Sunday, January 11, 2009

Open Attitude: To be, or not to be, Open Source Embroidery

The concept of Open Source is a problematic one. Not only because of its relationship to free software (GNU/GPL) and the Creative Commons, but as a concept for a development model. Open Source has been so critiqued, that I sometimes wonder if it still has currency as a title for this project. Many of the issues are explored in 'Floss+Art' compiled and edited by Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk (2008) Published (print on demand) by Goto10 in association with Open Mute.

Rather than getting bogged down in the why's and wherefore's of licensing Olga Gurinova rehabilitates the discourse of freedom and resistance in relation to free and open source software in her essay 'Autocreativity: The Operation of Codes of Freedom in Art and Culture' (p 92-117). She concludes:

"Free Software destabilised existing definitions of property and threatened certain forms of wealth because it touched upon the transformative agents involved in the constitution of relationships, subjectivities and experiences linked into the sphere of production and maintenance of the society. Free Software is not a metaphor in this text used to talk about a different set of problems, but a leap onto the grain problematic of today, the core struggles and weapons. Here what comes on stage is the question how freedom, autonomy, openness operate at different levels?"
(Gorinova (2008) In: Mansoux & de Valk, p116)

The Open Source Embroidery project sits on this stage of questioning - bringing together different approaches and attitudes to valuing creativity. The project aims to reinvestigate and muddle the gaps in the culture of creative production that include: amateur and professional, male and female work, technical and handmade, real and virtual. Rather than situating these as binary positions, they overlap into a myriad of creative activities with an open attitude, finding ways of creating structures to facilitate dialogue and culture.

Perhaps a term like 'Open Attitude' encompasses the 'fit for purpose' approach to tools in the OSE project more comfortably than 'Open Source'. It was Camille Moussette who said he has an 'open attitude' in his work at one of the OSE Fika sessions here at the Fine Art School at Umea University. An 'open attitude' makes total sense in terms of product designers moving away from attempting to patent their next new product, to designing kits for people to build and understand their own technology. The Arduino is a good example here, which is why I'm delighted that Becky Stern will be lending her Lilypad Arduino Embroidery for the OSE exhibition.

And for now the name of the project 'Open Source Embroidery' will remain as it is.

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