Resource Document

The Care-giving Role of the Arts

Ana Alacovska, Peter Booth, Christian Fieseler

The Care-giving Role of the Arts, by Ana Alacovska, Peter Booth, Christian Fieseler

Digital technologies induce organised immaturity by generating toxic sociotechnical conditions that lead us to delegate autonomous, individual, and responsible thoughts and actions to external technological systems. Aiming to move beyond a diagnostic critical reading of the toxicity of digitalisation, we bring Bernard Stiegler’s pharmacological analysis of technology into dialogue with the ethics of care to speculatively explore how the socially engaged arts—a type of artistic practice emphasising audience co-production and processual collective responses to social challenges—play a care-giving role that helps counter technology-induced organised immaturity. We outline and illustrate two modes by which the socially engaged arts play this role: 1) disorganising immaturity through artivism, most notably anti-surveillance art, that imparts savoir vivre, that is, shared knowledge and meaning to counter the toxic side of technologies while enabling the imagination of alternative worlds in which humans coexist harmoniously with digital technologies, and 2) organising maturity through arts-based hacking that imparts savoir faire, that is, hands-on knowledge for experimental creation and practical enactment of better technological worlds.