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 Furtherfield.org 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.