Ideas you never paid for

Three thoughts for 2007
By CHRIS THOMPSON  |  January 3, 2007



Three ideas for the artist-(inter)activist to imagine doing something with:

Developed in conjunction with a public library or some other institution that wishes to promote the ideal of the educated and empowered citizen, this program would involve a small group of self-appointed “experts” in various disciplines and trades (from studio art to plumbing, political science to nursing — their qualifications would be secondary to their ability to be convincing, compelling, entertaining) working together to develop on-demand lectures, PowerPoint presentations, chalkboard talks, reading groups, freestyle strolling classrooms, and regular rousing orations delivered at the request of one or more members of the library-using public. Let’s say somebody wants to understand where all our water comes from, where it goes, and how it gets from here to there and becomes clean enough to drink in the process. Another somebody read The Da Vinci Code and wants to know if there’s any art historical truth behind all that Mary Magdalene hoo-ha. Another somebody would like to know how a free search engine like Google can be worth however many billion dollars. One evening, twice each month, those who feel they can rise to the challenge do their best to do so. The program would encourage participants to do real research and bring back the ancient arts of oratory and off-the-cuff think-speak that are so integral to the health of a republic. It would be a poetry slam with a bibliography and footnotes and without the pressure to rhyme. It would be a performative event dedicated to the conviction that there is nothing you can afford not to know; no particular subject that you can safely dismiss as irrelevant to one’s way of being in the world. It would carve out a time and a place in which to make use of one another as a collective mechanism for informing, energizing one another about what one does know that another does not know. It would invent a playful and committed practice/pastime of free public teaching and learning.

An online archive for good ideas of all sizes and kinds for those involved in any creative practice or discipline, the idea bank would be a space for open-source idea sharing and hijacking, where those with more good ideas than time to enact them can post their objectives, plans, methodologies, hopes and stratagems, and those browsing for inspiration can find it, together with some of the tools to put it into practice. This idea bank would be local to begin with — in that its network would begin with a greater concentration of users in Maine, and presumably the projects and outcomes that would make use of and contribute to the bank would have some direct or indirect relation to this particular place — but it would almost immediately open up to include, intersect with, draw from and open to users and contributors anywhere. How to fix a decidedly local problem? Ask globally.

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Related: Letters to the Portland editor: September 29, 2006, The new nomadology, Retroperspective, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Saddam Hussein, Kurt Cobain, Mary Magdalene
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