CHRIS FREMANTLE

Jane Jacobs 1916-2006

Posted in CF Writing, On The Edge, Research, Texts by chrisfremantle on May 1, 2006

Obituaries: Toronto Star, Washington Post, The Guardian

Anne Douglas and I used Jane Jacobs The Nature of Economies as a means of interrogating the first phase of On The Edge Research in “Leaving the (social) ground of (artistic) intervention more fertile“, a paper presented at the Darwin Symposium, Shrewsbury; Waterfronts IV, Barcelona; and Sensuous Knowledge 2, KHiB, Bergen.

On The Edge Research is a practice-led research project based at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen. OTE has, since it was launched in 2001 with a major award from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, focused on developing new articulations of the value of the visual arts. In 2005 Anne Douglas, the principle researcher, and I wrote a paper which started out with the question – what is sustainability in the visual arts? This is a particularly tricky question especially in the UK because of public subsidy. Any discussion about sustainability will normally veer off into a discussion of the Arts Councils. Jane Jacobs book the Nature of Economies seeks to set out the fundamental rules of development looking at developmental processes in natural systems. She argued that the same rules that govern the development of ecosystems also apply to economies, and we explored the application of this thinking to ‘arts development’.

  • What is really important is to recognise that development occurs at multiple levels simultaneously (ie fractally),
  • that all development requires co-development (ie nothing happens in isolation),
  • that all development requires various forms of governors (ie feedback loops, bifurcations and emergency adaptions).
  • Development occurs qualitatively and quantitatively.
  • Development occurs in a cycle of differentiation from generality.

I am very sad that such an important thinker, who I only recently learnt so much from, has died.

Originally posted 1 May 2006

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