The evening before the workshop, the talk of cultural theorist and curator Daphne Dragona opened the topic of artistic practise and infrastructure in commoning processes. She discussed the term of the commons as a means of relationship (Virno, Negri/Hart, Harney/Moten), and referred to the concept of „affective infrastructures“, as proposed by Lauren Berlant. For her, the process of commoning of infrastructures both involves the network infrastructure as a commons, and the commons (affects, desires, habits) as conceptual infrastructures. This double side of infrastructural commons means that they help building communities, while in the same time are realising a common desire. Daphne Dragona introduced several artistic positions in the field along the lines of community networks, feminist / queer technologies, and technologies of kinship. She highlighted four aspects of commoning in artistic practise: first, the importance of commoning as a practise, which is often against the logic of the artwork in its involvement of other parties, and the relations being built across difference and constraints. Second: these practises always embrace communication of knowledges, in the form of exchange, shared learning situations, workshops, etc., paying attention to both the technological and affective dimension of commoning. Third: the role of care in commoning processes, the need to care critically, to care with and for each other, and also to care for the machinic and natural environment. The fourth aspect is the role of imagination: to common is always connected to imaginaries of a different world, of different infrastructures, and different relationships.
The next two days the research group was working in the plenary and smaller groups on topics of infrastructure. The introductions of the participants’ projects showed again a wide variety of practises of working with infrastructures: activist work with communities, artist run organisation developing their own infrastructure for their formats, alternative education initiatives, publishing, housing cooperatives and neighbourhood networks, and a fundraising organisation working directly with communal government. Important points in the discussions were questions of scale, closely related to problems of sustainability, care and temporality. Another topic was the need for translations between different publics, needs, interests, agencies and institutions, which was named “promiscuous API” during the discussion. These topics were further developed in three groups around the topics of 1) desires / imaginations and symbolic dimensions, 2) sustainability and resilience, 3) limitations and temporality – how to end things?
Two inputs followed the group discussions: the first from Alessandro Ludovico, who talked about networks as distribution infrastructure from the point-of-view of a publisher, highlighting the importance of infrastructure as a site of diverse practices (from circulation, hacking, pirating, infiltration, to cooperation). The second input from theorist Lioudmila Voropai explored the relational dimensions of artistic practice in regard to institutional logic, which is often shaped by strategic political and economic discourses, and has a strong influence on artistic practices and self-understandings. In her talk, she developed a notion of aesthetics with a focus on institutions’ roles in top-down formulations of a new aesthetic paradigm, on the example of so-called “Medienkunst” (new media art). Both inputs touched upon the topic of institutions and their role as infrastructures for practices, but also desires.
After the two very intense days, it became apparent that despite the many differences in fields of practice, backgrounds, and approaches of the projects, all share an understanding that infrastructure and practices are co-constituting each other, and that this entanglement is a place for activists and/or artistic practices. This resonates some of the themes introduced by Goriunova in the first meeting. The concept of the commons is not a central reference for all of them, but especially the aspect of commoning proved to be a very fruitful concept for cross-disciplinary reflection.
The “Temporary Library” is a curated collection of books around a specific topic, that is on display temporarily, the books are mostly donations by the publishers. The concept of a “Temporary Library” has been developed by Alessandro Ludovico, and he has compiled together with Creating Commons a “Temporary Library for Creating Commons” (Score #9) as part of the exhibition “OPEN SCORES – How to program the Commons” at panke.gallery from 21 September to 12 October 2019.
After the exhibition, the books have been donated to MIZ, the library of Zurich University of the Arts, where they have been cataloged, indexed, and are now available for loan.
Check out the catalog, and find 56 books and publications around digital culture, the arts and the commons.
Many thanks to the staff of MIZ, especially Felix Falkner, Rolf Wolfensberger and Maya Penasa Oehninger, for providing a permanent home to the “Creating Commons” version of the “Temporary Library”!
Nethood is a Zurich based non-proft organization working on and with communities, cooperations on tools and infrastructure for community-driven organization of living. Including incorporates housing, neighborhood organization, networking, exchange, and learning. Nethood is a partner of diverse interdisciplinary international projects.
It was founded in 2012 by Panayotis Antoniadis, Ileana Apostol, and Jens Martignoni.
Its [Nethood’s] current activities include the facilitation of information exchanges and collaborations between researchers, practitioners, activists, and citizens around its objectives; the participation in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, education, and action projects; and the development of Do-It-Yourself tools and methodologies for empowering local actors to build networked localities that can support each other without suppressing their differences.
The vision of NetHood is to plant seeds of collective awareness, critical listening, long-term thinking, social learning and refective action toward sustainable social life.
Mazi is a research-initiative working on alternative technologies for communities, running from 2016 to 2018, in collaboration with University of Thessaly (GR). Its aim is to foster hybrid networking to empower local communities. It is conducting four pilot studies in Germany, Greece, the UK, and Switzerland. In this course, it developed the Mazi-Toolkit.
MAZI means “together” in Treek and the goal of MAZI is to provide technology and knowledge in order to:
empower those who are in physical proximity, to shape their hybrid urban space, together, according to the local environment and context.
generate location-based collective awareness as a basis for fostering social cohesion, conviviality, participation in decision-making processes, self-organization, knowledge sharing, and sustainable living
facilitate interdisciplinary interactions around the design of hybrid space and the role of ICTs in society. MAZI is working on alternative technology, what we call “Do-It-Yourself networking”, a combination of wireless technology, low-cost hardware, and free/libre/open-source software (FLOSS) applications, for building local networks, known as “community wireless networks”. By making this technology better understood, easily deployed, and configured based on a rich set of customization options and interdisciplinary knowledge, compiled as a toolkit, MAZI will enable citizens to build their own local networks for facilitating hybrid, virtual and physical, interactions, in ways that are respectful to their rights to privacy, freedom of expression and self-determination. MAZI takes the perspective of existing grassroots initiatives, whose goals are social and political in nature, and explores ways that DIY networking technologies can help pursue them.
Openki exist since early 2015 under its current name, but it grew our of “schuel.ch” (founded in 2012), a calendar for self-learning courses and projects in the context of the “Autonome Schule Zurich” (an autonomos education initiative in Zurich). Among the inspirations for it was Sean Dockray’s project “public school” in Los Angeles, and, more generally, the democratic school movement around the Summerhill School (founded in 1921).
The name Openki refers to a fungus with massive biomass and rhizomatic structure. On a philosophical level, Openki sees itself as an alternative to the commonly known structure of the hierarchical tree of knowledge and ultimately replaces this model with a horizontal network of knowledge-exchange.
Openki is not only a platform, but also a community of self-learner and autonomous teachers/students that organizes local events, such as the openki Festival in 2018 in Zurich.
