Z33 - HASSELT
6 - 7 MAY 2008

Spacecowboys it’s a workhop about hybrid spaces, programmed by Z33 on 6th and 7th May 2008, from a maximum of 15-20 participants within a wide range of disciplines. This workshop will be moderated by John Hopkins. Speakers & guests: Armin Medosh, Anne Nigten, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Eric Kluitenberg, Kurt Vanhoutte, Peter Westenberg, Maja Kuzmanovic and Pieter van Bogaert.

Our feeling of space and place changes and refreshes constantly through the interaction and communication possibilities of new media. Locations and environments may be altered from public to a private and from concrete to virtual through mobile technologies. These hybrid spaces create emotional and aesthetic possibilities for artists to experiment with. How do artists work with hybrid space and how do they make us aware of the social and cultural implications?

During two workshop days we will think, talk and work around four thematic issues:

LOCAL-GLOBAL

The media has brought the ‘global world’ closer to us. They focus our attention on our local environment as it exists in a globalised world. The concept of place can no longer be naively fenced off from homogenous global networks. Globalisation processes have a number of negative effects, but this is no reason to ‘suffer’ them. In that sense, artist’s strategies to reveal the richness of diversity in a global society are very valuable. Via their acts in spaces, they can show us that there are still opportunities to claim our own space in a world that we do not always seem to have a grip on.

PRIVATE-PUBLIC

Technology enables us to be constantly in contact with places from a distance. This gives us enormous freedom. The shadow side is that the same technology allows us to control more. Artists try to draw attention to controlling networks that are not always visible to us, such as databases, RFID (radiofrequency identification) of surveillance cameras. This enables us to interact with them more consciously and maybe even break the connection now and again.

VISIBLE-INVISIBLE

The phenomenon of ‘ubiquitous computing’ is about the fact that technology is being integrated into our surroundings ever more ‘seamlessly’. In many cases we no longer know where technology is concealed, let alone how to manipulate it ourselves. Our air is full of (polluting) radiation. Artists can reveal these invisible networks in interesting ways using maps, visualisations or photo’s.

NARRATING-CREATING

Immersive environments, interactive story telling or mapping tell us stories about our place in space. Artists often use low-tech technologies in their work, as a reaction against the glorification of technological intelligence. As a rule, these works function more transparently or are easy to work with. They bring the possibility of shaping your own space within reach, hereby stimulating a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ (DIY) culture.

Sharing and mapping experiences, thoughts and visions around creative expressions of hybrid space are the central goal. Every thematic issue will be introduced by an international speaker who explains and highlights the issue from his or her own experience, and a national reporter who reflects upon the situation and possibilities for Flanders (Dutch-speaking Belgium ). The exhibition Place@Space at Z33 functions as material for study during this workshop.

In general, traditional conferences, workshops, symposia, tend to a bit of a bore: keynote speakers are the central element and more often than not little time is spent on an interesting discussion/conversation with all participants on the topics dealt with. Most interesting talks are held during the coffee break, the lunch or in the bar afterwards. Besides this, these meetings are generally limited to only text and minimal forms of visual expressions.

The Cowboy Methodology asks for an active engagement of each participant in his/her own language/medium (text, still or moving image,.). In this way the “group of individuals” are equally important as the keynote speakers in front of the audience.

Keywords for this methodology are:

•  openness

•  the individual is empowered, but finds its value in connection to the group

•  passion

•  transdisciplinary approach

•  ad hoc connections generate long lasting relations

•  meetings in real life are as equal as meetings in the virtual

The Cowboy Methodology heavily relies on the Open Space Technology which proved its value in user generated conferences as BarCamps or Unconferences. And, of course, this methodology could not have existed without the prototypical image of a cowboy: energetic, engaged, in solitude, but aware & depending of the others in his community.

The findings, conclusions, new questions and other output of this workshop will be brought together on the website www.spacecowboys.be and in a printed publication.

www.spacecowboys.be

www.z33.be

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