Dear List members and Friends,
(please feel free to copy and redistribute)
We are happy to announce the launch of OPUS, (Open Platform for
Unlimited Signification) as an online
adjunct to the documentary installation - Co-Ordinates:
28.28N/77.15E : : 2001/2002 - presented
by us (Raqs Media Collective) at Documenta11, Kassel.
Opus (Release Candidate) went public on the 8th of June, 2002,
co-inciding with the opening of Documenta11.
The URL for Opus is www.opuscommons.net
What does Opus stand for?
Opus is an acronym for "Open Platform for Unlimited Signification!".
Most importantly, it is an online space for people, machines and
codes to play and work together - to share, create and transform
images, sounds, videos and texts. Opus is an attempt to create a
digital commons in culture, based on the principle of sharing of
work, while at the same time, retaining the possibility (if and when
desired) of maintaining traces of individual authorship and identity.
To read more about the principles and background of Opus, go to -
How Opus works (what can you do in Opus)
Opus enables you to view, create and exhibit media objects (video,
audio, still images, html and text) and make modifications on work
done by others, in the spirit of collaboration and the sharing of
creativity. Opus is an environment in which every viewer/user is also
invited to be a producer, and a means for producers to work together
to shape new content. You can view and download material, transform
it and then upload the material worked on by you back to the Opus
domain. Each media object archived, exhibited and made available for
transformation within Opus carries with it data that can identify all
those who have worked on it. This means that while Opus enables
collaboration, it also preserves the identity of Authors/Creators (no
matter how big or small their contribution may be) at each stage of a
works evolution. In this way, we hope that Opus can be come a model
for a practical realization of the idea of a Digital Commons of
creative work on the Internet.
To read a manual of OPUS - go to -
The basic ideas of the Opus project is to create a community of
creative people from all over the world, who want to share and gift
to each other the images, sounds and texts made by them for general
public usage. Opus will give people the chance to collaborate and to
present their work to an online community of practitioners and
artists willing to work outside the increasing global domination of
intellectual property regimes in cultural production.
Once you have published your y in Opus, each act of uploading by you
becomes an opportunity for others to take your work as a starting
point for transformation, for a new rendition, for a rescension. Opus
users will also be able to give their comments and reflections on
your work through the discussion forums that will grow around each
project within Opus.
Opus is inspired by the free software movement and is an attempt to
transpose the principles that govern the creation of free software on
to general cultural production. Opus follows the same rules as those
that operate in all free software communities - i.e. the freedom to
view, to download, to modify and to redistribute. The source(code),
in this case the video, image, sound or text - the contents of media
objects uploaded on to Opus, is free to use, to edit and to
redistribute. Needless to say the 'source-code' of the Opus software
is also free to use, edit and redistribute. Opus users are governed
by a license that protects them from their work being taken out of
the commons and into the regimen of proprietary protocols.
To read the license that frames Opus - go to -
OPUS : A brief history
Work on Opus began in September 2001 and the Beta version was
uploaded in April 2002. Opus is launched
into the public domain with the opening of Documenta11.
When we (Raqs Collective) began to think through the ideas that
gradually crystallized to form Opus, we
were searching for a platform that would enable inter-media and
hybrid media practices to find fruition within a frame of open ended
collaboration. We were interested in trying to evolve a way to
combine our interests with video, our background in documentary film,
photography and sound, and our growing engagement with
hypertextuality and free software culture as a result of our work
within the Sarai Initiative at the Centre for the Study of Developing
At an immediate level, the ideas that were at the core of the Opus
project developed out of our need to create an online context for a
set of offline installations. (like , for instance, Co-ordinates :
28.28N /77.15E : : 2001/2002, which is showing at Documenta11) which
we wanted to open out to a wider community of creators, so as to
enable instances of further collaboration; and out of our thoughts on
the notion of the 'Digital Commons', from which arose a text A
Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons which contains many of the
founding ideas of Opus.
In the realization of the process of creating Opus we were joined by
several others who made the Sarai Media Lab their home for many long
days and nights along with us, sharing in the delight of discovering
fragments of archiecture that worked, or a metaphor that made sense,
and above all with the energy that they brought to every detail of
the coding and design of Opus. Opus would not be a reality without
the active collaboration of all the people who worked on it, their
skills and their imaginations.
Many metaphors, images and ideas have made their way into the making
of OPUS, from a biological laboratory,
to a polyamourous matrix, to an understanding of the way in which
parents relate to children, from kinship
and lineage to the growth and evolution of epic narratives and
ancient texts. The traces of all these remain in varying degrees.
Sarai (www.sarai.net) provided the background of being an
intellectually and creatively stimulating space
while all of us worked on Opus.
Conception - Raqs Media Collective
Architecture - Monica Narula, Bauke Freiburg, Silvan Zurbruegg
Coding - Silvan Zurbruegg, Pankaj Kaushal
Interface Design - Joy Chatterjee
Design Co-ordination - Monica Narula
Design Acknowledgement - Rana Dasgupta
Documentation - Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Monica Narula, Bauke Freiburg
License - Lawrence Liang, Jeebesh Bagchi
Produced by - Raqs Media Collective
at the Sarai Media Lab, Sarai/CSDS,
Knowbotic Research, Zurich
Hochschule fur Gestaltung und Kunst, Zurich
Dept. of New Media Studies, University of Amsterdam
Society for Old & New Media, Amsterdam
Everyone @ Sarai, Delhi
We invite you to contribute, create and share in the further
development of Opus. We believe that your
participation in Opus will strengthen and revitalize the digital commons.
If you have more enquiries about Opus - write to
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Sarai:The New Media Initiative
29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110 054