Openki is an open education platform. Courses can be proposed, discussed, developed, organized and published. The focus is on the promotion of self- organization, the bringing together of people, groupings and initiatives, and ensure a barrier-free exchange of experiences and knowledge. The courses are accessible to all, regardless of their fnancial situation. The organization behind it is non-proft and Open Source.
Openki belongs to me, to you and to all who participate in it. The application is open source, is available under the TNU ATPG license and is therefore freely available for non-commercial use. Behind Openki is the collectively organized non-proft association “KOPF” (KursOrganisationsPlattForm), which has been developing Openki during the last year.
The software (current version in development since late 2014) and the main implementation is maintained by a loose collective of about 10 people, based mainly in Zurich.
Openki is based, mainly, on volunteer work. Courses are open to all, course fees (beyond costs for materials and rent) are suggested as donations, not conditions for access. The non-proft foundation KOPF accepts donations, as well as public and private (cultural/social) funding, for example, for the Openki Festival 2018.
Goteo is a crowdfunding platform centering on crowd benefits, based in Barcelona. Goteo supports projects that generate a collective return, not only private benefits. It is a tool for collective financing and works together also with municipal bodies (e.g. the City of Barcelona).
Goteo was founded in 2011 by Platoniq, an media design and arts group, focusing on democratic participation in the digital realm, based on Barcelona, active since 2001. Funding members are Olivier Schulbaum and Susana Noguero, Co-directors Cristina Moreno and Mauricio O’Brian.
“Goteo is a platform for crowdfunding or collective financing (monetary contributions) and distributed collaboration (services, infrastructures, microtasks) for projects which, apart from giving individual rewards, also generate a collective return through fomenting the commons, open code and/or free knowledge. As a member of the network you can have one or various roles: presenting a project, co-funding, or collaborating on one.“
“Crowdfunding is a form of cooperation between a lot of people to gather a sum of money to help in the development of a specific project. Goteo is a new way, based on this model, to stimulate collaborative projects of an open and/or free nature. As an alternative or complement to financing from public administrations or private companies, Goteo reactivates the co-responsible role of civil society.”
Difference to other crowdfunding plattforms:
Commons, open and free: we promote projects working for the commons, open code, and/or free knowledge, putting the accent on the public mission and favoring free culture and social development.
Free and/or open licences: projects that wish to be co-funded with the help of Goteo must permit, through the use of licences, the copying, public communication, distribution, modification and/or use of part or all of each creation.
Collective return: Goteo seeks the social return of investments and for this reason apart from individual returns, the system is based on collective returns for the development of the commons.
Social investment market: We manage a feeder capital (Matchfunding > capital riego) with contributions from public and private institutions and businesses for co-responsible investment with a multiplying effect in projects that rely on the support of civil society.
Distributed collaboration: In Goteo, apart from monetary contributions, it is possible to collaborate through services, material resources, infrastructure, or by participating in specific microtasks needed for the development of projects.
Two crowdfunding rounds of 40+40 days: There are two cofunding rounds, each with a duration of 40 days. The frst is an “all or nothing” round for the minimum essential budget, while the second is for an optimum sum to carry out additional improvements.
Community of local nodes: Goteo is a community of communities, a network of local, independent, inter-coordinated nodes which serve to localise the digital, contextualising it.
Goteo is governed through the Goteo Foundation, a non-proft organization which unites all the agents committed to the development of the project, and which is in charge of managing a public-private social investment fund of Matchfunding.
Femke Snelting works as artist and designer, developing projects at the intersection of design, feminism, and free software. In various constellations, she has been exploring how digital tools and practices might co-construct each other. She has been working on developing a Code of Conduct for LibreGraphics Meetings, addressing the need for shared values and problem handling strategies to foster diversity and inclusive culture in FLOSS communities.
She is member of Constant, a non-profit, artist-run association for art and media based in Brussels (since 2003). Since 1997, Constant generates performative publishing, curatorial processes, poetic software, experimental research and educational prototypes in local and international contexts.
With Jara Rocha she activates Possible Bodies, a collective research project that interrogates the concrete and at the same time fictional entities of “bodies” in the context of 3D tracking, modelling, and scanning. She co-initiated the design/research team Open Source Publishing (OSP) and formed De Geuzen, a foundation for multi-visual research, with Renée Turner and Riek Sijbring. Femke teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute (experimental publishing, Rotterdam) and is currently curator of the Research Centre at a.pass (advanced performance and scenography studies, Brussels).
Codes of Conducts. Transforming Shared Values into Daily Practice. In: Sollfrank, Cornelia (ed): The Beautiful Warriors. Technofeminist Praxis in the Twenty-First Century, London: Minor Compositions, 2019. https://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=976
in german: Codes of Conducts – Gemeinsame Werte in alltägliche Praxis umsetzen. In: Sollfrank, Cornelia (Hg.): Die schönen Kriegerinnen. Technofeministische Praxis im 21. Jahrhundert. Wien: transversal texts, 2018 https://transversal.at/books/die-schonen-kriegerinnen
“An Active Archive is not a black box with a Download button, it is information reconfigured.“
Active Archives is an initiative founded by Constant (Brussels), in collaboration with Arteleku in 2006. It currently holds ongoing collaborations with Constant and e.r.g (Ecole de Recherche Graphique Brussels).
Active Archives are concerned with decentralizing the archive, with the importance of ownership of the infrastructure, the nessecity to include other media than text, promoting re-use of content, and rethinking taxonomies and classifcation of content.
Michael Murtaugh is a technologist based in Brussel. He is a member of Constant, association for arts and media, and a lecturer at Piet Zwart Institute, Institute for Experimental Publishing at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.
Active Archive aims at creating a free software platform to connect practices of library, media library, publications on paper was magazines, books, catalogues), productions of audio-visual objects, events, workshops, discursive productions, etc. Practices which can take place on line or in various geographical places, and which can be at various stages of visibility for reasons of rights of access or for reasons of research and privacy conditions.
The Active Archives project starts from the observation that most of the interesting cultural archives that have been developed over the last few years have taken advantage of those new facilities for instant publishing, but mostly in the form of websites that mirror regular information brochures, announcements and text- publishing. Often, they are conceived as “We” give information to “You”. Within Active Archives, we aim to set up multi-directional communication channels, and are interested in making information circulate back and forth. We would like to give material away and receive it transformed: enriched by different connections, contexts and contradictions.
AND Publishing is an alternative publishing initiative based in London. It was founded by Lynn Harris and Eva Weinmayr in 2009, and is run today by run Eva Weinmayr and Rosalie Schweiker.
AND Publishing is concerned with the social, cultural, and political implications of publishing and going public in the wider sense. They explored piracy as cultural strategies, investigated informal forms of book distribution, maintain reading groups, and engage in various activities around books, reading, publishing, and knowledge strategies in general. They work on the premises of publishing as an artistic strategy, and with a strong background in feminist thinking.
