Overblog Suivre ce blog
Administration Créer mon blog

Profil

  • JJS
  • Membre/Member, NTIA IANA Functions' Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (2014~2016); Membre/Member, NetMundial Initiative Coordination Council (déc. 2014~2016); ICANN/ALAC (2010~14); ICANN Board (2007-10); diplomat(e) (1971-2005); ambassadeur/dor (1995-2005). Gouvernance; défis globaux / Governance; global challenges.
  • Membre/Member, NTIA IANA Functions' Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (2014~2016); Membre/Member, NetMundial Initiative Coordination Council (déc. 2014~2016); ICANN/ALAC (2010~14); ICANN Board (2007-10); diplomat(e) (1971-2005); ambassadeur/dor (1995-2005). Gouvernance; défis globaux / Governance; global challenges.

Rechercher / Search

15 décembre 2016 4 15 /12 /décembre /2016 15:42

Ten years ago, in the Autumn of 2006, I wrote an article on the Finnish School of Watchmaking, then located in Tapiola. Readers recently pointed out that the old link to that article no longer resolves. Apparently the article was taken down from its initial location on the Internet, for reasons unknown to me. In response to requests from several readers, I am now publishing this article once again on my personal blog.

 

by Jean-Jacques Subrenat
© 2006
(Photos by the author, unless otherwise specified)

True, Finland is better known for Nokia mobile telephones than for mechanical watches. But nowadays, in the widening circle of amateurs of horology who consult the Internet, Finnish references tend to crop up much more frequently. One Finn has even made it into the small circle of world-class watchmakers: Kari Voutilainen, who set up shop in Môtiers (Switzerland) in 2002, is already a reference, and his name is uttered in the same breath as those of a handful of other respected masters. And another up-and-coming Finnish craftsman, Stepan Sarpaneva, who set up his atelier in Helsinki in 2003, is beginning to attract attention as much for his technical innovation as for his bold styling. 

Like many amateurs of horology, I wondered how a country like Finland, not known for producing any significant number of watches, has managed to educate and train generations of high-level watchmakers, and why many happen to be active in some of the most renowned ateliers. At the moment, 25 to 30 Finns are working for such companies as Audemars-Piguet, Blancpain, Breguet, Christophe Claret, Omega, Rolex, or Ulysse-Nardin, and it is noteworthy that many of them are involved in the execution and assembly of complications and limited series. This paradox, I thought, was worth looking into.

Helsinki in the summer: a gathering of wooden boats on the island of Suomenlinna

Arriving in Tapiola by bus and having a stroll before my appointment at 9:30 a.m., a day in late August 2006, I was struck by the contrast between the rambling public park of Tapiola, and the modest proportions of the building in which the school has been housed since 1959. After all, the school was established 62 years ago, and has been here in Tapiola for the past 47 years, so I expected something a bit grander, perhaps an ornamental staircase…

The public park in Tapiola and, behind the trees, the Finnish School of Watchmaking

 

The Finnish School of Watchmaking in Tapiola

The Director (“Rehtori” in Finnish), Ms Tiina Viitanen, who has held this position since 2002, greeted me in fluent French, and took me into the building to meet some interesting people.

Ms Tiina Viitanen, Director of the Watchmaking School in Tapiola.
The brass plate simply states “Watchmaker, the professional of time”

In the meeting room, morning coffee was served with a choice of salmon pie and berry cakes so typical of Finnish hospitality. Here were the people directly responsible for ensuring the quality of education and training in this school in Tapiola. At the end of the table, on the left-hand side, a gentleman had an aura of experience and wisdom about him, Jorma Tuominen, a grand old man of Finnish watchmaking. Tom Roos, the Chairman of the Trust Fund for Promoting Watchmaking Skills (“Kellosepäntaidon edistämissäätiö” in Finnish), sat on the right, next to Ms. Viitanen.

The faculty (in white blouses) and management of the School of Watchmaking.
From left to right: Eneli Pöysä, Reijo Rautakoski, Markku Huhtala, Jorma Tuominen,
Juha Kauppinen, Antti Miettinen, Jouni Pöllänen, Tom Roos, Tiina Viitanen

The meeting, kindly prepared by Ms. Viitanen and her staff, was a unique opportunity to learn more about this vocational school, before going to meet the students and their teachers in the workshop-classrooms. 

The School of Watchmaking was first established in 1944 in Lahti,100 km North of Helsinki. The requirement in those days was not creativity, but simply good workmanship for the repair and unkeep of clocks and watches, in a country which did not have many wealthy people, and where even modest timepieces were handed down as family heirlooms (for instance, my friend Turo had two grand-aunts who, between the two World Wars, had each inherited something of value: one received a small island in the Gulf of Helsinki, the other a pocket watch…). In 1959 the School was transferred to Tapiola, a Western suburb of Helsinki, not far from the area where Nokia set up its corporate headquarters in the 1990s. 

The curriculum of the school has evolved over the years to keep up with technical developments in the industry, but the initial programme was inspired by that of the watchmaking school in Glasshütte, and today the teachers still view this ancestry with pride.

3rd-year students. On the wall, an old industrial drawing from Glasshütte

Today, the link between Tapiola and Glasshütte remains strong, and contacts with the in-house school of Lange & Söhne are lively. The disciplined education established long ago in Glasshütte is carried on here in Tapiola, where all future watchmakers start with the modest but essential experience of crafting their own tools, then graduating progressively from large to smaller clocks, and only later to wristwatches and finally to complications.

1st-year student Kimi Miettinen, aged 16, making his very first watchmaker’s tool, a scraper. During the first months at the bench, it is advisable to protect one’s fingers from wear and tear

How were students chosen, I asked the teachers and administrators assembled in the meeting room? For the term 2006-2007 which started in mid-August, the school received 125 requests from candidates, of which 60 turned up for the entrance exams, and out of this number the school finally recruited 24 new students. Tests included a psychological profile to determine motivation and character, a series of technical subjects, but also practical ability to detect problems and solve them. The teachers I met told me the general standard of new students was invariably high, which is not surprising when you consider that, for the past four years, Finland has been at the top of world ratings for the quality of secondary (pre-university) education (PISA ranking established by OECD). 

Three features of the school seemed to me quite striking. The first is that a fairly high proportion of students have chosen watchmaking after having worked in other fields (during my visit, I met a computer engineer, an electrician, a nursery-school teacher, a theologian, a translator…). The second is that time allocation is one third theoretical study and two thirds practical watchmaking. The third is that, as soon as students have acquired the necessary skills, they actually repair clocks and watches for real-life clients, and if a spare part is not available, you just have to make it yourself, whether that happens to be a cog, a chime-striking mechanism, or a complete escapement. This gives each and every student a very real sense of responsibility, as he or she repairs not an abstract object, but a venerable mantlepiece clock belonging to old Mrs. Koskinen, a pocket-watch which Mr. Vuorinen took the trouble to bring to the School himself, or a wrist-watch of the 1960s which was sent from Lapland by Ms. Rantanen…

Markku Tuomi, an established professional translator, has an interest in the history
of the measurement of time, and in timepieces by old masters. He is now a
2nd-year student in Tapiola

 

Jouni Pöllänen and some of his 2nd year students

 

3rd year student Teemu von Boehm planning the pocket-watch he will entirely execute and present for his final exams

A visitor can readily sense that the atmosphere in the classrooms is relaxed, professionnal, project-driven. All of the teachers are former students of this school, and most of them have gone through one or several WOSTEP courses in Switzerland. Since taking up her position as Director, Ms. Viitanen has changed the teaching methods so that, over a period of several years, each professor gets the opportunity to teach at all levels, both theory and practice. 

