This is more a ‘comments book’ than a blog.
Please feel free to comment here on the art-intervention at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge (Sept 2009 – March 2010).
Imagine a world where there are few laws to prevent corporations becoming ever bigger – and we all know bigger is better.
Then imagine a metacorporation which owns a majority share in these ever growing corporations which span pharmaceuticals, biotech, agribusiness and retail, with recent additions in mining and defence. Now imagine a team of Public Relations experts whose job it is to persuade all of us that this actually the way we want things to be.
Welcome to the world of BLACCXN.
the name behind the name we all know and trust ™
Before the archaeology displays undergo a major change, BLACCXN has decided to sponsor the reinterpretation of the material as it is shown here.
‘We care what you think’™
the name behind the name we all know and trust ™
Before the archaeology displays undergo a major change, BLACCXN has decided to sponsor the reinterpretation of
the material as it is shown here. Join us on a journey…
that explores one, perhaps slightly misunderstood, version of the Darwinian theory of evolution, the archaeological sciences, and the whole thorny issue of the authority within museums display. It is a journey sponsored by your favourite huge corporate conglomeration that is too big to fail, BLACCXN. Any resemblance to theories proffered by laissez-faire free market economists is purely coincidental.
The BLACCXN story of human evolution, told through archaeology, is the story of order and progress. The story of evolutionary progress told here is not the product of random selection pressures. The direction of evolution is towards progress and therefore towards civilisation. Evolution is not from random selection pressures. Winners and losers are not random.
The BLACCXN world-view may not be Christian but it is does concord with the fundamental principle of order and progress laid out in the Book of Genesis. The BLACCXN world-view transcends both religion and secularism. It is based on the scientific truth of ‘survival of the fittest’. Any similarity to the Biblical view is purely coincidental, though not inconvenient.
The BLACCXN metacorporation itself is proof of Darwinian evolution. As we all know, the fittest is the strongest and most competitive. It is a consequence of natural selection that the fittest include those cultures which divide the world into property. Property-less cultures are missing-links with the animals. Those companies and individuals that have the most property are proof positive of the truth of ‘survival of the fittest’.
Stone tools are made by people with brown hands (or polystrene moulds painted brown). At BLACCXN we interpret this display as proof that manual labour should be done by people with brown hands. This helps BLACCXN discriminate which workers within our global metacorporation will toil with their hands and which will use their minds. We value our workers accordingly through our interpretation of Darwinian evolutionary truths.
There have been only five species of human in the history of evolution. Only two of them, homo sapiens sapiens and homo sapiens neanderthalensis, ever co-existed. For probably 40,000 years there has been only one species of human on earth. At BLACCXN we like to further differentiate. We use ‘race’ to further discriminate between one human and another. BLACCXN does acknowledge that ‘race’ is an unstable concept scientifically-speaking. There is greater difference and variation within one race than between the races. We also know it was largely invented in order to justify the North Atlantic slave trade and modern empire building but at BLACCXN we nevertheless find ‘race’ a useful concept.
Here we celebrate the elision of biological evolution with technological evolution. At BLACCXN we celebrate the idea that technological progress equates to an evolutionary step in biological terms. For this reason we classify more half the world as ‘in a process of development’. This is also why we view those who use simple technology as less advanced in genetic terms.
At BLACCXN we equate tool-making with mental competence. Tool-making is therefore one of the ways we distinguish between man and the animals. Though chimps make and use tools, as do rooks, we still maintain this as central to our understanding of what it is to be human and therefore what it is to be superior. At BLACCXN we go further, differentiating between types of human on earth according to technological advancement.
Two very different stories emerge from this display. On the one hand it is clearly stated that Aboriginal Australians are ‘primitive survivals’; on the other, that they are skilled people.
The BLACCXN emphasis is on the primitive survivals aspect. This emphasis helps us justify exploiting the various minerals and natural resources that Aboriginal peoples accidentally find themselves owning. As primitives, they have no use for these substances. Being technologically and therefore culturally and biologically superior, BLACCXN can successfully exploit every aspect of the land and sea. Within the evolutionary hierarchy, this type of exploitation is simply part of the natural order.
By splitting off the history of Europe or ‘The Old World’ from the rest, we are fostering the impression of a unique trajectory of the Old World in the history of homo sapiens sapiens. This is despite the general similarity across the histories of other parts of the world including the continents of Australia and Asia, as suggested in displays in cabinets 10, 12 and 13. At BLACCXN we frequently interpret these displays to prove that creativity and innovation were originally European.
BLACCXN happily uses images of the naked bodies of black men where it would be inconceivable to show a naked white men. We call it empowerment.
There is much dispute about whether we really can compare present day users of spears, bows and arrows with those from tens of thousands of years ago. At BLACCXN, though, we like to make this comparison anyway. It gives the impression that present day users of bows and arrows are a dying breed, a mere living relic from the past. Extinction is inevitable as the archaeological record clearly demonstrates. Because we believe in inevitable extinction at BLACCXN we feel it is compassionate to help these people exploit their land and resources.
