Networked_Performance

Embroidered Digital Commons Workshops [uk London]

Embroidered Digital Commons Workshops with Ele Carpenter and Emilie Giles :: Saturdays, March 3 – April 28, 2012 (excluding April 7); 10:00 – 12:00 pm :: Furtherfield Gallery, McKenzie Pavilion, Finsbury Park, London.

The Embroidered Digital Commons is a collectively stitched version of A Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons by the Raqs Media Collective (2003). The project seeks to hand-embroider the whole lexicon, term by term, through workshops and events as a practical way of close-reading and discussing the text and its current meaning.

Would you like to stitch the Digital Commons with us?

Furtherfield invites all gallery visitors to take part in one or more of our Saturday morning embroidery sessions and come together to stitch the term ‘Meme’ from the lexicon for the Digital Commons,
chosen in relation to the theme Being Social. A cultural ‘meme’ is the way in which an idea spreads through social networks.

We are inviting crafters, programmers, artists, makers, and people interested in working collaboratively, or taking part in participatory projects to each stitch a few words of the term meme, as described below. The resulting patches will then be turned into a short film depicting the sequence of embroideries.

Meme

“Meme: The life form of ideas. A bad idea is a dead meme. The transience as well as the spread of ideas can be attributed to the fact that they replicate, reproduce and proliferate at high speed. Ideas, in their infectious state, are memes. Memes may be likened to those images, thoughts and ways of doing or understanding things that attach themselves, like viruses, to events, memories and experiences, often without their host or vehicle being fully aware of the fact that they are providing a location and transport to a meme. The ideas that can survive and be fertile on the harshest terrain tend to do so, because they are ready to allow for replicas of themselves, or permit frequent and far-reaching borrowals of their elements in combination with material taken from other memes. If sufficient new memes enter a system of signs, they can radically alter what is being signified. Cities are both breeding grounds and terminal wards for memes. To be a meme is a condition that every work with images and sounds could aspire towards, if it wanted to be infectious, and travel. Dispersal and infection are the key to the survival of any idea. A work with images, sounds and texts, needs to be portable and vulnerable, not static and immune, in order to be alive. It must be easy to take apart and assemble, it must be easy to translate, but difficult to paraphrase, and easy to gift. A dead meme is a bad idea.”

About the Project

In 2003 the Raqs Media Collective wrote A Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons. The full lexicon is an A-Z of the interrelationship between social, digital and material space. It weaves together an evolving language of the commons that is both poetic and informative. The terms of the lexicon are: Access, Bandwidth, Code, Data, Ensemble, Fractal, Gift, Heterogeneous, Iteration, Kernal, Liminal, Meme, Nodes, Orbit, Portability, Quotidian, Rescension, Site, Tools, Ubiquity, Vector, Web, Xenophilly, Yarn, and Zone.

The concept of the digital commons is based on the potential for everything that is digital to be common to all. Like common grazing land, this can mean commonly owned, commonly accessed or commonly available. But all of these blurred positions of status and ownership have complex repercussions in the field of intellectual property and copyright. The commons has become synonymous with digital media through the discourse surrounding free and open source software and creative commons licensing. The digital commons is a response to the inherent ‘copy n paste’ reproducibility of digital data, and the cultural forms that they support. Instead of trying to restrict access, the digital commons invite open participation in the production of ideas and culture. Where culture is not something you buy, but something you do.

The embroidery is a slow reproduction of A Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons text, transmitting the meme of the lexicon to hundreds of people stitching across the globe. In this way the work is a cultural meme, transmitting ideas through thinking and making as part of a distributed participatory project. The whole text is easy to take apart, divide into small sections, stitch, and reassemble through fabric and film. It is easy to translate into different formats, but hard to translate metaphor into different languages.

The poetic and metaphorical aspects of the digital commons are recontextualised through close-reading, close-listening, discussion and shared making. The ideas are most effectively explored when they are expressed and illustrated using and multiple layers of meaning and wit. The meme of the digital commons travels fast through networks that investigate the language of shared production and distribution, for example crafters and open source programmers are committed embroiderers of the digital commons. The meme of the digital commons has also spread across all areas of cultural production including music, design and art.

About the Artists

Ele Carpenter is a curator based in London. Her creative and curatorial practice investigates specific socio-political cultural contexts in collaboration with artists, makers, amateurs and experts. She is a lecturer in Curating at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Since 2005 Ele has facilitated the Open Source Embroidery project using embroidery and code as a tool to investigate the language and ethics of participatory production and distribution. The Open Source Embroidery exhibition (Furtherfield, 2008; BildMuseet Umeå Sweden, 2009; Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, 2010) presented work by over 30 artists, including the finished Html Patchwork now on display at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. Ele is currently facilitating the ‘Embroidered Digital Commons’ a distributed embroidery exploring collective work and ownership 2008 – 2013.

Emilie Giles is an alumnus of MA Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice at Goldsmiths College. Since graduating in 2010 her time has been spent co-organising MzTEK, a women’s technology and arts collective, as well as completing an internship with arts group Blast Theory and working for social video distributors Unruly. She is currently involved with TESTIMONIES, a project which explores oral history in relation to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games largely through social media. Emilie’s own practice revolves around notions of pervasive gaming, married with urban exploration and psychogeography. Her most recent focus lies in taking fundamental gaming principles from Geocaching and exploring the consequences of adding an emotional dimension.

Reference

Raqs Media Collective, 2003, A Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons. In: Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies, ed. Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Jeebesh Bagchi, Ravi Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram + Geert Lovink, Sarai-CSDS Delhi/WAAG Amsterdam, 2003. p365. Available here.

Furtherfield Gallery is supported by Haringey Council and Arts Council England.


Jan 21, 17:05
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