I was lucky that former professor Jorma Tuominen was at the school on the day of my visit. After the breakfast meeting, I had a quiet chat with him, he speaking in Finnish (which I understand a bit) and me in French or English with Ms. Viitanen kindly interpreting. After his own training in Lahti, he had gone to work for Patek Philippe in the late 1950s, and upon returning to Finland, began a long career teaching watchmaking, from 1966 to 1995. Now aged 76, he still goes regularly to the Tapiola school where his advice is eagerly sought. His hands are as steady as those of a brain surgeon, and just recently, he was still teaching students to make and adjust hairsprings!

Jorma Tuominen, an acclaimed yet modest “grande figure” of Finnish watchmaking

During our conversation, I asked Mr. Tuominen if watchmaking in Finland had changed much in the past half century. Yes, he replied, in the 1950s and 1960s his students spent as much as 46 to 50 hours a week in school, whereas nowadays they spend 32 hours (plus 8 hours for those who want to have extra training hours, and these additional classes are invariably full!). In the early years, the standard of living was not high in Finland, so that students were mainly dealing with repairing and making parts for simple and widespread movements, and rarely anything complicated in wristwatches. Today, so many more models are in circulation. An affluent society is providing many more potential watch-owners and collectors, so that creativity has come into its own, and students are encouraged in this direction. 

I asked Mr. Tuominen about his former students. He chose to speak of Kari Voutilainen, whom he trained personally during the 3 years at the School in Tapiola: “Voutilainen showed great potential, was conscientious, thorough, and by the time he left the School he had acquired a wide range of abilities, which you usually meet in more senior, more experienced watchmakers”. The former teacher is pleased that this student has proven to be creative, and that the quality of his works is acclaimed beyond the borders of Finland.

Kari Voutilainen recently in Tapiola, with the catalogue of an exhibition on tourbillons
(1996 in Switzerland), in which his own tourbillon pocket-watch was selected as
a contemporary example, alongside historic timepieces by A.-L. Breguet,
Albert Pellaton and other great masters

I asked Mr. Tuominen why he thought there were quite a few of his fellow-countrymen working for well-known Swiss watchmakers: did Finns have some magic ability, or could their success be attributed to the education they received in Tapiola? In Mr. Tuominen’s evaluation, the strength of Finnish craftsmanship lies in the successful balance which is achieved between theory and practice during the 3 years’ tuition in Tapiola, their willingness to learn, and the fact that watchmaking is taught in a very demanding way, but without stress. The retired teacher, whom students, teachers and the profession in this country all consider as a “grande figure” of contemporary Finnish watchmaking, added another remark: in the heyday of the digital watch which almost led to the demise of the mechanical watch industry (roughly from the 1960s to the 1980s), hardly anyone in Switzerland was attracted by the painstaking training to become a watchmaker, and this led to a “generation gap”. Today, the effects of this “gap” are felt throughout the industry, which is clamoring for competent craftsmen in greater numbers. In this context, the pursuit of excellent teaching in Tapiola, even in the fallow years of mechanical watchmaking, allowed Finns to remain competitive, so that today they fill an appreciable number of positions in the Swiss industry. 

In the weeks before I met Jorma Tuominen, I went to meet two of today’s prominent Finnish watchmakers, and asked what their schooling in Tapiola had brought to them, and why there were quite a few Finns working in some of the well-known watch companies in Switzerland.

Kari Voutilainen and I had agreed to meet at the Museum of Horology in Tapiola, a stone’s throw from the Finnish School of Watchmaking, his alma mater. That day in late August 2006, he had personally set up 3 of his timepieces in the temporary exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Finnish Watchmakers’ Association, which had just been opened to representatives of the media (including a television team) for a preview. When I arrived, Kari took me into the quiet exhibition space, turned on the lights and projectors, and invited me to look at the exhibits: old timepieces amorously restored by members of an association of amateur watchmakers, projects designed and executed by young Finnish professional watchmakers, end-of-school projects designed and executed by students of the School of Watchmaking, one showcase for Stepan Sarpaneva, one (the most sober, but also the most outstanding) with only 3 watches by Kari Voutilainen, and one for Suunto the company which makes wrist computers and electronic watches. 

I asked Kari about his experience at the Finnish School of Watchmaking.

At the Museum of Horology in Tapiola, Voutilainen showing his tourbillon pocket-watch, made after working hours (1992-96), and which attracted praise from his peers

 

Kari Voutilainen told me about his childhood and youth in Lapland. Even as a young boy, he says, he knew he would one day choose a profession in which he could use his hands, and which would allow him to work as an independent craftsman. A friend of the family had a small shop in Kemi, selling and repairing clocks and watches, and this attracted young Kari. Later, he read a brochure about the watchmaking school in Tapiola, where he sat for the entrance exams at the age of 19. He has a very vivid recollection of his admission to the school: right from day one, he immediately felt he had entered his element, and he knew then and there that he would never have any problem with motivation. I asked him about teaching methods: “Starting by having to make one’s own tools, dismantling, assembling and repairing first large clocks, then smaller clocks, then wristwatches, all this amounted to such an obviously wise way of training young people. It’s surprising that Tapiola is one of the only watchmaking schools in the world, if not the only one, where this basic principle is still scrupulously respected”. Kari also points out that during the whole of his 3 years in Tapiola, he had the same main teacher, Jorma Tuominen. What kind of teacher was he, I asked? “His most precious gift to youngsters like me, apart from the fact that he was an outstanding watchmaker, was that he knew how to push us always one step further than we thought we could go. Even when we had done what we considered a pretty good job, the most he would utter was “hmm, not bad; let’s see if there’s a way you could improve that”, but always in an attentive way, with patient kindness, so that discipline and self-confidence were not at odds with one another in the budding watchmaker. 

Kari Voutilainen is well qualified to give an opinion on his former school in Tapiola: after all, he not only attended 2 WOSTEP courses (first in 1988, followed in 1989 by the one on complicated watches), but also was a replacement teacher at his former school in Tapiola (1988-89), and later taught at WOSTEP for 4 years (1999-2002). Looking back at his student years in Tapiola, he remembers “the very special atmosphere, the fact that we were made to feel responsible at a very early stage, knowing that no problem was beyond the understanding of our teachers, and having acquired self-confidence thanks to our very thorough training”. Discovering his patience and obvious talent in sharing his enthusiasm and experience, I asked Kari if he could have dedicated his life to teaching? “Well, I did spend quite a few years teaching, and this was satisfying in its own way because of the close relationship you establish with the students, and because teaching forces you to clarify your own experience and thinking. But after a while, I realized I no longer had enough time to carry forward my own creative work, so I left teaching in 2002 to set up my own little atelier”. 

During our conversation, I sensed that creating and teaching were not different worlds for Kari Voutilainen. I asked him if he would show me, with pen and paper, how he had gone about designing one of the watches which attracted world attention, his Chronographe. He was kind enough to oblige, and I felt like a privileged student, as he began to sketch and explain. He drew the round case, the three sub-dials, and gradually competed the drawing. His pen went over and over the rounded lugs, the winding crown with its sapphire cabochon, the design and finishing of the hands which are part of his personal style. Yes, I thought to myself, someone capable not only of calculating and designing an oustanding movement, but who can also execute every part of it to the highest known standards in the world, someone who can endow the humble hands of a wrist-watch with such elegance, who can fashion the lugs of a watch casing in such a distinctive fashion, surely such a singular craftsman had made the most of his education at the school in Tapiola.

Kari Voutilainen showing the way he designed his “Chronographe”, and drawing in
detail the hands of that famous watch. His own “Masterpiece 7”, poised on the table,
casts the shadow of a dragon…

A couple of weeks before meeting Kari Voutilainen, I had gone to see another Finnish watchmaker who had likewise attended the School of Watchmaking in Tapiola. Stepan Sarpaneva worked in Switzerland for more than ten years (Parmigiani, Vianney Halter, Christophe Claret…) and established his own watchmaking atelier in Helsinki in 2003. He had this to say: “For sure, the very thorough education in watchmaking in Tapiola is one of the main reasons why my fellow-countrymen and colleagues are appreciated. There’s also our attitude towards watchmaking: to enter such a demanding profession, we Finns would not even contemplate jumping over any of the modest yet essential steps towards achieving true technical expertise. Because Tapiola gave us such a solid background, we were able to fully benefit from the valuable experience we gained later when working abroad. This combination provided us with a good system of values and references: we are steady, reliable, and very attentive to overall excellence. And a strong interest in innovation and technology probably helps us keep up with interesting developments”. As for his former teachers, Stepan considers that the good blend of discipline, competence and openness they displayed was a very reassuring factor for aspiring watchmakers. It is interesting to note that in a separate interview, Kari Voutilainen expressed similar opinions, adding that it is the quiet dedication of teachers like Jorma Tuominen and Hannu Ruokola, and the fact that they knew inside out anything they had to teach, that gave the young generation a sense of respect for excellent craftsmanship, and the urge to follow not only their teaching, but also their example.

Stepan Sarpaneva, a former student of the Finnish School of Watchmaking in Tapiola, established “Sarpaneva Watches” in Helsinki in 2003

But let’s come back to Tapiola. How does the School envisage its future, I wondered? I first had a separate conversation on this with Tom Roos, Chairman of the Trust Fund for Promoting Watchmaking Skills (“Kellosepäntaidon edistämissäätiö” in Finnish), which supports the School financially.

Tom Roos, Chairman of the Trust Fund for Promoting Watchmaking Skills, which supports the Finnish School of Watchmaking

 

T. Roos underlined that the school in Tapiola is a private establishment, supported by the Trust Fund, and although it receives a government subsidy, it enjoys greater liberty in governing itself and in establishing its educational programme than a State-run school. The Board is composed mostly of professionals of watchmaking, and as a result the curriculum, the teaching methods, the attention paid to the evolving requirements of business, largely reflect the concerns and wishes of the industry. Because the school is well attuned to the requirements of end-users, there is practically no unemployment in this business sector in Finland. The financial situation is sound as the School is not indebted, nor operating at a loss, but there is a sense among faculty and management that a larger budget would create better working conditions, allowing the school to become more attractive for the next generation. 

Another important feature is that the School offers a combined curriculum in watchmaking and micro-mechanics. In case of a severe downturn in business prospects in one field, the slack could be taken up, at least in part, by the other. From a Finnish perspective, as Ms. Viitanen pointed out, micro-mechanics is of particular importance in terms of potential employment, and people with that qualification are already in high demand.

The premises used by the School since it moved to Tapiola in 1959 have become too small. Whereas it began with 3 classes of 13 students each, the School now has 6 classes of 13. The plan to move to a new location, which has been under discussion for about 3 years now, will soon be implemented: in the Spring or early Summer of 2007, the School will move to neighbouring Leppavaara, where the former public library is undergoing a major overhaul in order to accommodate its future tenants (both Leppavaara and Tapiola are townships administered by the municipality of Espoo). Looking at the future, Tom Roos considers that in the medium term an additional effort may become necessary to attract good students to the School, among other reasons because new generations are even more than before attracted to business management, finance or electronics. In this sense, moving to modern, well-endowed and confortable premises should help attract the best students. As for the prospect of future employment, T. Roos considers that several factors should keep the outlook favourable: the combination of micro-mechanics and watchmaking opens up wider job opportunities; faculty, management and students all engage very much in international exchanges, so that the school keeps abreast of trends and innovations worldwide; and the scarcity of vocational schools offering combined watchmaking and micro-mechanics should keep the Finnish school in business for many years to come. 

I inquired about the international relations of the School. Tiina Viitanen pointed out the existence of a strong Northern European link, with a 2-week exchange programme for students every year between September and October. In the past, Germany was a prime source of inspiration for teaching, and the Glasshütte tradition has been pursued with a similar school in Villingen-Schwenningen.

Kari Voutilainen, who desings and crafts outstanding watches in Môtiers (Switzerland),
wearing the graduation ring of the Finnish School of Watchmaking, which depicts
an escapement wheel and, in its centre, an hourglass

As I put away the note-book and the camera in my backpack, and prepare to leave, I look around. Yes, the present premises of the Finnish School of Watchmaking in Tapiola show their age, and it’s no doubt time to move to the modern amenities offered in Leppavaara. But, as I catch the bus back to Helsinki, it seems obvious to me that the important elements are solidly built into the tradition of the School: the vitality and thoroughness of the teaching, the atmosphere of trust between teachers and students, the blend between discipline and the liberty to create. In this context, I’m sure the attraction of the School of Watchmaking will grow with the rising fame of former students such as Kari Voutilainen, whom today’s greatest Swiss watchmakers consider their equal: a true “maître horloger”, trained in Tapiola./.

 

Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
15 septembre 2016 4 15 /09 /septembre /2016 08:26

The global Internet community is abuzz these days. On 14th September 2016, a hearing was held in the US Senate, where Senator Ted Cruz, perhaps with his sights on 2020, defended the view that the transfer ("transition") of oversight of the IANA Functions would be the end of "Internet freedom". Among the witnesses summoned for the occasion, Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Administrator of NTIA, Becky Burr and others defended the view that "transition of oversight" would benefit the global Internet, but would also be in the interests of the United States.

That hearing, and many other events in this pre-election period in the USA, show to what extent the Internet has now been thrown into the ring as a highly politicized topic.

