Bruce Sterling on Tue, 15 Dec 1998 19:15:08 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Viridian Note 00029: The Interfund

Key concepts:  art movements, Internet, reputation economics, arts grants,
Europe, Interfund

Attention Conservation Notice:  It's not about Viridians.  It's about a
group of European digital artists with a strange entrepreneurial scheme. 
Writers' original language not English.  Written in postmodernese.  Of
interest mostly to net.organizational specialists.  There's a manifesto
tacked on at the end. 

Entries in the Viridian "Fungal Typography" Contest:

(((Parenthetical comments by

Source:  Syndicate list; Xchange list; nettime list;
Rasa Smite <>
Diana McCarty <>
Eric Kluitenberg <>

 [Interfund] - Create Your Own Solutions

Interfund meeting @ Xchange Unlimited, Riga November 29, 

During the Xchange Unlimited Baltic New Media Culture Festival in Riga, a
meeting was held to discuss the creation of the Interfund. The
participants were Diana McCarty, Rasa Smite, Manu Luksch, Pit Schultz,
Eric Kluitenberg, and others. 

* What is the Interfund?

The Interfund does not actually exist yet.

(((Beta pre-release!  I love it already!)))

 The Interfund should be many things at the same time, a self funding
project, a tool to create open spaces for sovereign experimentation in the
digital networks.  Neither a network nor a community, it should be a means
for collaboration and exchange. 

(((Fabulous!  It sounds divine!)))

The Interfund was envisioned in Riga as a co-operative, decentralised,
non-located, virtual but real, self-support structure for small and
independent initiatives in the field of culture and digital media. 

(((Sheer poetry!  I couldn't have said this better myself!)))

    What follows is a summary of the ideas that were discussed and the
problems raised in connection with the possible shape of the Interfund. 


First of all, the Interfund is an idea to create better ways to access
funding and create funding possibilities of itself. The Interfund can also
act as a redistributor of financial resources from the affluent enclaves
to the impecunious. Funding and financing, however, is only one of the
tools the Interfund will employ to achieve its aims. 

(((Wait a minute -- you're giving away *free money* in your movement, and
you expect this to be just *one* of your problems?)))

The Interfund should rather act as a "Resource Pool", shared by each of
its members. These resources encompass a wide range of tools: 

* knowledge & know-how
* skills (a.o. translations in local languages)
* software
* open source development
* access to servers, especially for streaming media in the net
* reserving bandwidth and protocols (for example the 
registration for web multicasting, domain names, etc.)
* support in dealing with official structures;
        = finding appropriate funding for projects
        = visa requirements
        = official letters of support, both in English and the local 
        = official invitations
        = official endorsements;
* access to surveys and information sources about activities in 
the field of culture and digital media.

    One practical way in which actual funding might work is that the
Interfund creates its own capital to give micro-funding to individual
projects. The organiser can then claim that the project in question is
supported financially by the Interfund (complete with a letter of
acceptance by the "board" of the fund). Funding may be as little as US$ 10
for a project, but can help to create interest from official institutions
and structures. 

(((A really clever idea here.  They want to game the international art
world by using a tiny amount of actual capital to create impressive,
net-based, Interfund-conveyed, reputation capital.  "Hi, I'm from Riga and
I was sent here by Interfund!  Look at this gold-plated, 256-color *Letter
of Acceptance!*"  "Really?!  Wow!  Let me see what the conference can do
for you in the way of picking up that hotel tab!")))

     Moreover the actual amount of funding by the Interfund need 
not be specified in all cases.

   (((The tactic's even more effective when you boldly lie about 

      The possibilities for acquiring donations (not sponsorship) to
extend the financial basis of the Interfund will be an area of attention. 

(((Boy, I bet it will!  Attention galore!  We call that stuff "accounting"
here in the USA....  So, are you bold pirates taking Yankee funds?  The
Pope-Emperor is totally down with your daring scheme!  <waving wallet> I
got one of our goofy new 20- dollar bills for you, right here!)))

(...)  (((considerable pious Euro arts/culture jabber deleted)))

* Form:

Though the Interfund will not have a fixed physical location, it should
become a real virtual organisation (it is not a simulation). For this
purpose a letterhead and design for the Interfund will be developed, as
well as a web-site, e-mail address, a logo.... and... (a local Latvian
speciality) an official Interfund stamp. 

(((Why not a *mascot?* We Viridians got a mascot!  And our own typography! 
The *Latvian stamp,* though, we envy that more than we can say....)))

     All graphical elements will be made down-loadable from the Interfund
site for its members (PDF files). The Interfund will be run as a strictly
virtual office (a decentralised centre). 

     Possible legal forms and their implications for establishing the
Interfund as an international state-less entity are currently
investigated.  Should it become a registered society, a charity, a
foundation, or yet something else?  (...)

   By dealing with official structures, the Interfund is an attempt to
prevent artists'-run and independent initiatives from becoming
institutionalised themselves. It should act as an effective bureaucracy
protection shield. 

    The emphasis of the Interfund will lie on horizontal co- operation,
which is anti-hierarchical and fundamentally decentralised.  Nonetheless
the question cannot be escaped who will take responsibility for making the
structure work, co- ordinate activities, deal with requests, etc. (who is
doing what?). 

(((I know the answer, I know! <waving hand> Try theocratic feudalism!)))

This division of responsibilities should be worked out. The Interfund will
have to be multi-nodal. 

(((A lovely phrase, and an obvious recipe for instant nightmare.)))

     To develop the Interfund as a democratic structure, a voting system
will have to be considered, for instance when accepting individuals to the
"board" of the Interfund. The membership of this board would then be
temporary and rotating between members. 

(((That sure sounds like instant bureaucracy to me, but what do I know --
I'm just a lonely absolute dictator.)))

     The Interfund should always be open to new members.  However, every
new member has to commit him- or her-self to contributing to the shared
pool of resources in some way, by donating skills, knowledge,
non-propriety software, financial means if possible, and a willingness to
multilateral co- operation. 

((("From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs"
-- but what is the *medium of exchange* between all these skill sets? 
You're trying to set up a barter economy with no gold standard.)))

These issues of membership, representation and expertise have to be

(((Yes they do.  Obviously.  Good luck getting that done before 2075.)))

* Actions:

* Contacts will be established to other cultural activists in the new
media scene, via networks such as Xchange, Syndicate, Rhizome, <nettime>,

* In the local Nordic/Baltic context, where this initiative was 
emerging cultural networks in the region (BIN, PCC, Nordic Arts 
Council, etc.), and other parties who share similar or related 
interests (a.o. the EFF).

(((This might actually work if you got some kindly Scandinavian government
to give you some start-up money.  The Swedes, for instance == they're
probably no better at closing arts councils than they are at closing
nuclear power plants.)))

* For the Next 5 Minutes conference, March 12-14, in Amsterdam and
Rotterdam, a meeting will be prepared to lay the foundation for the

(((Another excellent reason to visit Holland before it vanishes
underwater.  I certainly hope to hear more about Interfund;  despite my
skepticism, I have the friendliest feelings about this idea, and would
love to see it, somehow, against all odds, actually work.)))

Rasa Smite <>
Diana McCarty <>
Eric Kluitenberg <>

(((And now for a good-old-fashioned Interfund arts manifesto:)))

The Interfund initiators finally wish to make the following claims: 

* Work of artists and independent cultural initiatives in the field of
digital media, including innovative technical experimentation, should be
considered as valuable in and of itself. This work should not be supported
solely if it fits within an established policy framework (like social
innovation, employment, etc..). 

(((Art pour l'art!  You betcha!  We Viridians want to see *science* and
*engineering* work like that!)))

* Technology should be seen as an integral part of contemporary culture. 

(((Couldn't agree with you more!)))

* The Interfund demands less politicisation of culture. What independent
new media culture needs is support, not political rhetorics or
questionable historical narratives. 

(((Right on!  Let's start a committee to make sure art's not politicized,
and to weed out all the historical narratives that are questionable!)))

* No competitions.


* Create your own solutions.

(((We'll do our best, and do let us know if you find any of your own!)))

Thank you very much for your attention.

       [*The Interfund*]
     (under construction)

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