Monday, April 26, 2010

What is Democracy on May 7th?

FRIDAY 07 MAY 2010, 6:30PM at TATE BRITAIN {Turner's Italian Odyessy T7}

I'll be taking part in this event at the Tate, introducing selected chapters of Oliver Ressler's film What is Democracy?

As the final results of the UK election will be rolling in, I'm interested to see how the salon structure of the event creates or limits a moment of democracy. It's difficult to 'include as many people as possible' in public discourse about rethinking democracy, let alone the implementation of institutional frameworks that might facilitate this. But the sameness of the UK political parties, and the apathy of voters without choice leads us to ask exactly 'What is Democracy?' and how might we achieve it? Ressler's films offer many insights through exploring the blindpots, backspots and diverse perspectives on democracy around the world.

The Salon is organised by 'This Is Not A Gateway' is part of European Alternative’s Transeuropa Festival and Tate Britain’s Late at Tate event East is East.

The EA Festival is tackling the European Commission's 2010 theme 'Poverty & Social Exclusion'- their specific interest is exploring the return of slums to European cities. Tate Britain's Cross Cultural Contemporary Art Team are looking at contested spaces and notions of London's East End for their event 'East is East'. TINAG's interest in both these areas is the potential to explore the psycho/social idea of 'refusing to accept one's place'.

The salon will explore how notions of poverty are constructed, the return of slums in Europe, understandings of democracy, the links between land ownership and social exclusion and the psycho/social condition of Refusing To Accept One's Place that may have motivated social and spatial reformers - past & present.

. Ruhana Ali, Community Organising Foundation
. David Rosenberg, teacher and guide of radical history walks in East London
. Andrea Luka Zimmerman & Lasse Johansson, Fugitive Images
. Kevin Cahill, investigative journalist and author of 'Who Own's Britain'
. Oliver Ressler, artist and filmmaker, with curator Ele Carpenter.
. Andrea Gibbons, Right to the City, JustSpace and PM Press.
. Mark Saunders, Spectacle Documentaries
. Paul Trevor, photographer 'Eastender Archive'.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Handcrafted website

This weekend I've finally got round to updating the Open Source Embroidery website. This onerous task has become yet another DIY chore left for the bank holiday weekend along with fixing the gutter and painting the spare room. I've put it off for over a year and now there's lots to do: adding new projects, updating texts, fixing links, resizing new photos, tidying up code, standardizing the navigation, looking up html code for Swedish letters. These are all tasks for the DIY Html coder.

My main achievement is the new page for the Embroidered Digital Commons, which has started with a collective embroidery of the term 'Yarn' from the Raqs Media Collective 'A Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons', 2003

In 2005 artist Sneha Solanki showed me how to use html to build and maintain my website. It was a thoroughly enjoyable few days, and she taught me the simplicity of html. It was through our conversations that the concept of the Open Source Embroidery project emerged. I was so impressed by how much I could learn in 2 days, by the fact that html was in English with a quirky mix of abbreviations, and that I had a website up and running. I wanted to expand the beauty of this code into a physical and material form, breaking out of the computer and into fabric. A couple of years later I was artist in residence at Access Space in Sheffield and created the 'Open Source Embroidery' website.

Five years later it is quicker to blog, facebook, twitter etc, and given half an hour I'm more likely to write a blog post than update my hand-built website. However, whilst this blog lazily uses a standard template and is hosted on a server somewhere in the world (actually I have no idea where), my website is a located and hand crafted piece of web design. I don't much care that it's tricky to navigate, or that some of the pages have been 'coming soon...' for five years! It could be more sophisticated if I was a more dedicated coding student, but my intention is to use the simplest tools creatively. The point is that it's my own work, I know every piece of code on it and how to update it and fix it for free. And I know exactly where the server is.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day 2010

March 24th is Ada Lovelace day, and I celebrated by attending the Ada Lovelace Day Potluck Unconference hosted by the wonderful Suw Charman-Anderson with Maggie Philbin, of Tomorrow's World fame!  The event was held at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, a newly opened space near Kings Cross, London,  where artists Brian Condon and Llyod Davis are open to ideas for collaborative engagement and new projects. The event had the air of creative and open-ended experimentation, as women technologists spoke about the women who had inspired them in their lives and work.

I felt slightly flumoxed (not really being a 'technologoist') so I didn't speak on the day. But with further thought there are three women who have greatly inspired my work and research into art and technology: Natalie Jeremijenko, Kate Rich and Ruth Catlow.

I first came across artists Natalie Jeremijenko and Kate Rich from the Bureau of Inverse Technology in the late 1990s. Their approach opened up a new way of thinking about art and technology for me. Rather than fitting into any category of 'media art' their inventions respond to social and political situations according to need.

Kate Rich is an artist and trader. Her Feral Trade project trades food over social networks presented at exhibitions and art events around the world. Starting with coffee, and developing into a cornicopia of highly specific goods. Her practice combines social networks online and offline, revealing the complex nodes of exchange and protocol that enable global communication and distribution.

Natalie Jeremijenko's Wikipedia entry states:
"Her work is described as experimental design, hence xDesign, as it explores opportunities presented by new technologies for non-violent social change. Her research centers on structures of participation in the production of knowledge and information, and the political and social possibilities (and limitations) of information and emerging technologies—mostly through public experiments. In this vein, her work spans a range of media from statistical indices (such as the Despondency Index, which linked the Dow Jones to the suicide rate at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge) to biological substrates (such as the installations of cloned trees in pairs in various urban micro-climates) to robotics (such as the development of feral robotic dog packs to investigate environmental hazards)."

Ruth Catlow runs with Mark Garrett and like Natalie and Kate, has a fully social view of distributed creativity. Her media art lexicon 'Rosalind' is based on the idea of 'mutate and survive' where language and knowledge (as well as bodies) evolve over time. The Furtherfield website continues to offer a critical analysis of the media art scene (slowly becoming variable media), and their HTTP Gallery in North London features artists who explore the relationship between artist and audience through networked creative projects.