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 Report Luci Eyers

Posted in meeting 1 (RSS)

Report on Luci Eyers' visit to Nodes in Linz

27 – 30 June 2006

My visit was as the first of four NODE.Londoners who are invited by the medienstammtisch, instigated for media arts networking in Linz, to discuss what relevance NODE.London's organisational model could have in developing a more open and networked media arts community in 2009 when Linz will be European Capital of Culture as "City of Media". I was invited as an co-initiator of NODE.London to discuss the starting points for the project and early organisational structures and directions.
Linz has an extremely active Freie Szene or independent art community. It also has Ars Electronica a major international media arts festival generated by AEC, the 'Museum of the Future' an institution which is heavily invested into by the city of Linz. It seems to have an extremely high number of media arts related courses which no doubt feed into the thriving creative industries sector, as well as the alternative cultural nodes.
There was particular interests in the tools and how they could be made to work in a more widely community based way with questions about who input data into the tools, how this was moderated and edited and who controlled information. Questions also focused on shared ownership for the project, about motivations for opting in, and how it is possible to develop these collaborative projects when, similarly to London, almost everyone in the media arts community in Linz works at full capacity already.
The workshop ended focusing more fact finding from their end than as a discussion and once ideas have been absorbed and more widely discussed they will feed back about what they are finding useful, what they need to know more about and which ideas seem pertinent and transferable to a Linz context. It will be good to continue this critical and energised discussion.
Tuesday 26 June.
I was shown around and able to quiz Aileen Derieg on Linz histories and spaces. Aileen is a translator specialising in art and theory and has been our main point of contact with the Medienstammtisch. She visited NODE.London in March.
Wedneday 27 June.
I met with with Barbara U. Schmidt, Media theorist and researcher from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute and discussed the outline for my presentation in the evening.
2 – 5pm
A visit to Ars Electronica Centre (AEC) 'The Museum of the Future'.
Presentation at the Institute for Cultural Interfaces on NODE.London a 'flexible collective infrastructure'.
The Interface Culture programme is a postgraduate programme exploring interactive interface design at Linz University of Art's Department of Media, run by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau.

My presentation focused on starting points for NODE.London: historic precursors, the media arts landscape in London in 2004, reference points and influential projects and models, the early organisational structure including initial immutables and mutables. I summarised by describing the NODE.London 'a flexible collective' and talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation as an open system.
There was an inquisitive discussion at the end with questions relating to the tools and whether they were really community based, and to how we encouraged widespread participation in the process.
Thursday 28 June
I met with Christopher Lindinger, Director of Futurlab at AEC.
We had an interesting discussion about the tools and the difference between a managerial tool and a community tool with some reference to 'WikiMap Linz' a current project at AEC. Questions Christopher raised included: can a managerial tool also be a community tool? Would an actitive community tool be self-regulating and be able to work without moderation, at least at some level? Christopher suggested it would be interesting to see a media arts tool which reflected constant collective activity and was based on media arts community input (ie not just season oriented). I outlined speculative future plans for the tools (funding allowing). He expressed interest in keeping in touch over further developments.
3 – 6pm
Workshop at Time's Up
Time's Up is a collective working on 'situationist pseudo-scientific' ideas with physical body activated interfaces. Their beautiful space is by Linz harbour, a warehouse packed with tech, books, a server and distracting objects – an active and fascinating space. Tim Boykett, a member of Time's Up hosted the workshop. Tim also visitied NODE.London in March.
The workshop was a small but intense session with six of us discussing NODE.London processes; taking a look at the tools backend together; considering transferability and other ongoing discussions with Stockholm and Sao Paolo – particularly what other projects are finding interesting about models we used. We also discussed what could be considered core NODE.London qualities. This was an intensive fact finding and investigative session from their end with the intention for the medienstammtisch to discuss what seems relevant to Linz's situation and then to feedback to us.
AEC has plans to expand for 2009 with Futurelab taking over a green space in front of the neighbouring church. As a protest three lambs had been put to peacefully graze this contested space with the sheep shelter build roughly in the shape of the proposed extension. The protest came to an end as the lambs were taken away and a barbeque of lamb kebabs was held on the little green. (I didn't eat them). The title of this project was Fudderlab which means Fodderlab.
Medienstammtisch meeting
We caught the end of a meeting. A stammtisch is a table in a pub where the same locals always congregate – the idea being that this is a public space for exchange (about media arts) but that you need to have some connection in order to sit at this 'table'. I was peripheral to this meeting but it was interesting to see the media arts discussion in flow.
Friday 29 June
Visits to independent spaces:
KunstRaum is an independent art space on Goethestrasse run by Suzanna currently showing an installation by Nicole Knauer called 'curious implantation'. The main gallery space was taken over by a glowing, breathing, artificial installation made from transparent cable ties obsessively woven into bubblewrap. It was funny and eerie and rather beautiful; hairy but yet quite feminine.
I met with Ushi Reiter who runs servus.at and faces (a mailing list and women's network).
Ushi runs the public access media lab in a space near AEC which was historically run by an art collective. She runs hacking, Linux and community based workshops in the space and runs the server for independent projects including the free (public) radio in the same building. Ushi raised an observation that media art projects made by women were not particularly visible as a part of NODE.London.
In relation to the tools Ushi also raised "the phenomenon of communities and [her] doubt that content which is shown on the node.l page was added by participants." http://www.servus.at/

Thank you.

I very much appreciated the warm hospitality I received and would like to thank Hans from Transart for offering up his artist resident apartment for accommodation, to Aileen for translating, orientation and guiding me to the right part of Linz at the right time, to Chista and Laurent for hosting the presentation and Tim for hosting the workshop and to others including Barbara, Christopher and Ushi for taking time to talk and include me in media arts activities during my visit.
Thank you to AN and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for supporting this visit and to the VOs for suggesting that I should go.

Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2006 by