Geert Lovink on Wed, 8 Sep 1999 02:25:30 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> TEMP: Temporary Media Lab, Kiasma/Helsinki, Oct 8 - Nov 14

TEMP, a Temporary Media Lab
Kiasma, Museum for Contemporary Arts Helsinki,

October 8 - November 14, 1999

Opening September 15:

TEMP stands for temporary media lab, a production facility that enables
groups, networks and, individuals working on the crossover between new
media arts and social, political and economic topics to discuss, develop,
and realize their projects.


Cross the Border, October 8-16
Opening and No One is Illegal Presentation, October 9
Designing the Future State of Balkania, October 17-23
Linux Land/Nokia Country, October 24-30
Debate: Centers for New Media Culture in Finland, October 28
Night of the Critic, October 29
Debate: Finland and Cultural Technologies, October 30
Baltic Sea Media Space & Net.Radio October 31-November 4
eko.katastrofi, November 5-7
Cities on the Move Conference, November 6
Exhibition of the results, November 9-14

What is a Temporary Media Lab?

The idea of a tmp\ media lab, situated within an existing event, museum,
or similar institution originates from dissatisfaction with the current
forms that presentations of media projects typically take during
conferences and other public events. Exhibiting webpages still does not
make much sense: their lively, layered complexity gets lost. Even the
interactive installation is not the proper medium to express In
previous years much has been done to introduce new media to an
ever-growing audience. But the networks themselves, their mysterious and
seductive aspects, remained invisible. It is hard to represent or even
visualize what is actually happening on a mailinglist, a newsgroup, a
chatroom. Demo-design can give us a clue, but it remains soulless, empty
and too easily turns flows and exchanges into dead information. Now that
the varieties of virtual communities are growing, it is no longer enough
to merely announce their existence. People demand substance--not only
outsiders but, most of all, the members of the groups themselves.

The best way to speed up the process of production is to meet in real
space, to confront the loose, virtual connections, to engage in the
complex and messy circumstances of real time-space, to and present the
audience (and possible future participants) with actual outcomes. And then
go back again, in scattered places, on-line.

New media are not merely storing the old. They do not only give access to
exisiting information. Their most lively and attractive aspect lies in
their apect of communication, collaboration, and exchange. This is the
essence of today's computer networks. Large media corporations, on the
other hand, view these innovations differently. For today's virtual class,
new media merely offer new ways of electronic commerce and e-business,
effeciency, and flexibilization of the labor force and control over the
on-line behavior of the masses. The role of the former welfare state is
ambivalent, to say the least. On the one hand, it was the state which did
the groundwork and built the costly infrastructure, while this very state
now is selling out, cutting social costs to zero, installing a new regime
of (private) control, and policing its populations (mainly young people).
Communication means noise to them, empty exchanges that can be studied to
maximize their attention profit. Users are being reduced to potential
buyers of goods and services, controlled by companies and police units.

This is not a doomsday scenario. It is becoming a reality, despite all
naive, neoliberal talks of bright cyberfutures, dating from the early days
of the Internet hype. People are indeed becoming aware of this dark
aspects of the use of digital technologies. One way not to give up on
these positive, utopian aspects is to increase awareness, to fight
conspiracy mythologies, and, most of all, to organize scattered users in
the struggle against surveillance and corporate takeover. Should we still
dream of interactivity and other, more accessible interfaces? Access to
what? Are portals with the CNN type of WebTV the only remaining option now
that the Net is rapidly approaching its controlled and regulated status of
mass medium? And is this return of the real closing down our phantasies?
How would we define tactical use of media? Which particular connections
between text, audio, image (and noise) do we find useful? In what way
could radio, Internet, print and real-time/on-line events be combined?

The idea of temporary media labs were born of the desire to cover events,
conferences, festivals, and demonstrations in search of a specifically
Internet style of reporting. We could mention here some early examples,
such as the live web journals produced during Next Five Minutes 2 and 3
(, the Ars Electronica festivals since 1996 (, the
Euro-protests in Amsterdam, June 97 (, or the hackers'
gathering Hacking in Progress in August 1997 ( The format
of the on-line journal is trying to bridge the real and virtual by
building-in interactive elements between on-line audiences and the actual
site. Web journals are exploring unusual ways of reporting, with image,
sound and text, allowing remote participation, before, during, and after
the event.

