— Cultural Sources of Newness

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Tag "arts and business"

My first intellectual introduction to the topic of valuing waste was when the anthropologist Mike Thompson was a visiting fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Society of the WZB in the late-1970s. He was working on his Rubbish Theory at the time (in between his treks in the Himalayas, a passion he shared with our WZB colleague Rob Coppock, who was working on chaos theory). If I don’t count learning about the garbage can theory of decision making, my next intellectual engagement with the subject came many years later when my colleagues at the research unit Cultural Sources of Newness chose texts by Boris Groys for our internal seminar. We discussed how things that society no longer values become sources of new value at later points in time and we explored the potential usefulness of the concept of re-valorization for our research program at the WZB.

The concept intrigued me, but it was not until André Sobczak introduced me to the French artist Serge Crampon  in 2009, that it really made sense to me. Serge’s art emerges from materials that nature and humans abandon, items he discovers during his walks and brings back to his studio, where he reveals their essence in a new creation.

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The two corporate speakers at a private concert last night put conversions on my mind. One spoke of converting us to ambassadors for the musicians, and the other described her own conversion to their music and her experience with colleagues and clients her company had invited to the group’s concerts. The two types of conversions occupied my mind throughout the concert: the conversion of listeners to become financial supporters, and the conversion from the ranks of the “uninitiated” to active supporters of the group’s chamber music.  

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