On Eyebeam and the messy importance of radical democracy - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Mar. 14, 2016 12:45 pm

On Eyebeam and the messy importance of radical democracy

Trying to revamp a residency program? Invite the input of 300-plus.

At Eyebeam's 2015 Annual Showcase.

(Photo by Brady Dale)

Let’s explore the sexy world of corporate governance this rainy Monday morning.

Imagine an all-power startup founder as a king, or in more contemporary parlance, a dictator. Public corporations and nonprofits with boards of directors are oligopolies, with a few important men and women getting around a big table and hashing out the direction in which company ought to go. And we could imagine a publicly-held company as having shareholders that vote annually on important decisions, but in reality these votes are typically a mere formality.

Real democracy is happening right here in Brooklyn, at one of its most interesting and most radical institutions: Eyebeam.

“We’ve drawn up plans to invite back all those who know Eyebeam best — all three hundred plus of them — to our Brooklyn headquarters to redesign the core residency program,” Eyebeam director Roddy Schrock wrote in a blog post. “Our alums bring in collective wisdom in everything from successful art careers to billion dollar businesses. They’re exactly the people we need to listen to, and we’ll be taking a lot of notes.”

Eyebeam, which is in its 19th year of existence, offers fellowships to promising artists working on innovating or doing something radical in art. Many of its fellows and their works turn to new technologies in this pursuit, which is why they interest us. (This article from last year goes into four art/tech mashups that came out of Eyebeam.)

So the institution, which typically awards its fellowships in the spring, will hold off on doing that until it has a massive weekend meeting with as many of its alumni as want to intend. Should be interesting. We’ll see how they decide to work the program.

Here’s two cheers for democracy in a month that needs them.

Organizations: Eyebeam
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