The Temporary Media Lab concept goes one step further. It no longer covers
an ongoing event but, instead, targets the hands-on production of content
in and around an already-exisiting group or network of groups and
individuals. It is patently clear that networks are good at discussing and
preparing but not at actual production--that has to be done on the spot,
face-to-face. Only in this setting can we overcome the tensions that so
easily build up in virtual worlds and, thereby, produce small multimedia
pieces together using available resources.

Conferences are known and respected as effective accumulators and
accelerators. They offer ideal opportunities to recharge the inner
batteries in the age of short-lived concepts. Temporary media labs are
even more effective in this respect: they focus, speed up, intensify, and
exert a longer-term effect on local initiatives and translocal groups.
Meetings in real space are becoming a more and more precious good for the
way they add a crucial stage to almost any networked media projects,
whether in the arts, culture, or politics. Unlike conferences, though, the
role of the (passive) audience remains open yet undefined. As with any
other concept, the broader public will be confronted with the issue
anyway, sooner or later. Temporary media labs are experimenting with
social interfaces, visual languages, and cultural/political processes.
Though the immediate outcomes can be presented at the end of the session,
the real impacts of such small task forces, perhaps, only comes later,

Hybrid WorkSpace (HWS), which took place during the 1997 Documenta X in
the Orangerie in Kassel, went on for a three-and-a-half-month period; it
received an impressive share of the 620.000 visitors who came to the
event. Fifteen groups stayed for a ten-day period each; among those groups
were the German Innercities campaign, No One is Illegal, We Want Bandwidth
(, some audio initiatives (which later turned into the
Xchange real-audio/ network:, loosely affiliated
or unaffilated tactical media practitioners involved in focussing on
global media (, the Deep Europe/Syndicate group from former
Eastern Europe (, a group preparing the nettime _README!_
book, which has now been published (, and finally the
first Cyberfeminist International, which brought out their own
documentation ( The documentation of the Workspace can be
found at Medialounge is a database of 250 small
European media art labs, a result of Hybrid Workspace and other meetings
in which bottom-up networks of European new media culture is being

The Revolting Temporary Media Lab in Manchester, which took place for five
weeks in August/September 1998, has been a follow up of HWS. Revoling,
organized by Micz Flor ( took place in very different
social environment, compared to Kassel, away from the big art crowds. It
had a similar mix of people, themes, and low-tech approaches. It brought
together local groups and communities to focus on practical outcomes,
small presentations, and debates. Revolting had a special emphasis on
spreading specific content via different media, such as a regular free
newspaper, local radio, and the Net.


The third Temporary Media Lab will take place in the project space on the
fifth floor of the Kiasma, the Helsinki contemporary arts museum, which
opened in June 1998. The media lab will be open for five weeks. In
principle, the space will be open for the general audience a few times a
week when lectures, debates, on-line conferences, casts are
being given there. The main focus of the lab will be to produce content
and concept offered both by local and by international groups. Each group
could do a presentation, party, (press) conference at the end of each week
to inform the audience about the outcomes of their working period, perhaps
in collaboration with different halls and institutions outside Kiasma,
depending on the group and the topic. The name TEMP is a reference to the
TEMPOLAB meeting in the Kunsthalle Basel (June 98), a closed session of a
distant though neighboring tribe, the global contemporary arts scene,
curated by Clementine Deliss. It is of course also reference, and tribute,
to Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zones, a reminder that revolts of
anger and desire, of passionate bodies and souls, remains an option,
despite the overall victory of global capitalism.

TEMP has an editorial board of 8-10 people from Finland. The group
consists of mainly young programmers, artists, designers, critics, and
activists, all working in the field of new media. The concept has been
developed by Geert Lovink. The temporary media lab has been commissioned
by Perttu Rastas from Kiasma, the new media arts curator, and will be
produced by Seppo Koskela. TEMP is developed in close collaboration with
MUU Mediabase, (The Information Cooperative Katto-Meny), KSL
Media Workshop (The Media Workshop of People's Cultural Organisation, and

Themes and Groups

Cross the Border
Coordination: Hilde Kozari <>, Seppo Koskela
(Helsinki), No One Is Illegal (Munich).

October 8-15

Borders are there to be crossed. Their significance becomes obvious only
when they are violated--and it says quite a lot about a society's
political and social climate when one sees what kind of border-crossing a
government tries to prevent.

