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èmes 3 Journéesdéconomie de la culture
Nouvelles frontières de léconomie de la culture
Co m p ter e n d u
èmes 3 Journéesdéconomie de la cultureLes 2 et 3 octobre 2008 Musée du Quai Branly, les 2 et 3 octobre 2008
Intervention de Monsieur Michael Hutter, Directeur, Unité de recherche  Cultural Sources of Newness », WZB, Berlin, Allemagne Michael Hutter(intervention en anglais)A couple of weeks ago a paper was published in theJournal of Cultural Economics which provides us with a new definition for the creative industries. The paper is by Jason Potts and a number of co-authors, and it is path breaking because it combines economic research with sociological network research and it puts emphasis on the notion of novelty. So it speaks about the industries characterised by the adoption of novel ideas. Those industries operate within social networks for production and consumption. Agents could be producers, distributors, consumers, users, whatever you want to call them. We are talking about markets in which newness is normal. There is a certain turnover in products which is counted in weeks, as in hit records, or in months, as in books, or in years, by which a certain amount of the products of the industry has disappeared, and new ones have
èmes 3 Journéesdéconomie de la cultureLes 2 et 3 octobre 2008 appeared. The market equilibrium is only stable if a certain rate of novelty actually happens. The old constant equilibria that we know from economic theory do not exist in those markets. Novel ideas are surprising. Surprise is an important concept, because it puts the emphasis on the person who experiences it. A producer may have a novel idea or something which he or she consider a novel idea. But whether it really becomes a new product that is successful depends on whether there are enough consumers who are surprised by that, who experience something which is new to them in some way. There are a number of ways in which surprises come about. One of them would be oscillation, as with skirts seams going up or down, or sports leagues, where teams go up or down – that is one possibility. A second one, a very important one, involves unpredictable outcomes, as in gambling, and in all kinds of sports. An interesting variation is comedy or wit. Wit is always a thing where you are surprised, in a small amount. People like surprises in small amounts, they do not want big surprises. Novels bolong to the category, as do toys. In my definition, toys constitute a really large field. The German term “Spielzeug” says it more clearly: Things you play with. Like video games. Video games are the toys of our times. These games contain a lot of experience in them because they are interactive. You create your own surprises, and others create them with you, as you sit there online and play all night. And then theres amazement. Being overwhelmed, something you thought was impossible before breakfast, and then it does happen. It could be Maurizio Pollini playing, it could be an opera production, it could be an artist who sells a diamond skull and makes a hundred million dollars from it. It could be the amazement of haute couture, of a film production all these are kinds of amazement that constitute a surprise. Often, the surprise comes with provocation. “For the love of God”, which is the real name of the Damien Hirsts diamond skull, is a provocation as well as an amazement. The surprise of a provocation grows and then it gets smaller and smaller, and finally you have to find something new. There are many other examples, for instance, the entire field of literature. In all these fields, surprises are set up. Surprise becomes an ingredient that is not only important for the entertainment industries, but for the economy as a whole.
èmes 3 Journéesdéconomie de la cultureLes 2 et 3 octobre 2008 The networks that create novel values provide us with a new interpretation of cultural capital. We can look at cultural capital as an asset from which benefits or revenues flow, and these flows of value are generated and kept in motion through cultural networks of valorisation. These networks instil value into the products that run through them. Only when that value is given, when that surprise value is allotted, can you talk about new value being created. Because you never know whether the surprise works, the whole thing is risky and you never know whether the risk is really worth the investment that you make. In order to make surprises happen, you need something which I call surprise activators. Surprise activators are actually combinations of compulsion and coincidence. Compulsion is necessary because somewhere in the network there has to be a channelling, a restriction of choices and restrictions of behaviour on a physical level, on a social level or on a symbolic level, or on all three levels at the same time. In consequence, things get concentrated. You cant get out, you have to follow the rules, you have to follow whatever concept there is behind it. Within that concentration of opportunities, there is coincidence. Mobile resources come together in a place, or chance encounters happen. There is a supernumerable amount of choices. Its something that you cannot count on, its not between 1 andn, its something beyondn, and that is what makes it such a happy experience, because you can never count on it. When I talk about surprises, I do not talk about individual creativity. I think creativity is a mental thing. Every individual is creative, given the right circumstances. Its the right circumstances which are the topic of my talk. There are three layers of networks that generate a constant flow of surprises. These three networks build the basic structure of the empirical research programme which I pursue with my research unit in Berlin. I give you a short run through the three networkstypes involved. My example, the so-called “impressionist” circle, runs through all three networks. I use the example because most of you are familiar with the basic facts, and because it happened closed to the place where we are right now, just across the Seine river. The first one is the spatial network. It is determined by the meeting places of the relevant actors, by links of traffic infrastructure, like the roads running converging on the Place Clichy, making it place easy to reach. Roads bring persons and materials to certain places, and the 4
