E-Center site publishes Adrienne Callander post

February 16th, 2015 Comments Off on E-Center site publishes Adrienne Callander post

“The Ludic Moment in Entrepreneurship” | By Adrienne Callander

Most often, entrepreneurship is framed as a West Coast, technology–driven vehicle for innovation and profit. The product developer in this scenario is often an engineer, his or her work channeled by market vision or need and supported by venture capitalism.

This is a limited vision of entrepreneurship and one that does not acknowledge the full potential of the discipline. In Art Production Beyond the Art Market?, art historian and artist Caroline Jones discusses the problematic model in which “research is instrumentalized toward an existing paradigm,” either looking for new ways to meet the same old needs or deploying the same old processes in the face of new challenges.

Jones argues for an injection of artistic process in research and development. This begs the definition of artistic practice, and Jones answers in part with the “ludic moment” – a stage of spontaneity and undirected play.

What if we not only step away from existing paradigms, but also, for a moment, strip away the push to instrumentalize process in the first place? What if, on the way to usefulness, we engage in seemingly useless activities? What if we start with Play?

Artists are very good at this.

We explore things all the time that the market might consider pointless. We explore not only the possible, but the seemingly impossible, and even the seemingly useless.

Now, the ludic moment is a stage. If we stay forever in the ludic moment, we literally starve to death. But if we never engage it, we fail to thrive.

While working closely with project architects in designing sculptural aspects of the Getty Museum grounds, artist Robert Irwin said that if architects are going to call themselves artists, then he should be free to call himself an architect. These days, people who think independently and take risks in any field might be crowned “artists” and this is reasonably offensive to trained artists.

But if we leave titles out of it, and inspect process, we see that artists, engineers, business people, leaders – anyone involved in revolutionary thinking – all engage the game of aesthetics.

I am borrowing here on a definition of aesthetics given by Erik Demaine, Professor in Computer Science at MIT. He refers to the aesthetics of math as a realm in which a concept is pursued for its intrinsic beauty, without regard for its application. This is a sound starting point for innovation. Eventually, innovation must pass the test of application. But first, we must play. Seriously.

There is a high failure rate in discovery and innovative practice. Many ideas do not survive outside of the ludic moment. But to instrumentalize the ludic moment is to try to arrive before heading out the door. To stop before starting.

Entrepreneurship acknowledges the likelihood of failure – it relishes failure as a learning tool. Rapid prototyping is essential so that flawed ideas, products, or services can fail quickly and provide feedback to the larger initiative, whatever that might be.

Arts-based entrepreneurship goes a step further. In a collaborative, inter-disciplinary environment biased toward action and a search for meaningful application and visionary perspective, arts-based entrepreneurship supports the ludic moment.

Adrienne Callander is a sculptor and New York City native who has taught sculpture, design, art history and contemporary criticism in New Jersey, Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi. She has taught beginning to advanced sculpture in the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at Mississippi State University and currently serves the Department of Art as lecturer and exhibition coordinator. Her works have been exhibited around the country, as well as internationally in Germany and Iceland. Callander serves as co-chair of the Special Projects Committee within her department, and she started a program titled Art+Business to mentor art students in product development, presentation, networking, marketing and to advise non-art students in the various ways in which art can enhance their business initiatives. In 2014, Art+Business students earned grants, collaborated across majors and secured freelance contracts. She has served as a member of the MSU Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board since early 2014. Her work is online at http://www.adriennecallander.com/

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