Eye-Opening Stuff

Day one:

Throughout Node London I have continued to be amazed by the motivation of a number of really intelligent, alternative people with very clear, and persuassive ideas about life, politics, digital culture (amongst other things). Takeaway has only served to emphasise my opinions in this sense.

If we could see a live streamed google map of London right now, I'm sure Dana Centre would be glowing, with so much energy bursting out of the walls from Takeaway.

Overall I think this has made me realise the social significance of the actions of a relatively small network of people and it has also caused me to re-evaluate my position in this digital world. Don't ask me to define that though!

By 11am all workshops had kicked-off, despite initial confusion of which to attend, at what time, and where. I decided to go to Jaromil's workshop mainly because having met Adnan at deptford.tv a couple of weekends before as part of NodeL he had introduced me to some of the software they were using of which Jarimol's 'Dynebolic' is one. From the outset this was intense. Maybe that's not the right word but I mean that in the nicest possible way, beacuse he's a pretty nice guy as well.

Jarimol's workshop was pretty mind blowing but i will attempt to discuss that in more depth elsewhere. Anyway he is one of the people which have amazed me most. Credit is definitely due to this man.


Armin introduced the first night of lectures by detailing the motivation for the core Ravensbourne staff in wanting to do this event. The idea being to present work around a specific theme rather than just "showing off" specific work, and focusing on it being "a college thing". So one of the first obstacles was deciding what the theme should be. So one of the main ideas was to bring together a diverse range of work which attempts to create links between aspects like creativity and politics, humour and sex, hopefully creating fresh links in people's minds.

In terms of finding a context for this 'node' event, Armin makes the point that 'net culture' is not just about technology but also about alternative ways of doing things, and opening up new ways of doing things in the do-it-yourself fashion.

One of the important things he emphasised was the idea that Node London wasn't conceived as a once a year festival to make a spectacle of particular art works, but it builds on the types of things that have been happening for well over 10-15 years for example the events organised by our own Lisa Haskell, as well as Mongrel, and Matthew Fuller's 'Destructor' - London's first self-organised media arts festival.

The main idea of Armin's lecture he says is to discuss the "C" word: community, of open source, do-it-yourself culture, particularly some of the main issues around this:

Firstly what he calls, "critical pragmatism" - which he describes as the pro-active way of critically discusing current work without entering into an endless loop of debate. Secondly, free open source software, one of the key issues being not the software itself but the principle of the GPL which advocates for providing the source code, and that this access, and freedom to modify creates a collaborative culture. Then there are social/cultural responsibilities in giving people knowledge they need to be able to teach themselves, avoiding the 'cathedral' side of teaching (although he refrains from giving a lecture about collaborative culture, a very difficult thing to do).

Armin draws an analogy between punk bands and D.I.Y media as a way of illustrating the point. With punk music you didn't need to be an expert with the instruments before being able to perform. But this is maybe more difficult with digital culture. It takes time to learn the instruments.

He also reinforces the idea that opensource software is not just about asking someone for help but teaching yourself all you can until you can go no further, then ask someone for help.
Also consumer attitude now being so strong, Takeaway could be mis-interpreted as encouraging the idea of peer-to-peer file-sharing. But he attempts to make clear this is not what the festival is about, rather that we need to work together on DIY culture, on the establishment of stronger networks.

Karel Dudesek is then introduced by Armin, as someone who moved from performance into participatative mode for these exhibits.

Karel thanks the Dana centre for hosting Takeaway, apparently a big challenge for them in getting people from a diverse range of commmunities involved who wouldn't usually be come to this sort of thing.

Karel reinforces the idea of Takeaway, asking that the interest of this event is looking to what people are actually doing to take action. He provides a range of examples such as Architecture which he calls "customised suppression". Innovations in public space.

Other examples Karel uses are Highway 86, Killercoke, Buy Nothing Day, Blogger Brigade, (see the pattern starting to emerge?) Kulturpolizei, not forgetting Karel's favourite Negativland. Karel reinforces the idea that if you are making your own content you have to actually become part of it, and in new and interesting ways. And the thing in common between all these projects: nobody asked these projects to be done, nobody employed them.

In Fiona Duogan's overlong lecture she talked about the college's proposed relocation to Greenwich (apparently now taking place 2007/8). I found it a little bit ironic that his lecture was part of Takeaway because it seemed to me be yet again political by nature, but now from the point of view of being a chance to promote Ravensbourne as a business. It was partly interesting though from the aspect that Fiona charted the development of the colleges area of focus since the 60s which has largely moved from producing fine artists, to production and post-production to the more networked / interactive based courses as we move into the era of the internet. It went on for too long anyway.

There were other really interesting talks but too interesting to do justice to now...

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