The 1start thesis exhibitionby students in the 4thyear of education in Media Arts and Design Programme, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University aims at promoting works created through 4-year study. Topics, upon an interest of each individual, are expressed through practice of contemporary media arts and design, not pure abstract art, with an emphasis on establishing an understanding, as well as criticizing complex issues surrounding us through visual culture which does not adhere to any particular knowledge frameworks or presentation techniques. Rather, it incorporates knowledge of culture, arts, design, mass media, politics, and economics into a creation of media arts and design works in various forms as contemporary cultural activity pertaining to and beneficial to the public, as well as individuals. Apart from the exhibition, there will be discussion, lecture, and other practices that will offer benefits to a field of contemporary media arts and culture. This exhibition is staged under the title “ERROR 502”.
“ERROR 502”, a language used in the internet system, is a HTTP response status code from a server defined by the Internet standards of the Engineering Task Force (IETF). This code means ‘Service temporarily overloaded’ or ‘Bad gateway’, an error from the server due to unavailability for service, despite valid request. This may be a result from an overload condition. Other causes can be either the server is down or out of service for maintenance, or power is out. Therefore, the server needs to be repaired. The only thing service users can do to resolve an error is to press the ‘REFRESH’ button repeatedly which may take either seconds or years.
The higher education system in Thailand is something not dissimilar to ERROR 502 in which the labour market acts as a server, while the government serves as the agency to manage its structure and students are service users. When these students are graduated and ready to enter the labour market, it comes to an obvious question of whether such space will be adequate to a total number of graduates, and whether social welfare will be available to all individuals’ needs, as well as how they can secure their well-being as access to education is still problematic, not to mention the fact that there is no guarantee for employment.
An answer to the question raised by students of how knowledge they have gained can be utilized is no longer important since what has come along such the question is a concern of those who are stepping into the world outside to become a cog in the machine of globalization. This concern reflects not only their personal feeling, but also whether knowledge offered today will indeed enable graduates to “make a living” and to take care of their loved ones. Top skills demonstrated in classroom are now being challenged by real working environment, nepotism, eccentric values, and, salary which can barely be reserved hospitalization. Whilst a vast number of students raise such a question, they are asked with the same question. Art students, in particular, who have creativity, imagination and different worldview are frequently asked by society about a kind of job they will apply for, given that their daily life much concerns with imaginary world, conceptual thinking, and spiritual mind, whilst the real society is competitive and systematically operates, as in work. This includes the labour market which is somehow not in favour for practices of these students, and social dimensions which do not facilitate their intended living, owing to the fact that existing economic, social, politic, art, and cultural conditions barely provide them with space to express creative ideas. Although there have been efforts from ruling classing to change, improve, and reform this society, results from pressing the ‘Refresh’ button does not seem to be achieved any time soon. Rather, a number of negative consequences have been apparent.
Since the ‘server’ has not yet been reconfigured to serve an increasing number of users, any kinds of questions do not matter. Perhaps, the present-day society is now awaiting for highly skilled hackers to deconstruct and eliminate its existing system so as to create further fairness, to delete all junk files and viruses in order to prepare for entrance of new service users, and to shut down all interfering and interrupting sources so as to make the system becomes more stable, as well as to resolve structural problems where merely few parts can actually be operated to, at least, alleviate such problems.
This thesis is not an ordinary art exhibition as it incorporates a collection of database from other disciplines into experience derived from intensive practices throughout these 4 years to obtain a set of data. Even though it is not a final conclusion, this ‘refresh’ will be the beginning of artistic work creation by MADs students. As a saying goes “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, it would not be too difficult for our fellow students to make a living and to find our stance in society. However, what can and will assure that once we press the button, we will not encounter ERROR 502 on the society we are living in, although we have learned how to enter a correct command