Assembling the early 1990s again in Melbourne

Screen Shot 2018-04-20 at 22.05.06

There was a time when the Clever Country was the buzzword – in a time of buzzwords – the multifunction polis and the Precincts model were then fairly obvious code for back-door privatisation, and higher ed was slipping companies into campus ‘Science Parks’ to benefit from the free tax-payer-funded “synergies” that would ‘incubate” start-ups for commercialisation whoopee.

Well, this latest plan from the my alma mater, the University of Melbourne, has the merit of replacing a hospital (my sister and nephew born there) and offers a prime front door site for Uni.Melb Inc. Privatisation is such a dated word these days that it passes by in a blink… Further below I will offer as contrast an old essay on university-commercial research complicity, questioning the premise of these new premises for learning. Learning – is that what universities are still for, or research, or are the caveat’s obsolete and dated, very early 1990s, and we are in the realm of future business? Well, there is an old critique to be made nevertheless (someone said to me today that the key to moving forward is how criticism is handled – push back with exo-punitive denial, or quietly get on an fix-up your practice. I know Uni.Melb has a long history of not being able to handle criticism. In terms of institutional memory it will seem far far and long ago when the then Vice Chancellor Pennington, in the days when a vice-chancellor was basically a jumped-up after-dinner speaker and raconteur of limited means, who just happened to be friends with the Liberal machine… but anyway, Pennington had said the sign of a troubled department was disagreement within, and for the politics department then that was as laughable as it seems. Nowadays not so much, and vice-chancellors are armed against criticism so any dissent means its time to shoot the messenger, with intent).

But by and by – having just been reading Seuss to the kid, I have to stop rhyming so as to get through this bit… Let’s list some absurds in the precint proposal:

“Planning … innovation” – it goes without saying this is a proxy for nothing.

“The University of Melbourne and its [unnamed] partners” – were the partners not invited to the press conference, or did they refuse to stump up their cut for the reslease? Maybe they are secret or sect-like or shy. It anyway leaves me with a big question why. [away, Sneed, away]

“one step closer” – no need to worry about how long this white elephant will take, we are all the more closer to the rhetoric of the early 1990s. The Precinct model for Melbourne was Jeff Kennet vintage at least – have we just been Jeffed again? Ahh those were the days.

“The new precinct will host researchers, companies, government bodies” – as we saw, privatisation. Companies can access the tax-funded thrills of the library and the University Club, though I suspect Jimmy Watson’s might do OK, if anyone still does lunch without whimpering.

“community members from different backgrounds” – obligatory diversity statement up front. Always welcome. Will it mean a whole department of such, or still here and there brochure-freindly photo-inclusiveness? Don’t tell me class is a bigger factor than the racist demographic of University as usual. It continues.

“innovative solutions to society’s biggest challenges” – how would it be if someone suggested exclusion of corporate interests from research agendas? A fresh impetus for critical multicaulturalism, radical barefoot legal theory, Co-research inquiries, activist-in-residence programme, counter-mapping and Marxism 101-999? You know its needed. get in.

“vision… precinct… innovation…” – the circular rhetoric of recycled prose.

““Innovation emerges from vibrant and collaborative environments where people are encouraged to share skills and ideas as they work and socialise together,” Professor McCluskey said” – oh my, this is word for word straight out of the original brochure documents for setting up the multifunction polis, the work of Kenichi Ohmae, the Aust Govt Collaborative Centres definition of a science park – a pleasing environment adjacent to a a university (they do not mean Princess Park). the idea that boffins will leave their labs and sit having lunch under trees chatting until Eureka! Gold is panned from Sovereign alley/Elgin Hill. No need to go to Ballarat, the new rush starts here, well, heavily recycled, but wow. McCluskey does not stray far from the brief. “vision… precinct… innovate…”  (raconteur speaker as I said, with crib notes).

“buildings arranged around a central and publicly-accessible open space” – panoptic 101. never before in Carlton have so many been sold out for so little.

“Fab lab… Superfloor… hackathons… ” – and bean bags I bet. The Graduate School already had them in 1990 too, hat tip TT.