AND is a publishing activity based in London. Having started in 2009 to explore the immediacy and social possibilities of print on demand – AND can be described today as a multiplicity of alliances that don’t fit together smoothly. We collaborate with people and institutions. We develop informal distributions networks and explore the social agency of cultural piracy (the Piracy Project, with Andrea Francke). We are invested in feminist radical pedagogy (Let’s Mobilize: What is Feminist Pedagogy? Valand Academy working group), and publish pocket manuals (Teaching for people who prefer not to teach, with Mirjam Bayerdörfer). We build informal support structures, re-distribute budgets, commission work, and (re-)publish material which is difficult to find. We create reading rooms (Library of Omissions and Inclusions), share a studio, provide resources and advice, as well as access to skills, means of production and distribution. We’re having conversations and debates, conflicts, and negotiations – online, offline, and in print.
Therefore, we started recently to learn how to box and unbox.
Why do we publish? How do we publish? For whom do we publish? What does it mean to understand our work not as a ‘noun’, but as a ‘verb’? Where do we put the many things we’re doing, that don’t fit into boxes? What’s the problem with categorization? How do we resist the demand for individual authorship? Why do we NOT want a unified face? How can we subvert the social pressure to produce faces? How do you ‘work politically’ instead of making work ‘about politics’? What’s the problem with writing a colophon in the book? How do we negotiate with institutional bodies? Why would we go on a residency when we struggle to pay rent at home? Where can we store our boxes? How long does it take to travel to Stockholm from London by train? Why do we all speak English? Why is what we are doing called research or education and not art? Where did we meet? What happens if we don’t work together anymore? Who has invited us and why? How are we spending the budget? Do we want to stay in a two-bedroom or a one-bedroom apartment? Do you want tea? Have you read the S.C.U.B manifesto? What’s the Wif password? Which objects didn’t we bring because we were worried they might get stolen? How do we make this residency visible? Who has the time to engage? What can we make public? When does the residency end? Who would be our ideal boxing teacher? What happens if we hurt ourselves? Who gives in? Who compromises? Who accommodates? Who cares? Who edits? Who organizes? Who translates? Do we need a new, less tired, and exclusive language to talk about all of this? And how do you document laughter?
Spideralex is a sociologist and holds a doctorate in social economy. She is the founder of the catalan cyberfeminist collective Donestech that explores the relation between gender and technologies developing action research, documentaries, and training. She was the coordinator of a four-year international program with the title “Gender and Technology Institute”, working with human rights defenders and women’s rights activists around the world on topics of privacy and security online, but also in the physical and psycho-social domain. She has edited two volumes on technical sovereignty initiatives.
She lives in the internet and sometimes can be met with her community in Catalunya.
The discourse around digital commons focuses mainly on circulating resources and the communities forming around them. In specific artistic practices investigated in this text, another layer comes into focus: what began as an artistic project sometimes becomes infrastructure, and with that come new roles, dependencies, commitment and a lot of service work. Shusha Niederberger explores the often invisible layers of infrastructure in artistic and activist practices on feminist technologies.
Anthropologist Brian Larkin defines infrastructures as „matter that enable the movement of other matter“ (Larkin 2013) and it is just as true for water supply as it is for a web server. This stratification of infrastructure and circulation is visible in many of the projects studied in our research: shadow libraries, for example, enable the circulation of texts and other cultural resources. Circulating resources are in the center of the discourse about digital commons, extending from digital resources to the communities that have been forming around them, while practices associated with the infrastructure this circulation is based on remaining mostly unaddressed. And still, infrastructure is a crucial element in many of the projects we studied. What started as an artistic project became infrastructure, and with that come new roles, dependencies, obligations and a lot of service work.
The function of invisibility
Why is the infrastructural level invisible, even in commons discourse? The pioneer of Infrastructure Research, Susan Leigh Star, argued that a characteristic of infrastructure is its disappearance behind its own functionality (Star 1999). And yes, it is not necessary to understand how the water supply works in order to be able to fill a glass of water. Only in the failure or collapse of infrastructure does become visible what infrastructure is: a whole network of things, practices of maintenance, relationships that regulate its creation and access, and also relationships among people connected to all these levels.
In our research, the question of infrastructure has been raised by projects with a feminist background, especially in the work of Constant, an artist-run organization in Brussels. In 2013, Constant hosted a workshop called “Are you being served?” to which artists and activists were invited to reflect on servers and services and the relationships to technology articulated through them (Constant 2015). During that workshop, participants formulated the Feminist Server Manifesto, stating an alternative mode of relating to servers and services. The manifesto declares, among other things: A Feminist Server is “a situated technology. It has a sense of context and sees itself as part of an ecology of practices “. Feminist servers – and this can easily be extended to digital infrastructure in general – are defined here as fundamentally relational, embedded in social structures, practices and relationships.
However, infrastructure is not only embedded in social structures but also serves as a structuring mechanism in itself (Wilson 2016). The invisibility of the relational nature of infrastructure supports its normative function. This point is key part of feminist epistemology, which emphasizes that invisibilities are constitutive for power relations (Harding 1987). And this means, that in order to challenge power relations embedded in infrastructures, invisibilities must be named. Star has used this methodological approach in anthropological infrastructure research, and she proposed to identify “the master voice of infrastructure” (Star 1999). And one of the master voices of digital infrastructure is the narrative (and expectation) of self-evident functionality. So, to be able to rely on infrastructure means its disappearance behind the functionality it provides. And it is important to point out again, that the invisibility of infrastructure does not primarily refer to its material dimensions, but includes all practices associated with its maintenance, as well as the relationships established with these practices.
The manifesto addresses Feminist Servers as a “thinking tool” (Sollfrank: 2018), allowing us to think about our relationship to infrastructure, and offering a feminist critique of technology. Feminist activism has taken this critique into action, implementing specific Feminist Server as running servers for communities around the world. Feminist Servers emerged from the specific needs of women, non-binary persons and LGBTI people, who have, again and again, experienced that the Internet is not a safe space for them, that the large platforms dominating the Internet since the early 2000s do not protect their content, their concerns and needs – neither from attacks by other internet users nor from access by repressive states. Feminist Servers aim at implementing servers as “safer spaces”. And in doing so, Feminist Servers go further than other activist initiatives for alternative digital infrastructures, that primarily aim at independence from commercial interests: Feminist Servers take into account the ideological dimension of infrastructure.
