|Deanna Herst (NL)|
Independent art-historian, digital and visual art and culture lecturer media theory, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam
Cellsbutton: synchronizing shared authorshipDeanna Herst (NL)
As one of the first initiatives in Indonesia, Cellsbutton intends to develop a practical and theoretical framework for media arts in this country. The philosophy of this new media arts festival reflects the innovative approach of its founder, Jogjakarta’s House of Natural Fiber (HONF).
Questioning the ramifications of technology and exploring the possiblities for new artistic practices is the starting point for the artists, designers and programmers of HONF. Their approach is interdisciplinary, focusing on crossovers between technology, art, philosophy, design and sciences.
For HONF, the socio-cultural environment is an important context for their projects. More specifically, HONF expresses its social responsibility through a creative dialogue with local communities. One example once explained by Venzha: In Indonesia, telecommunication seems almost everywhere. But in fact, not many people have access to it. For the future we intend to build a telecommunication system that can help people and can provide a new framework to approach this situation of communication needs.
Through performances, workshops and other creative interventions, HONF investigates how topics such as robotics, biotechnology, physics and communication are negotiated within the public spaces of, for example, schools, hospitals and city streets or other situations of daily life.
As such, HONF could be described as a ‘creative community’, a collaborative model that not only involves designers, artists, programmers and scientists but also their audiences.
The modus operandi of HONF reflects a new kind of dynamic art practice, one that is liberated from the traditional artistic canon, hierarchy and ‘authoritarianisms’. Their dynamic practice is nurtured by the exchange between artists, their audiences and their environment. This quest for dialogue expresses a new artistic approach, one that focuses on collaborative authorship.
Technology has triggered new forms of distributed authorship. Developments like open source, networking technologies and the much debated ‘web 2.0’ has enabled individuals, groups and communities to become part of the contemporary ‘culture of participation’. And as much as users and audiences have now become authors, so have computers and generative software.
In the symbiosis between art and technology, authorship has gained new definition and meaning. Both artists and audiences, programmers and users or systems and software can all be considered contributors to the creative project.
This collective authorship of media art practices seems to embody the ‘prophecies’ of Roland Barthes, written almost four decades ago. His essay ‘The Death of an Author’ is a plea for audience participation in the process of completing a text, or, in this case, a work of art.
For Cellsbutton’s Education Focus Programme (EFP) collaboration, exchange, dialogue and process are key issues. The challenge of this programme is to investigate how these parameters could be translated into a new creative practice. How to synchronize the perspectives of different contributors into shared authorship and collaborative projects? In which educational format could these different models of authorship be explored?
One of EFP’s methods is to organise accessible, ‘hands-on’ workshops that allow the audience to share knowledge and explore different forms of artistic collaboration induced by technology. Furthermore, these workshops are based on a ‘Do It Yourself’ philosophy, which enables the participants to use, subvert and adapt technologies for the specific requirements of local communities. This perspective is examined in the ‘bricolabs’ workshops, for example.
Besides participatory authorship, another goal of the EFP is to stimulate a critical and reflective approach towards technology. What are the implications this new artistic practice for art, design and sciences for Indonesian context? In discussions and presentations, the aesthetic, social and philosophical context will be analyzed and debated in order to create a critical, practice based approach towards media arts in Indonesia.
Cellsbutton encourages collaborative authorship, educational forms based on participation and a reflective media art practice. These parameters embody HONF’s desire for a new framework and infrastructure by which to produce and analyse media arts in Jogjakarta - and Indonesia.
The absence of media arts in the programmes of art institutions, academia and universities in Indonesia might well be an advantage at this early stage. This tabula rasa offers a fresh opportunity to explore and define media arts in an independent and innovative way. Cellsbutton is the first electronic seed. Its roots are soon to follow.