04 junho, 2007

I wish Digital Culture can be this libertarian

Discurso do Ministro Gilberto Gil, em Sevilla:

I would like to share with you some bits of l my personal and institutional experience in the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. Although I speak as a Brazilian Government member, my voice also expresses the man, the citizen and the artist I am. I’ll try to give you a quick report on our political and cultural experience, a work that has opened to us many new possibilities.

This experience tries to stablish a new cultural standpoint from which symbolic creativity is projected beyond individual production, becoming a collective process. This experience that I wish to share with you is the construction of a program for Digital Culture, which seeks to stimulate projects that make use of free digital technologies, especially for the local development of cultural groups and communities.

Thru this presentation , I also want to make some more general considerations on my experience as a Ministry, and the ideas I have had on this subject of “technologies and creativity”. This experience began to take place about four years ago, from the efforts of many people and activists. It basically consists of technical experimentation, made available to the population of several territories of Brazil, thru an operational model of 100% effective adoption of free software for the multimedia production by the Pontos de Cultura (Cultural Hotspots).

The experience with the technologies in the Pontos de Cultura has also made possible a symbolic exercise, opening the socio-cultural contexts to interaction with concepts and contemporary languages. It takes place while encouraging the formation of a network of new cultural producers and products, which self multiply, day by day. It extends to the recognition of the technological device as a cultural performance tool, as a source of diversified references, as a platform for esthetic creation, and re-symbolization of the experienced space.

The socio-cultural experimentation made in these environments of technologically developed new sensibility has proposed to us effective models of community appropriation of the digital contents and devices, of autonomy from creators, of political self-management of its processes and the support of cultural agents.

The understanding upon which we base the experiment is that technological convergence has become or is becoming a modern cultural fact of many dimensions and consequences. Because these digital technologies contain in their genetic code elements intimately related to a future projection. Its pattern of affirmation implies a new paradigm that opens up to the 21st century.

Technology is a logical or bio-political language that permeates the structure of vital processes as a whole, in digital as well as in genetic and biological devices. Its networks, made dynamic by collaborative processes, its sharing channels, its possibilities of interference and multiple reproducibility, are first and foremost a cultural adoption people make more and more in their dayly life, and which have great impact on the human world. This cultural contemporary situation is as complex as it was the construction of urban spaces, long ago, that marked the political, esthetical, scientific and technical, cultural and vital organization of societies and civilizations.

Although a few years ago virtual was considered not real, it is now one of our biggest realities. We are today before the unleashing of creative energies that simultaneously open many perspectives, many possibilities, which are also achievable at the same time and in the same space, a subjective and objective simultaneity, something that Mauricio Lazzaratto pointed out in his book "Revolutions of Capitalism". We are experiencing a kind of social formation that is open to the creation of worlds, all quite possible, a form of organization of modes of life that is sheer potentiality quickly convertible into actual power, that brings, together with territorial mobility, an opened scenario for the individuals, both to their diversity and multiplicity.

This new reality is forcing us to rethink the standards for intellectual property, registered patents, individual work and copyright. We live in an era when interpersonal representation and new social agglutination can be highly productive and creative forms; processes that can generate new values and products. The dematerialization of production units, which are represented under the image of modern industry, takes place today with the democratization of access to information, to its encoding systems, to different forms of production and broadcast. These made-available new contents and resources are, at the same time, a large raw material that is digitally manufacturable, and an enormous technologically virtualized machinery.

The methods and disciplines — tools which formal education sought to generalize to better productive capacities — are today a knowledge that is automated in the very experience with the technological tools and languages, their modes of operation. Our intellectual abilities are more and more formed thru the operational use of light systems that make the digital world move toward the real world, this common world, ever more experienced by humanity in connection to the network. If accessible, this common world shows the the user its own constitutive laws and economies, its associative potentials and possibilities of innovation.

Music as well as cinema and television undergo today a new cycle of redefinition of its ways of doing and creating the formats of esthetic and communicational events, especially as a cultural phenomenum of large distribution and symbolic penetration. Entertainment, revolutionized by the communication tools, has created, for its projected scale in the universe of consumption, a new network of professional relations, a new movement of creative intermediation that interfere in the finishing of their products. These intermediations create, provide, distribute, reproduce, interfere, edit and change formats. This is due to the involvement of people who no longer relate to a conventional set of interests and objectives, who interact preferencially thru emotion and affection. A movie on "Youtube" for instence: Therein, there is a vast volume of versions of the same content circulating, and they are treated and setup differently, in a chaotic unchaining of agents that designed and redesigned their final format.