On 12 September 2016, a group of individuals involved in Internet matters sent a letter to the President of the United States of America about the expiry of the current IANA Functions contract, and the proposed transition of oversight of those IANA Functions.

Similar letters were sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the US Senate.

The signatories are requesting that the Administration implement the proposed transition of oversight, and that the US Congress not impede the termination of the current IANA Functions contract, due to expire on October 1st, 2016.

At the end of the letter it is made clear that "Views expressed in this letter are those of the signatories, and do not purport to represent the positions of entities with which they may be associated."

Here is the full text of one of the letter to President Obama:

"Dear Mr. President:

As the first truly universal infrastructure in human history, the Internet has allowed huge progress to be achieved in business, legislation, science, public health, agriculture, industry, education and communications, at the same time as it has facilitated the daily lives of ordinary citizens all over the world.

Because of the seminal contribution of the United States of America in creating the Internet and carrying forward so many of its subsequent developments, your country has earned the deep and lasting gratitude of billions of people. In fact, today's younger generations in so many countries cannot even imagine life without the benefits of ubiquitous connectivity, quick and free access to knowledge, as well as the facilitation of social intercourse.

As individuals deeply engaged in, and committed to improving the integrity, stability and uses of the Internet, we believe that now is an appropriate time to confirm the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet, in a way that would benefit both the United States and the rest of the world. In this respect, we note that the United States have consistently considered that the further development of the Internet would best be served by a global multi-stakeholder model:

1. At the inception of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in September 1998, the U.S. Government and Internet stakeholders envisioned that the U.S. oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions ("IANA functions") would be temporary. Also in 1998, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a Statement of Policy that the U.S. Government “is committed to a transition that will allow the private sector to take leadership for DNS (Domain Name System) management."

2. In December 2012, the House of Representatives and the Senate jointly stated: "It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, should continue working to implement the position of the United States on Internet governance that clearly articulates the consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today." (H.Con.Res.127; S.Con.Res.50).

3. In March 2014, the National Telecommunication and Information Agency (NTIA) announced its intention to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community. As the first step, NTIA asked ICANN to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current oversight role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system, and set out four criteria for such a transition to merit consideration. As requested, ICANN convened the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) which started work in December 2014.

4. In March 2016 the ICG, with the input of the Internet community, submitted its Proposal to NTIA. The NTIA certified that the Proposal met the four criteria (June 2016), approved it (August 2016), and announced its intention to let the IANA Functions contract expire on October 1st, 2016.

It is our belief and indeed our conviction that the transition of oversight of the IANA Functions, from an agency of the United States Government to a multi-stakeholder system equipped with detailed checks and balances, will safeguard the security, openness and efficiency of the Internet, while helping to meet some of the challenges facing humanity and the world in which we live.

In bringing this to your esteemed attention, we are inspired by the fact that the foundation of the United States of America was, in itself, a major innovation of its time: it set out a model of governement predicated on principles, a judiciary unswerved by political patisanship, and en economic model in which wealth and success would be earned by initiative and enterprise rather than by inheritance alone. Implementing those lofty principles required open information, as well as the awareness and growing participation of citizens. For the Internet today, the challenges are not very different.

It is our sincere hope that the Administration will now implement, and that the Congress of the United States of America will not impede the transition of oversight of the IANA Functions.

We are addressing similar letters to the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, and to the Honorable President pro tempore of the Senate.

Most respectfully,

On behalf of the signatories listed below:

Jean-Jacques Subrenat (Ambassador, ret.)

Signatories:

The Hon. Carl Bildt (Sweden)

Chair, Global Commission on Internet Governance; former Prime Minister & Foreign Minister

Dr. Vinton G. Cerf (United States)

former Chair of the Board of ICANN, Internet Pioneer

Mr. John Danilovich (United States)

Ambassador (ret.); Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce

Ms. Avri Doria (United States)

Principal Researcher, Technicalities


Mr. Roberto Gaetano (Italy)

Chair, the Public Interest Registry

Prof. Dr. MURAI Jun 村井 純 (Japan)

Dean & Professor, Environment and Information Studies, Keio University

Founder of Junet & WideProject

Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor (Ghana)

Chairman, Ghana Dot Com Ltd.; founding Chairman of AfriNIC

Ms. Njeri Rionge (Kenya)

Founder & CEO, Ignite Consult. & Investment; co-founder & Director, Wananchi Online Ltd.

The Hon. Ms. Marietje Schaake (Netherlands)

Founder, Intergroup on the Digital Agenda for Europe; Member of the European Parliament


Mr. Jean-Jacques Subrenat (France)

Ambassador (ret.); Former member, ICANN Board; Member of the ICG (2014~)

Dr. Prof. XUE Hong 薛虹 (China)

Founding Director, Institute for Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal Univ. 北京师范大学

Dr. Prof. YOKOZAWA Makoto 横澤 誠 (Japan)

Professor, Kyoto University; Vice Chair of the Internet Economy WG, Keidanren

(Views expressed in this letter are those of the signatories, and do not purport to represent the positions of entities with which they may be associated.)

Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
2 octobre 2014 4 02 /10 /octobre /2014 12:20

Londres, septembre 2014. Après une visite à la National Gallery, j’ai pris ce cliché en quittant l’imposant bâtiment qui donne sur Trafalgar Square (cliquez sur la photo pour l’agrandir). Pour laisser un commentaire, merci d’utiliser la boîte "Laissez un commentaire" ci-dessous.

London, September 2014. After a visit to the National Gallery, this snapshot was taken as I was leaving the grand building on Trafalgar Square (click on the photo to enlarge). To leave a comment, please use the "Laisser un commentaire" box below.

 

DSC00878.JPG

 

Information technique : Sony RX100M3, mode automatique, f:2, 1/160', ISO 640. Retouches: image recadrée et mise d'aplomb.

 

Technical data: Sony RX100M3, automatic mode, f:2, 1/160', ISO 640. Modifications: photo cropped and set straight.


Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
2 octobre 2014 4 02 /10 /octobre /2014 12:01

Août 2014. A Palo Alto en Californie, près du campus de l'Université Stanford, il y a un vaste centre commercial "Stanford Shopping Centre" avec d'agréables espaces en plein air, où les passants s’installent le temps d’une consommation. Cliquez sur la photo pour l’agrandir. Pour laisser un commentaire, utlisez la boîte ci-dessous.

August 2014. In Palo Alto, California, the Stanford Shopping Centre is close to the campus of Stanford Univesity. This shopping mall has open spaces where folks come to enjoy a drink or a snack. Click on the photo to enlarge. To leave a comment, use the "Laisser un commentaire" box below.

 

DSC00343.JPG

 

Informations techniques: Sony RX100M3, mode automatique, f:4, 1/250', ISO 125, image recadrée et mise d'aplomb.

 

Technical data: Sony RX100M3, automatic mode, f:4, 1/250', ISO 125, image cropped and set straight.

Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
15 septembre 2013 7 15 /09 /septembre /2013 07:50

So far, the debate on mass surveillance has dwelt on the immense resources made available to the agencies (NSA in the US, GCHQ in the UK), on the technological advantage that enables them to access any data and bypass encryption, and on the lack of proper oversight in those two countries. But in order to make their voices heard by their elected representatives, Internet users around the world need to have an even more complete view of the emerging reality: why have these agencies been allowed to stray far beyond democratic principles, and why for so long? Why have oversight and control been so utterly ineffective? The grievous actions of these agencies might well have continued to escape public attention, had they not been exposed by Edward Snowden.


Since he first released Snowden's findings in The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and his colleagues have continued to update their files about the NSA and the GCHQ. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was recently granted access to the deliberations of FISA, the secret court set up to oversee the NSA. To my knowledge, the only writer to have examined some sociological aspects of the surveillance scandal is Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst at ACLU. On Stanley's tracks, I shall examine if a sort of "Internet psychology" has condoned this abuse of power, and see if sociology can provide an explanation.


PSYCHOLOGY. It has taken centuries of turmoil, civil wars and revolutions, for our societies to achieve some degree of harmony. And because they retain a collective memory of strife and hardship, modern humans tend to prefer mediation and negotiation to armed conflict. This conciliatory attitude has fostered tolerance, and with it a fairly high degree of trust in institutions which, in turn, provided continuity.


Because of these characteristics, the public generally has a straightforward, sometimes simplistic approach: trust your doctor for medical advice, your mechanic to repair the car, and the executive branch to manage the country. In many countries, the lack of interest in public affairs has been amplified by mass entertainment and mainstream media, usually at the expense of culture, because the latter is more demanding. With such easy access, the public has persuaded itself that judgment, which someone must have taken care of upstream, has become superfluous at the level of the consumer.


All this has a direct bearing on Internet psychology. In the early days, this amazing tool was used by a small number of individuals skilled in mathematics, programming or systems engineering. If anything, they were driven by logic. But now that the Internet has become the first truly global infrastructure in human history, with easy-to-use applications routinely replacing computer programming, there is a pervasive sense of instant availability, effortless use and free-of-charge access to everything.


For decdes now, the Internet has been touted as a public tool for education, communication, business and entertainment. But its use as an instrument of sovereignty, though perfectly understandable, has mostly been passed under silence. Those familiar with international relations understand that governments engage in spying (this term is more accurate than "intelligence", more attuned to academic research and cognitive pursuits). They also know that national security requires surveillance, which is acceptable, provided it is framed by strong legal rules, under constant and effective oversight by the legislative and judicial branches. 


Then why have Snowden's revelations shocked Internet users around the world, even those who are rather well informed? How did this come about? Aided by mainstream media, governments have hidden behind the screen of secrecy to expand budget allocations for surveillance. The leaders of agencies have relentlessly demanded, and often obtained, the extension of their covert actions. And when some whistleblower draws attention to wrongdoing, political leadership and the owners of mass media quickly sideline the offender by accusing him of harbouring some "conspiracy theory". In societies where mass media play a major role in the formation of groupthink, invoking a "conspiracy theory" is generally enough to discredit the whistleblower, and his findings are simply taken off the news. Before being hailed as a hero, Daniel Ellsberg had been branded by Henry Kissinger as "the most dangerous man in America", and normally that should have silenced him forever. More than a decade after 9/11, how many US citizens are aware that on that day, not 2 but 3 towers imploded, the third one without having been hit by an aircraft? And in the UK, how many people have read the European Parliament report on Echelon? We live in comfort-seeking societies where most people are afraid of leaving the mainstream: a false dogma provides so much more solace than an inconvenient truth. Today, should the Internet user be satisfied with such low standards?

 

SOCIOLOGY. In a recent article, Jay Stanley asked "How Can Smart, Ethical Individuals Form Dumb, Amoral Government Agencies?". He offered 5 reasons: the ideology of the bureaucracy, groupthink, diffusion of responsibility, Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, and abstraction. I agree with his analysis, but it's worth considering some wider aspects as well.


1) ACCOUNTABILITY IS NOT THE DEFAULT SETTING OF EXECUTIVE POWER. In fact, those who attain power are immediately given the symbols of absolutism: one of the very first things a newly appointed chief executive is briefed upon is the availability of military force, and if his country is a nuclear power, he is given a "nuclear key", arguably the most potent and secret item of high office. We learn from history that the executive (whether a monarch or an elected person) has never granted legislative powers out of kindness, but that they were obtained the hard way, often through conflict. There is a sort of "biological constant" which makes executive power loathe to share, and careful to avoid anything which may destabilize it. For many of us, it is a disappointment, but it should hardly be a surprise, that since assuming office, President Obama has implemented many key policies of the Neo-Conservative agenda, thus laying the ground for the massive abuse of power recently exposed by Snowden.


2) LIKE RELIGIOUS DOGMA, SECRECY THRIVES ON ITS OWN RULES. Political power has always considered secrecy as a key element to resist the test of time, democratic demands, or an uprising. At the present time, it is truly disturbing to see that the US and British executive branches have gone to great lengths to make that secrecy more inscrutable, even against the basic requirements of democracy. Those who promote the uncontrolled expansion of surveillance, usually find inspiration in religious dogma, which always considers itself as the ultimate source of wisdom and justice. It is secrecy as a value in itself, which seems to have driven the surveillance agencies to sideline judicial control and parliamentary oversight. The sheer magnitude of this deception creates a sort of convergence between established democracies and the very dictatorships they regularly, and rightly, critisize.


3) THIS IS A TURNING POINT IN THE HISTORY OF THE INTERNET. A naïve approach has no place in the current debate: competition is not for the faint-hearted, fierce competition begets harsh tricks, and governments all spy on one another. But the malpractices exposed by Snowden cannot be left unchecked, lest they undermine the very foundations of our democracies. People have expressed indignation, and rightly so, but that is no longer sufficient. We need to impress upon our elected representatives that it is time to make Internet governance work for civic and human rights, as well as privacy. It is time to harden the legal tools with which abuse of power can be curtailed, and executive branches made accountable on a regular basis. Let us follow up on the (ISOC) Internet Society's recent statement, and make this one of the major public causes of our time. We owe it to the next generations of Internet users worldwide.

 

( This article is also posted on CircleID )

Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
6 septembre 2013 5 06 /09 /septembre /2013 04:01

"The abuse of greatness is

when it disjoins remorse from power"

W. Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"

 

When the scale of global surveillance carried out by the NSA (USA) and by the GCHQ (UK) was exposed by Edward Snowden through The Guardian, people around the world were shocked to discover how two established democracies routinely resort to methods that they have long deplored -and rightly so- in dictatorships, theocracies and other single-party arrangements. In a previous article, I lamented the fact that by carrying out this surveillance on an unprecedented scale, the US and the UK are, in fact, converging with the very regimes they criticize. All this constitutes what I have termed "the global rape of privacy". One could have expected a huge outcry, but so far reactions have been restricted to just a few media outlets. Some Internet experts have questioned this meekness, e.g. Byron Holland on his "Public Domain" blog, under the title "Where is the outrage?".

