TRIM TABS: HOW ART CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Provocation Article 1: This is the first in a series of provocative articles taken from a paper by Platform-7’s founder critiquing the fad for hubs and the idea (within the UK) of the creative economy. These article will appear over the summer of 2014 in advance of a major new Platform-7 intervention, Creative Publics, beginning Autumn 2014.

Great artists can often hone in on slight discrepancies that exist within our environment and highlight that divergence for others to see, and by doing so they often develop a new understanding of that difference. Entrepreneurship works in a similar fashion, looking for gaps, or niche, to use another buzz term, that irritate or appear missing from the environment. They note a slight gap in a process or system and, this is different to artists who tend to be more self-centric, the entrepreneur makes a judgement call on whether there is a need to fill that gap. Although from a distance there is occasional accusation of parasitic intent, the difference artists and entrepreneurs bring to any conversation is their ability to add a layer of thought not previously assumed. Although sometimes almost imperceptible, this tiny adaptation can have immense application. Buckminster Fuller underscores this last point when he speaks of a ‘Trim Tab’, which is a small steering surface that adjoins the trailing edge of a larger steering surface on a boat or aircraft and although very small can turn the entire craft with very little effort.

“…thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trim Tab.”

—Buckminster Fuller (Wood, 2013)

The power attached to an artwork, whether a painting or a performance, also has the possibility of creating a response of a magnitude far greater than its initial perceived value.

The crux of Platform-7’s interventions has been to encourage people to notice these seemingly small things and the astonishing impact they can have. We live in chaos of never knowing what will happen next, we have just learnt to perceive the world in a way that allows us to believe we can predict. Although chaos theory is not a new concept the ability of people to apply it to everyday life remains difficult.

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Provocation Article 1: Click to read other articles:

Article 2: Hubs: Little More than Places to Work

Article 3: Advertucation: An Education by Advertising Stagnation

Article 4: Prosumer: The Exploitation of Hub Members

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Fuller, Buckminster, (1972), taken from Wood, John, Metadesigners.org, glossary, Trim Tab [online at: http://metadesigners.org/Trim-Tab-Glossary%5D