èmes 3 Journéesdéconomie de la cultureLes 2 et 3 octobre 2008 media of information are also channelled through the network. The artists needed places where its warm, where you can work, where you get food, and where you get stimulants like coffee, alcohol and tobacco. In working distance of the Place Clichy, there was the Café Guerbois. AtCafé Guerbois, the artists who would later be called “Impressionists” met for less than two years, between 1867 and 1869. The rooms of the Café were the physical centre at which they congregated. The Café was chosen as part of a network of physical relationships: a restaurant and an art supply store were nearby, and the ateliers of the congregated artists were within walking distance. The position in the network made each of these places valuable. Beyond this strongly localized network nodes, there has to be something called an atmosphere. Atmosphere consists of distributed components: components of noise, of air, of visual coherence or other elements that make up something you cant really put a name on, something called atmosphere. All that constitutes a spatial network. Within a spatial network, the social network operates. What you see in fig.1 is a network of members of the Impressionist circle, although many of them did not work along Impressionist principles. Theres no socio-metric analysis behind the lines connecting the little boxes, it simply shows that there was a network of contacts in action, particularly around the painters Manet, Bazille and Degas. The network included engravers, photographers and writers as well. The members met regularly on Thursday afternoons, so the nodes were persons, the links were interactions with a certain kind of frequency, on Thursday afternoons, and they talked heatedly about what constituted the new style. Within the network of communication, the interaction switched between the creation taking place in the studios and the valorisation of what all the others are doing, which took place during the meetings. So people in creative networks change constantly between being spectators and being performers who actually contribute to something, and it is this circularity which generates the surprises. All sorts of creative social networks can be observed. There are the close-knit networks, like circles or salons, there are lose-knit networks like school connections or professional clubs, and there are networks of readers and writers around academic journals. The fact that Jason Potts and his co-authored got their paper published in theJournal of Cultural Economics, is not only important because of its content, its also important because the content is valorised by the academic network, and that generates attention, as opposed to some paper posted on an obscure website. 5
èmes 3 Journéesdéconomie de la cultureLes 2 et 3 octobre 2008 Thirdly, we come to the networks of symbolic artifacts. Symbolic artefacts are actually in themselves networks of meaning. In a string quartet, for instance, there are four people playing four different kinds of melodies that are interwoven and form a network in themselves. In a painting, there is a network of forms and colours, and every novel links its protagonists and their actions into complex networks of meaning. That artifact itself is then valorised within external networks of references. What other authors or painters are cited? Which musical themes are being brought in?An effective show or book or photograph doesnt contain only one surprise, it typically contains a firework of surprises. The valorisation of artifacts in social networks is a very asymmetric affair. People have a limited budget of attention and therefore they go to wherever other people place their preferences. This is the reason why every entertainment and art field is characterized by best-sellers. Original artworks can be used effectively as sources of revenue in creative industry products. The screenshot in fig.2shows Monets “Water Lilies”, in a poster version that sells for $16.95. The original painting is reproduced for home decoration, but one could also use it as a surface for a bag. One can use it in advertising, or in stock photography to illustrate some text. One can also use it for just another exhibition of Impressionist art, or you can use it in books, be they scholarly books or coffee table books. All these derivative forms of value flow from that one artifact that was created within the symbolic network of Impressionist works. This sketch of the the three networks which generate constant surprises is not only part of my current research. There is much more research being done. There is work on spatial networks, particularly in Italy, is a recent volume by Cooke and Lazzeretti documents the results. There is a flow of literature on urban neighbourhoods since Richard Florida published bhis “Rise of the Creative Class” Tere is a lot of research on social networks, particularly in sociology, Harrison White, Bruno Latour and Boltanski mark promintent apporaches. In urban economics, themarket networks of the film industry have been studied by Arthur de Vany and by Alan Scott. Issues of valorisation are yet underresearched. David Throsby and I just edited a volume of papers on notions of value in different fields. In the arts, in the cultural studies field, in anthropology, there are many studies on artifacts and their symbolic networks. What I want to add to this research is a suggestion for integrating and for strengthening these various strands of research. The value creation in the creative industries happens within three layers of networks, the spatial networks, the social networks, the symbolic networks. All these 6
èmes 3 Journéesdéconomie de la cultureLes 2 et 3 octobre 2008 distributed components surround the creative industries. The layers can partly substitute in quality for each other, but they are still essential, there always have to be physical, social and symbolic components. Finally, are there policy conclusions from this kind of analysis? Implications from a communal or a public perspective, and from a corporate, or private perspective are different, but there are several basic recommendations. Firstly, support the surprise activators, the combinations of compulsion and coincidence, flexibly. Be responsive to changes, but remain consistent in the support. Secondly, adopt your institutions and corporate strategies to diluted ownership. The old kind of private property is not tenable in symbolic networks, where surprises are constructed by may contributors. And finally, just avoid destroying the already existing, finely spun webs of culture, with their sometimes strange and paradoxical logic. If policy makers, public as well as private, would follow these rules, then the benefits flowing from cultural activities into an economy that depends on constant innovation could be increased far above the levels we enjoy today. Thank you very much.