On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Brian Barch, American Cyberculture student at UC Berkeley.
Humans have invented more things than we can count throughout our history, but none has had so much impact on life as one of our first inventions – the plan. Manifesting as business plans, battle tactics, essay outlines, and who knows what else, the concept of a plan has more or less defined the progression of human civilization since its invention, for better and worse. On one hand, plans have given us some of my favorite things in life: video games, science, space exploration, and more of the like. But, like everything in life, plans aren’t all good. When I designed and built an air-powered grape-shooter a few years ago, I found some fine-print in the planning process – as fun as the design stage was, and as much as it helped make the grape-shooter work better, the only parts of the building stage that I could really get into were the ones in which I broke from my plans and improvised. Something similar happens whenever I try to program a game or the like: I’ll be super into the design stages and possibilities, but then the actual creation is consistently less fun – unless, of course, there’s a problem with the code and I have to make up some sort of work-around or convenient plot device to deobstaclize it. On a much larger and seemingly unrelated scale, human civilization has been progress-oriented, sacrificing some of what makes life fun for more efficiency, something the plans I’ve talked about are an example of. In a way, plans can even represent civilization as a whole – productive, fun to make, seemingly a great idea, but all the while subverting life’s meaning from one of spontaneity to one of efficiency. So if this paragraph seems random and discursive, it’s because I chose to avoid any planning this time.