 

Things are turning out to be even worse than we thought. On the 5th or September 2013, three media outlets, in close coordination, published a further installment of Snowden's findings, this time about the illegal action by NSA and GCHQ to circumvent or corrupt most of encryption methods currently available for the protection of business data and user privacy. In these articles, The Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica describe and analyse the incriminated methods. They reveal the unprecedented extent to which the NSA and the GCHQ have been allowed, or have allowed themselves, to record and scrutinize individuals' lives and social evolution, and not only military or terrorist activities. These most recent articles reveal, among other things, "project Bullrun" (operated by NSA) and "project Edgehill" (run by GCHQ). Here are a few questions and observations.

 

1) THE "GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR" IS NO LONGER PUT FORWARD AS THE OVERRIDING PRETEXT FOR GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE. In itself, this is a terrifying discovery, which implies that the methods now in use have acquired a logic, even a justification of their own, beyond the "forces of evil" battle-cry of the Cheney Administration, or Blair's choices in that same period. We don't know, but some have suggested that Airbus plans may thus have been discretely passed on to Boeing, or EU talking points covertly siphoned before some important multi-lateral meeting on world trade, none of these having even the faintest connection with "fighting against terrorism". By going way beyond the requirements of national security, the proponents of universal surveillance have placed their actions further than sovereignty, thus undermining the very foundations of democracy. This is a most dangerous development; all concerned citizens and netizens should give vent to their indignation.

 

2) THE LACK OF PROPER JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT AND PARLIAMENTARY CONTROL HAS GIVEN THE PROPONENTS OF GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE A HIGH SENSE OF IMPUNITY. There is no need to replicate here the details provided in the articles of The Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica. But we can draw a couple of lessons. First, the loopholes of democracy have been exploited with the utmost cynicism, for instance when analysts at CGHQ were instructed to ask no questions, with this warning: "knowledge that GCHQ exploits these products and the scale of our capability would raise public awareness, generating unwelcome publicity for us and our political masters."  That's one clear way of stating that the Executive Branch can in fact be held hostage by these agencies. Second, the fact that, in the judgment of those who operate these surveillance systems, proper oversight and control can only be viewed as hindrances to the open-ended expansion of their covert activities.

 

3) IN THE FACE OF THIS MASSIVE ABUSE OF POWERS BY THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, IT IS TIME FOR CITIZENS AND NETIZENS ALL OVER THE WORLD TO GIVE VENT TO THEIR INDIGNATION. The late Stéphane Hessel, in his little book entitled "Indignez-vous!"  (Time for outrage!), called upon citizens to reject the root causes of mass poverty, growing social inequality, deprivation of rights, and attacks on human dignity. In the same spirit, the recent disclosure of unauthorized, poorly controlled, opaque dealings in the name of sovereignty now warrants a large-scale inquiry, as well as corrective measures in order to protect the rights of Internet users across the world. It is time to let our elected representatives know that they must legislate on and enforce stringent controls: that's what it takes to rid our democracies of the widespread impunity exposed by Snowden. The coterie of cynics would have us believe that, in this early twenty-first century, even the "global rape of privacy" is perfectly normal and acceptable, in the name of efficiency.


Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
25 août 2013 7 25 /08 /août /2013 00:00

Built for the most part during the Cold War, surveillance systems on a global scale were considered a vital necessity with the onset of nuclear weapons, if only to keep Mutually Assured Destruction at bay. Today, these systems are also used for domestic surveillance and universal data harvesting, including on one’s own citizens. Should such systems still be considered with the same reverence as, say, in the midst of some Cuban Missile Crisis? Internet specialists have addressed some of the questions posed by this blanket surveillance (among others, in Circle ID: Geoff Huston and Roy Balleste).

 

In the Soviet Union, military power and ideological control relied on a vast network of listeners and analysts, of multilingual chauffeurs and fellow travellers across the globe. In the United States, the ayatollah Joseph McCarthy saw in the West-East confrontation an opportunity to use Cold War methods on home ground to eradicate anything close to « socialism », shore up religious persuasions, nurture capitalism and pave the way for global financial dominance. And today, countries with interests around the world use the Internet as a conduit for influence and power, when it is not for their covert actions.

 

Over the years, individuals have assumed the high-risk role of whistleblowers because their duties made them aware of the dire consequences of public policy: through his selfless action, Daniel Ellsberg (The Pentagon Papers 1971) helped shorten the US occupation of Vietnam. More recently, whistleblowers have emerged because the Internet provided access to confidential data which they considered of crucial importance to their fellow citizens; others exposed the massive and systematic electronic surveillance by the US, including of its own citizens at home and abroad; and the dissemination of information about Prism and Echelon has put into question the very notion of being an ally (the UK claims to be a full member of the European Union, yet it is one of only 5 beneficiary states of Echelon). Such whistleblowers are reviled by some and hailed by others: Sibel Edmonds, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, Julian Assange, and recently Edward Snowden (and those who helped them: Sarah Harrison from WikiLeaks aided Snowden during his travails in Hongkong and Moscow; Glenn Greenwald, a journalist with The Guardian, published Snowden’s story as it unfolded).

 

This form of unmediated transparency, possible only in democracies, has always been the nightmare of theocracies and other single-party regimes. In its terminal stages, the USSR could do nothing against the humble fax machine, which turned out to be an essential vicar of Perestroika. Turning to Asia, one cannot help but wonder what would have been the outcome of Tian’anmen if, in 1989, global social networks had been available on the same scale as today. More recently, and true to their messianic inclinations, our Western democracies offered verbal encouragement to movements of self-liberation in the Near- and Middle-East, while vaunting the role played by (Western) social media in these upheavals.

 

But now we are witnessing a regrettable convergence: established democracies are resorting to the methods of regimes they have long criticized, and they do this with a sense of righteousness, in the name of a « global war on terror ». For anyone interested in US affairs, it is disturbing to see that President Obama is implementing parts of the Neo-Con agenda that even the Cheney Administration had not achieved (Patriot Extension Act 2011; maintaining Guantanamo; Boundless Informant; comforting current NSA and related practices without effective oversight). Some day, US citizens will have to come to grips with the growing contradiction between the lofty principles upon which their country was founded, including the "Wall of separation" between state and religion (Jefferson 1802), and 21st-century US where the President concludes his swearing-in with an astounding "so help me God". in the Middle East and elsewhere, religious bigots point at the caption "In God we trust" printed on every US banknote and adopted as the national motto of the US (1956), to better impose their bleak obscurantism in madrassas. This convergence holds more dangers for democracies than for theocracies. It is deeply disturbing that the United Kingdom’s GCHQ secretly accepted £100 million from the NSA, the US agency seeming to consider that massive global surveillance could be carried out without bothersome legislative and judiciary oversight in Britain, the country that schoolchildren around the world know as the cradle of parliamentary democracy.

