There were two workshops organised as a part of Luminous Green in 2007. One of them was an Expert Gathering, that was designed as an 'Open Space Retreat', which took place in Denhee, from the 27th to the 29th of April. The other was the Hands-On Workshop, held at the FoAM studio in Brussels, from the 1st to the 5th of May.
The retreat (or Expert Gathering) brought together people whose practice already incorporates ecological thinking as its core value. It had ambitious goals - to spawn inspiring propositions, innovative methods and scalable interventions, looking to advance the participants’ practice beyond conservation and sustainability.
During the retreat we all shared the responsibility for creating a dynamic environment of ideas and connected passions. It was up to each of the participants to design and act in the workshop as they saw fit. We all had to keep within the boundaries of the Luminous Green themes: 'change', 'communication', and 'matter', but each of us was expected to know best which issues are most pressing for us personally, as well as how we wanted to share this with others.
Early in the workshop we planned and designed the sessions together. People could propose to lead sessions, or to participate in sessions initiated by others, or they jointly designed one on the spot. The sessions had a wide range of formats - from discussions, to experiments, to presentations, to walks and expeditions on railbikes. The important thing to keep in mind was that the sessions had to remain fluid - people could come and go, depending on their level of interest.
Buffet dinner and beer tasting
For the first dinner, we have provided the obligatory Belgian 'friet en bier', as well as several less known belgian delicacies, but we'd like everyone to bring something edible and drinkable from their part of the world - to add a bit of colour to the buffet :)
08:30 - 10:00 Breakfast
10:00 - 11:00 Introduction to Open Space and session planning
13:00 - 14:30 Lunch
14:30 - 17:30 Working Sessions: sustaining soundbytes, consumer awareness, rock climbing, fire making, food foraging…
17:30 - 18:30 Debriefing Day 1
19:00 - 21:00 Dinner
08:30 - 09:00 Breakfast
09:30 - 10:00 Session planning
13:00 - 14:30 Lunch
16:30 - 19:00 Summary, conclusions and next steps
19:00 - 20:30 Dinner
20:30 - 22:00 Work/Play Sessions: Sociometry, Open Space….
08:00 - 09:00 Breakfast
09:30 - 10:00 Departure back to Brussels and Malderen
In a time when energy use and electronic waste production should be rapidly decreasing, can media artists comfortably use arsenals of computers and their peripherals in the name of art? Should we gather together to design and deploy new strategies for functioning independently of power-grids, proprietary networks and established waste disposal networks? Can we become true media ecologists and design systems that can become self-sustaining, from production to dismantling, following cyclical, 'cradle-to-cradle' processes? Should we plug our computers and sewing machines into sunlight collectors and plant windmills on our rooftops? Will our artworks change when we can only count on low-power computing for processing and presentation? What software protocols should we develop for such computing units? What kind of displays can we use for audiovisual works, without relying on power-sucking projectors and amplifiers? And - what is the low-power, renewable aesthetics of ecologically sustainable media arts?
In a four day workshop, several artists and designers came together to explore the opportunities and challenges of working to minimise our ecological foot-prints, while maximising our cultural hand-prints. Using a collaborative, DIY methodology, we learned about designing miniature solar power plants and conduct tests for waste processing using microwave ovens. We have built a small network of solar-powered singing robots and looked at designing artworks from a whole-systems perspective. Each day started with a theoretical presentation or a technical tutorial, while the afternoons were reserved for speculative discussions and hands-on experiments in small teams of artists and technologists. The evenings were reserved for screenings, discussions and salon-type presentations, where the participants had a chance to get to know each other, spawn new collaborations, or just chill-out in good company.
On Saturday the 5th of May, at 5PM, we opened our doors to everyone interested in having a final taste of Luminous Green. New people have joined us in our temporary lab where, over the period of four days, the differences between food and fuel, biology and electronics, organic and inorganic chemistry have all but collapsed. The kitchen offered a tasting menu of 'wild, well travelled and leftover cuisine', and in the bar, the everyone could have a sip of FoAM's famously shaken Luminous Green cocktails. It was a glowing closure of an electrified, illuminated and imaginative week!
Many interesting topics were discussed during the workshops and some of the notes have been reconstructed on luminous green notes.