A few days before the EU summit in Tampere, which is completely dedicated
to the Europe-wide harmoniziation of border and migration affairs, the
workshop will bring together individuals, groups and initiatives, dealing
with the subject of border crossings from different perspectives: migrant
groups and refugees in Finnland, sans papiers from all over Europe,
escaping artists, anti-racist and anti-border activists.
New media, and over all the internet, have opened new ways of acting and
interacting in the free field between the significance of the new border
regime and the signification of proceeded bordercrossings. During the
workshop the results of various offline activities along the borderline
will be presented online. This workshop will particularly focus on the
results of the border camp, which took for the second time in August, at
German-Polish-Czech border.

Though the network of CAISA International Cultural Centre Helsinki,
( ) ethnic groups and individuals can
participate in the TEMP project. TEMP is also taking part in Caisa's
Multicultural Fair, 12-15 october.

October 16-23

This workshop 'Designing the Future State of Balkania', which will be held
in Helsinki between 16 and 23 October 1999. The workshop can be seen as a
follow-up of an initiative developed during the Syndicate meeting in
Budapest in April this year
<>. The critical
situation in Yugoslavia/Kosovo inspired the founding of a virtual state, a
state of mind called the Future State of Balkania.

In Budapest an exploration of the concept took place, and this exploration
was continued on a mailing list, established after the meeting. The
workshop in Helsinki will gather together about 15 artists, writers and
cultural practitioners and will aim at actually designing such a virtual
state. During the last 2 days of the Balkania component of TEMP a small
group will prepare a small publication as a description of the workshop's
process and additional outcome of the workshop.

During a nightly meeting preceding the Dayton agreement, Holbrooke and
Milosovic, consuming lots of alcohol, were playing around with an American
army computer simulation of the Yugoslavian landscape. Was it the drinks
or the technology that created that birds eye sensation in which suddenly
an agreement seemed within reach?

Among the many experiments with virtual communities that, particularly,
the Internet gave rise to, virtual states are a regular phenomenon,
ranging from exercises in political wishful thinking, to refugee
republics, to game-like utopias. The virtual state offers possibilities to
comment and criticise on real world situations, to fantasise and
experiment. Parallel to the rise of the Internet, the situation of
national states in Europe changed drastically. We witnessed both the
ongoing European integration as well as the disintegration of the former
Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

In 1993 the Yugoslavian disintegration lead the Slovenian philosopher
Slavoj Zizek to argue:

"The authority of the state is being eroded from the top by the
trans-European regulations from Brussels and the international economic
ties and from the bottom by local and ethnic interests, while none of
these elements are strong enough to fully replace state authority ...
utopian energy is no longer directed towards a stateless community, but
towards a state without a nation, a state which would no longer be founded
on an ethnic community and its territory, therefore simultaneously towards
a state without territory, towards a purely artificial structure of
principles and authority. "As far as art, according to definition, is
subversive in relation to the existing establishment, any art which today
wants to be up to the level of its assignment must be a state art in the
service of a still-non-existent country."

("There is no State in Europe", Slavoj Zizek)

The workshop, "Designing the Future State of Balkania", is an attempt to
take up this challenge.

Artists and thinkers from the area are invited to construct a thought
provoking parallel reality that, although deriving its meaning from the
history and problems of the Balkans needs to be crucially different.
Either utopian or pragmatic, it will add a virtual layer to the layered
map of the Balkans and investigate what would be needed to form a
synthesis of conflicting historic views and colliding identities. The
virtuality of Balkania offers numerous options to obtain such a synthesis.
To name a few directions: manipulation of the time-factor, developing a
semantic machinery that produces consensus, working out new decision
making algorithms or altering the concept of identity through switches and

The participation of the workshop consists of a more or less equal
representation of the several Balkan-countries. Participants will also
cover a broad range of expertise. They are invited to bring their own
material (artworks, software, texts) that can inspire and contribute to
the concept.

Using techniques like VRML, linguistic tools like thesauri and translation
software, and media like the Internet, during a week of creative effort,
Balkania will be designed as a multimediamatic state of mind, that will
continue to exist after the workshop as a dynamic, populated place.

