Collaborative Economy - Between Crowds and Empires

Robin Resch | english

“Between Crowds and Empires” was an artistic research that examined the polarities of collaborative economies, taking into account the differing cultural perspectives between China, Brazil and Europe. A team of young researchers, artists and designers have confronted the contradictions related to the phenomena of collaboration as a promising economic innovation of our time. A few key terms surrounding the research were artistic entrepreneurship, collaborative powerhouses, online-colonialism, piracy into privacy, exponential organizations, the future of labour in the creative economies, platform capitalism, politics of algorithm and economic empowerment.

We started our collective journey with a set of interviews conducted whilest visiting artists, philosophers, anthropologists, designers, and programmers that discussed, envisioned, and examined projects and ideas that would illustrate the opportunities, threats, and potentials of alternative economies. During our discussions, we critically observed the new online empires that reach into every corner of our private lives – my car is your car, my flat, my screwdriver, my photo, my data. The process has shown how important it is to discuss and expose these tendencies of the corporate empires to develop a hegemony of data that intervene in our daily lives and further on into our cultural and political domains.

After carving out this initial bigger picture, we proceeded to look out for concrete  examples of sharing and collaboration in order to identify possible spaces for interventions into local social, cultural and economic spaces.

During the Berlin residence we participated at the SOLIKON conference and the week of change and transformation where activists and contributors from alternative economies, open knowledge, open data, open science and other movements presented projects and initiatives around the central topics of “Making Solidary Economy Ideas more prominent, Learning from the Global South, and Supporting regional Networks.”[1] An interesting find was the 84 year old Paulo Singer, the current and one and only brazilian state secretary for the solidarity economy that intends to explore new ways of reducing poverty via a mix of social change and environmental awareness amongst lower-income households.

However, as economic effects seem to have spilled into the last corners of public and private life, the optimists consider the Collaborative Economy as the major chance towards a more advanced human era where economic activities are directly related to social and cultural transformation of society for the better. In this context we also followed the invitation to the Entrepreneurship Summit in Berlin, organized by the foundation for entrepreneurship – the art and science of entrepreneurship around Günther Faltin – the author of “Brain versus Capital”[2] and recently “We are the Capital”[3]. Faltin a serial founder and business angel himself, promotes a new culture of entrepreneurship that is based around the idea that disruptive ideas should result in entrepreneurial solutions to society’s huge and most complex problems. Faltins approach is based on the idea that everyone can be an entrepreneur and that the domain of economy should not be left only to the experts because with a strong idea, a grand passion for the subject and a focus on your real personal capacities – everybody can make it.

 “Entrepreneurship offers an opportunity for unconventional ideas and views. It aims at achieving success through transcending established structures, and it attracts artists, mavericks and all those who formerly were marginal to the business world.” [4]

This experience has driven our curiosities for further investigation, especially concerning the angle of artistic exploration that could help to shape the collaborative economy into a promising breeding ground for artists to work and deal with.

Especially against the backdrop of the currently changing and challenging labour system, artists with their ability to cross boundaries, and apply their unusual mix of disciplines when creating research-based artworks could play an important role in experimenting, crafting and proposing new ideas for a more maker-based Civilization. It is that special ability to climb and jump out of the box, that allows to shape and reimagine complex arenas of social, cultural and environmental challenges. As a result an artwork can be a display, a perceptive format that shapes the understanding and perspectives of the viewer how he or she relates to the subject in a wider sense. An example is the work of brazilian artist, Pedro Victor Brandão who has produced works on alternative currencies like the bitcoin[5]. During the Archipel Invest project[6], Pedro developed together with Maira das Neves, the artistic project the þit, a self-sufficient system that produces natural and financial resources for local community use. [7] They installed three cryptocurrency mines as generators of bitcoin that created a fund for a temporary communal park and its activities, including paying rent.

Looking back at our research on the Collaborative Economy, it has shown that there is a big potential for artistic projects within the cultural-economic domain but that it would need more longterm programms and more concrete (funding) opportunities  from cultural players, curators, directors and founding authorities to build and allow a more vivid space for exchange between disciplines and establish breeding grounds for radical, process-oriented experimentation. This way artistic creativity and critical imagination could directly flow and intervene into the different sectors of economy, tackle and help to solve existing problems and major challenges of the beginning 21 century.

During the development of “Between Crowds and Empires”, we have gone through an exciting and extremely debate-oriented group process. I would like to thank the team and all contributors for the exciting and honest dialogues and conversations. The results of our research will flow into an online publication with many exciting and different voices from Brazil, China, Europe and beyond. We are looking forward to publish & to share it with you soon.

[1], 11.08.2016

[2] Faltin, Brain beats Captial,, 11.08.2016

[3] Faltin, Wir sind das Kapital, 2016, 11.08.2016

[4] Faltin Foundation,, 11.08.2016

[5] Bitcoin (฿) is a currency based on distributed computing. It is decentralized, digital, and global.

[6] An international artistic research project by KUNSTrePUBLIK,, 11.08.2016

[7] the þit Maira das Neves & Pedro Victor Brandao, 11.08.2016

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