 

A naive posture has no place in this debate: countries who can afford it usually have agencies that gather information and try to influence decisions in other countries. But recent developments should lead us to examine several points:

 

-       1) By eschewing principles for the sake of « operational efficiency », democracies weaken the very core of their social cohesion and political stability. These principles are so obvious that one is embarrassed to name them: civil liberties, human rights, a clear separation of powers. Established democracies have become complacent about their own practices, and it is high time that surveillance be effectively subordinated to judiciary and parliamentary control, rather than left to the sole judgment of the executive.



  2) Technical entities such as ICANN should be more open about discussing this, because the separation between the technical and the governance aspects of the Internet no longer has the same justification as when Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn et al invented TCI/IP. This challenge has just been taken up by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) at its Berlin meeting, where it decided to devise methods to protect the privacy of the general Internet user. The IETF shows the way forward: there is no taboo, even for a technical body, to place as much emphasis on user privacy as on engineering challenges or business opportunities.


 

-       3) The debate about the Internet has long avoided considering the global public interest as a priority. It is time to recognize that the rape of privacy has become a widespread and unpunished crime, and as such requires firm corrective legislation and processes. Awareness has been raised by some great Internet names: most recently, Tim Berners-Lee and his World Wide Web Foundation issued a statement on "Surveillance laws: time to reform the status quo". The efforts of W3C, ISOC, the Council of Europe and others now need to be gathered in a meta-platform, in order to impact public policy.

- 

Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
17 novembre 2012 6 17 /11 /novembre /2012 23:13

Je viens de voir "Augustine" (scénario et mise en scène d'Alice Winocour) au cinéma du quartier, fort troublé par ce qui semble être un cas de plagiat sans scrupule.

Dans les dernières minutes du film, lorsqu'Augustine (Soko, excellente dans le rôle), Charcot (un Vincent Lindon rigide) et Mme Charcot (Chiara Mastroiani, fine, intelligente) se diluent dans la foule du soir, une musique prend de l'ampleur, un lancinant canon de cordes étreint le spectateur : n'est-ce pas "Tabula rasa", du compositeur estonien Arvo Pärt (oeuvre de 1977) ? Le film terminé, et tandis que la salle de cinéma se vidait, je suis resté assis, pour le plaisir de voir apparaître le nom de Pärt, qui méritait bien ce coup de chapeau. Mais quelle surprise, dans la liste des noms qui défile après la dernière image, on apprend le nom de l'électricien, du coiffeur, mais quand vient "musique", je lis avec surprise le seul nom de Jocelyn Pook.

De retour à la maison, je vérifie de suite, sur les sites spécialisés, la filmographie concernant "Augustine" : avec étonnement, je constate qu'à côté de la mention "musique", seul figure le nom de Jocelyn Pook. Et sur le site de cette compositrice et altiste britannique, il est bien fait mention du fait qu'elle compose la musique d' "Augustine", mais sans aucune indication qu'elle ait pu être inspirée par l'oeuvre de Pärt.

Peut-on imaginer qu'Alice Winocour et les producteurs (Isabelle Madelaine, Emilie Tisné, Laurent Pétin, Michèle Pétin), auraient manqué à ce point de culture musicale, mais aussi d'élémentaire prudence, en ne vérifiant pas que la musique accompagnant la dernière scène du film, devait beaucoup à un grand compositeur contemporain, Arvo Pärt ? Faut-il imaginer que Jocelyn Pook, qui a déjà signé de nombreuses musiques de film, se serait laissée aller à faire ce gros emprunt en comptant sur l'ignorance des spectateurs ? Dans l'un et l'autre cas, le résultat est d'une indélicatesse crasse et, faute d'explication convaincante d'Alice Winocour ou de Jocelyn Pook, laisse planer l'ombre d'un plagiat éhonté.

Il serait dommage que la réputation de l'une ou l'autre fût ternie par cette négligence. Comme bien d'autres spectateurs, j'attends des explications.

 

 


Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
14 février 2012 2 14 /02 /février /2012 07:20

 ➠ 中文版 

DSC00785 2

En calligraphie, l'esprit ordonne le geste, le corps ne fait qu'exécuter.

 

C'était lors d'une fête qu'un ami donnait dans un musée d'art contemporain pour son 50ème anniversaire. Ses parents, son épouse, ses enfants, des amis de jeunesse, des collègues, quelques dizaines d’invités formaient un groupe varié et de tout âge. En terminant sa sobre allocution, le héros de la fête évoqua un ami d'enfance présent à ses côtés, et lui demanda d'exécuter quelques calligraphies avant que nous ne passions au buffet.

Discrète, attentive à tout, Mme XU Dengyin , l'épouse du calligraphe, aidée de deux ou trois invités, débarrassa une table, déploya des rouleaux de papier, disposa les instruments d'écriture, vérifia l'encre, et de ses paumes lissa la première page blanche.

Vêtu d'un tricot aux manches retroussées, ZHENG Jieping  鄭階平(郑阶平)s'avança vers l'écritoire improvisé. Ceux qui ne le connaissaient pas, retenant leur souffle, se demandèrent comment une personne sans mains et sans avant-bras pouvait s'adonner à la calligraphie. Un instant de concentration, regardant l'encrier, puis la feuille blanche, à nouveau l'encrier et les pinceaux, l’artiste se préparait à écrire.

L'instant d'après, il saisit le plus grand pinceau, le trempa, et d'un geste sûr en exprima l'encre superflue sur les bords de l'encrier. D'habitude, un calligraphe tient le pinceau dans sa main droite comme le prescrivent les manuels de cet art, "avec la fermeté du tigre et la légèreté de l'oiseau". Ici, ZHENG Jieping, debout, tenait le pinceau de ses deux membres supérieurs, de sorte que l'acte d'écrire mobilisait tout son corps, qui se déplaçait tout entier de droite à gauche au rythme de la calligraphie, le torse et la tête imprimant au pinceau d'amples mouvements pour les grands caractères puis, pour achever en plus petits idéogrammes la date et sa signature, se focalisant comme un horloger sur une montre, en gestes de faible ampleur dont on devine la précision.

Les invités, émerveillés, formèrent un cercle de plus en plus resserré autour du calligraphe. Plusieurs grandes feuilles passèrent ainsi de l’état de papier à celui de signe, de message, d’art. L'après-midi fut éclairé par ZHENG Jieping, écrivant de tout son corps ; le pinceau, à l'aplomb de son regard concentré, semblait alors l'instrument docile d'une surprenante chorégraphie.

Intéressé par le style de ce calligraphe, j'ai proposé à son épouse et lui de leur rendre visite afin de faire connaissance et prendre quelques photos. Echange de numéros de téléphone, promesse de se contacter bientôt.

Par une journée pluvieuse, je me suis rendu dans leur appartement au dernier étage d'un immeuble, avec vue sur le fleuve Huangpu, gris métallique ce jour-là. Nous bûmes du thé, bavardâmes, continuèrent au restaurant du quartier où je les conviai avec leur fils, retournâmes chez eux et regardâmes des albums, des livres, des calligraphies récentes.


DSC00773

Le calligraphe ZHENG Jieping 鄭階平 郑阶平) chez lui, à Shanghai.


