Dear CRUMB list
with a heavy heart I write to let you know of the passing of one of CRUMB's longtime supporters and first subscribers, Armin Medosch, who died yesterday.
Armin was based in Vienna and was initiator of the Technopolitics working group, who at the Transmediale in Berlin earlier this month released their Timeline of Information Society. Not long ago in October, he spoke in New York with Rhizome about this new book New Tendencies – Art at the Threshold of the Information Revolution (1961-1978), published in June 2016, at MIT Press. This book was based on his doctoral thesis at Goldsmiths (2012), a case study of the international movement New Tendencies. Armin was an artist, curator and scholar whose work since the 1980s addressed art and technology as well as art and science practices. His essay “Shockwaves” is in the Companion to Digital Art (2016), edited by Christiane Paul. I remember well his longtime support of the London media art scene through our affiliation with the University of Openess.
The fine folk at Monoskop have got a page up with links to his work and writings: https://monoskop.org/Armin_Medosch
I'd urge you all to read his work and remember this kind and generous man with fondness and respect.
He described himself as a dinosaur of media art. Perhaps this is right and people will remember him for a long time to come. I paste below one of his messages to CRUMB from about a decade ago, in which he describes some of his early projects in open source culture.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Armin Medosch <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
Subject: Re: Open source first steps
Date: 3 April 2008 16:49:46 BST
To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Armin Medosch <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
I follow this discussion with interest but must add that for me the
relationship between free and open source software and art or more
narrowly media art is not new but goes back a long time. The Chaos
Computer Club was invited to the art festival steirischer herbst in 1986
and that was my first direct exposure to hacker culture. It was not
called free software then but public domain and you ended up swapping
floppy disks with strangers in weird comic or scifi bookshops. it was
strange for me because I was 23, 24, they were 14 to 18 but technically
much more advanced than me. and I should never close the gap anymore
My next heavy exposure came in 1994 and 1995 when I co-curated the
exhibition telepolis, the interactive and networked city, Nov 1995 in
Luxembourg. From there on i think I gained a deeper understanding of
unix/linux and the internet and developed a sort of hacker affinity in
my way of thinking - only regarding certain, not all aspects.
So I spent the late 1990ies and early naughties involved with a critical
net culture as a journalist, curator, event organiser and activist. Out
of this line of work came the two German books Netpirates (2001) and
Free Networks (2003). The latter is about the equivalent of free
software applied to the creation of wireless community networks. Of
course there are differences but there is one strong overlapping aspect
which is that wireless community networks are created by communities for
communities, it is a collaborative effort. the main critique also is a
shared one, namely that, by and large, this collaborative love fest is
mainly enjoyed by the free software, free network elite and many people
still feel alienated by hacker elitism.
Since 2001 I have been co-curator of the project kingdom of piracy which
concentrates on digital art, intellectual property and the commons.
http://kop.kein.org/ In the course of the work with this project we
formulated a critique of a certain interpretation of FOSS which mainly
defines it through legalistic and licencing aspects. But actually, the
GPL, the gold standard of free software is not such a strong legal
weapon. Nobody shares code via the GPL because the many lost court cases
forcves them to. It is more an expression of an attitude that people use
this licence, or similar ones. So that is an interesting thing. And
while Felix Stalder is right to criticise the assumption of an
unstructured openness we as practitioners looked at it the other way
round and started investigating ways of self governance of the commons
with the project commons tales. How can different types of commons be
made to work, what examples exist, those were some of the questions
Later this led to the event PLENUM which came out of above research
process and was based on an interrigation of public speech as a commons.
Actually, already before that we did DIVE, a booklet and CD which was a
kind of manual for cultural organisations and producers to start working
with free software and educate themselves in a collaborative ethics
My opening text Piratology http://kop.kein.org/DIVE/cd/text/index.html
written in 2003, is maybe my strongest and most optimistic assessment of
FOSS becoming a very broad movement allied with many other grassroots
and DIY movements and slowly but surely changing the world through this
collaborative and participative ethos. But I think web 2.0 and a totally
commercial hijack of the meaning of the term social software hijacked a
lot of the potential of this moevement and venture capital driven
companies which exploit user generated content get all the media
attention while interesting more radical FOSS projects exist very much
on the margins and on the sharp end of precarity.
More recently, despite myself being a dinosaur of media art, I started a
practice based PhD at Goldsmiths in Arts and Computing. I have built an
online platform under the name thenextlayer.org which is intended to
become a place of interchange and peer based production, mainly but not
exclusively between practice-led PhD researchers. We try to apply a FOSS
ethics to research in an academic context. Together with Adnan Hadzi and
others I am in the process of organising an experimental workshop under
the title taxi-to-praxi on 21st of April where we will discuss
practices, taxonomies and methodologies. You are all very welcome to
register as users on this platform and also to join for the workshop.
Just register an account and then either drop me a line or wait till I
discover you. At first you will not have any rights, you need to get
upgraded to full user rights. this is because of spam.
I would look forward to having further discussions about all this, here
and on thenextlayer.org
Dr. Sarah Cook
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee
INFORMATION - Documents of Contemporary Art (Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press)
Chapter in: Practicable: From Participation to Interaction in Contemporary Art (MIT Press)
Chapter in: Re-envisioning the Contemporary Art Canon (Routledge)
The University of Dundee is a registered Scottish Charity, No: SC015096