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reports oknopublic03  

oknopublic/waves - project report
brussels, 4/5/6/7 april 2007

by annemie & giván bela     print
OKNOPUBLIC#03/WAVES was the result of the collaborative effort of different organisations, initiatives and artists. During 4 days it brought together people who have an interest in looking at new ideas for creative work, willing to question their own practices. We hope some are interested in working together after these days in a context where some network based artworks can be made, from different geographical and ideological places and from different content based approaches.

The program was structured along 4 thematic days with cross-overs, and consisted of projectpresentations and public debates, workshops, performances and installations.

Oknopublic brought together a good mix of practitioners into a flexibly moderated set of talks, discussions and performances. The 4-days seminar consisted of afternoon lectures/presentations onsite, which were all streamed and completed by a moderated online chat.
The overall topic was the relation between the investment of value into technology as a source and its expressive outcome: communication and construction of meaning.
Insistence of political positions via self-built or shared code or technology evokes its political potentiality if publics, users, subjects engage in a way that new meanings and practices can evolve from the technological labor.

04/04/07 : Tales of a Connected City - (the last mile is the network)

The network as truly social : your neighbours stay your neighbours.
A look at local mesh networks: what makes the difference between connected places and non-connected ones? What are we connecting to? A discussion about collaboration, content and techniques, setting up new structures and developing new practices for creative work.

Introduced by Pieter Heremans and Annemie Maes,
Moderated by Givan Bela and IRC Alejandra Perez Nunez
Participants: Réseau Citoyen, okno, Citymine(d), bna-bbot, Rotor, An Mertens

1. Réseau Citoyen:
Reseau Citoyen is a Brussels project for a user-run wireless network via wi-fi; free of big operators, run by the people for the people. Réseau Citoyen is not an organisation, it's much more a phenomenon... Beside its technological aspects, "Réseau Citoyen" is a vector for ideas ..

“We think that equality between citizens is important and therefore some technical choices are excluded as they would imply that some systems would have to play a proeminent role. Each citizen is represented by a router, and no router should be able to control others.
We are attempting the libertarian approach of not having any official decision taking organism. This does not mean that no decision can be taken, only that the processes of taking decisions and acting on them concerns each one and not everyone. No collective decisions but a collective outcome that results from individual actions.
We exclusively evolve in the non commercial world. The commercial world may be our neighbour, sometimes our partner but never our master. These last considerations imply the use of free software as prefered tools, and CopyLeft as the way to publish results.” (RC)

Most wireless community network projects are coordinated by citywide user groups who freely share information and help using the Internet. They often spring up as a grassroots movement.
Many of these community networks are run on a voluntary basis and can be compared to other voluntary groups focussed around local issues. Like other voluntary groups they have sometimes found their greatest challenges are not technical but social; encouraging and sustaining volunteer input, a critical mass of users, and devising a sustainable organisational model.

Starting from the presentation of the Réseau Citoyen-project, a lively discussion originated with several Brussels non-profit and cultural organisations. Is there a possible implementation of the Réseau Citoyen-network into their daily practices and art-projects? What are the pro’s and contra’s? And is it possible to build and distribute or broadcast public art (or art in public space) on a community network?

2. rotor
A Brussels platform for the endorsement of industrial waste re-use in Belgium. Rotor wants, among other things, to encourage contacts between producers of “interesting” waste and potential re-users from the field of industry, design or architecture. How can a local community of producers and re-users increase their contacts through a city network?

3. citymine(d)
Citymine(d) is a non-profit organisation, researching the contradictional economic dynamics in Brussels. The Micronomics-project maps the “city-crax”: several social groups of people are living and working next to each other in the city; though there’s a huge difference in housing (and working) circumstances. A database of squats and “non-spaces” is the starting point for socio-artistic projects in public space where such problems can be discussed in a playful way.

4. bna/bbot
Bna/bbot is a bilingual organisation working around storytelling and public memory. They encourage a lot of different people to testimony on their relation to the city, and they distribute these stories as widespread as possible. Thus they want to create an everchanging and visionary Brussels through an ongoing storyline.
What are the beneficialities of a community citynetwork for authors and audiences of such an organisation? Can the structures and techniques of a citynetwork contribute to the collaboration and participation of a larger local public?

05/04/07 on public space and sound practices

We examined and discussed meshed networks in public space. Artistnetworks reappropriate public space by means of sound, and comment and annotate public space by soundtags. Can we speak of hybrid transmission spaces? Do these mobile modes of exchange provoke new creative practices?

Moderated by Annemie Maes and Dusan Barok.
Presentations by Tapio Mäkelä, Justin Bennett, Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann.

1. Tapio Mäkelä
Tapio presented 2 longterm collaborative and transnational projects: the Translocal Radio Workshops and the Polar Circuit Workshops/concept:islands.

Translocal radio workshops develop hybrid radio and media art practices in two locations in the Barents Sea region. Inter-connected artist led workshops in Kirkenes (No) and Murmansk (Ru) bring together media and sound artists and community groups to develop content locally. The work is presented through public events and temporary listening environments as well as through Internet radio and temporary FM. The translocal radio workshop series is developed by media artist Tapio Mäkelä (Fi) in collaboration with Pikene på Broen in Kirkenes and artist collective led by Maria Rusinovskaya in Murmansk, and other partners.

Concept: islands -- As a next step from Polar Circuit workshops (97-00) and tangential Solar Circuit workshop (02), Concept: islands workshop aims to create an intimate and networked environment for 10-12 people per one Baltic Sea island to concentrate on brainstorming, collaborative and individual Current Projects or writing. Starting with the theme of sustainability and ecology, the project looks for proposals in the form of workshops, Current Projects or new thematic islands. Local islands will be networked both tech wise and social, dinner wise. After initial development, the project will be realized on-site either in the summer of 2007 or 2008.

2. Justin Bennett
Justin Bennett is an artist and composer working with sound and visual media.
With "Noise Map" as an example-project, Justin lectured on his soundwork in public space: field recordings form the basis for sound installations in which the correspondences between music and architecture and between sound and image are researched.
Sometimes the field recordings are untreated, sometimes they simply form a template for generating an otherwise completely electronic piece.
The growing process takes place within a virtual space in software; at the same time the compositions concentrate on the way these sounds fill and alter real acoustic spaces when played over loudspeakers. The real world from the past is filtered and mapped onto the listening space here-and-now in different ways in each piece.

3. mobile radio
Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann talked about the radio lives and works that have been encountered by in their last one and a half years on the road around Europe. Working in more than a dozen countries and meeting people from all over Europe, visiting their projects, doing workshops and participating in radio conferences, festivals and live-to-air events, has give these 'radio gypsies' a unique overview of the state of experimental radio activity across Europe today. In this presentation they gave us also a taste of their own approach to radio production, and demonstrated how their ongoing enthusiasm for the medium allows them to develop singular radio events in cooperation with others.

The evening performance sessions related to the discussions of the day.

Sarah and Knut form the ongoing duo Tonic Train.
For her sounds Sarah Washinton creates hand-made electronic musical machines using bastardizing techniques such as circuit-bending on toys, ultrasonic devices and radio paraphernalia.
Knut Aufermann uses modified feedback of a mixing desk and radio transmitter circuits.
Justin Bennett will combine field recordings with live inputs and processing.
Much of his work is concerned with urban space and the relationship of sound to space and location.
Haraldur Karlsson performed with The Little Solarsystem, an audiovisual project originated by focusing on the rhythmical signals produced by our own little solar system. Taking the speed of time, signals and the location of the present, using human body controllers gives the experiment a view on another dimension. Hard facts are mixed with fantasy. As a work in progress based project, things can go to unexpected galaxies. The Little Solar system is prepared. Might there be a change to see and hear an inverted black hole?

06/04/07 OR on the reinvention of everyday practices

Moderated by Tapio Mäkelä

The topics of the day refer to social practice and how this can change through new approaches, new (computer+network based) tools, etc... General questions address creativity and activities within the development of a participating and critical society.

In the Practice of Everyday Life Michel de Certeau emphasizes the particular status of ways of using and operating in the social practice or "everyday practice". He differentiates between strategies: the tools of the powerful and tactics: the art of the weak. Both are at the basis of the discussion.


1. Alejandra Perez Nunez
From the idea that activist research means the development of tools for social change, the idea of Semamap was in detail explained. Semamap adds a visual component to the texts in the 'elibrary for social transformation'. It basically is a semantic analysis engine. The development within activist research is a lot about the process as a statement in itself, within the open source developemnt of making the tools. It urges us to take position within the construction of knowledge and the possible use of it. Interesting would be to have a record of the connections people make themselves. Alejandra Perez Nunez a.k.a. elpueblodechina discusses the usage of networks of sound and text as social interfaces. She presents her research in progress on automatic indexation of text collections that she has been developing for texts written and gathered by groups working with the ESF (european social forum).

2. Apo33
Apo33 presented their work as a group. The installations they are making are collaborative and whatever is setup it is given an independent life by turning it over to the people who make it. Examples are given from participations in the Ecos festival, a meeting on sound, technology and sustainable practices realized in La Maison Radieuse in Nantes. The workshops learn people to make microphones and speakers and connect them to make an octopus together. Most of their work tunes into micro media workshops and experiments that connect DIY practice to collaborative learning and interventions. In the discussion there was a problematisation of practices in life and participation in public space, including the appropriation of it.

3. Barb Huber
Barb Huber speaks of her work in the social area, including info@police as a practical implementation. Info@police is a library and reading room focusing on the anti-authoritarian movement in Slovakia and in neighbouring countries. Infoapolice is not tactical in the sense of the tactical media crew. She raises questions about the nature of tactical approaches within the transformation of society - can we call the setting up of an alternative library a tactic? It may become a tactic through the use you are making of it but not by itself alone only by its existence. Hannah Arendt said that politics can just happen, when people come together, think together and talk to each other. And through this other tactics can evolve. Info@police is a kind of room like that but to understand it we need to include things like PGA (people's global action) because as such it becomes more a space for tuning in into a broader social network through setting up related critical initiatives like info-cafés and concerts.

There was that afternoon not a lot of chat, nevertheless it was moderated by Gívan Belá.

The evening program included several performances related to the topic of the day.

Jens Brand presented his G-player. This installation is a satire on commercial artistic developments, and rigorously implements the capitalist ideology into a player for sonifying altitude data from satellites. The presentation is the performance.

Apo33 performed with their web-based Ecoradio, in which random sound sequences get constructred from their extensive online database. The performance lasts till someone from the audience turns it off. Which happened.

Elpueblodechina performed on the usb-theremin, developed at the Theremin centre in Moscow by Andrej Smirnoff. Based on networks of conversation, pueblo focusses her sound performance on different talks maintained with people. Ideas and spontaneous connections that rise through sharing time and a common ground for inspiration become the basis for material assemblages.

07/04/07 OR particles/waves/streams and the complexisation of collaboration
[a day organized by the Baku 2022 Foundation]

The original text sounded like: "Can our networks become a new playground where we can meet to show-and-tell, invent, share and toy around with creativity till it becomes something to admire while there, and wonder about later... we will try to percieve how people work with audio and visual data, and how structure emerges through interaction, and build on communication to become visible and heard as a thing of shared beauty that can be different from what flikr and tube give us...".
But self-criticizing the previous days we realized there had been too much presentations and discussions, so we proposed that everyone present would MAKE something creatively as a reaction or contribution to what had been said and heard the previous days. That could be the beginning of something else, a new active involvement. It functioned also as way of contradicting the weak dualist and therefor reductionalist arguments put forward by people like de Certeau, etc... So, Haraldur Karlson, Jasna Velickovic , Bojan Fajfric , Vesna Madzoski, Jens Brand , Elpueblodechina, Todor Todoroff, Maja Kuzmanovic , Nik Gaffney, Laure Deseleys, Apo33, Knut Aufermann, Barb Huber, Sara Washington and many others started to make some kind of personal and creative, sometimes collaborative pieces, that are documented on the okno.be site as a kind of alternative hybrid reports+impressions+ideas. It was a relief for many to finally do something and work together.

Later on that day we set up this open pool for performing, called: THE COMPLEXITY OF COLLABORATION, or the 4th streamed proceeding by the Baku 2022 Foundation. Within an hour people could jack in into the system and play along or together or solo. The setup envisioned a first part, which would fail because people connect but hardly perceive one another. Then in the second part people would fail again, and indulge in loud solos and leave again. The final part worked out nicely when everyone had given out what had been thought of before, and then left with nothing but to react to the system, it yields automatically (like in a true Axelrod sense) collaboration and a complex outcome: in space and time. That is what we called: a topological étude for a network piece. Connected to Akihiro Kubota in Tokyo.




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