Currently, there exist diverse Feminist Servers, especially in Europe and Latin America (Spideralex 2020). They are operated and maintained by their users themselves, however seamless functionality is not their declared goal. As another point in the manifesto declares: “Feminist Servers avoids efficiency, ease of use, scalability and immediacy, as these can be traps.” Instead of walking through the door of seamless functionality into the trap of normative invisibility of infrastructure again, the Feminist Server activists want to make their servers a place that can be inhabited, that is: a place of shared practice.
are therefore fragile, being transparent in regard to the conditions of production
of running services. “A server is a service. This implies work and care,
and it is illusory to think that it can always be free or that it can always be
there for you, if you know the conditions necessary for a service to
work,” says Spideralex in the interview with Claire Richard (Richard 2019).
That the refusal to reproduce the invisibility of infrastructure goes at the
expense of functionality, is, from a feminist perspective, not coincidence but
intention. It allows the Feminist Servers to not become invisible again as
infrastructure, but to remain a decidedly communal project.
The activists are aware of this tension. The last point in the manifesto says: “She tries very hard not to apologize when she is sometimes unavailable” [The Feminist Server is deliberately gendered as female in the manifesto, author’s note]. Spideralex speaks of this tension as an exchange: “You lose, and you gain other dimensions. And everything depends […] on the needs of the people who inhabit the respective server.” (Sollfrank 2018) What is lost is the self-evident functionality and efficiency of infrastructure together with its normative function, but in exchange, gained is a self-determined relationship to technology, a space to inhabit.
The circulation of digital goods is based on a digital infrastructure that is not self-preserving or self-reproducing. The feminist approach to technology of the Feminist Server Manifesto and also Feminist Server activism makes this invisible level accessible, hitherto neglected by the commons discourse. By naming the connections, practices and relationships hidden by functionality, they can be addressed as part of commoning practices. And by questioning the primacy of functionality and efficiency, alternative relationships to technology communities may choose to become visible. “Feminist technology is incomplete if one does not go through all the layers”, as Spideralex said (Sollfrank: 2018). In other words, a feminist perspective allows not only to extend the commons discourse about digital technology, by putting the different practices connected by digital technologies into relationships, but it also allows these relationships to be changed.
Constant. Are You Being Served? (notebooks), edited by Anne Laforet, Marloes de Valk, Madeleine Aktypi, An Mertens, Femke Snelting, Michaela Lakova, Reni Höfmuller, Brussels: Constant, 2015. https://areyoubeingserved.constantvzw.org/
Federici, Silvia. ‘Feminism and the Politics of the Commons’. In Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States, edited by Hughes/Peace/Van Meter, Oakland, California: AK Press, 2010.
Harding, Sandra. ‘Introduction. Is There a Feminist Methodology?’. In Feminism & Methodology, edited by Sandra Harding, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.
Larkin, Brian. Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure, Annual Review of Anthropology, 42, 2013, pp. 327-43.
Richard, Claire. Pas d’Internet féministe sans serveurs féministes. Entretien avec Spideralex, Panthère Premiere, 4/2019.
Spideralex. ‘Creating New Worlds – With Cyberfeminist Ideas and Practices’. In: The Beautiful Warriors. Technofeminist Praxis in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Cornelia Sollfrank, Colchester / New York / Port Watson: Minor Compositions, 2020, p. 52.
 This has also been the critique of Silvia Federici, with which she – unlike the Feminist Server activists – fundamentally rejects the possibilities of digital technology for the commons alltogether (Federici 2010).
Lecture by Shusha Niederberger at Zurich University of the Arts, MFA Symposium „HOW TO: Copy Paste and Rights“, 20.11.2019
Copyright addresses the artwork as property, but as works of art it belongs as well to the cultural sphere, which has since the Renaissance become to be seen as a public good. And indeed, the role of copyright has been for a long time to balance these two interests. The digital has challenged a basic assumption about the nature of goods: digital goods are not scarce anymore, because they can be copied without difference to the original. This has changed a lot for both the cultural sphere, where cultural goods circulate with a speed and reach unknown before, but also for copyright, which is turning to hard- and software in consumer electronics to keep the digital goods controllable, all the while new powerful cultural industries of networked services are reorganizing the ways we access and consume digital cultural goods.
How do artists deal with these dynamics? In my talk, I will discuss digital and digitally informed artistic practises dealing with this two-sided nature of cultural production and distribution, and explore the aesthetic consequences of these strategies.
This talk examines several feminist concepts that are relevant for envisioning the (digital) commons. What they share is an understanding of knowledge as that which occurs by sustaining relational webs and ongoing relays, rather than as the endpoint of linear progressions.
Isabel discusses firstly Ursula Le Guin’s The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (1986), in which she urges that the first piece of technology was not a weapon but a bag for carrying seeds, asserting that the function of technology is not a resolution but a continuing process. Donna Haraway’s concept of “string figures” builds further on Le Guin by proposing how distributed forms of access to and dissemination of knowledge can give rise to collective agency, while Karen Barad’s diffractive methodology contributes to envisioning the commons as something that necessarily involves a constant transformation of knowledge – regarding both the objects of inquiry and the apparatus (resources, discourses) through which they are viewed. This is relevant for addressing how the commons can produce situated knowledges (Haraway) and understanding how its collective nature only seemingly suggests that it conflicts with the partial positionings of individuals within a collective.
Isabel de Sena is a curator, author, and lecturer based in Berlin. She is working on the Philosophy and Aesthetics of Science and has published internationally. She has worked as a curator for institutions like Martin-Gropius Bau here in Berlin and others abroad. She is currently teaching at NODE Center for Curatorial Studies in Berlin and as a guest lecturer at CalArts in California.
Sebastian Lütgert in conversation with Cornelia Lund.
27 September 2019 panke.gallery Berlin
When films enter the database 0xDB(1) and its underlying software pan.do/ra(2), they become digital objects. As such, they form part of a network of interrelated elements that constitute the archival environment and, at the same time, point beyond it. How does this new environment affect our way of dealing with moving images? How does it affect the films and their aesthetics to be embedded in a digital framework of paratextual elements? And how do the films, in turn, influence this framework? What does it mean when the films are shown in the context of a Pirate Cinema(3) screening? And ultimately: how does this change not only the way we see the films, but also cinema itself? (1) https://0xdb.org (2) https://pan.do/ra (3) https://piratecinema.org
Sebastian Lütgert is an artist, programmer, and writer. He is (together with Jan Gerber) the founder of experimental movie database 0XDB and the software behind it (pan.do/ra). He has co-initiated other initiatives like Pirate Cinema Berlin, Bootlab and texts.com.
Cornelia Lund is an art, film and media theorist and curator living in Berlin. She is the co-director of fluctuating images, a platform for media art and design with a focus on audiovisual artistic production. She has been teaching design theory at various universities.
Peter Westenberg is an artist and a member of Constant, an artist-run organization in Brussels, active in art and technology.
In this interview, Peter discusses the possibilities of licensing in artistic contexts to think about the future context of one’s work. He explains the format of situations, a way of working collaboratively across disciplines Constant has been developing over the years. How do institutional practices like organizing events and developing formats relate to artistic practice and aesthetics? And how can that practice be situated in the discourse about the commons?
When films enter the database 0xDB(1) and its underlying software pan.do/ra(2), they become digital objects. As such, they form part of a network of interrelated elements that constitute the archival environment and, at the same time, point beyond it. How does this new environment affect our way of dealing with moving images? How does it affect the films and their aesthetics to be embedded in a digital framework of paratexutal elements? And how do the films, in turn, influence this framework? What does it mean when the films are shown in the context of a Pirate Cinema(3) screening? And ultimately: how does this change not only the way we see the films, but also cinema itself? (1) https://0xdb.org (2) https://pan.do/ra (3) https://piratecinema.org
Sebastian Lütgert in conversation with Cornelia Lund followed by Pirate Cinema screening.
20:00 Screening Pirate Cinema
Since its inception in 2004,
Pirate Cinema has proposed an ongoing series of works, materials and practices
that defy the proprietary logic of cinema. For this event, we have collected a
number of short outtakes that demonstrate the potential of screening entire
archives instead of films, let us inspect the aesthetics of digital
deconstruction and probe the narrative promises of recombinatory cinema.
Workshop with Sebastian Lütgert (0xdb, Pand.do/ra, Pirate Cinema) SATURDAY 28 September 2019 11:00 – 17:00
Launched in 2007, the film database 0xDB has steadily grown to become one of the largest online movie archives in the world. In this workshop, we’re going to explore some of the new forms of research and creation that it allows us to practice: navigating large amounts of footage following the visual cues given by timelines, and along location metadata displayed on a map, using full text search in time-based annotations to create new edits of existing material, and automating all of the above with the built-in API.
Limited number of participants. Please register with workshop [at] netzkunst [dot] berlin
Collaborative building and maintenance of knowledge resources using monoskop.org as an example.
Since the early days of the Web, Wiki software plays a crucial role in the collaborative formation and maintenance of knowledge resources. Its basic principles include that (authorized) people can read, change and contribute content and materials, that all changes are transparent (through versioning), and that the basic technique of linking allows for creating new relationships and thus build new systems of meaning.
Based on Wiki software, the project monoskop.org has grown into a
major cultural resource over the last decade. It evolved from linking and
contextualizing information on Central and Eastern European experimental and
media arts to host relevant materials, such as books, texts, documents and
media files, and thus became a publishing initiative in its own right.
Taking his own work as founder and main editor of the site as a starting
point, Dušan Barok will conduct a workshop exploring the theoretical and
practical potential of wikis to support long-term collaborative projects and
foster the aesthetics of linking.
This workshop is for cultural producers interested in exploring the
potential of wikis to organize heterogeneous materials in their own fields of
practice. No special technical skills are necessary to participate, please
bring your own laptop.
Limited number of participants. Please register with workshop [at] netzkunst [dot] berlin
In this interview, he gives an overview of the activities of Multimedia Institute and it’s public space MaMa in Zagreb until today. He discusses the work of networking institutions and cultural advocacy in the political context of Croatia and draws connections to the discourse around the commons.
Panayotis Antoniadis is one of the founders of NetHood, a non-profit organization based in Zurich concerned with bridging the digital and the physical space. NetHood is active in neighborhood projects, communal housing projects, and alternative currency projects. In this interview, Panayotis talks about the work of Nethood, Mazi Toolkit and how digital infrastructure can help create empowering hybrid spaces in neighborhoods.
Eva Weinmayr is an artist, designer, educator, and researcher based in London. Her long-standing engagement with digital and print publishing includes projects such as The Piracy Project, AND Publishing and other practice experiments that are all based on the idea of alternative knowledge production and the exploration of the agency of books.
Decentralized Autonomous Organisation With Others (DAOWO) is the second wave of global art world restructuring against the toxic cult of the individual-artistic genius. This action first found expression in the punk spirit of networked collaboration called DIWO (Do It With Others). The DAOWO Open Score is an experimental framework for nurturing the artworld commons after Web3.0 at the intersection of three fields of practice: art, commoning and decentralization engineering.
The score template is used to notate the patterns and rhythms of artistic collaboration, resourcing, and dissemination. Other local and distributed communities-of-players can then repeat and improve upon art works, actions and organizations across distance, difference and time. The ultimate aim of DAOWO is to increase the resilience and resourcefulness of connected communities with an increased sense of: agency, imagination and alliances.
Stefanie Wuschitz has been part of the collective Mz* Baltazar’s Laboratory since 2009 and is researching feminist hacking as a critical practice. The zine ‘How To Be a Feminist Hacker’ visualizes the metamorphosis of the feminist hacker and the foundation of a clan or collective. Parts of the drawings are stickers that can be removed with the intention of giving these sticky zine elements the chance of a second life on various laptops, walls, posts or trash cans.
Creating Commons: Shusha Niederberger / Cornelia Sollfrank / Felix Stalder
Creating Commons is a SNF-funded research project at Zurich University of the Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art Research (ifcar). It explores interstitial practices which open the space between art and commons. Score #16
CuratingYouTube.net stands for the exploration of the Web 2.0 phenomena on the example of the online video sharing portal Youtube.com. Curating means choosing to be exhibited and preserved. During the process of selecting the reoccurring question you are facing is: “Why this and not that?” CYT is using curating as an artistic methodology, as a way to produce meaning and make a statement in the world of web 2.0 – since 2007. Score #3
Dock 18: Mario Purkathofer
Dock18 Space for media cultures of the world in Zurich is alternately (and from time to time a simultaneously) an independent art space, TV studio, media lab, meeting point, bar, club, dance floor and interactive breeding ground for different media cultures of the world. Score #8
Nethood is a Zurich based non profit organisation working on and with communities, cooperations on tools and infrastructure for community driven organisation of living. Including incorporates housing, neighbourhood organisation, networking, exchange and learning. Nethood is partner of diverse interdisciplinary international projects. Score #6 Hybrid Spaces. Interview with Panayotis Antoniadis
How to use GRIDr as an exhibition tool for Youtube-Videos
GRIDr [http://www.gridr.org] is an open online platform for creating video grids. The platform is an idea born from of the exhibition “3 hours in one second” in which it was given to artists, scientists and curators who deal with the web 2.0 phenomena, to select youtube videos and to illustrate their position by arranging them as a composition in a 2×2, 3×3 or 4×4 video grid. Jonas Lund was programming then the platform, which is now open for every one to use. Sakrowski explains in his video the history and usage of GRIDr in a typical HOW TO youtube video style.
“The good enough institution can recognize its mistakes, analyze them and correct them. It also knows how to recognize its limits and accept them, as best they can … It is that to be able to work below the ideal of the model.”
