Interviews - Written by on Saturday, November 26, 2011 16:07 - 0 Comments

Was Mark Zuckerberg Beuys In His First Life?

An interesting thought, isn’t it? Carl Scarse, Australian artist and change maker, based in Melbourne, explores in this interview where the WE meets the arts – and by reading these lines you will easily understand why he comes up with such a thought.

This interview was first published in WE_australia.

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Carl about Carl: “I am an optimist with a great imagination, razor sharp organisational skills and a killer smile.”

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What is your understanding of WE? And has it changed since the rise of the Internet?

Everything I am involved in lately seems to have the word WE in it. I work at We-Australians.org, I am a co-founder of the Wemakeus Collective and now I am being interviewed by we_magazine. I hold my arms out when I say WE; in a welcoming way, like I am offering an invisible stranger a hug.

My fascination with the concept of WE actually started at the beginning of 2010 when my internet stopped working at home. I was doing this art project at the time where I would pick flowers for an hour each day out of my neighbors gardens and think about mindfulness. I spent three months without the internet; I would go to the public library any time I needed to browse the web. This project was partially about giving myself a little bit of distance from this powerful new force that was changing the way the world works. To give me perspective.

Fast forward to the end of 2010; I am back with vengeance on the net. I used tumblr to map my little synchronicities as I adventured through India. I started a private blog that linked people from around the world with a common goal of making a difference. I found a new way of being by couch surfing through Portugal and Spain. I have my smart phone synced to my google calendar, I have three web domains, four blogs, multiple Facebook groups and I’m slowly creeping up to the 4 digit Facebook friend level …

I decided that there was a renaissance going on; that it was my responsibility to generate some content that was not just disempowering insane pop propaganda. And I am so thankful that I did; I am finding exciting like minded positive change makers from around the world who are passionately playing with what reality could be. It gets me very excited about the future; the exchange we will see, the conversations that will be heard and the parties that will be had.


WE in a tweet, in 140 characters, what would it be?

WE is empathy; between you, me, us, everyone and everything.


How does the WE correlate with the arts, Carl?

I have a catch phrase that I am using to describe what I am doing; ‘De-framing creativity’.I believe everyone should be creative, that is what life is; we are constantly creating ourselves and each other with every word spoken, action gestured andthought processed. Life is an act of creation. The idea that creativity is the domain of artists who were apparently born with some innate talent that swan through this life being geniuses is very harmful for society. There is an art 2.0 happening in correlation with the web revolution. The masses are starting to create, explore and expose themselves through blogs, Facebook and Twitter. There is a new thing happening where artist are asking questions of their audience then actually carefully listening for the response and then asking another question that relates to what they hear; a dynamic conversation that is speeding up the evolution of ideas. I think creativity correlates to words such as imagination, empathy and perspective. I think ‘the arts’ have a lot of semantic baggage that has resulted in the majority of society ostracising creativity from their lives.

I’m not saying that rigorous exploration of a single material or concept by an obsessively skilled artisan is not valid anymore. It is, it’s fascinating to watch, but it’s not going to change the world … it does not invite an exchange, create an all inclusive community or inspire much imagination and empathy. Especially when it sits in the very sterile environment of white walls, protected by curators and collected/concealed by the wealthy elite.


So are you saying everybody can be an artist – since everybody can be creative? What distinguishes art from creativity? What do you mean exactly when you say “de-framing creativity”?

I am defiantly using Beuys views that everyone needs to be an artist as a starting point to jump from.

“I would like to declare why I feel that it’s now necessary to establish a new kind of art,
able to show the problems of the whole society, of every living being – and how this
new discipline – which I call social sculpture – can realize the future of humankind. It
could be a guarantee for the evolution of the earth as a planet, establish conditions for
other planetarians too, and you can control it with your own thinking … … Here my
idea is to declare that art is the ‘only’ possibility for evolution, the only possibility to
change the situation in the world. But then you have to enlarge the idea of art to include
the whole creativity. And if you do that, it follows logically that every living being is an
artist – an artist in the sense that he can develop his own capacity … … And therefore,
in short, I’m saying, all work that’s done has to have the quality of art.”
Joseph Beuys 1974

I just don’t like the word ‘art’; it has been connected to to many ugly concepts such as religion, ego and money through time; the actual word ‘art’ is unredeemable. I think we need to start again, make a new word, a word that is not marred and won’t repel people from being creative.

I don’t know what that word is yet, just as I can’t tell you exactly what de-framing creativity means … All I know is that terms like creativity, perspective, empathy,alchemy and collaboration keep swirling around. Ohhh and of course the term WE seems to be connected to that.

“Only on condition of a radical widening of definition will it be possible for art and
activities related to art to provide evidence that art is now the only evolutionaryrevolutionary
power. Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile
social system to build a SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART. This most modern
art discipline – Social Sculpture/Social Architecture – will only reach fruition when every
living person becomes a creator, a sculptor, or architect of the social organism.”
1973 Josef Beuys

I wonder what Beuys would of thought of the Internet … I wonder whether he would have been on the singularity bandwagon. He defiantly would have been fascinated by Facebook; maybe Mark Zuckerberg was Beuys in his past life. There is a very interesting video where Zuckerberg claims Facebook is a tool for giving the world more empathy.

