[NetBehaviour] Media Lab Culture in the UK and beyond

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Aug 31 14:40:23 CEST 2012

thanks for this interesting reference.

The development of research oriented/arts and science labs
is of course not a UK phenomenon alone, but an international
one, with interesting precursors (say, interdiscplinary arts & design
schools and workshops as they were formed in the Bauhaus) reaching
back to the early 20th century.... and with quite fascinating lineages
that probably deserve a complex media lab archaeology, if you also think of the emergences
of sound art and sound research in the 20th century. 

As to the history of sound art experimentation, there is a stunning exhibition currently on view (until January 2013)
at ZKM in Karlsruhe,  I can recommend it. 

Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art

The website publishes the two key essays of the catalogue, on sound art, by Peter Weibel and Julia Gerlach. 

In 1999, Michael Century (now at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) presented an extensive study and outline on research/media labs:  
Pathways to Innovation in Digital Culture, 1999. This is still available at: 

Kerstin Evert, who I believe now works for the Hamburg Kampnagel Fabrik,
wrote her dissertation about dance labs: 
Dance Lab: Zeit genössische Tanz und Neue Technologien. Wuerzburg:
Königshausen und Neumann, 2003.

In the Netherlands, Anne Nigten (formerly with V2) published her findings in 
Processpatching, Defining New Methods in aRt&D, Phd Thesis, University of the Arts London  (Lulu publishing ISBN 1409299260) (2007)

see also:  http://www.patchingzone.net/

(also: Joke Brouwer,  with  Arjen Mulder, Anne Nigten, Laura Martz, eds.,  aRt&D: Artistic Research and Development, Rotterdam: V2_Publishing/NAi Publishers, 2005)

It would be interesting to know whether there are similar studies and overviews of media lab culture in 
Asia, Australia, and the Latin continent, but also, for example,  in Russia (since Vitebsk/Unovis and VUKhUTEMAS) and Eastern Europe.
In 2000 a series got started in France, Anomalie digital_arts, which I believe has issued six volumes so far, and the no. 5 was dedicated to Brazil media arts. 

I would be particularly interested in reports on performance/media lab culture.

with regards
Johannnes Birringer
director, Interaktionslabor


Subject: [NetBehaviour] Media Lab Culture in the UK

Media Lab Culture in the UK

By Charlotte Frost


Though the term ‘lab’ conjures the image of a fairly sanitised
environment optimised for scientific experiments and populated by people
in white coats, media labs – centres for creative experimentation – are
quite different. At their most basic, they are spaces – mostly physical
but sometimes also virtual – for sharing technological resources like
computers, software and even perhaps highly expensive 3D printers;
offering training; and supporting the types of collaborative research
that do not easily reside elsewhere.

They saw the internet’s myriad ways of changing the way we make, think
about and share art – not to mention its capacity for social empowerment
– and wanted to harness these qualities quickly and effectively. With
many practitioners coming from the spaces, practices and communities
forged by the independent film and video movement, the phenomenon of the
UK media lab was born. However, despite the importance of these spaces
as the hybrid homes of the then emergent and now embedded creative
activities that characterise today’s rich field of digital and media
practices, their history and contribution to current lab environments
has been little discussed outside a niche arena.

This article is part of a much larger survey commissioned by
Furtherfield called 'Collaboration and Freedom – The World of Free and
Open Source Art'.
All other articles/files can be found on the P2p Foundation wiki site.

Commissioned by Arts Council England for Thinking Digital 2011.

Other Info:

Furtherfield - A living, breathing, thriving network
http://www.furtherfield.org - for art, technology and social change since 1997

Also - Furtherfield Gallery & Social Space:

About Furtherfield:

Netbehaviour - Networked Artists List Community.


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