Since 2015, I am acting as the director of an
institution (currently an art school), and I am collaborating with a systemic
psychologist to apply the principles of institutional psychotherapy in my work.
In this context, my colleagues, the psychologist and I have drawn various
schemes and diagrams to understand the balance, the compromises, the limits, we
have to accept, to negotiate, to experience in order to work collectively and
with care in the framework of an institution and maybe achieve a good enough
Against Immunisation: Boxing as a Technique for Commoning.
This score rethinks the concept of the commons in a counterintuitive fashion. If we conceive
of boxing not as a concept of masculinity and violence or the survival
of the fittest, but as a moment of intense negotiation of border space, contagion and border linking, then it might serve as a technique to unlearn the building blocks of possessive individualism and the figure of the “proper.”
our life-long training as possessive individualists we have learned to
see and protect ourselves as “proper” subjects. That what is mine, what
belongs to me: my identity, my ethnicity, my land, demands protection.
Each of these spheres turn into a form of property that must be immunized from external appropriation and alterity through the erection of boundaries and exclusionary mechanisms.
But if we understand community not as a common essence or a shared property, then as Roberto Esposito suggests, the common is not characterized by what is proper but by what is improper. Or even more drastically, it is characterized
by the other, by a voiding. This removing what is properly one’s own
inverts and decenters the proprietary subject, forcing him/her/them to
take leave of themselves, to alter themselves. (Communitas, 2010)
Reading Esposito and Bracha Ettinger (The Matrixial Borderspace, 2006) were helpful to understand why the boxing training for self-defining women organized by AND at Marabouparken Konsthall in Stockholm (2018), was such an exhilarating, demanding and troubling experience.
Boxing is a moment of “border swerving, border linking and border spacing” (Ettinger), rendering permeable the borderlines of our “proper” subjects. As a nonverbal,
bodily dialogue it transgresses the very borderlines that we elsewhere
seek to protect. During sparring I deliberately forgo this established
immunity – my contours become vulnerable through the mutuality of the
touch: My fist touches and is being touched at the same time.
Community Servers: Bringing Community Networks to the Ground
As digital and physical space become more and more intertwined, commoning strategies in these domains require collaborations across different disciplines and fields of action. This methodology builds on a specific case study developing local applications for a community network in rural Greece and identifies four key processes on community building, digital space, physical space, and project management run by teams with different backgrounds and expertise. It proposes the visualization of selected threads of actions along these different processes on a “project score”, which evokes an analogy with a music score. Members of the different teams are encouraged to regularly mark their past and planned actions on the score and reflect on their relationships and interdependencies trying to develop a common understanding and language, similarly to a jazz improvisation. The booklet includes a set of “methodkit” cards representing a possible set of threads of action for each process as a starting point, and examples of suggested actions for each thread based on the experience from this specific case study. A collaborative online environment for documenting experiences in different case studies is under construction at http://nethood.org/studio.
… is a diagramatic draft of some of the (non) obvious limitations and frustrations with Commons by queer and questioning people. It is based on personal and shared experiences of inside + outside of networks and enclosures and proposed as a tool to reflect on other Commons in arts&culture – and to do it as the Other.
… is an attempt of developing diagrammatic representation of some of the (non) obvious limitations and frustrations with Commons by queer and questioning people… It is based on personal and shared experiences of in+outside of networks and enclosures and proposed as a tool to reflect on other Commons in arts&culture – and to do it as the Other. It is proposed as a draft by Z.Blace and hosted in open repository of framasoft’s GitLab instance / framagit.org, as well as in its etherpad instance / framapad.org with graphviz renders via Totalism https://e2h.totalism.org/e2h.php?link=annuel.framapad.org/p/qommoning
The central role of the library as a nodal cultural system is transforming into a still undefined new type of cultural body, influenced by the spontaneous creation of different types of DIY libraries. Libraries should evolve from their historical and ‘monumental’ role, into an extended, networked and shared infrastructure of knowledge. The concept of a “Temporary library” is to curate a list of tiles, asked to be donated by the respective publishers, filling specific knowledge needs during cultural events, and becoming then a permanent resource in an institutional library.
After the exhibition, the “Temporary Library” has been donated to the library of Zurich University of the Arts. All books are now indexed in the catalog and are available on the shelves on-site, ready to be loaned.
Michael Murtaugh / Femke Snelting / Peter Westenberg, Constant, Brussels
Collaboration Guidelines presents a set of rules, modes and expectations that suggest and question ways of being and working together. The installation is based on the commitment and guidelines for collaborative situations that Constant is currently formulating. They are presented in a setting that invites visitors to relax, to reflect and discuss.
The space is colourfully lit by a LED display developed by Michael Murtaugh which runs through recent changes in the Constant collaboration guidelines while they are being written and rewritten.
Inverse Reader is a collection of writings, talks and conversations about
shadow, independent and artists’ digital libraries. While they are associated
mainly with questioning of intellectual property and struggle for access to
scholarly communication and artistic expression, communities around these
libraries have also been actively engaging with amateur librarianship,
scholar-led publishing, the politics of search, pirate care, critical pedagogy,
self-education and other things which are brought here together.
reader contains a growing selection of more than sixty statements and texts
presented at gatherings and publications over the past ten years. It is
presented as a collective index of words and expressions from across the
corpus. The terms are selected (semi-)automatically using a “tf-idf”
algorithm  and linked to passages in the texts. The interface allows for
adjusting the number of displayed terms and controlling the display of personal
names. The list of all included texts is at the bottom (with controls to
include, exclude and display the given text).
reader has been created on the occasion of the exhibition at Panke.Gallery and
is also available online at https://monoskop.org/reader
Spärck Jones (1972) conceived a statistical interpretation of term specificity
called Inverse Document Frequency (idf), which became a cornerstone of term
weighting: “The specificity of a term can be quantified as an inverse function
of the number of documents in which it occurs.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tf-idf)
“Get in the Car / Get out
of the Car” is a semi-automatic edit of about 300 film clips in which
someone either says “Get in the car” or “Get out of the car”, including a
few slight variations. The result, spanning almost 100 years of moving
images, is an exhilarating
speed run through the history of film that distills, around the object
of the car, some of the most canonical constellations of cinema.
Made with 0xDB, in five days. (Without 0xDB, this might have taken considerably longer.)
What an index card is to a book, that is a repertorium to a collection. This repertorium describes the Scrolled Score collection, compiled from all the digital books returned from the query ‘score’ against the Memory of the World shadow library. The results are compiled into a separate collection of scores that gamemasters, chefs, actors, musicians, readers, writers, computers, librarians and others can download and play to.
Spideralex / Gender and Tech Institute (Tactical Tech) / APC
Zen and the art of making tech work for you. Practical guidance for women and trans* activists, human rights defenders and technologists.
