round corners

Image: Panel 1 with Keulemans, Bilal, Bernhard and Huebler

Positions in flux: On the changing role of the artist and institution in the networked society

organised by Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk), Amsterdam
Symposium venue: Trouw Amsterdam
on Friday, May 8th, 2009

The symposium Positions in flux: On the changing role of the artist and institution in the networked society
will center on some of the major parameters for the current and future development of contemporary art. In particular it will reflect on the aspect of cultural sustainability of art projects, art and technology initiatives and art curating.

Positions in flux will give floor to international artists, theoreticians, critics, cultural producers and aims to initiate a truly critical debate. The symposium is designed for a broad audience working in the field of contemporary culture and art, with a desire to understand what comes ahead and how to respond to these changes on an artistic or institutional level. Positions in flux will provide a platform and “thinkspace” for artists, cultural workers, theoreticians and a broader public to envision the future in our field and to provide us with the necessary information to make choices for a meaningful and sustainable development of society and culture.

The three panel discussions follow a clear thematic scheme and try to bring in as much expertise and viewpoints as possible. The panels are interlinked and designed to initiate an ongoing discussion among the participants. The conference language is English.

The symposium will be streamed from the symposium venue, Trouw Amsterdam. Online audiences will have the opportunity to participate in the debate in the live discussion forum. The results of the debate and its main contributions are reviewed and published online on the New Media Art Platform.

The symposium is part of the Here we are – There we go programme at the Netherlands Media Art Institute, May 8th – 10th, 2009 which takes place on the occasion of the Institute’s 30th anniversary. Here we are – There we go celebrates the Institute’s achievements in these thirty years and plans for the future with an inspiring open house weekend of artist talks, performances, installations, tours and a party.

Positions in flux is made possible with the kind support of the Mondriaan Foundation.
Please contact <> for inquiries and symposium reservations.

Speakers and panels
Please note that speakers and times are subject to change.

9:00 – 10:00 Registration

9:45 Welcome and Introduction
by Heiner Holtappels, director of NIMk and the symposium's curator Susanne Jaschko

10.30 – 12.30 Panel 1: Art goes politics
In this session we will discuss the potential of art to contribute to global and local problems such as religious conflicts, environmental or social crisis. Or is art constrained to raising awareness only? Should art become an agency for political and social affairs at all? How to successfully implement and conduct art projects in zones of crisis? What does it take to successfully implement and conduct projects in zones of crisis? How far do these projects benefit from the dubious attention of mass media?

Hans Bernhard (at), artist, UEBERMORGEN.COM
UBERMORGEN.COM is an artist duo created in Vienna, Austria, by Lizvlx and Hans Bernhard, a founder of etoy. UBERMORGEN.COM’s open circuit of conceptual art, drawing, software art, pixelpainting,
computer installations,, sculpture and digital activism (media hacking) transforms their brand into a hybrid Gesamtkunstwerk. The computer and the network are (ab)used to create art and combine its multiple forms. The permanent amalgamation of fact and fiction points toward an extremely expanded concept of
one’s working materials, that for UBERMORGEN.COM also include (international) rights, democracy and global communication (input-feedback loops). Lately UBERMORGEN.COM generated a lot of media attention with their projects ‘The Sound of Ebay,’ ‘Amazon Noir - The Big Book Crime’ and ‘GWEI - Google Will Eat Itself.’

Wafaa Bilal, artist (iq/us)
Bilal grew up under the repression and violence of the Baathist regime in Iraq and considers himself a political artist, dealing with war and oppression, and the Iraqi experience. Bilal's 2007 dynamic installation ‘Domestic Tension’ placed him on the receiving end of a paintball gun that was accessible online to a worldwide audience, 24 hours a day. Newsweek called the project “breathtaking” and the Chicago Tribune called the month-long piece "one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time." He is assistant professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Knowbotic Research, artist group (de/ch), artist in residence at NIMk 2008/09
While the earlier, network-based projects by Knowbotic Research had concentrated on structures important to virtual networks, their recent test cases emphasise the aspect of transcoding in real spaces. By 'transcoding', Knowbotic Research mean the translation of abstract social and political facts and conditions which are removed from the classical public sphere, into situations that can temporarily be observed and negotiated.

Moderated by Chris Keulemans, writer and journalist (nl)
‘Art After Crisis’ is a website by traveling writer Chris Keulemans. Ever since his first visit to wartime Sarajevo, he has been fascinated by the way artists reinvent their work, their city and their life after a period of war or dictatorship. Their art often occupies empty spaces in a city struggling to recover. It finds a place for traumatic and violent memories, it mirrors the shaky present and it looks forward while others are still paralysed.

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch break

13.30 – 15.30 Panel 2: New territories and cultures of the digital
This panel will look at the geographical shift that media culture currently undergoes and that will shape the future of this field. In the past, Europe, North America and Japan were at the forefront of digital production, design, art and technological research. Now that digital technologies become available at lower prices and spread more widely on the globe, new digital communities flourish. This panel looks specifically at new initiatives and bottom-up organisations in other parts of the world such as East Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America, trying to understand what characterizes these initiatives. In how far do local and national cultures shape digital culture? Do these initiatives share common experiences and challenges, or is there no common ground to be found? Which kind of art arises from these new nodes on the digital map? How can we support the growth and establishment of these organisations?

