Thanks Beryl and all,
I have been so frustrated and have been teased by the discussion on here
lately, but to busy to contribute.
So I'll use this moment to put my penny's worth into the mix.
>So, is there a balance to be struck between 'the tyranny of
structureless' and the tyranny of the matchmaker?
Oh Beryl - I'm sure there is 'a balance to be struck between 'the
tyranny of structureless' and the tyranny of the matchmaker'.
Yet, at the same time this will not work for others, because it does not
necessarily suit their remit, circumstance or political belief.
I really do feel that if we try to control things too much we may always
be disappointed and constantly distracted with the activity of running
after things because they do not fit into the desired shape, conception
of pre-perceived realisations. Thus one could end up wondering why they
bothered to chase those various uncontrollable factors in the first
place and if it was really worth the hassle?
For me, Node.London - the 2006 festival was worth the hassle. And some
of the questions raised in regard to 'structurelessness' are
contextually valid. As you mention, we did try to be as open as
possible. Information was shared in various ways, most of it was
accessible on-line through a wiki, or the web site, or a list. This is
still happening now. Whether people had the time to read this
information is definitely an issue. I know that us at furtherfield were
already deeply involved in other projects, not just our gallery but also
with on-line communities and projects as well. So, Node.London nearly
killed us because it took so much of our energies, and you would find
that many others had a similar experience.
>If I can gently steer you back to the theme of open source and open
In respect of my own experience with open source, I find that it does
demand an awful lot of learning time and it always has done. I use open
source more for my own personal art projects, such as diwologue.net. Yet
at the same time because I work at the HTTP Gallery and we have artists
who use propriotorial software for their works in the shows, as well as
well as those who use open source; it is better functionally to have 3
different operating systems available.
I admire groups like access space in Sheffield who have decided to go
the whole way in setting up a Linux network and run all computers as
Lunix, also Cubecinema in Bristol has. I would love to have all our
machines set up as Linux in our space (in fact, 4 of them are), we have
a linux network that all operating systems are connected to at the
space. We have various people working with who use other operating
systems, and thought that it was a bit preachy to impose new systems and
language on them, when they have so many other things to do. Having said
this, it may change. We do use and encourage the use of open source
applications on all of the computers such as open.office, gimp and many
Open source to some is a state of mind, a state of being and is as
important as using it. To be reliant on paying for Proprietory based
software puts one in the situation as consumer rather than sharing and
engaging in a progressive thinking and critical culture that is
proposing an evolution beyond capitalist mechanisms alone. The irony of
this is that, many of the open source developers themselves are working
for companies who are extreme in their capitalist ventures anyway, and
this is usually not a well discussed theme in its own right - so to
imagine a pure separation from capitalist systems could be considered as
not totally honest, perhaps it could be seen to be not acknowledging
certain real life situations and workings in the world, that we all are
part of larger capitalist society - whether we acknowledge it or not.
Having said this, there is no reason why we should not challenge these
structures at the same time as using the open source technology provided
I personally advocate open systems as long as they clearly manage to
reflect the state and shared will of those in a specific environment in
a manner which is serving those who experience it positively. I think
that the context of why one is releasing (potentially) important
information needs to be considered as well. Sometimes just doing it
could be irresponsible if one is not conscious of why one is doing it.
Secrets are sometimes necessary, not because they hold power over others
but because sometimes a particular circumstance may not warrant others
knowing about conditions relating to an individual or group that is of a
sensitive or personal nature, when information about them is shared it
may harm them.
So an open system could be introduced when it brings about the breaking
through of gluts, clots of control within those environments that
actively impose unnecessary states of stress on others, due to a few
individuals accumulating power over others via unethical processes. To
define what is unethical, of course has to be assessed in accordance not
only to the needs of the organisation but in relation to external
factors beyond of what is being question outside these limiting
structures. From my experience 'the tyranny of structureless' does not
have to only apply to those who are exploring open systems but also
organisations that already have official structures in place. Such as
many higher education institutions who have such bad management that the
staff who work for these institutions are unable to concentrate on
actually teaching because the framework that they work in is so
oppressive, or certain individuals impose a dominant and sadistic
attitude to other staff and students, but management are too slow or too
lazy to deal with it.
I know of some individuals who advocate open systems of working who are
teaching in educational systems who also forcibly spout their dedication
toward open systems and all things free, who yet at the same time are
extremely exploitative and psychologically controlling to peer staff and
students, bullying everyone and getting away with it most of the time,
because they are in positions of power. Open systems of working, need to
be put in place which function to challenge the bad management within
these environments in question letting this happen, it is urgently
needed. Also, such questionable behaviours, makes one think that we need
to expand these ideas of open systems into a more realistic form of
everyday practice as part of life. Yes, include it in art and theory but
let some of it out into the daylight, not keep clinging to the abstract
alone, so to allows others to gain something substantially useful out of
discussions such as this.
Just one note, to feed back to the mentioned problems of Node.London - I
noticed that those who were used to and interested in collaboration
gained an awful lot out of the festival, whether it be through
connecting with others or sharing ideas to make something happen. It did
seem that those who were more used to having structures in place working
for them, as in not having to deal with discussing ideas around working
with others or building an infrastructure, did have trouble in working
with its demands. In fact, this lead to certain individuals not being so
involved and probably feeling left out - whether they were curators or
artists. Again, it is about what one really wants from being involved in
such a project and how it fits your own remit. Of course, Node.London
did not abide to the principles of one curator, or individual voice, or
a singular concept or theme. This actually confused and frustrated some
of these infividuals in respect of what the focus was really about.
Which is fair enough.
What seemed to work regarding openness for node.london was actually
quite radical in some ways because it broke down the divisions of power
in respect of who had a voice in media arts itself, and institutions
were offered a connection to know and meet more groups and artists to
work with them beyond the old social order of media art cliques. In the
end it expanded the field, and to be honest made room for up and coming
and other organisations artists who had previously been ignored. In my
books, that is an open system even though not a perfect mechanism of
product, more a process of social change:-)
wishing all well.