This manual is a community-built resource for our growing community of women and trans* activists, human rights defenders and technologists. It is designed to be a living, growing collection of practical guidance and information that uniquely speaks to our needs, experiences, and activism, both online and offline. Content listed in the manual was created in response to our community’s requests for ideas and guidance they needed, but couldn’t find elsewhere. The current manual explores two overlapping issues:
First, how can we craft appropriate online presences (or a series of them) that strengthen our ability to communicate and work online safely?
Secondly, how can we collaboratively create safe online and offline spaces that enable our communities to share, collaborate, and communicate safely?
The manual grew out of the 2014 Gender and Technology Institute, organised by Tactical Technology Collective and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). The Institute brought together almost 80 participants and facilitators—mostly from the Global South—to focus on issues faced daily by women and trans* persons online and offline, to share strategies and tools for better protecting our digital privacy and security, as well as show we can spread this knowledge and skills with our communities and organisations. Since then, our network has expanded, so this manual has benefited from the input and review of a wide range of people. It is informed by the stories and creative practices of grass-roots activists, digital and holistic security facilitators, privacy advocates, and people making technology around the world.
This manual is a great resource, an inspiration for individuals and members of all kind of activist groups to put their heads together and start playing/working with the tools presented for their own empowerment.
The manual was published in summer 2015 by the Tactical Tech Collective:
Patricia Reis and Stefanie Wuschitz are the founders and members of the trans*feminist hackspace Mz* Baltazars Laboratory, Vienna in Vienna. It is run by a collective and offers, on one hand, a hackspace with a workshop program for female, trans and non-binary people, and on the other hand, runs a gallery space with a feminist exhibition program.
The lab is conceived as a safer space for people who have traditionally been excluded from or have felt unsafe in spaces where science is taught and technology is developed. It invites those people to participate or give workshops that bring together technology, art, and have a critical understanding of social structures.
In this interview, Stephanie Wuschitz and Patricia Reis introduce feminist hacking as an artistic methodology. They discuss the relationship between gender and technology and explain how Mz* Baltazar’s Lab aims at developing other imaginations of technology by consciously developing a community. They discuss the role of the space in developing that community and the importance of creating a safer space – both fostering engagement within the community and for the space, but also for reaching out to a wider audience.
Mauricio O’Brian is a co-founder of Goteo.org, a crowdfunding platform foregrounding collective return. The platform was founded in 2011 and is one of the pioneering platforms. It was developed by Platoniq, an arts and media design collective working on participatory culture in the digital realm, working since 2001 and based in Barcelona, Spain.
Goteo is different from other crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter in the way it conceptualizes crowdfunding as a participatory project. Central for Goteo is the social return of the projects. It promotes projects working for the commons, open code and/or free knowledge, putting the accent on the public mission and favoring free culture and social development, allowing only projects available under a free and/or open license. Apart from the usual monetary contributions, Goteo includes collaborations like services, material resources, infrastructure or participation in specific microtasks needed for the development of projects. It is thus as well fostering a network of local communities. It has always put an emphasis on local events, working together with local communities, organizations and public institutions and has sought to involve the community through local workshops and other means in developing new features. Goteo has put a lot of emphasis on partnering with a wide range of public and private institutions, primarily municipalities in Spain. The principle of “co-responsibility” is also touching on public decision-making processes. Goteo is managed by the Goteo Foundation, a non-profit organization that unites all the agents committed to the development of the project.
Mauricio O’Brian talks in this interview about the social dimension of crowdfunding and explains the concept of crowd benefit and social return in crowdfunding. He discusses the vision of a culture of co-responsibility, and how this is also linked to decision making processes when it comes to partnerships with public institutions.
Das Forschungsprojekt “Creating Commons” (2017-2019) beschäftigt sich mit aktuellen, von der digitalen Kultur inspirierten künstlerischen Praktiken. Im Feld zwischen Kunst und Commons entwickeln sie radikale ästhetische und praktische Modelle der künstlerischen und kulturellen Produktion im digitalen Zeitalter.
In den Research Meetings mit Künstler_innen, Theoretiker_innen und Aktivist_innen zeigte sich, dass neben der digitalen Kultur der Feminismus eine zweite zentrale Referenz darstellt. Beide berühren ein verändertes Verhältnis von Produktion und Reproduktion. Davon ausgehend werden digitale ästhetische Praktiken und die damit verbundenen Institutionen neu gedacht und experimentell gelebt.
Was bedeutet es, wenn man die Forderung von Silvia Federici ernst nimmt und die Commons feministisch denkt, also all die auch mit der Schaffung und Verwaltung von Gemeingütern verbundene reproduktive Arbeit ernst nimmt? Welchen Stellenwert bekommen darin Institutionen, Infrastrukturen und Tools? Und wie drückt sich das spezifisch auf dem Gebiet der digitalen Commons aus?
Ausgehend von im Rahmen der Research Meetings entstandenen Interviews stellen wir einige Positionen vor und diskutieren, wie solcherart gelagerte künstlerische Praxen sich konkret artikulieren und wie sie sich im ästhetischen Feld verorten.
Z. Blace is (in+)consistently working (in-)between fields of contemporary culture and arts, digital technology and media, community sports and activism – by cross-pollinating queer perspectives and methodologies with social and political practices.
Z. Blace co-founded and curated media projects and exhibitions at the Multimedia Institute/MaMa and LABinary in Croatia (1999 – 2008), and Silent*Observers at UCSD in 2006. He instigated the sport-culture-activism initiatives qSPORT/QueerSport.info in Croatia and ccSPORT.link in Berlin/Germany. His engagements from 2014 to 2017 include: Pop-up Rainbow with ToolsForAction.net, Kickertables with TimeLab.org, Entorse.org & Recommerce/Bains.be.
Tactical Tech provides information, tools and knowledge for activists, technologists and engaged citizens on the use of information technology. It was founded 2003 Marek Tuszinski and Stephanie Hankey. Its main objectives are awareness raising on issues of privacy, digital security and mobilisation. In the last two years they embraced exhibitions as a medium for communication.
Technology is impacting on our civil liberties, our rights, and our autonomy. Tactical Tech is a non-profit organisation who has been responding to these shifts for the past 15 years by finding practical solutions for a global network of activists, technologists and engaged citizens. Their outputs are shared with over three million people worldwide through applied research, capacity building, trainings, workshops, events and exhibitions. In doing this, Tactical Tech hope to raise awareness about privacy, provide tools for digital security, and mobilise people to turn information into action.
Mz Baltazar’s Laboratory is a trans*feminist collective of artists and researchers, founded 2008 and running a space with various activities in Vienna. Its activities compromise of workshops, gatherings, talks and lectures. It hosts a reading group and organises and joint activities in the field of art, technology and feminist practice.