Bronac Ferran (uk), researcher, consultant and founding member of bricolabs
Ferran’s current projects include a cultural mapping of digital culture in Brazil for SICA in the Netherlands. The bricolabs initiative links individuals and grassroots organisations working with media technologies in a hands-on, DIY way, across the world. Bricolabs was heavily informed by developments in social technology settings in Brazil particularly work there with recycled materials and collaborative approaches to knowledge sharing, open source and free software. Ferran is also Senior Research Tutor at the Royal College of Art in London, for the Industrial Design Engineering Department.

Nat Muller, independent curator and critic (nl)
Muller an independent curator and critic based in Rotterdam with a specific focus on (new) media and art in the Middle East, media and politics and the intersections of aesthetics. She has held positions as project curator at V2_, Institute for Unstable Media (Rotterdam) and De Balie, Centre for Culture and Politics (Amsterdam). She has taught at the Willem de Kooning Academy (NL), the Lebanese American University in Beirut (LB), ALBA (Beirut) and A.U.D (Dubai). Recently, she was curator-in-residence at The Townhouse Gallery in Cairo.

Marcus Neustetter, media artist, curator and co-founder of Trinity Session (za)
Neustetter is conducting research and developing projects in the field of new media art. In 2000 he launched sanman (Southern African New Media Art Network), a resource that promotes new media art and technology amongst audiences and artists in Southern Africa and networks companies, institutions and individuals that share similar interest in this field. In his role as facilitator, curator and cultural producer he is actively developing new projects that blur the boundaries of the traditional application of the creative idea. These processes involve both workshop programmes and development strategies of practitioners and audiences of digital and electronic art in a third world context, investigating the possibilities of sustainable relationships to the existing under-supported art structure and current development of corporate new media activity.

Adam Somlai-Fischer, artist and architect, programme director of Kitchen Budapest (hu)
Somlai-Fischer is one of the key generators of the content created at Kitchen Budapest. Kitchen Budapest, opened in June 2007, is a new media lab for young researchers who are interested in the convergence of mobile communication, online communities and urban space and are passionate about creating experimental projects in cross-disciplinary teams. An architect and interaction designer, Somlai-Fischer is interested in the cultural qualities of new technologies, and to explore these he creates installations and experiments that blend spaces, technologies and interactivity.

Moderated by Rob van Kranenburg, thinker, networker and author (nl/be)
Van Kranenburg has been teaching at various schools in the Netherlands (UvA, EMMA Interaction Design, Industrial Design). Currently he works as the Head of the Public Domain Program at Waag Society. He is author of ‘The Internet of Things.’

For this session we will ask initiatives and organisations around the world to come up with a short written or a 1 minute video statement about challenges they face in the future.
These contributions will be shown during the panel.

15.30 – 16.00 Coffee Break

16.00 – 18.00 Panel 3: Open Source – A scheme for art production and curating?
This session deals with the concept of open source for art production and its presentation. The open source movement is driven by the idea of collective, process-based, sustainable production and improvement. In software development this strategy has already proven to be valid; however can this model be applied to other products such as artworks or even exhibitions? In how far does the open source model differ from other forms of artistic collaboration? Is there a new role model for both the artist and the curator in the future? Which (economic) value and impact has expertise in open source production? How could institutions and organisations respond to this trend?

Marcos Garcia, director of Interactivos, Medialab Prado (es)
Medialab-Prado is aimed at the production, research, and dissemination of digital culture and operates at the intersection of art, science, technology, and society. Its primary objective is to create a structure where both research and production are processes permeable to user participation. It has developed a unique workshop model for collaborative art production and knowledge transfer.

Jaromil, and researcher at NIMk
Denis 'Jaromil' Roio is the main author of the GNU/Linux Live CD Dyne:bolic as well as of a number of audiovisual tools. He is also an artist who has been part of international exhibitions such as CODeDOC II by the Whitney Museum Artport and speaker on conferences such as Ars Electronica. Inspired by Richard Stallman's "free as in free speech" approach as well as liberatory politics, Jaromil seeks to transgress borders between art and code, social activism and research and development.

Joasia Krysa, curator, founder of KURATOR (pl/uk)
KURATOR is a cultural organisation operating as a curatorial agency and research platform at the intersection of art and technology. It has a particular interest in an emerging discourse and practice that links curating with software and networks. Krysa’s recent curatorial projects include openKURATOR, an open submission and presentation platform developed by KURATOR. She is the editor of ‘Curating Immateriality’ (Autonomedia, New York 2006) and lecturer/researcher at the AZTEC (Art Science Technology Consortium at the University of Plymouth.

Moderated by Susanne Jaschko, chief curator NIMk (de/nl)
Jaschko is curator in contemporary art with a focus on electronic and digital art. Before she was curator of transmediale – international festival for art and digital culture in Berlin. Current curatorial projects include ‘Process is Paradigm,’ an exhibition at LABoral, Spain, investigating ephemeral art building on time and contingency, on interdependence and change.

19:30 Reception at the Netherlands Media Art Institute