Linux Land/Nokia Country
Mapping Technology politics in Finland
Coordination: Toni Alatalo <>, Sam Inkinen <>
 October 24-30

These days, the Golden Age of Finland has become almost synonomous with
Nokia. Handymania is dominating the public and privates spaces, and lives.
What is the technology politics behind this overwhelming development? What
is the economic agenda of this new ruling class? How deep is it
intertwingled with state affairs, and Sonera? Other topics: Linux and open
source: code for all, profit for some? How could a political economy of
the new media look like? Which critical tools and criteria should be
developed to get a better understanding of e-commerce and e-business? Who
is owning the backbones and standards of the future? And was is the role
of the independant new media culture in all this? A wild investigation +
attempt to visualize the hottest data of Casino Capitalism, riding the
next crashes of the global markets.

Finland is routinely dubbed as the leading country in ultramodern
information and communication technologies (ICTs). Recently, the Silicon
Valleyan new-age tech bible Wired has covered Finland from two related but
diverse standpoints: the birthplace of Linux - the Open Source Operating
System - and now in September 1999 full fifteen pages of Nokia Hype in
Wired Magazine. Not to mention the constant coverage on handymania in the
Finnish press.

Linux and Nokia are obviously related as a part of the same infotech
movement but perhaps suprisingly on the opposite sides. Although Nokia is
not the Microsoft - and they are perhaps not even friends with each other
- as megacorporations ( ;) they (have to) have a
lot in common: growth is based on buying resources and innovation when
taking over small companies, or strategically joining with other biggies
when sharing the markets. Emplyoees are recruiten in masses, as the saying
goes: "Nokia - Collecting People". All this financed cleverly by using
IPOs and who knows what.

Linux, on the other hand, has it's roots in the left progressive,
alternatieve GNU project lead by the (in)famous Richard Stallman, the
Saint of Emacs of the Free Software Foundation. Linus Torvalds himself and
large parts of the whole Linux movement have never identified with those
early politics but even the most commercial and business-looking Linux
distributions have to include the Gnu Public Licence (GPL) in their
packages - with the ideological manifesto written there, for the
businessman to figure.

Microsoft is a well-known as the enemy for the various free software /
Linux / Open Source movements demonstrated by e.g. the Halloween Documents
that Eric Reymond controversially brought to public. Is Nokia, with its
tendencies to dominate all aspects of Finnish economic and cultural life,
simply because of its cheeer size, becoming an 'enemy' too? Will everyone
be happy with the possible future of Nokia TV, Linux mobile phones, or the
Sonera evening news? Has anyone ever considered this? And what does it
matter anyway? After all, Nokia "just produces what the customers demand".

The practical research during Linux Land/Nokia Country will focus on three
aspects: an attempt of map the economic relationships of the key players
in the Finnish IT sector; a linux day which will analyze and discuss the
economic, political and cultural aspects of Linux and free software in
general, and a technology part which deals with synergy between different
industries, the question of standards and ownership.

The closing debate on saturday, October 30, will be a critical,
discussion-oriented summary of the week's central topics, results and
investigations. Concepts such as "information society,'' "network
society,'' and "media society'' have become dominant to describe the
contemporary society. Recent technological and social developments seem to
be characterized by a fast transformation that shakes the old traditions
and steady structures of our communities. Our thinking, our daily
activities, and the very survival of homo sapiens are heavily interlinked
with technological innovations and media cultural systems.

The basic problem concerning communication and information technology
continues, however, to be the lack of research carried out from the
perspective of the humanities and social sciences. Accounts based on
technical and techno-economic premises - as well as various strategies by
governments and central administrative agencies - can be easily found.
Qualitative and critical research focusing on such issues as values,
morals and social implications of technology is rare, certainly in
Finland.This despite the fact that the role of information technology can
be considered so central as to justify W. C. Zimmerli's view of it as the
"cultural technology'' (Kulturtechnik) of our time.

Baltic Sea Media Space & Net.Radio
October 31 - November 4, 1999
Co-ordinator: e-lab, Riga, Rasa Smite <>

The meeting of New Media initiatives from the Baltic Sea Countries (and
beyond) will be structured to concentrate on developing media arts'
exchange and exploring networking possibilities in this region; with the
aim: to establish Baltic Sea Media Space - network and virtual platform
for collaboration.

