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Sketch of a critique of the networked festival format

19 July 2002

A mail from Florian Merkur of Jul 18, 2002 to the serverfestival list suggests the serverfestival should become a part of next 5 minutes and vice versa. N5m is 'an occasional, large scale, festival of tactical media making from around the world'.

The serverfestival as instance of a format

This shows two things:

While being process-oriented, networked, open, transparent, flexible (pick any other catchword), it serves at the same time the expectations towards modern cultural practices or institutions in producing demonstrable (fundable) public output, only in a different format. (This is not what may be considered most important about it, but rather a mere side effect; still, it describes the material basis of such events: e.g., 'What do we get out of it in terms of sustaining the cultural capital of this city?')

The format may be characterised by the following points:

Concluding notes on the networked format

The format of creating shared environments, linking loose clusters of 'nomads' into more or less permanent art and research ensembles sounded radical 10 years ago, but it has now best chances to become the definitive standard if not to say, ruling dogma of curators and public funding bodies (just browse through the recent artgenda or manifesta programmes).

As the public rhetoric catches up with the networked culture, it discovers welcome traits to re-integrate the exotism of electronic nomads, hackers, webloggers and cultural students back into the established activities of production, industrial design, architecture and urban planning. Rosalyn Deutsche has shown the role that art in the public space has played in the gentrification of parts of New York and the consequent displacement of lower income groups and the homeless.

What is the position of critique given here? (future link)

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