The upsides: Childcare, student accommodation… and Spotless as facilities partner (the partners get named at the end). We should be overjoyed and confident that it is Spotless. Recall, they were recently taken over by Downer EDI, so a check on their spotless industrial relations and court records, mining deaths, dubious pressures to settle strikes, and well, lets not think the Uni of Melbourne is going through some sort of subtle shift into touch love to redeem by association. Clever dialectic that would be.

An innovation precinct only works if, bottom line, there is a big profit player that makes the lead. An old book but informative, have a look at Peter Hall and Manuel Castells “Technopoles of the World” Check out Complicity below (after the Uni.Melb press release (sorry, journalism article) and if you are really keen, come back later and read up on Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Curry Puff, a similar plan under PM Mahathir (who, well frankly, maybe those were the good old days…).

 

Alumni Magazine 20 April 2018

The University of Melbourne and its partners are one step closer to developing Australia’s leading innovation precinct, receiving planning approval from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

The University of Melbourne purchased the former Royal Women’s Hospital site in 2012 and announced in 2017 a partnership with a consortium led by Lendlease to redevelop it. Early works commenced in November 2017 and construction is expected to commence in mid-2018 for completion in 2020.

The new precinct will host researchers, companies, government bodies and community members from different backgrounds and disciplines who will work together to develop innovative solutions to society’s biggest challenges.

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey said by enhancing research and education, the precinct will support the vision of Melbourne as a ‘Knowledge City’ and play an important role within the Melbourne Innovation Districts.

“Innovation emerges from vibrant and collaborative environments where people are encouraged to share skills and ideas as they work and socialise together,” Professor McCluskey said.

The precinct will be ideally located adjacent to the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus, which hosts some of the world’s top researchers, and within close proximity to the Melbourne CBD. It will have the tools, platforms and services to create an ecosystem where start-ups emerge and cutting-edge products and services are developed.

Mark Menhinnitt, Lendlease Urban Regeneration Managing Director, said the development will regenerate the former Royal Women’s Hospital site into an open, light and modern precinct, delivering a bold new architectural statement.

“This purpose-built facility will set a new benchmark in education and industry collaboration that meets the highest standards of design and sustainability, while also honouring the site’s heritage and history,” he said.

The 74,000 sqm precinct will feature a series of connecting buildings arranged around a central and publicly-accessible open space. In addition to co-working and commercial office space, the precinct will feature a Fab Lab, student accommodation and a ‘Superfloor’ dedicated to collaboration and fostering the exchange of ideas.

Dr Julie Wells, University of Melbourne’s Vice-Principal (Policy and Projects), said that the precinct will be a place for the local community to live, work and exchange ideas through a vast program of events such as hackathons, workshops, exhibitions and social events.

It will also include shops, cafes, public spaces, accommodation for graduate students and visiting academics, a childcare centre and Science Gallery Melbourne, which will deliver cutting-edge exhibitions, events and experiences.

The consortium delivering the innovation precinct in partnership with the University of Melbourne comprises Lendlease as developer, builder, co-investor and investment manager of the commercial space; GIC as major co-investor of the commercial space; Spotless as the facilities manager; and Urbanest as investor and manager of the student accommodation.

 

So, 18 years ago,the early 90’s already seemed old.

‘Complicity’ essay for Assembly catalogue 2000

Click on the pages to enlarge and read.

 

and:

The https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/semifeudal-cybercolonialism-technocratic-dreamtime-in-malaysia/

Semifeudal Cybercolonialism: Technocratic Dreamtime in Malaysia

Thanks Kaloy Cunanan for recovering this from ascii-land.

An article on the multi-function polis in Malaysia, from 1999

Hutnyk 1999 Semifeudal Cybercolonialism Technocratic Dreamtime in Malaysia

appeared in Bosma, Josephine et al (eds) 1999 Readme! ASCII Culture And The Revenge Of Knowledge, New York: Autonomedia.

A longer unpublished version is Semi-Feudal Cyber-Colonial.

Advertisements

Spivak: What time is it on the world clock?

Spivak on time, speaking on education and critiquing the knowledge management toolkit template at die Akademie des Verlernens \unlearning academy\. Has some anecdotes of crying boys and vids from the field to soften you up, then in a rising tone, strikes several times and clocks you for six.
 

