Rich Networks: enhancing artistic collaboration and sociability across high bandwidth networks

In the context of climate change and wider environmental crisis this project explores the possibility of holding an international media arts conference without a single participant getting on a plane?

The Rich Networking Series aims to enable and enrich participants' many-to-many networked exchange; finding ways to enhance the sensual and social experience of exchange across digital networks. It will explore ways of replicating the pleasures of travel, encounters with the unfamiliar, interaction with foreign cultures. It will consider the professional and commercial inducements and pressures to fly to international conferences. It will also connect with contemporary research into the impact of digital culture on the environment.

Via the MARCEL network we aim to convene artists, architects, curators, technologists, musicians, scientists; interdisciplinary thinkers, researchers and agitators, across geographically distant venues to share their knowledge, experience, perspectives and approaches to sustainable international collaboration and exchange. Participants and partner organisations will explore the range of existing networking activities and frameworks that are already used to stimulate exchange and collaboration between groups of people attending international conferences, fairs and networking events.

Through ad hoc and planned events partners will develop a range of prototype network nodes and activities with different arrangements of hardware, software, bandwidth,  physical space, furniture, lighting, camera placement, mics, backgrounds etc

Some initial thoughts about what form activities might take

Node and network arrangements to explore and experiment with:-

- For spacial and interation design, draw on artistic works using networked performance and telematics, such as 'Hole in Space' by Galloway and Rabinovitz, 'Telematic Dreaming' by Paul Sermon, Station Rose's 'Opera Calling', The pUblic's 'Streaming Tales' and networked performance work by Annie Abrahams.
- Digital infrastructure (connecting across academic, public and domestic networks)/ including mega broadband of academic network with Access Grid, open-source video conferencing software and associated Pure Data developments as well as existing commercial but 'free' VOIP utilities.
- Human to human interaction and social protocols: formal introductions, presentations, showing off, mingling, milling about, eating together, performing, improvising, going outside etc
- All unexpected elements

What might happen at Rich Network events?

- Formal presentation (and open mic) to an audience – one to many
- Mingling and informal exchange – one to one and many to many
- Performance, dialogue, debate.

What themes could be explored?

- Infrastructures and ecologies of digital culture (connecting with research into the environmental impact of digital infrastructures and consumer technologies).
- Excessive experiences of togetherness (sustenance and sensualities- eating, drinking, playing, being merry, sound, touch, taste, vision, smell),
- Knowing, right action and collaboration in a network- in the context of environmental crisis.

Outcomes (all shareable with wide audience)
- A series of Rich Network Events - artistic and conference events - and associated media and documentation
- A network of people, organisations and resources contributing to an ad hoc Rich Network infrastructure
- A better understanding of the environmental impact of digital culture
- A series of guides and howtos: relating to technical, artistic and social protocols
- Ability to better plan future networking

Confirmed Rich Network partners-, SCAN, MARCEL

If you are already doing work in this area we would love to know about it. To join the network, contribute activities and knowledge and share your findings.
Please contact ruthDOTcatlowATfurtherfieldDOTorg

Media Art Ecologies - supports experimental practices at the intersections of art, technology and social change. Many of these practices share an ecological approach - an interest in the interrelation of technological and natural processes: beings and things, individuals and multitudes, matter and patterns. They have been developing for nearly half a century, but their effects become especially compelling in the context of contemporary ecological and economic crises. They engage imaginations toward a critical view of growth economics and patterns of consumption, inspiring audiences to generate alternative visions of sustainability and prosperity through creativity and collaboration. Through this programme of work we want to increase opportunities for art making and appreciation, critical debate, exchange and participation in emerging ecological media art practices, and the theoretical, political and social contexts they engage; to engender shared visions of other possible worlds.


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