The workshop on cultural politics will concentrate on the topics of
'micro-cultures' and 'sovereign / minor media'; including the issues about
the importance to create the networks for independent new media and micro
cultural initiatives in order to create independent infrastructures and to
co-operate in getting the funding (Interfund as option).

The more practical part will consist of live audio
web-casting sessions and the planning of an Xchange meeting in
August, 2000 in Riga. The workshop will be closed on November 4, with the
party in the Meteori bookshop
Produced by (Helsinki)
November 5-7's contirbution is an ecologically biased art project, with
most significant parts being a documentary on ecological alteranative
communites and a net based project called The aim of this
questionaire is to collect chains of effects and actions from the point of
view of 'the little people' to opinions of experts and combaining the
grass root level experiences to the scientific models.  The knot in pan
active, self augmenting chain of causal connections and it hopefully
experiences a snow ball effect. Experts and less dedicated individuals are
invited to share their impressions about the things affecting our
environment and to notice how complex the knot is. The visitor on the web
site can also consider the affects of his action to the knot. creates the basis of the project in the web, but then leaves
it open for different circles to fill it in. The end result the
discoveries and experiences of ordinary people will meet and combine like
in the chain of algi problem of Hiittinen having a common nominator with
melting of the glaciers. On this basis, it is possible to move on to the
next phase, into the future, and build a simulator in order to cause your
own catastrophe. We hope the users will also leave tips on best practices
on local level to carry out ecological thinking. Collected ideas can be
dissiminated among the visitors and affect the people also in the every
day life.

Filmed on different locations in Finland Marko Yliniemi's documentary
discribes the life on ecological communities. Log line is to present
positive thinking and alternatives instead of shocking with problems.
Narration is general exposing weekdays and celebration. Images empatize
and converse to music and sounds of environment

Additional events:

Night of the Critic
October 29
Organized by Mikael Book <>

The New Republic of Letters

Do e-mail and the World Wide Web belong to literature? Who can deny that
the internet is part of the republic of letters? One answer is, perhaps:
the literary critic. Maybe the time has come for the critique of the
critic. This is the moment of the critical critic, who wants to know:

- Which is the contribution of the literary critics to the evolving new
- Has the critic been clever enough to exploit the critical potential of
the net?
- What *is* the critical potential of the net?

The last of the three questions above is not intended as speculation. In
fact, much has been done (during a decade, or so) to develop the
communicative, artistic, intellectual and critical aspects of the
internet.  Now is the time for a critical assessment of the existing
'letters' on-line: the electrical verse, the classics as etexts, the
experimental hypertexts, the databases of essays and articles , the
critical discussion forums, and more.

The theme of the new republic of letters (a theme inspired by Nouvelles de
la republique des lettres, the critical review founded by Pierre Bayle in
1684) will be discussed in a special web-forum, soon to be opened in
conjunction with sanoma-open, a literary website and discussion list,
which has functioned since January 1999, see

The discussion will be documented in print as well as on the web.
The discussion will, hopefully, culminate in "The Night of the 
Critic", an open workshop of the critics, which is to take place 
at Kiasma (next to Helsingin Sanomat) on Friday night 29 October 1999.

Cities on the Move Conference
November 6
Organized by Hou Hanru, Hans-Ullrich Obrist, Geert Lovink

At the end of /tmp, there will be the opening of the Kiasma version of the
travelling exhibition Cities on the Move, curated by Hou Hanru and
Hans-Ulrich Obrist, dealing with urban condition of South-East Asian
cities in China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. Temp will organize one
day conference, together with the curators, artists and some invited
speakers (to be announced later) which will reflect on the recent
situation in South-East Asia after the financial crisis of 1997 and
political turmoils, for example in Indonesia. This is will also be an
opportunity to evaluate this travelling exhibition and its constantly
changing artworks and premisses.

Exhibition of the results November 9-14
Produced by Liisa Vahakyla 

In the remaining days of TEMP, texts, websites, videos, websites, and
other relevant declarations, images and objects will made available to the


Concept & Coordination: Geert Lovink <>
Kiasma contact person: Perttu Rastas <>
Production: Seppo Koskela (

Address: TEMP c/o Kiasma, Mannerheiminaukio 2, 00100 Hki 10, Finland

tel. ++ 385-9-17366598, +358-40-5602116
fax. ++ 385-9-17336575 (to: TEMP)

Supported by:  APEX Fund, Open Society Instute Croatia, Finnair.

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