I think the Internet is a powerful tool, it could be used or misused. It’s up to magazines like this and creatives like me to keep a questioning eye on what is occurring.


For you it seems obvious that the Internet empowers the WE in the arts. If I understand you right, you are saying the process of an art project becomes more of a “group experience”?

It has for me, and a lot of my contemporaries are working in collaborations as well as there own practice. I don’t think anything happens in isolation; ideas are stolen, bent and built upon.

For example: I went on a very influential and intensive arts lab called Splendid in 2009, it’s hard to say where ideas start and end in that kind of environment when you have ten creative people eating, sleeping, playing and drinking together. A lot of the ideas WE came up with at that lab I am still ticking over and they are morphing and entering new collaborations then morphing again. Issues such as copyright start to become problematic once you are operating within a dynamic WE, especially with the tools for collaboration that are becoming available online.


Once you’ve said in an interview that you stop calling your art art. Because art can’t change the world. I would argue that! Art is disruptive, asks very often the “right” questions, points to weak spots in society … And being disruptive is usually the start for change, isn’t it?

What I said was: “People kept telling me art can’t change the world; so I stopped calling what I do art”. I’m trying to be playful with this turn of language. I’m implying what I was making and calling art was already changing the world; therefore according to the neigh sayers it must not be art. But beyond that I have found it incredibly beneficial to not to think of what I do as art. It is much more creative; I am not hemmed by my own ingrained preconceptions of ‘art’ when I start to make … it becomes more about getting into a flow, then everything becomes important and creative, this interview, the pie I just made, a blog, a Facebook post, a collective called Wemakeus, a political party and a biological empathy virus all become just ‘what I do’.

I would argue people that have revolutionary tendencies very often get disabled, dejected, disengaged or corrupted by the current art world paradigm. Those who make it through art school very quickly realise that there is actually a very small audience that goes to galleries, and most of the people you are speaking to are a like-minded sub section of your community. I’ve compared the white walls of the gallery to the white walls of an insane asylum before: a place where the dangerous and disruptive people are put so they can’t hurt themselves or anyone else.

I know this is an extreme stance, and I am obviously being dramatic; but you have to admit that if you wanted to disable a sub section of radicals in your community, convincing them to make art and show each other would be a good way to keep them busy.


Tell us a little bit more about your WEart projects. What is WeAustralians.org and Wemakeus Collective all about?

We Australians.org is an artist-run organisation based in Melbourne, established in 2010 to promote an inclusive platform for emerging Australian artists at the forefront of new critiques of contemporary Australia. Our inaugural program ‘We Australians (Perspectives)’ will see a series of innovative events that connects a variety of people, to stimulate and facilitate dialogue between socially engaged artists, arts professionals, academics and the broader community on the representation of a culturally diverse Australia.

The Wemakeus collective is an Australian based organisation that formed in 2010. Our mission is to bring creative thinking into the fore of the public mind. We are building up a database of information on the links between: creativity, innovation, education, empathy, wisdom, science, psychology, politics, communication, the Internet, the environment and hope. We are working towards new ways of engaging all ages and all professions to think creatively; because we know it is vital to the prosperous survival of humanity as a whole.


Regarding WE Australians.org – is the dialogue happening? I often make the experience that it’s one thing to raise awareness, but it takes a lot more to engage people. Latter hardly happen. What are your experiences on this?

The first hurdle we are trying to jump is to get the Australian art cannon to recognise creative people working in a socially inclusive manner and dealing with issues such as racial diversity as relevant.

I used to be very dismissive of art with a community focus; I considered it naff, not art with a capital A. Or maybe it was not cool enough: hip, pessimistic and nonchalant. I’m glad I grew out of that bratty art stage and I just wish the rest of the art world would also.

For me art is not about raising awareness; that is what dogma is for. Art/anybody is most engaging when it/they ask questions, not give answers. And an audience is most engaging when they also ask questions in return. That’s how WE starts and continues having a vibrant dialogue, by empowering people to ask questions.

There are probably no definitive answers to anything; but WE may as have a good old chinwag between birth and death.


What are the links between the disciplines you mentioned and how do they correlate?

Everything is linked; I think that is something WE are realizing: Nothing lives in isolation. Hopefully having a more networked society will help us map and explain our symbiotic nature with each other, our thoughts, our professions and our environment.

Maybe the government would then gain some perspective on things like ‘the wars on drugs’ and ‘the wars on terrorism’. Then hopefully they would start seeing the big picture and tackling some root causes.


I found out over the last few years, that this WE_movement is a worldwide thing. You see similiar actions all over. How is We Australians.org connecting to the rest of the world?

My blog bio line is: If I actively make me, ME! Then maybe I can more effectively help make us, US!

I found this to be true for myself, but thinking about it now it is not only a oneway street. I should maybe add:

And if WE actively make us, US! Then maybe I can more effectively make me, ME!

What I am trying to say is there is a dynamic between the ‘internal and external’, ‘face to face and online’, ‘local and global’… It’s probably a good idea to actively build both up at the same time: to expose and harness the dynamics between them.



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