Trinketization Trinketisation…

redux:

What is Trinketization

For an explanation of Trinketization – never fully codified as yet – you might start with the following old posts:

dth2Mind Boggling

Before the Letter

Jesus Trinkets

Plastic Stuff

Kane’s Snowglobe

Kuffiya Spotting

Third World Tourism

Communist Tat

Vignettes

And this picture is a trinket gesture itself – you should read Paul Hendrich’s piece on the Deptford Town Hall slavery statues; also check Rosie Wright on Trafalgar Square plinth (here), and Imogen Bunting on May Day posings (here) – the three of us often talked trinkets, working out a critique of objects and their multiple meanings. The three of them really are each very much missed.

review of CCS grad Dr Craig Smith in Washington Post

This piece by Philip Kennicott was published August 15 2012 here.

[read the whole text by clicking the link above – the part about Craig is here]: But what if such things fell into the hands of bad people? The answer to that is addressed in fascinating, elliptical ways by the most conceptually complicated project on display, “FireSale©TM,” by Colin Beatty and Craig Smith, who operate as the collective SmithBeatty. The project involves purchasing a gun, disassembling it and mailing its pieces to “33 stakeholders, including museum directors, art curators, artists, university professors, lawyers and a weapons manufacturer president.” The pieces are defined as shares in a corporation and beautifully packaged into sturdy cases. Recipients aren’t asked whether they want to participate, and when the collective issues a call on the shares — the gun pieces — the participants can ignore the whole thing or return the gun parts as asked, which are then reassembled.

The inevitable “missing” pieces are manufactured using a 3-D printer, a powerful technology that may at some point allow almost anything to be reproduced at home using digital design files readily found on the Internet. In the case of “FireSale©TM” — which includes extensive and beautifully rendered documentation of the project, a blog on which participants record their reactions, and the gun pieces (or their 3-D printer substitutes) — the missing gun elements, made from a fragile white plastic compound, are not functional.

But with apparently credible reports that 3-D hobbyists have managed to use more sophisticated iterations of the technology to create the essential operating element of an M16 — heralded by some observers as “the end of gun control” — the dark side of SmithBeatty’s work is obvious. If you have the right specifications, at some point you could “print” yourself enough firepower to topple governments. Perhaps.

The positive, practical elements of this technology are obvious: Surgical tools could be available in remote locations; easily acquired replacement parts might put an end to landfills stuffed with barely broken toasters. But there’s a deeper utopian element in how SmithBeatty conceived its game. By structuring the project as a corporation, the duo demonstrates how the complexity of human interaction may be the greatest brake on our collective suicide. The busy executive who tosses out his piece of this gun effectively stops the reassembly. Only complete participation — almost impossible to get in any project — can yield a functioning gun. At least for now, but perhaps not for long if 3-D technology is sufficiently advanced.

If nothing else, “FireSale©TM” makes us aware of how we are invested, wittingly or not, willingly or not, in our collective destiny. Technology drives us forward in a magnificent spectacle of human accomplishment, yet it propels us toward ever-more apocalyptic possibilities. The artist’s role — one role, at least — is to warn us about these dark possibilities, before Rubicons are breached that can never be uncrossed. If you don’t like a world filled with guns bought at gun shows, over the Internet or at mom-and-pop corner shops, imagine a world — what is being called the “Thingiverse” — in which almost anything can be replicated by anyone, anywhere. We will have democratized our world all the way back to Thomas Hobbes’s jungle of violence and despair.
And so technology, progress and enlightenment make and undo us. Rousseau has been warning us about the dangers since his 1750 “Discourse on the Sciences and Arts.” Then, as now, it’s tempting to retreat into a shell, to focus on the self and feeling and the near-at-hand world, and hope the rest of this vast system takes care of itself. It won’t, of course, which is why we need exhibitions such as “Manifest: Armed.”

 

Manifest: Armed [was] at the Corcoran’s Gallery 31 space through Sept. 2. Call 202-639-1700 or visitwww.corcoran.org.

What other CCS graduates have been up to is here

#madconference number 137

Somehow I have been targeted by pranksters who keep making up neoliberal sounding fictive conferences that could not possibly exist even in this benighted corporatized world. This one is a spoof on the UfSO, no? The fee is £395, with a whopping £70 off if you are gullible enough to even consider going to this bore-a-thon. ‘opportunities to network’ – wow.