms of the amount spent on promotion of the arts, this pales in comparison to the sheer number of talented artist who support their own practice through working in various capacities and making work “in supplement” to their daily labour in other forms of work. The remarkable commitment of artists and artist collectives is tempered by the extremes of a global art market and the “star making machinery” of certain art schools or programs. Within a creative economy, the work of art is highly ambivalent. On the upper edges, the creative output, cultural products of contemporary art stars might approach the returns on investment (ROIs) of more lucrative creative enterprises, such as the gaming industry; in the main, artists who can not be promoted and marketed as top flight entertainers are paid as artisans or more often than not, end up teaching applied skills. In this way, the ideals of the commons are difficult to separate from the necessities of sustainable creative practice.
(Glen Lowry, Marina Roy, and Joomi Seo, Rob Stone, Robert Sweeny, "What is the Open School of the Arts?", Collaobrative Text, QR_U (open school), 2011, page 5.)