Il ne m'en a pas parlé, mais ses amis savent que le tout jeune ZHENG Jieping fut accidentellement électrocuté par un câble à haute tension, avec pour conséquence la perte de ses deux bras. L'amputation lui laissa des moignons juste au-dessus des coudes. Sans doute a-t-il fallu une volonté hors norme pour surmonter une telle épreuve. Sa passion de la calligraphie remonte à l'école primaire, lorsqu'il avait admiré le talent de quelques camarades dont les oeuvres étaient exposées, et regretté de n'en avoir pas lui-même.

En regardant des photos de Jieping jeune homme, je découvre la haute exigence qu'il n'a cessé d'avoir à l'égard de lui-même : dans une photo, le voilà à une rencontre sportive régionale pour personnes handicapées, et dans une autre, le voici aux Olympiades pour handicapés (saut en longueur). Il a produit pour la jeunesse des manuels de calligraphie dont il m'a montré les brouillons, chaque caractère tracé avec ce qui m'a paru une grande aisance, mais qui résulte sans doute d'années d'une riguoureuse discipline. J'imagine le respect qu'il doit inspirer à ses éleves, dans le lycée à Shanghai où, en classe de calligraphie, il leur parle aussi de l'évolution des styles au cours des siècles.


DSC00792

ZHENG Jieping avec son épouse XU Dengyin et leur fils ZHENG Weixiong. L’inscription célèbre la nouvelle année, “Que l’année du dragon apporte le bonheur” (龍年戴福 xinnian daifu).

S'il pratique tous les styles d'écriture, je trouve que ZHENG Jieping excelle dans le caoshu  ("la souplesse des hautes herbes"), forme dont l'apparente décontraction suppose non seulement une maîtrise technique, mais aussi une profonde connaissance étymologique, historique et littéraire. Tandis que d’autres graphies, notamment le kaishu 楷书 demandent un respect rigoureux du modèle proposé, laissant ainsi peu de place à la fantaisie ou à la créativité, caoshu est une forme dans laquelle, me semble-t-il, une personnalité hors du commun trouve à s’exprimer librement.

DSC00771

Calligraphie en écriture caoshu ("la souplesse des hautes herbes") par ZHENG Jieping.

Il est surprenant qu'un artiste de cette qualité, apprécié des initiés en Chine, soit à peu près inconnu ailleurs : ne pourrait-on trouver, d'abord en Asie puis dans d'autres régions du monde, des galeries souhaitant montrer, à travers ZHENG Jieping, que la calligraphie est indissociable de la culture chinoise, tout en faisant penser, par son abstraction, à l'art contemporain ? 

Jean-Jacques.

Vous pouvez faire part de votre ais en cliquant sur "commentaire" ci-dessous. Merci !

 (Les commentaires sont modérés par le propriétaire de ce blog).

Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article
14 février 2012 2 14 /02 /février /2012 07:12

en français : ZHENG Jieping, calligraphe

翻译 : 女士 

 

DSC00785 2

书法中,思想带动手势,身体不过是执行大脑的指挥。

 

节日的一天,朋友在现代艺术馆庆祝他的50岁生日。他的父母,妻子,孩子,年轻时的朋友,同事组成一个年龄、社会背景不同的来宾群体。在简洁的发言中,主人提到他的身边的人们,其中一个便是他儿时的伙伴郑阶平。餐前,主人邀请郑先生当场作一幅字。

低调,但是无微不至的郑太太,徐登银女士,在其他两三个朋友的帮助下收拾掉一张桌子,摊开一卷纸,摆放上书法道具,检查一遍墨汁,用手心抚平第一张白纸。

郑阶平的毛衣袖口高高卷起,身子伏向那张临时变成的文案。还不认识郑阶平的来宾们屏住了呼吸,不知道这个只剩下上臂的人怎么会和书法联系在一起。郑先生的眼光落在砚台上,然后在白纸上,又转向砚台和毛笔,凝神片刻。

随后,他夹起一只大号的毛笔,浸在砚台里,用及其娴熟的手势把笔在边沿上舔了一下。在通常的情况下,一个写书法的人用右手握笔,就像教科书上写的那样“握笔如猛虎般坚定,行笔如飞鸟般轻盈。”不过今天不同。郑阶平站着,用他的两条上臂夹着笔写字,就好象是用他的全身来运笔,他的身子随着笔画从右向左移动,写大字时,上身和头部与笔尖一起挥舞;落款写小字时,又好像一个钟表匠,凝神屏气,自信又精准。

啧啧称奇的来宾们在书法家的身边围起一个圈子,圈子变得越来越紧。这个下午因为郑阶平,这个用自己的身体写字的人而变得不平凡;那只笔,垂直在他全神贯注的目光下,就好象神奇的编舞者手下的一个灵巧的道具。

被他独特的风格所吸引,我向书法家和他的太太提议去拜访他们,以便更好地认识他们,拍几张照。交换了电话号码,我们约定近期内联系。

雨濛濛的一天,我来到他们家。郑家在一栋高楼的最高层,面向黄浦江,在这个雨天里,江面一片银灰。我们喝茶,闲聊,然后我请他们夫妇和儿子一起在附近的餐馆便餐,随后再回到他们的寓所,看他的收集,书籍,还有最近的书法作品。


 DSC00773

书法家郑阶平在他上海的寓所


他没有跟我多,但是他的朋友都知道,郑阶平是由于幼压电电而失去了他的双臂。截肢手后,剩下的只有肘以上的两段上臂。经受住这样一个打击毫无疑问需要有过人的意志。他对书法的迷恋则来自于上小学的时候。有一次去参观书法展览,他被别人的作品所吸引,并懊恼自己没有这个才能。

看着阶平年轻时的照片,我感受到一种奋发向上,自强不息的精神:在一张照片上,是他在残疾人运动会上,在另一张上,是他在残奥会上(跳远)。他给我看他给年轻人出的一本书法字帖的草稿,一笔一画都显得那么圆润流畅,但这是多少年坚持习字的结果啊。郑阶平在上海的一所中学教书法,他还给他的学生们讲述中国字体演变的历史。我想象他的学生们对这位老师会是怀着如何一种尊重.


 DSC00792

郑阶平和他的妻子徐登银和儿子郑伟雄(上海大学一年学生)

 

郑阶平能写各类字体,但我觉得他最擅长的是草书,那种轻松自如不仅显示出他对技巧的掌握,更显示出他对字源学、历史和文化深厚的理解。总认为,其他的字体,比如需要格地遵守规则,很少有自我发挥的余地。而草书则不同,种字体具有独特个性的人能尽情地表

DSC00771

郑阶平的草书

 

这样一个在中国被内行人看好杰出的艺术家在其他国家却不被知晓实在有点令人吃惊我们是否能在亚洲然后在其它国家找到一些画廊愿意通过展示郑阶平的书法作品这一保存着中国古老文化的艺术形式 以它的抽象性来反省现代艺术呢

Jean-Jacques(杨霞客)

您可以点击下面的“评论”来表达您的观点。谢谢。(博客主人有权选择刊登评论)

Repost 0
Published by JJS
commenter cet article