18 - 20 MARCH 2010


ElectroSmog is a new festival that explores the concept ‘Sustainable Immobility’ in theory and practice. Sustainable Immobility is first of all a critique of the growing global crisis of mobility. Current forms of hyper-mobility of people and products in travel and transport are  ecologically increasingly unsustainable. The will to slow down, however, seems thoroughly absent.

The economic crisis may have temporarily slowed matters down, long term projections still point towards exponential growth of worldwide mobility and exploding energy needs.  Alternatives for the current state of hyper-mobility need to be designed urgently.

The exploration of Sustainable Immobility is a quest for a lifestyle less determined by speed and constant mobility. A lifestyle that celebrates stronger links to local cultures, while at the same time deepening our connections to others across any geographical divide by means of new communication technologies, instead of physical travel.

The ElectroSmog festival will engage one of the main promises information age: that communication technologies can replace the need for physical mobility and thereby contribute directly to ecological stability. Our increased tele-connections would lead to a more rewarding deep local lifestyle (homework in the electronic cottage) and to richer connected experiences with the rest of the world (the global village). While these promises have existed since the dawn of the information age, they were never fully realised.

The  expanding mobility and energy crisis requires us, however, to re-examine these promises and find out how to turn them into viable life-style choices.

ElectroSmog will not take the underlying premises of the information age for granted. We want to ask questions such as:

– Are increased electronic connections truly more energy efficient and ecologically sustainable?

– Do they lead to new forms of  electromagnetic pollution (electrosmog)?

– How can the revitalisation of the local be combined with a responsible global consciousness?

– How can remote connections become a truly rewarding experience in and of themselves?

Technology alone is never the answer. We are looking for both technological and non-technological solutions to the central question of the festival: How can a sustainably immobile way of life be achieved?

Bringing Together a Broad Coalition:

The ElectroSmog festival brings together a broad coalition of designers, environmentalists, urban and spatial planners, technologists, artists, theorists, and engaged and concerned citizens, to explore and ‘design’ sustainable immobility.

ElectroSmog is a truly international festival, with everything you might expect: international debates and discussions, performances, art projects, exhibits, site specific projects, screenings, a design competition, and more.  ElectroSmog stakes its claim for a radical break with the current systems of hyper-mobility not simply by discussing the issue, but by actually implementing it.

No Travel Allowed!
Connecting the Local Off-Line with the International On-Line:

The very concept of an international festival and its traditional conventions has been rethought and redesigned from the ground up. This has lead us to a few basic ground rules that will apply for all festival events:

– No presenter will travel beyond their local or regional boundaries to participate in this event.

– All festival events will always take place in at least two locations connected in real-time.

– A crucial dimension of the festival will be its on-line presence, where audiences from basically anywhere with an internet connection can follow events on-line, join in discussions and debates, visit virtual theatres in metaverses such as second life, and contribute to the program.

A network of accomplished cultural and new media centres, labs, theatres and other public venues work together to create the local ‘hubs’ that will inter-connect on-line for the festival

Beyond the Broadband Enclaves:

ElectroSmog acknowledges from the start that bandwidth is not equally distributed across and within societies. Therefore remote connection to lower bandwidth spaces, do-it-yourself telematics, and information technologies for the majority world will be one the central concerns the festival will address.

Themes explored during the festival include:

– Global Views on the Crisis of Mobility
– The Promise of Ubiquity: Being everywhere at once, while staying home
– Designing for Immobility
– The Changing Path of Food to our Kitchen Table: Food and Global Mobility
– Do-It-Yourself Telematics: Technologies for everybody else
– Aesthetics of Distributed Space
– ElectroSmog is Good for You!
– Tyrannies of the Real-Time
– Going Slow: Private Agency Towards a Sustainable Immobility

International Design Competition

ElectroSmog has initiated its own design competition for young designers, artists, students, and professionals to come up with design scenario’s, life-style proposals, prototypes or demo-designs for sustainable immobility.

The competition invites proposals, scenario studies, demos, prototypes or other innovative ideas to in response to the question: How can we design sustainable immobility?

The winner will be awarded eternal fame and a fully equipped residency, generously hosted by the Banff New Media Institute, to execute her or his ideas. 

Technology Transfer and Content Follow-up:

ElectroSmog will make extensive use of existing and open source technologies
that will be integrated in a re-useable web environment, developed in collaboration with the Cool Mediators Foundation and De Balie in Amsterdam.
The technical processes will be documented in a post-festival documentation workshop organised with the innovative Floss Manuals organisation, resulting in a freely downloadable manual and a print on demand publication available from the Floss Manuals website.

The outcomes of the discussions, debates and theoretical seminars will lead to an international follow-up publication, currently under negotiation and planned for the Fall of 2010.

ElectroSmog Partner Organisations

De Balie, Centre for Culture and Politics, Amsterdam

ADA – Aotearoa Digital Arts Network, New Zealand

Eyebeam – Art + Technology Center, New York.

Banff New Media Institute, Banff.

Medialab Prado, Madrid.

RIXC – Centre for New Media Culture, Riga.

Chelsea College of Art and Design, London.

m-cult- centre for new media culture, Helsinki.


Hivos – Humanist Institute for development Cooperation, The Netherlands.

Floss Manuals – Free Manuals for Free Software, (international network).

Engage! Tactical Media, Utrecht.

Cool Mediators Foundation, Amsterdam.

Department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam