some critical views on art and culture today
out of the window, onto the mesh
Isjtar (aka Junior)
Being an organisation for media arts, OKNO has always concentrated on network arts.
As do many organisations, we stream our events over the internet, hold connected performances, have an open server and collaborate through various web tools.
After problematizing our relationship with physical space, we decided to leave our confined rooms and enter public space.
The dissipation of media works into public space requires a certain infrastructure to build upon.
There is a basic, but working community network in Brussels called Reseau Citoyen. Operated and maintained by free network enthousiasts, Reseau Citoyen is a wireless mesh network built on principles of non-hierarchy, $free software and open access.
OKNO has decided to take part in Reseau Citoyen and augment the network in five ways:
-To enlarge the network by adding nodes.
-To put together portable nodes, so there can be a mobile network, plugged into the fixed nodes.
-To integrate media tools such as cameras, sensors and audio interfaces into nodes, portable and fixed, so the network can work as a medium for artistic content.
-To document and teach how to get nodes up to less network proficient participants.
-To research and develop ways to make nodes independant and sustainable by powering them with solar panes and wind turbines.
The configuration of the nodes is taken on by Code31, which held and holds several workshops and open studio's, partly in the xmedk-structure.
Reseau Citoyen is constructed with routers, wifi modules, that run Open WRT Kamikaze Linux. This is open source software, so we can use and adapt any open code available on the internet.
OKNO has so far added four powerfull fixed nodes: two at OKNO HQ, one at OKNO so-on and one at one at Code31 lahaag.
By acquiring a batch of Asus WLHDD, portable units have been created.
During a weeklong workshop/studio with Akos Maroy and Maxigas, Code31 and it's guests managed to plug-in cameras and arduino boards into the Asus-nodes, making it possible to make some rudimentary first try-outs of new media possibilites. Audio interfaces will be added in april.
Additionally, ZigBee sensor networks have been connected to the Reseau, for more local sensor based projects.
During the the many studio's, the RC wiki has been updated with all findings. It remains a challenge to expose the acquired knowledge to less proficient prticipants, but through a program of workshops the gap is slowly being closed.
Finally, end februari, the first windmills were made and combined with the solar panels by Bartaku to do the first tests for autonomous nodes.
After getting the network in a more or less workable state, it can serve as a medium for new media art. It's important to stress that this does not comprise a single, large project. The goal is to take a platform for several OKNO projects, but that also stays open, so anyone can add their node and partcipate in any way he or she feels like.
After all the technicalities and infrastructure, why build your own network? Why not the internet?
The internet is a managed entity guarded by ISP's and their rules, with of course the fees required to pay.
For mobile use, internet is expensive and inefficient.
Above all, the goal is not to serve web pages, e-mail etc. The goal is to make a dynamic medium, independant of the constraints of the internet, that is flexible enough to serve performances, installations and public space events.
Isjtar makes electronic music and new media art. He has a profound
fascination for all things that underpin the mind, perception and reality.
He is a core-member of OKNO, Society of Algorithm, Code31 and works with
several other artists and collectives such as Jeroen Uyttendaele,
Shelbatra Jashari, Masato Tsutsui, Machine Centered Humanz and So-on.