It is no longer a matter of falsification or adulteration of an original, but of the very information of the same product through its incessant multiplication and mutation. The same takes place with the mixing and presentation of DJs, who operate an infinity of recreations of the same composition or sequence of a song, who usually insert their own interferings that lead to other interferings, in forms of composing that never end and end up in the same genre or style.

I see that these intermediation processes and ednless reconfigurations, by interfering and remixing, affect even the writing and literature we produce. It is a significant fact that the text, such as the one I am reading, is but another line of ideas that linearly unfold: To the extent by which we re-write our words and sentences countless times, we can put together and add paragraphs and ideas where we deem best, or by deleting constructions and ideas not yet matured. In addition, the same text may be the object of many minds and hands that have gained voice, that virtually wrote it from a shared file, interfering in different directions and reaching a result concerning all who speak and are spoken of therein.

In our contemporary world, more and more everything concerns everybody. In the 19th Century, the great German playwright Bertold Brecht used to say that many other heads thought in his own head.

I see this, for example, in the writing of Caetano Veloso, especially in his book “Tropical Truth”, a book that is marked by a writing of many directions, times and voices, in a radicalization of the “free indirect debate” spoken of by Pasolini, though it speaks all the time in the first person, the "I" that Caetano always uses in several forms, expressing a common self that speaks .

Or in Chico Buarque’s books, such as Estorvo and Budapeste, that also seem to have some of that, especially in its mobile characters and the fragmented psychology that reflect this contemporaneous condition of technological mobility and creativity. The fact itself of song writers going so intensely into writing and using their sound modulation abilities in the fields of text, to me, involves this “diffuse prosaic” that technology has made re-emerge among us, with the facility of its omnipresent keys.

This new reality, uncomfortable to many, forces everyone to radical changes in their way of life and their manner of doing things.

Many corporate and government sectors have positioned themselves in a conservative manner, towards blocking the advance of these new special realities that the digital technologies promote, but which represent security problems to them, of threat to business and loss of social control. These barriers to technology are but provisory deadlocks which shall soon be resolved. Perhaps we will not even remember them, as the new technologies continue to make use of resistances to repositioning themselves.

Today, a cell phone takes pictures, organizes your life, receives the latest news, publishes on the Internet, functions a TV channel, or various, in addition to being a telephone. It is a fetishist consumption item desired, that promises a dynamic life, widely connected to the world, but also, in potential, a tool of citizenship, of political activism, placing at the hands of an individual, the means to publish ideas and creation. And this tool, miraculous to social participation in public life, has its cost reduced to almost nil, with the increase of its use.

Even against all expectations, there isn't any sector of human activity that is not revolutionized as result of the convergence of digital technologies. No one, can ignore these realities. Especially Governments. Moreover, we need to politicize such new technologies as intelligently understood by Laymert Garcia dos Santos, a smart and profount contemporary brazilian siciologist.

However, any solution brings a new question. In one hand technologies are a precious instrument to make production and circulation of ideas a more democratic reality. They help to update educational processes for instence, allowing them to become more attractive and ludic. In the other hand, these technologies can be used for dark purposes It only proves that tools need a concept. That’s why I am sure we must humanize the use of technological tools by politicizing the discussions about their uses.

In the Sixties, I wrote a song about it, about the “electronic brain”, that can do everything, but can’t speak. The song talks about the computer, incapable to feel. Today, in the Ministry of Culture of Brazil, I am sure we have not only to humanize, but also politicize those technologies. Make them political tools for the society and every citizen.

This is the idea behind the Cultura Viva Program. What we call “Digital Culture”, it is an open possibility to advance in the expansion of the frontier that dramatically delimits the fields of exclusion to public access to information and to technology. We created a department of Digital Culture within the Ministry of Culture, which acts in two fronts. First, in the inducing the questionig and discussioning of these new realities, which need to be reflected both in a governmental environment and in society, in universities and in international congresses, as we are doing here. Second, we are placing all of these questions and discussing its theory, in line with the practical and innovative actions, in many institution and social directions.

