In this age, increasingly
shaped by communications and technology, humanity is becoming
acutely sensitive to its frail security. The rationalism of science
continues to accelerate the conflict between global mind and
local body. Energy and information are now our major exchangeable
natural resources. They constitute the primary components of
the value system in a newly emerging economic structure.
Within the broad framework of information theory, the arts
are recognized for their communicative efficiency and transcendence.
The processes of creativity, though elusive, have lead mankind
through historical mazes of uncertainty. In an information based
society, cultural development may assume an economic value comparable
to that of the military in an industrialized society. Having
learned to recognize the complex ecological interdependence of
living systems and the environment, artists ought now to produce
models of a sustaining cultural ecology.
State of the Arts
The arts, reflecting the state of the larger political, economic
and social environment, are in serious trouble.
Too many artists are playing it safe, today. The role of the
arts in this society, is now largely shaped by confused intellectualism;
selfish, vested-interest capitalism; and absent-minded, fashionably
crafted artificiality. There must be more.
There is, of course. There are many artists and cultural institutions
working with deep, sincere integrity and dedication. Their creative
life, admittedly, is proceeding at odds with a more dominant
social momentum. Their perseverance and efforts are to be encouraged.
This essay, however, hopes to provoke thought and discussion
aimed at clarifying certain issues that are at the core of our
human-environment relationship; and at the heart of our valuation
of culture and creative action, for a more intelligent and sustainable
society. There is a need and an all-important opportunity for
creative people, artists, to take full advantage of the great
independence and freedom inherent in their calling, to take a
more active personal responsibility to be proponents of a true
sense of ecology; a cultural ecology.
A DECEPTION IS BEING PERPETRATED.
IT IS NOT AN OVERT DECEPTION.
IT IS NOT A COVERT DECEPTION.
IT IS THE EVOLUTION OF MISCONCEPTION.
There is no denying the miraculous evolutionary history of our
belief systems, but our current political economies, fictions
of ideology, have become an unmanageable misunderstanding of
life, sustaining resources and values.
Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, etc. are political contrivances;
catch-phrases that deny a comprehensive knowledge of the value
of human life and work in a complex and dynamic universe. They
are, more directly, sophisticated systems for social control.
Intellectual impositions on society-as-system, they do not adequately
account for turbulence, random effects or failure. These systems
are, in fact, the antithesis of true freedom and democracy; social
concepts and goals that ought to carry a profound responsibility
for us to be more creatively intelligent and humane.
Our cultural economy is an integral part of, and merely mimics
the problems and inconsistencies of the larger economy. In assessing
our circumstances, actions and intents, it becomes clear that
the socio-economic bottom line is invariably tied to 'quality
Society is experiencing accelerated, consumer-driven, global,
post-industrial, technological communications development. Often
labeled the 'Information Revolution', this evolutionary force
is largely supported by a military-industrial power base, and
is steered by a selfishly motivated, catch-up minded technocratic
elite. Though not a singular conspiracy, the results of this
evolutionary tragedy-of-errors is that increasing populations
of people around the world are confused and frightened by newly
emerging class differences and social controls, while being torn
from their sense of culture, and knowledge of place.
This 'Information Revolution' is a sham.
No seriously intelligent person can dispute what we now know
about ecology. The complexity of the chaotically dynamic processes
that encompass our lives, imposes a dire need for us to reconsider
economic relationships and social values. Some economists are
now attempting to understand and to propose a new sense of values;
new economic theories, based upon our knowledge of ecological
processes. With the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Entropy
as its underpinnings, this new thinking is beginning to have
real and immediate effect among 'green' environmental workers.
It has had little broad recognition or effect outside of this
interest group, however. Much of humanity, attempting mainly
to survive, does not have the resources or the time to consider
such 'stuff'; and many of the rest of us, unfortunately, have
a very limited grasp of our human relationship to nature. To
a great extent, our 'myth-understandings' are the result of intellectual
entrainment, induced by hierarchical social systems (governments,
religions, schools, companies).
The proponents of 'ecological economics' seem not to comprehend
the big picture yet, either. While their theories are 'right
on the money' regarding the 'green' matter-energy environment,
they have hardly considered the 'information environment' in
their attempts to better manage this household.
The study and practice of ecology must take into full account
the energy-information flux to, from, and on the Earth. Information,
thus considered, poses difficult questions as to its potentially
increasing physical and social influence, and as to a determination
of its value within the broader economic sphere. An economy-ecology
of information is as critical to life as that of watersheds,
air quality, forests or migrating populations. Understandably,
there is little support for research that might tend to undermine
the existing economic order. Properly considered, ecological
economics takes full account of value: use value, exchange value,
and inherent value.
AN INFORMATION REVOLUTION IS BEING WAGED
IT IS AN ECONOMIC AND TERRITORIAL WAR
BETWEEN POWER AND SERVITUDE,
BETWEEN HAVE AND HAVE NOT,
BETWEEN KNOWLEDGE AND CONFUSION.
CLOAKED IN DECEPTION,
IT IS WAGED BY A VESTED INTEREST
IN NEGATIVE ENTROPY;
FUELED BY A THERMODYNAMIC LIE.
The Energy-Information Environment
All too often, in considering the environment, we think of the
Earth: soil, water, air, living things, etc.; a material, tangible
environment. But these material systems are bound together in
a flow of sustaining energy and information: the Earth-Sun-Universe
connection. It is this thermodynamic life force, this radiant
electromagnetic environment, and its impacts on the human body
and mind, to which a sense of ecology must be acknowledged.
Electromagnetic radiation is the propagation of energy through
space by means of electric and magnetic fields that vary in time.
