Written by Sparrow Read
On DADA.art, and in the Invisible Economy, everything is conversation.
In visual conversations, artists–and often others who don't consider themselves to be artists–speak to each other visually. In oral conversations, which occur mostly in our working groups–often called "sense-making" sessions–we explore together particular topics in order to get to the root of ideas and arrive at something that we feel aligns with our values.
In textual conversations, which happen in various chats where ideas and links are shared–often sparking some new idea or insight–we walk randomly the world wide web with hands and hearts held together. These conversations are a way of orienting oneself, of wayfinding in a communal sense; they are an experience of the whole being more than the sum of each of its parts.
These are not the typical conversations we tend to have these days, nor the type of exchanges we've become used to on social media where people are just waiting for a chance to speak, but rather active conversations between people. Conversations where deep listening is just as important as speaking; where shared silence is a comfortable way of being together.
The type of conversations we have lead to an exchange of ideas, and sometimes conflict, always with a genuine openness, with love, and above all a willingness to find answers together. Conversations like these are what have allowed us to make such an enormous amount of progress in a relatively short amount of time.
The Reply is a response, in every sense of the word. It means listening, actively, to understand what the other person is saying. It means taking what they say and building on it. It makes what was originally there even more precious by adding value onto the value of what was before.
Response also means being vulnerable. The person who is opening to response trusts that their contribution will be lovingly received, respected, acknowledged. The practice of this kind of communication on DADA has created a unique and inspiring community.Practice¶
Artists practice and develop the skill of taking things that they are able to imagine and making them tangible, real objects and experiences that others can connect with and participate in. Whether that is by making a artwork that others then experience by seeing, or writing a story that others experience by reading, or creating music that others experience by hearing, coding a piece of software that enables others to do something they've never done before - these are just some of the examples of artists manifesting what was once only a thought or idea, a feeling or impulse. \
Creating something that others experience and can connect with is one of the real joys of being an artist. But the skill part of taking something that doesn't exist and making it exist can also be useful in other non-aesthetic ways.
Just knowing that this is possible (not just believing, knowing) is critical. Knowing that not only is it possible, but that you yourself can (probably) do it, because you have done it before with other things, is a transforming experience. If you don't at first know how to do it, you will, at the very least, not dismiss it as 'impossible' because it has never been done before.
David Graeber points out in his essay "The New Anarchists" the following:
"...why is it that, even when there is next to no other constituency for revolutionary politics in a capitalist society, the one group most likely to be sympathetic to its project consists of artists, musicians, writers, and others involved in some form of non-alienated production? Surely there must be a link between the actual experience of ﬁrst imagining things and then bringing them into being, individually or collectively, and the ability to envision social alternatives — particularly, the possibility of a society itself premised on less alienated forms of creativity?"
As artists, we have first-hand, lived experience of the value art brings to the world. First hand experience of the role of luck in success as an artist and the systemic inequalities that this leads to. Imagining a world in which the intrinsic value of art is actually valued, and where artists themselves are valued for that contribution to the world, is, in hindsight, almost inevitable.
What makes the Invisible Economy special is the lack of compromise, eschewing the 'easier' path which would have necessitated accepting certain beliefs that just are not true:
- we are all only motivated by extrinsic reward
- blockchain decentralization will naturally lead to a fair distribution of wealth
- competition is healthy and good.
The Invisible Economy took that harder path. Checking each step of the way, thanks to the acute and perceptive wisdom of Bea Ramos, that the direction we were going in aligned with our core values. Searching for new solutions, new ideas, when what we had to choose from just 'didn't feel right.'
Artists can (and often do) reflect the society of which they are a part: both in representing what they directly experience, as such recording the reality of times and society, as well as holding up a mirror for that society to reflect upon itself. So, it seems natural, in many ways, to see the synergy between artists and coders, musicians and writers; thinking of new ways to be in the world and then working together to make that a reality.
To end with another quote from Graeber from the same paper:
"It’s one thing to say, ‘Another world is possible’. It’s another to experience it, however momentarily."
From the beginning when the Invisible Economy Paper was first presented at RxC 2020 through all of the working groups who have taken that vision and built the foundations and implementation under it, and now more so than ever - we are directly experiencing that other world more and more frequently. We are, and have been, living the Invisible Economy as we have been building it.