“[T]here are other things that need doing, and one of these is the development of an imaginary of technology, an understanding of its poetics and a testing manifestation of those poetics in ways that allow us to think and sense through what that technology is.” – Matt Fuller in .x-med-a.
Following the path laid out in “Towards an Ecology of Media Ecology” FoAM, Nadine and OKNO concluded the .x-med-k. series with a final workshop in Saint Erme, France.
In this workshop, the three organisations explored media and media technologies as an ecosystem, deeply networked. At an isolated location in the Champagne region, participants gathered for a week of workshops, reflection and practical sessions around the themes of networks, collaborative projects and Tech-Nouveau. The workshop took an 'Open Space' approach, in which all participants took an active role in shaping their activities.
OKNO was working on building a windmill and crafting a local wireless network. FoAM undertook hands-on experiments with simulated biological systems, feeding them with discussions regarding complexity, whole-systems, patterns, permaculture, biomorphism and biomimetics in physical and simulated lifeforms and ecosystems. Participants were also contributing to collaborative projects regarding public uses of filmic and photographic systems and technologies, guided by Nadine.
Media ecologies is a retreat organised by three organisations: Okno, nadine and FoAM (under the watchful eye of the Guild for Reality Integrators and Generators). The workshop took place between the 21st and the 25th of April at the Performing Arts Forum in St. Erme in France. We slept, ate, worked and played on the PAF (http://www.pa-f.net/) premises.
The workshop was designed as a master class where everyone is considered both an expert and a participant. There are no designated workshop 'leaders', as we expected everyone to take on this role, at least when it's required. The retreat aims to inspire and invigorate, through an intense exchange of ideas, techniques and perspectives.
The overall question for the workshop as a whole is: “How do we develop an imaginary of technology, in which biological, cultural, mechanical or electronic systems interact?”
Following from this question, FoAM focused on “what and how we can learn from nature to design more resilient and responsive cultural, poetic and technological systems?” . We looked at the science of biomimicry, technologies of bionics and (artificial) life, biomorphic design and ecological processes in contemporary techno-social environments. Okno focused on the networked connections between physical and digital systems. Nadine explored the poetics, aesthetics and politics of audiovisual technologies in public spaces.
The workshop took place from the 21st to the 25th of April, from 10 - 6pm. The evenings were left open for socialising and informal presentations. The workshop was facilitated as an 'open space' (http://www.openspaceworld.org/cgi/wiki.cgi?AboutOpenSpace), also known to some by its use in 'bar camp' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_camp) or in various 'unconferences'. This means that we did not design a schedule beforehand, but instead relied on the participants to propose sessions around themes that they care about. Each morning we had one or two theoretical presentations, that provided a context and a framework for afternoon sessions. The afternoons were designated for hands-on experiments, discussions, expeditions, games and other participatory sessions that can further the main workshop question and/or subtopics. These sessions took anywhere from 1/2 hour to 4 hours.
Think about the workshop questions and different ways in which we could try to answer them as a group. What is it that you can contribute to these issues? Is there anything that you feel particularly strongly about? Is there something that needs urgent attention? Or somethings that requires a slow, but fundamental change? Think about what you want to address, but also how it could be addressed. How would you engage others - should you talk, walk, make, play, or…?
If you are not familiar with the Open Space methodology, familiarise yourself beforehand, so you know what to expect (see http://www.openspaceworld.org/ to begin with). If you have a topic, a crazy idea, or a technique that you would like to explore, you can design and conduct a session (or multiple sessions). If you are uncertain how to structure your session, or decide on the topic, work with the organisers either before or during the workshop.
NOTE: If you are planning to organise a session that requires particular materials and/or equipment, this will have to be arranged beforehand.
As participants of the workshop we must encourage everyone to reflect on the workshop and share their opinions about the experience.