Websinig & Kuro:

The following remarks all relate to my personal situation: Like any "art" they are a mixture of abstract and concrete -the personal and the public, the emotional and the rational, the philosophical and the banal. Perhaps they also relate to "art as therapy".

I also have the feeling that, somewhere, is hidden a thread concerning the role of formal systems (including art) as a way of transcending existing conditions and limitations.

1.   Websinig -Qualification:

What qualifies a person for an entry in Websinig?

In Holland, this would be on the basis of "residence" because "nationality" could be interpeted as being racist. However, "residence" clearly excludes the diaspora -which is obviously an important element of "local" culture.

On the other hand, "nationality" excludes the immigrant -and perhaps if one is involving the diaspora in the dialogue then it would be nice to include the immigrant (are there many? :))

At present, unless the situation becomes impossible for me -I would like to stay here and integrate more. I would also like to submit work (and/or be involved in some way) in the competition/festival. Although clearly not part of the "Pinoy art scene" my working activities over the last 15 months have been physically located in the Philippines -and have been subtly (and sometimes not subtly) affected by being here. Before that, of course, there was also the conceptual and emotional link via Fatima as manifest by physical meetings in other countries and via the internet. So my involvement with the Philippines has been building up over some time.

Indeed, one of the things that interests me with regards to the Philippines is the question of "identity". I still feel that there is a symbolic and practical relationship between the way the various inhabitants deal with the diversity of its own "indigenous" population (particularly in relation to those who immigrated later) and the position of the Philippines (as a political and socio-economic unity) in relation to "international" society in general. In turn, such questions are of course also highly relevant to the positon of my native Europe within a globalised political-economic system in the world (and indeed the individual European countries within Europe) .

2. Marginalised Artists:

At present I feel so marginalised that I don't even know if I could find a place within the "Marginalised Artists Group".

However, on a more serious level, I was wondering if there were any plans for developing systems of practical help for marginalised artists.

Perhaps too, one might need to give serious concideration to why they became so marginalied -and what (mental health) effects this might have with regards to their becoming "unmarginalised".

a. Personality:

Apparently "social rituals" play an enormously important role in any collective activity: Although every organisation has its own official reason for existance -in practice, it seems that individual and collective psychological factors outside the official function (in many cases) play a role in determining actual activity which is possibly even greater than the official task.

From experience, it seems that some people (i.e artists) iether have, or develop, a personality which does not fit in well with the (unilaterally) defined social rituals of others.

Marginalisation often produces stress -and stress reduces the ability to participate in (apparently non-essential) social rituals. This, in turn, isolates the individual in question even more from a social context -which of course only reinforces the problem.

How does one deal with this?

On the one hand, a social club for unsocial people sounds a bit problematic -and on the other hand, I wonder how much marginalisation might actually play a creative role in the work of the person concerned. Certainly, I have the feeling that much of my (theoretical) work is based on (internalising) "dialogues that I wish I'd had with somebody".... Of course, there is no way for me to know how much better (or worse) the work would be if it came under the category "Dialogues that I enjoyed having with somebody".

Unfortunately, I must unfortunately admit that many of the social dialogues that I have been able to witness did not have the quality that one for might hope for. On the other hand, it is also extremely painful to experience being excluded from groups of (happy) people discussing subjects which are highly relevant to one's own existance. Such experiences only increase the psychological pressures that contribute to marginalisation.

I suppose, closely related to this is the question of "direct experience" in art. How much the work of an artist might reflect their actual living conditions and experiences as opposed(?) to how much their work might reflect the social and artistic "norms and values" expected of them -or indeed, how much their work might conciously reflect some kind of collective social ritual (in the more traditional sense -and I suppose perhaps in the (post)modern sense too).

b. Work Related:

Recently a friend wrote saying that his eyesight had deteriorated and his head was full of code as a result of the many long hours spent programming.

Indeed, my own personal experiences suggest that the mental disciplines involved in programming successfully, may well stand in the way of successful social interactions both on an individual and on a social level.

Apart from questions regarding standards of "objectivity", "completenes" (reliability), "causality" and "inter-connectivity"  -there is also a bizarre time frame. Programming (especially debugging) often requires hours of slow, patient and highly concentrated (but perhaps slightly "unfocused") mental activity -while at the same time interacting with a system that has a response time measured in milliseconds..... In contrast, human contact (especially in the context of group discussions) works with a completely different set of rules -in  a totally different time-frame.

Once when hitch-hiking in Britain, I got a ride with an ex-SAS soldier -who told me that their standards of perfection were so great that they had a special course to learn how to do things badly in civilian society when they left the army. Sometimes, when talking to "normal" people, I have the feeling that I can understand this point only too well.

Incidentally, in Holland, there is a "Museum for Outsiders" -although when I visited it they seemed a little confused as to what exactly defined an "Outsider". Apparently, the museum started as a private collection of work by patients of the local psychiatrist. However, on becoming a museum it seems to have partly kept the original function -while expanding the definition of "Outsider" to include "autodidactic" and "non-mainstram". Which is something that has slightly wierd effets in my view.

This all seems to suggest that perhaps I'm not incorect with my idea that one of the (or perhaps even THE) most important aspect(s) of "Programming" (and culture too) concerns the question of "definitions".

     PS: Since originally writing this, I've thought that perhaps some kind of individual or collective contemplative retreat might be a good idea. However, although the collective experience is important, the "social" aspect should perhaps not be allowed to overwhelm the contemplative aspect. So perhaps participants might need an individual "session" before joining a collective one.

On the other hand, this remains a somewhat paradoxical solution..... If the contemplative tradition of the hermits has any value at all, then it would suggest that perhaps one needs to become marginalised before one can gain any useful insights into the contemporary situation.... presumably, this need for "distance" is also why traditional academics tended towards studying their subjects retrospectively....

Of course, this only creates new paradoxes: How can society ever benifit from a "hermetic" tradition which has been removed from the world -and what is the relevence to tomorrow of an understanding of that which has already happened long before yesterday?

Trevor Batten
Manila, September 17/September 30 2006
(posted on the korakora-proyekto site: