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Nov 11, 2013

Manning and the U.S. Go Up Against History

"Creative Fire", by Tim Holmes
The Bradley Manning trial is one of those pivotal moments when the epic questions of human history come into sharp focus in our time. Manning, who leaked secret US military files, was acquitted on the most serious charge (aiding the enemy) but convicted of 20 out of 22 others, perhaps netting him 136 years in prison. When there is a trial between one party that defends keeping violence secret and another who would expose those to the public, it is not just the court that will judge. History shall also pass judgement and– as with that of God herself– history's assessment will be the one that counts.

In this case one party is defending such acts as the helicopter murder of an Iraq journalist's team. On the other is a man who says of his action in exposing the incident, “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

What the US fails to see is that regardless of how elegant its justifications or how strong its enforcement, by defending these heinous secrecies against transparency in a democracy, it places itself on the wrong side of history (in this as in many, many other cases.) History moves in one direction only: toward greater freedoms and universal human rights. Any attempt to slow that progress will be regarded, recognized, and (eventually), overturned. As journalists have to keep their heads further down to avoid this kind of retribution, people the world over will choose for themselves between secret violence and open knowledge. Hopefully it will happen sooner than later, but Manning– whether or not he himself lives to see it– will win the big trial in the end! 
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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.