The investment in human and technological resources upgrades the activities the communities perform, their local cultural projects, which are of enormous social relevance. These “institutions” as little regular and integrated they may be, from the legal perspective, are local public equipments that do all kinds of works and provide many services to those living around them. They work with artistic languages, generating familiarity with music, theater, visual arts, cinema, poetry, and dance, among others. They also open new possibilities to oral tradition, handicraft of all kinds, and to the traditional flavors. They allow interaction of such practices and cultural forms with spaces and multimedia tools, promote digital inclusion of their participants and agents, integrating then to tourism and preservation of heritage, concurrently serving as mobilizers of savant and popular cultures, ignorant of the frontiers of traditional and vanguard arts.

These NGOs and communities that we support financially for an initial period of two years and half with semestral installments of 30 thousand reais, will soon project their learning, creating local expansions and insertions into the wider circulation media, which allow for its production. In addition, we hand them the multimedia kit running in free and recyclable technologies. The workshops made available to them aim at the creation of technological independence, allowing them to master these tools and communications devices, and use them freely with all of their creativity. The multimedia kit therefore provides the measn and is the end-activity.

Today, in Brazil, we have traditional communities such as indian tribes, quilombolas and ribeirinhos recording their songs in CDs or videotaping their work and culture.

This new burst of fresh air is unchaining new vital ideas, new innovative productions, generating a real empowerment process among this emerging creative society. This process is encouraging and inducing the formation of a network of new cultural multimedia producers in Brazil, a network which will soon be consolidated into a new generation of authors and artists effective in producing new forms of appropriation, independence, self-management and protagonism.

We have discovered that is quite easy for communities that still live in the realities of the 19th century to understand the paradigm of the 21st century, as they can deconstruct the culture of the 20th century while they pass through it, in a very quick manner, understanding what is more contemporaneous in the former industrial and consumption culture they service. Thus, we are building labs that allow manipulating and recreating, in new conditions, this new century.

The work I have witnessed with this idea and practice of Digital Culture in the Ministry of Culture, shows us that it is possible to have another form of consonance, something radical, I would even say, a "symbiosis" of the State with the civil society.

Make the convergence real, in addition to the world of high-cost digital technologies, is a challenge we must face, as this form of “exclusion" can be much more violent and damaging to society as a whole than the actual sufferings from economic exclusion.

It is the government, but also the society that has the word and the speech, who can make use of it to become politically strengthened. The social mind, in an environment open to exchange, accesses another dimension for politics that can lead it to farther than the mere "end of ideologies". All of this, in itself, is a huge advance and an experimentation quite proficuous for all public agents that constitute the projects of the State and of society.

We are therefore creating the International Observatory of Digital Culture, which is expanding beyond the national borders of this new techno-cultural dynamics. It is essential for a trilingual Internet portal (in Portuguese, Spanish and English) to be the host and platform of launching these open actions and social debates.. This virtual place of visibility is what will show the changes are in progress on each location and make them observable for a set of eyes attentive to the dynamic movements of the world today. The Portal will also have a space for the debate of theories originating from these projects, activities developed at the farthest points of this large network in formation. By seeking a replicable methodology, something that is possible by the chaotic model of organization and expansion, we are creating new intelligences that have their own life and are vital sources of knowledge. We already have scholars interested in this process.

I hope that the Observatory becomes an “international institution” born from the experiments we are performing in Brazil and which need the cooperation of the citizens of the contemporaneous world. I would like to invite everyone to share this experience with use, which cannot be only ours. The Observatory now needs to become an independent body, an organizing tie, that becomes the leader, inspiring, dynamic, critical and structuring presence. It can become, with the help of everyone, a place in present time that leads to a complete understanding of technological convergence.

I wish Digital Culture can be this libertarian. That every individual can be the center of his own perception, can be the source of his production and the medium of his own issuing. That many nets can break down walls and crush the barriers that stigmatize and keep apart those not able or willing to float in the mainstream. I wish Digital Culture can be one key to build our utopia.

Thank you very much!

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