MSB brainstorming

19 January 2009

Brandl: "science et cité" festival: "what would you invent to save the world"?

I was invited by ReneeMcGrath-Abazovic to make a contribution to a project by the Visual Communication Department at the Hochschule der Künste in Bern. At the moment, they are working on a project for the "science et cité" festival that takes place in 5 towns in Switzerland in order to bring science and society closer to each other.

They asked for my answer to the question, "what would you invent to save the world" or "what should science invent to save the world".

This is my answer.

What would I invent? A new self-reliant attitude in human thought.

Science and research in general can do many things to help the world. Some of society's greatest successes in this direction have been in medicine, health care and especially surgery. Logical analysis alone is important ...

... and married to the scientific method, testing hypotheses in real life and then altering ones ideas to fit experimental results can free us from most of the silliness resulting from superstition, pseudo-science and other neo-medievalisms which repeatedly assault our societies such as kitschy esotericism, fascism, racism, unproven pseudo-psychology and the like. I think more attention to science -- real science, not just trendy memorization of popular poststructuralist theory -- could greatly free the thinking of contemporary artists.

I love machines: my computers, motorcycle, scanners, etc., hell even my brushes and paints (which are now also sophisticated developments of modern science and technology). Nevertheless, technology alone is nothing more than a hammer. One can build homes with a rock, a hammer just helps. Likewise, any other tool. Artists have the tendency to either demonize technology or over-value it. The "naive-self-expression" types are too atavistic, wanting to turn the clock back to some imagined past, the Neo-Conceptualists are too "bieder," petit-bourgeois, adulating the tools of middle-managers.

Therefore, I think logic, critical reflection, testing and the scientific thought process are more important than any particular invention. I would love to propagate THOSE more broadly. So, in a science-fiction-like scenario, I would love to invent several machines that block human negativity and false logic. One to block racism, sexism, classism. One to block sophistry, especially in the artworld (which I know best) -- a machine that stops the prevalent attitude today of kissing ass for success, for disposing of ones own individuality in tacit agreement with the consensus, simply in order to have some small modicum of so-called success.

Finally, I would love a massive sea-change of thought, wherein people would have the drive to stop worshiping their tools and start using them.

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