Concepts, Methods, Research Vectors

The project in Beijing is organized around the following key vectors of research:

Organized Networks
+ new institutional forms that emerge within the social-technical culture of networks

+ non-representational technics of politics and governance

+ communication within networks is about relational processes not representational procedures

+ radically dissimilar to the moribund technics of modern institutional forms – or ‘networked organizations’ – such as governments, unions and firms whose logic of organization is predicated on vertical integration and representative tenets of liberal democracy

+ shift from the short-termism of tactical media to strategic development of trans-scalar sustainability

+ does not mean projects continue forever, but rather a question of how resources and experiences generated for particular purposes can be mobilised & translated across distributed agencies

Migrant Networks and Service Labour
While debates on migration often focus on culture and identity, there is a need to supplement these perspectives with an attention to changing labour regimes and the political meaning of controls on labour mobility. Research on the creative industries brings these fields of investigation into contact. The processes of production in this sector undoubtedly involve the deployment of a certain cultural intelligence in the service of profit generating activities. They also signal a number of important transitions in the organisation of work: the growth of cognitive or immaterial labour regimes, the growing reliance on service labour, the increasing insecurity of employment, job creation through unpaid work, friendships, social networking, etc. A focus on labour conditions cuts through much of the hype that surrounds creative industries discourse by turning attention to one of its most crucial conditions of possibility. In the case of China, the cost of labour is often cited as a key contributing factor to a thriving cultural entrepreneurialism. As regards migratory movements, there are two important developments. First, the renewal of urban districts as creative clusters has led to the displacement of populations and threatened their established cultures. Second, the workforce has become more cosmopolitan with an influx of young people from Europe and North America seeking economic opportunity, adventure or just the chance to build and partake in a hip scene. What are the connections between these two forms of migration and what do they tell us about the political and economic constitution of the creative industries? Furthermore, what do the labour transformations within this sector tell us about the constitution of subjectivity within a generally depoliticised environment? If the productive power of subjectivity in the creative industries is reduced to the power to produce wealth, what are the terms of this reduction? Asking these questions opens a new line of research and provides an opportunity to further one of the most important tasks of contemporary political thought: the need to reassess and redefine the concept of exploitation under current global conditions. (Brett Neilson)

Network Ecologies of Creative Waste
The notion of 'network ecologies' is introduced to explore ways in which debates on creativity and the economy of culture resonate/link up with ecopolitical concerns, especially those developed in the context of an (emergent) transnational network of organizing around environmental and social justice issues in the global networks of electronics production. A reappropriation of 'sustainability' as conflictual dynamics giving rise to alternative forms of agency serves as point of departure. Building on earlier work on environmental justice as a minority social movement signaling the rise of new forms of organizing, these explorations draw on a variety of approaches (environmental debt, environmental/resource rights, social ecology, and resource conflict, but also occupational health and safety, approaches to a 'just transition', etc.) to bring into views actors and agendas often considered separately, and thus deprived analytically of possible encounters that could facilitate a joining of forces on the organizational level. (Soenke Zehle)

Information Geographies vs. Creative Clusters
The cluster model for the development of creative industries prevails across cities in China, just as it does around the world. In principle, this model provides businesses and entrepreneurs with the possibility of cross-fertilizing ideas and expertise. Beijing is as good an example as any, with its dozen or so creative clusters that function to quarantine creativity in a very programmatic way: Zhongguancun's High-Tech Parks, 798 Art District, Songzhuang Art & Animation Industry Cluster, China (Huairou) Movie & TV Industry Zone (CMTIZ), Beijing DRC (Design Resource Cooperation) Industrial Design Creative Industry Base, China New Media Industry Base ... and on it goes. Such concentrations of creativity are supposedly in the business of producing intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents). But they would seem best suited to driving up local real-estate prices. Indeed, there is rarely much creativity happening in the creative cluster. For that, you need to search out the informal relations that underscore the daily rhythms of metropolitan life. The production of information geographies provides one technique for registering the correspondence between open information flows and processes of collaboration. Drink your café latte with free wifi connections, and you're more likely to discover some genuine creativity in the making. (Ned Rossiter)

Centrality of Real-Estate Speculation for Creative Economies
Property developers are the primary benefactors of creative economies. Your average creative producer spends most of the year either un(der)employed or juggling-jobs. With the current global financial crisis – driven largely by the failure of the sub-prime mortgage markets in the United States – you have to wonder if there’s a future for creative economies. Subtract property and what's left? Not much of an economy. Or perhaps the space opens up for new economic models to develop, models that hold a closer affinity with the micro-economies that define the proliferation of creative life. When real-estate values collapse, artists will have to discover a new personas. No longer will their side-job be one of home-improvement for unimaginative real-estate companies. Indeed, the collapse in property values may turn real-estate agents into creative visionaries. Once the value of property is diminished, and movement and life in the city is remobilized, all sorts of unforeseen acts of creativity are possible. (Ned Rossiter)

Import Cultures/Export Innovations in Architecture + Urban Design
An important and often overlooked aspect of today's architecture is the concept of mediation. With an enormous range of possibilities for image making and the ubiquitous demand on architects to 'make a difference', it seems as though the work of mediation has been sidelined. Mediation gathers knowledge and experience through a process of transformation and adaptation. The culture of construction has became a commodity where one size fits all. This self-inflicted architectural amnesia among professionals has many surprising results – great buildings are erected and designed in absence of any cultural legitimation, providing architects a plethora of possibilities. This global euphoria with neo-internationalism has frequently been controversial for local inhabitants, producing a dynamic tension in which local creativity precipitates on a global scale. (Bert de Muynck)

Artist Villages and Market Engineering
The well-known real-estate property proverb ‘location, location, location’ has found in ‘creation, creation, creation’ its creative industries’ counterpart. The rapid development of the Chinese art market during the past decade has blurred the border between artistic creation and real-estate speculation. As one can see with the case of 798, the attempt to establish a living art community turned into an economically-driven district of art display. Today, CBD not only stands for Central Business District, but also for Creative Business District. The pressure and demands of the market, and the desire of some artists to cash in on creation, has dotted Beijing's map with several clusters of creativity. 798 remains its epicentre, but with subcentres to the North and East of Beijing, a new evolutionary process has begun in which creative clusters multiply with seemingly no connection to material conditions. Have the Creative Industries become a cosmetic layer added to an otherwise bland building culture? (Bert de Muynck)

Here we will collect counter-mapping approaches, platforms, and tools used to develop/adopt a mapping platform for orgnets (Kuecklich/Rossiter/Zehle)