The science of archaeology shows us how deeply entrenched is different people’s inferiority and superiority. This display shows how Ireland is highly idiosyncratic. In England, this is an academic term for inherently inferior. BLACCXN uses facts created by science to create profit and great wealth.
‘Eccentrics’ is a scientific word and a technical term that means those things that are inexplicable to our correct way of thinking, and particularly things that have no obvious use / value.
At BLACCXN we view the whole of human history through two metaphors. One is childhood development. We compare the development of civilisation to that of a child with milestones towards achievement of maturity. These include the development of literacy (reading and writing), trade and the enslavement of other peoples. Cultures which have not reached these milestones are understood as not having reached maturity. They are child-like cultures. The second metaphor is that of Darwinian evolution. We prefer the Value-Laden version of the theory where all things evolve from simplicity to complexity and where complexity is superior to simplicity, ultimately superseding it. Complex societies are superior to simple ones and ultimately supersede them. Advanced societies – and BLACCXN is a paragon of the advanced society – supersede primitive ones in the natural order of things, which is why any appropriation of natural resources, human resources, or intellectual property from simple societies by complex ones is entirely within the natural order of things. Of course, while these stories of development, or myths of origin, may be understood as mere metaphor, superimposed on the archaeological record, at BLACCXN we understand the metaphor as a true representation of the world we live in. The metaphor inspires our values and the rules of our engagement.
This display demonstrates that certain types of people are natural miners, particularly the Welsh and the Cornish. (Though others are part of the story here, we never let complex facts get in the way of a useful generalization.) At BLACCXN we also understand this cabinet provides solid evidence that trade and wealth accumulation in the form of flint and axes is indigenous specifically to England.
This display highlights the fact that it is developmentally superior to de-forest areas of the globe in order to grow monocultures of useful crops. It has been recently argued that this practice damages the environment and biodiversity but museum displays like this demonstrate that BLACCXN is simply fulfilling its part in a long chain of evolutionary development.
At BLACCXN we support the idea that trade brings about multiple benefits such as the progression of human civilisation. In fact trade can be understood as the pinnacle of human endeavour.
At BLACCXN we celebrate particularly the domination of one brutally effective empire. Like the Romans, we are more effective than local communities at using their natural resources.
At BLACCXN we celebrate particularly the domination of one brutally effective empire. Like the Romans. We support indigenous culture wherever profit allows.
The archaeological story shows us that human evolution is a matter of adapting, dominating and surviving. BLACCXN draws on the truths revealed by academia to support our world-view.
At BLACCXN we celebrate particularly the domination of one brutally effective empire. Like the Romans, we collaborate with the aspiring middle-classes for access to the human and material resources of our collaborating nations. This is how we invented the economic theory of ‘trickle out’, where wealth flows out of various countries and into one corporation.
Like here, at BLACCXN we make authoritative statements without definitive evidence. This is the essence of BLACCXN science. We will use words like probably to highlight scientific uncertainty but this subtlety is sometimes lost in and through the media and therefore on the general public. At BLACCXN we understand how these processes work and never let the facts get in the way of true understanding.
Cambridge is even now the home of synergistic collaboration between business and scientific endeavour. BLACCXN and the great universities believe in scientific and technological advancement. BLACCXN has sponsored whole new buildings, prizes, fellowships and chairs to help strengthen the relationship between profit and science.
The BLACCXN sponsorship of the archaeology displays at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2009-10) was controversial for academics – archaeologists and others – as well as the general public, sometimes for the same reasons, sometimes for very different reasons.
The project was an attempt at investigating how museums present knowledge, particularly where museums mediate academic thought to the general public. The project also tries to look at how science is used by non-scientists to underpin other values, like profiteering. An important theme of this project is the idea of cooptation. The project attempts to look at how commercial concerns may hijack academic work.
The story of archaeology presented here is NOT the story as contemporary archaeologists working at Cambridge University tell it. It is the story according to BLACCXN.
The idea behind the BLACCXN project is an imaginary world where a few things (which are currently impossible) might become possible in the future. It is an experiment in ‘what if’…
BLACCXN also exists online at www.BLACCXN.com, and as a series of live performances and talks, as a novel Ohm’s Law (2007)
& coming to a place near you!
2 thoughts on “The Archaeological Story according to BLACCXN”
Wow,yeh,yeh,yeh. I like it.
At first I thought it was an intervention from some “politically correct” group, aiming to expose supposedly racist, eurocentric, colonialist ideas (the reference to brown hands), but as I continued through the exhibition, the whole thing became more and more surreal. When I then found out what the intention really was (by asking a member of staff) I read the texts again, and found the whole experience very thoughtprovoking. It seems to me that the contents of the cases, and the texts fixed to them are in a dialogue, and this makes me question both sources of information.