The orderly arrangement of radiation according to wavelength
or frequency is called the electromagnetic spectrum. All electromagnetic
waves transport energy-information from a source to a receiver.
Human use and manipulation of the electromagnetic spectrum
for communications, and the production and evermore saturating
flow of energy for power, are having direct effect upon living
organisms, in ways barely understood. This energy-information
environment; the flows and concentrations of cause and effect
in this invisible, dynamic ecosystem; and the symbiotic relationship
between the evolutionary production of communications technology,
with the co-evolution of the human psycho-sensory system, is
considered too esoteric and unfathomable a subject for most people
to involve themselves in.
Information can be considered in a number of ways. Mechanistically,
information has qualities much like mass or energy. It is transmitted
and received with some force or action. Information channels
may be compared to the nerves and bones in living systems. They
are the web of social communications. The flow of information
determines the course of dynamic social evolution. According
to this view, information may be treated as a useful natural
resource; a commodity that can be transported, bought and sold,
Information, however, must also be considered as patterns
of perception, relationships and differences. In coming to terms
with an ecology of the information environment, with an ecology
of the force, the message and the medium of this valued natural
resource, accounting for such dynamic cognito-sensory processes
must be integral to any comprehensive formulation.
Lest we give ourselves too much credit, let us realize that
all living systems are incredibly fragile. The overpowering chaos
of the universe is miraculously awesome. The continuous, delicate
balancing act between order and disorder involves us entirely,
from molecule to mind. High entropy (chaos) matter-energy displays
resistance and implasticity. It is the quality of low entropy
(order) that makes matter-energy receptive to the imprint of
human knowledge and purpose. We can neither create nor destroy
matter, energy or information. We live on the qualitative difference
between these natural resources and waste; the increase in entropy.
High entropy; noise in the information environment, is constituted
by ignorance, confusion, falsehood and deception. To ignore the
simple and elemental truths of the Entropy Law, is undoubtedly
to promote more undesired disorder over time.
The Information Revolution, as a technologically driven revolution,
will likely result in increased social systematization, bureaucracy
and waste. The more energy consuming, and less ecologically interdependent,
the more fragile technological progress becomes; and ultimately
more disruptive in its potential failure.
Life's delicate balance requires greater sensitivity and perception.
An ecology of the information environment; an 'ecology of mind';
would foster intelligence, creativity and inspiration as our
most valued resources. Within this conceptual framework, the
arts and sciences, in pursuit of truth and beauty, ought to be
the ultimate exemplars of a culturally rich, sustainable community.
This would be a real Information Revolution.
IF IT IS NOT MATTER, IT IS ENERGY.
IF IT MATTERS, IT IS INFORMATION.
IF IT DOES NOT MATTER, IT IS NOISE.
Art and Culture
Art has become an almost indefinable term. It is the irony of
the 'information age', that reflecting the crisis of meaning
in our lives, the arts are being relegated to the marketplace
of mass-appeal superficiality; having become popularly synonymous
with entertainment, fashion and commercial product. At the same
time, the richness and diversity of indigenous cultures around
the world, is increasingly being valued for its scarcity and
novelty, while being exterminated and replaced by the greed of
progress and 'new world orders'.
The mindless pursuit by artists, of 'the good life'; of 'making
it'; at a time when all humanity should be questioning the existing
order, is revolting. To call oneself 'artist', is either a grand
conceit, or a bold decision to assume greater individual creative
freedom. That freedom ought to carry with it, a responsibility
for honesty and transformative intelligence. Artists, having
chosen a freedom of aesthetic and intellectual vision and pursuit,
are almost always at odds or in conflict with the prevailing
social norm. This is precisely the artist's value. The artist
is in a way, the personification of society's means of checks
and balances; the promoter of individuality and nonconformity,
amid the ever increasing systematization of this information-based
While artists yell "censorship" at recent reactionary
assaults upon their freedom of expression, many are ignoring
the larger conspiratorial censorship of the social spirit. We
are in the midst of an 'information war', the ecological consequences
of which will be devastating.
ART CUTS THROUGH THE CRAP
IT IS A DEVIOUS MODE OF HEALING;
THE VOODOO OF AN INFO-CULT.
IT IS THE IRRATIONAL
The Information Revolution, as it is presently evolving, is a
runaway conspiracy of control. The forces of homocentric, selfish
misguided, living in fear of nature's wondrous dynamics, are
perpetrating an undeclared eco-war; the turbulent disorganization
of an ever increasing and threatened human population. The volatile
social waste produced in the wake of such 'progress', is contaminating
our physical and perceptual environments. Our cultural bodies
and minds are suffering the effects of this great thermodynamic
If we take the incentive of applying our creative talents
towards an ecologically considered future, we must be comprehensive.
Society is in need of clear, intelligent, inspired communication.
Such nonmaterial information resources constitute the true wealth
and aspirations of a culturally secure community. As technological
development shapes our concepts of the future, those artists
working with new tools and processes, need to weigh the eco-cultural
worth of their endeavors, against their merely being narrow-minded
advocates of technological consumerism. As communications systems
advance into the 'photonic era', where will we find enlightenment?
Will artists, sensate pathfinders, contemporary tricksters,
lead the charge in a real Information Revolution? We may have
the least to lose and the most to gain. Artists, as cultural
agents, must make some difficult decisions, but have equally
exciting opportunities to set examples, create models, and express
simple truths. Let's be overt. Our very survival is at stake.
Amid life's complex compromises, creative idealism must be part
of the equation.
THE BEST DEFENSE IS A CULTURAL OFFENSE.