Mz Baltazar’s Lab aims at generating a culture of fearless making! An environment that fosters creativity, activism and provocative thinking! We try to build an accessible, inclusive, open, safer and radical space, from which to evolve as people and as community. Open Source Technology is at the root of our philosophy, it enables us to share and collaborate without restrictions. We need this space to experiment with things as gender, hardware or our selves.
We identify as intersectional feminists, and we come from a variety of educational backgrounds. The lab is intended as a safer space for people who have traditionally been excluded from or have felt unsafe in spaces where science is taught, or technology is being used, and we invite those people (women, and trans* individuals) to participate or give workshops that bring together technology, art, and have a critical understanding of social structures. Our exhibitions and events are open to all audiences, and are intended to support women* in the broad sense of the political terms, and those who work on feminist issues, empowerment, and overturning patriarchy.
As a collective we are more or less fluid in our composition. Some of us travel a lot, others need to take care of families and friends, and almost all of us have some paying job. We therefore are flexible and try to support each other in whatever journeys we set out on. We come from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and some of us have lived in Vienna longer than others. Working on, in, and with the collective is a fruitful experience, and a challenge, and we are always happy to meet people interested in working with the collective in whatever capacity they can.
Stephanie Wuschitz’ PHD at Visual Culture Unit, Architecture Dept., University of Technology Vienna: “Feminist Hackerspaces. A research on feminist space collectives in open cultures”, http://grenzartikel.com/projects/?p=1307
Stephanie Wuschitz / Cindy Lin: The Nenek Project (2014-2018), Investigation in the cultural tradition of women organisation as a background to Lifepatch (citizen initiatives in the arts, science and technology) Yogyakarta, Indonesia, http://grenzartikel.com/projects/?p=1319
Furtherfield is an artist run space founded in 1996 by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garret in London. It features a broad range of activites about art, technology and media, both in its space and online. Its program includes exhibitions, workshops and a variety of events, different communication channels and distributing content in diverse forms – from online posts, interviews to books.
At the heart of Furtherfield is a concern for exchange and community and they are incorporation this concern in everything they do.
“Furtherfield connects people to new ideas, critical thinking and imaginative possibilities for art, technology and the world around us. Through artworks, labs and debate people from all walks of life explore today’s important questions”
furtherfield: “Do It With Others (DIWO). Participatory Media in the Furtherfield Neighbourhood”. Di Rimini, Francesca (Eds.): A Handbook of Coding Cultures. Sidney: d/Lux/MediaArts and Campbelltown Arts Centre, 2007, p. 21–28.
Dock18 is a cultural organisation founded 2005 in Zurich. It is operating a small space located inside the alternative cultural center Rote Fabrick. It is closely associated with the local DIY and media art/culture community. It runs a diverse event program with a focus on the public domain, game culture and DIY culture.
The program is only marginally curated, and most events are set up in collaboration with local actors bringing in themes, ideas and formats. As it says in its self-description: it is more a breeding ground than a showcase.
Its focus changed over time, mostly due to changing collaborators.
Dock18 Space for media cultures of the world is alternately and from time to time a simultaneously independent art space, TV studio, media lab, meeting point, bar, club, dance floor and interactive breeding ground for different media cultures of the world.
Constant is an artist-run organisation founded 1997 in Brussels. It is working in collaborative situations of groups of artists and researchers working together for defined periods of time. Often these settings are collaborations with other institutions, and take part at other places. This is only partly due to the absence of permanent place, but also reflects some of the core practices of the organisation, which could be described in an interest in collaboration, translation, negotiations, explanations and the care of shared resources. Constant is thus not a space, it is an organisation.
It features different formats of working together (cyclic exhibition projects, reading groups, publishing, exploration of open source tools, research, workshop, education and all kind of inventive formats that go between and beyond).
Constant’s program is concerned with media, technology and artistic practice.
self-declaration: „Constant is a non-profit, artist-run organisation based in Brussels since 1997 and active in the fields of art, media and technology.
Constant develops, investigates and experiments. Constant departs from feminisms, copyleft, Free/Libre + Open Source Software. Constant loves collective digital artistic practices. Constant organises transdisciplinary worksessions. Constant creates installations, publications and exchanges. Constant collaborates with artists, activists, programmers, academics, designers. Constant is active archives, poetic algorithms, body and software, books with an attitude, cqrrelations, counter cartographies, situated publishing, e-traces, extitutional networks, interstitial work, libre graphics, performative protocols, relearning, discursive infrastructures, hackable devices.“
Laurence Rassel: Notes from Field-Workers, in: Art & Research, a Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods, Vol. 2, Nr. 2, Spring 2009
Talk by Laurence Rassel Thursday, 1 March 2018, 18.30, HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel)
A school of art is a zone of convergence studded with a multiplicity of individuals, things and flows, stories, fictions, and stagings, with social, cultural, material, singular and interacting asperities. And it is also a common territory by default: if we choose to come there to work or to study, we do not choose those with whom we will share this ephemeral biotope.
Taking her current position as head of the Brussels-based art school e.r.g (Ecole de Recherche Graphique) as a starting point, Laurence Rassel reflects in her talk about how the art school as an institution can be conceived as an environment for developing a sense of collectivity. Assuming the double definition of the word “institution” as a potential to be developed as well as an established form, Rassel identifies alienation where the “instituted” takes precedence over the “instituting.”
In her work, the common is thought and will be constructed as the result of an action composed of the differences in presence. The common will not erase these differences, and it will not only be composed by them. The common is always the result of a “common doing” rather than a fixed group and or an “institution.” The paradoxical task then is to sustain the collective, the common, while preserving heterogeneity and the singularities in place.
For the participants, workers, collaborators related to the institution, however, it is a real instituting movement that is at stake. The inspirations for Rassel’s models for work processes come from open source/free software culture, but also from institutional psychotherapy. The school is a place full of hierarchies, governed by texts, decrees but also by consciences that reveal themselves there as brutal, feverish, urgent, generating a desire to reach a “whole” and a desire to question “the whole,” and nevertheless build a common. By opening up this layer from “read-only” to “read, write and execute,” the very structure of the school can be turned inside out – to serve new purposes. People can get involved and affect the structure by their history to be made. The process is the collective development of the “how.”
Laurence Rassel is a cultural worker who can act as curator, teacher, organizer. She is currently based in Brussels. From 2008 to 2015 she was Director of Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, an institution created in 1984 by the artist Antoni Tàpies to promote the study and knowledge of modern and contemporary art (http://www.fundaciotapies). From 1997 to 2008, Rassel was a founding member of Constant, a non-profit association and interdisciplinary arts-lab based and active in Brussels in the fields of art, media and technology. Currently, she is Director of erg (école de recherche graphique – école supérieure des arts) in Brussels.