- Takeaway Festival 2006
- Takeaway Festival 2007
- Takeaway Festival 2008
- Takeaway Festival 2009
- Mini TKW
“The key to organizing an alternative society is to organize people around what they can do, and more importantly, what they want to do. “ Abbie Hoffman
Welcome to Takeaway Festival Reframe!
This is a survey of the Takeaway Festival from the present back to its inception in 2006. It will also offer some clues as to the future direction that the Festival may take.
It is dedicated to everyone who is committed to exploring open source approaches to knowledge acquisition and dissemination and to all friends and supporters of the Festival over the past five years.
There are no barriers to knowledge except those that come from within either because of prejudice or fear. The Takeaway Festival celebrates the Socratic theory of learning by doing. Being a passive spectator does not make for a rewarding or effective learning situation. The Festival has pioneered hands-on learning of new practices and has made these available to many artists and designers who have gone on to build on what they have learned and in this way extended the range of their natural working processes.
The Festival would like to acknowledge the support it has received from the Arts Council of England, the Dana Centre, Science Museum and to the many contributors and visitors who have played their part in making each years events so unique and memorable.
Long live Takeaway! Enjoy!
The silent revolution goes on!
“I am excited about the possibilities of applying the principles of Open Source Software to other areas of business, culture and society. We need to be standing on each others shoulders rather than each others toes. The advent of high quality three dimensional printers in the home and workplace will blur the edges between manufacturer, designer and consumer. Open Source Governance will usher in the creation of a multitude of states, allowing people much closer contact with the state that controls their everyday life. The application of Open Source principles to Patent Law and Copyright, will allow researchers worldwide to be far more effective, and true artistic expression to occur. Finally, Education is already beginning to be revolutionised with the worldwide sharing of materials via the Web - see MIT's OpenCourseWare project.”
From Open Source Everything for Creative Review
Used with permission
Joel Gethin Lewis
Creative Director at Hellicar and Lewis
The Idea of Takeaway
The Takeaway Festival 2006
The Takeaway Festival was founded in 2006 by Karel Dudesek, Armin Medosch and Jamie King. All three were teaching on the MA course in Interaction Design at Ravensbourne College of Communication.
The course content on the MA had highlighted the shifting balance in models for advanced educational experiences in the context of the internet. The course team had formulated new modes of teaching that aimed to ensure that the maximum education benefit accrued from allowing exposure of course materials to interventions from the live World Wide Web. Students and staff now had to be constantly aware of the way any content could be challenged, repurposed and appropriated by others at any time within a global international context. This was the beginning of the explosion of Web 2.0 applications. Blog, zine and opinion gathering sites were not the widespread phenomena they are today and these members of faculty at Ravensbourne were thinking and reacting on the fly; they realized the immense significance of what was happening and correctly read the way that the changes must be allowed to impact on their whole teaching approach. They realized that this would be difficult to manage and was likely to lead to a loss of stability and control. However, they were convinced that their students must be made aware of the changed landscape for entrepreneurs, industrial practice and media solutions generally.
While this was especially true of Post Graduate studies, there was equally powerful fallout affecting undergraduate level courses as well. At Thames Valley University, I had been running the BA in Digital Arts since 2000 and student work had moved from being solely about an opportunity for individual expression and was now much more focused on facilitating user reaction and input. Karel invited me to coordinate the undergraduate student submissions for the festival and I was glad to be able to support two inventive exhibits from two third year students from TVU.
The Festival was part of the NODE.London season of networked art events in the Spring of 2006 and it was one of many centres of activity spreading right across the capital. Essentially, the Festival allowed the course team at Ravensbourne the chance to foreground the revolution that was forcing a radical re-evaluation of their own independent practice and the design of their teaching. Medosch’s formulation of the phrase “silent revolution” coined to characterise an almost unnoticed process was apt in the sense that change was occurring but there had been no opportunity to measure the extent of this change on contemporary thinking, on artistic practice and on business models. The Festival provided just such an opportunity and was able to create a contour map bringing into relief the areas of change so that it was possible to begin to analyse what was happening more closely, confer with others in similar fields and examine how other specialised areas of practice had also had to adapt their approach.
The Festival team felt that the most effective way of throwing light on what had become quite a wide ranging group of practices was to include theoretical contributions, a chance to learn new skills and become aware of existing opportunities and an exhibition of the work of students who were having to grapple with a set of new tools and possibilities. As this was a festival, performances were also included to ensure that there was a mix in the register of content to encourage the widest possible engagement and reach. There was also time allowed for discussion so that participants could have a chance to reflect on what they had heard or seen.
The 2006 festival brought together key speakers from UBERMORGEN.COM, Last.fm, iDAT, Plymouth. They came from Germany, Austria, France and the USA. The same things that we are discussing now were on the agenda then. What about copyright in a digital age? Hybrid realities, social mapping techniques, open source learning and audiences on the web. The exhibition featured real time video capture and editing seen in another form at the Victoria and Albert’s recent DECODE exhibition. There was a radio controlled printer, an interactive spray painting device, the very beautiful GORI.Node Garden that was subsequently shown at SIGGRAPH. There were also a good number of web-based projects using the new phenomena of blogging and audience participation.
The Festival was hosted at the Dana Centre, which is the Science Museum’s venue for events that encourage discussion of the role of science as it impacts on different aspects of contemporary and past culture. The Dana Centre provided the infrastructure and the technical support for what was a complex and multi faceted programme.
The Takeaway Festival 2007
The 2nd Takeaway Festival of DIY Media in 2007 brought together approximately 300-350 people over three days to listen to key thinkers, experience digital art at first hand, learn about an aspect of technology by attending a workshop
The second festival was more ambitious than the first and brought together speakers and workshop tutors from Italy, Germany, Australia, Holland, the USA, Austria, Russia, Iraq, Latvia and the UK. Exhibiting artists came from Germany, Scotland, Taiwan, Austria and the UK.
The 2007 Takeaway Festival publicised an Open Submission of media based art from students in colleges in the UK and Europe and work was received from as far as Taiwan. The works included a sound piece activated by wireless network activity, a mouth controlled sound mixer and the results of a student project in Taipei.
The Festival invited Someth;ng to present Timelines. Each visitor to the festival could register with their operations desk and was then able to collect an RFID tag unit. The unit had a push button that could be pressed and this allowed the system to bookmark moments of the festival that were of particular interest. These bookmarks could be accessed later via the Timelines website. Timelines was sponsored by WaveTrend and Firstserv. A digital sound archive of talks, presentations and workshops can be found at the timelines website at http://www.timelinesonline.com/
Key speakers and contributors were Jasia Reichardt – (Coordinator of the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA in 1968), Massimo Banzi (Arduino), Matt Hansen (Swarm of Angels), Richard Wright (Mongrel), Giles Lane (Proboscis) and Regine Debatty (we-make-money-not-art.com) Presentations were made by staff from the BBC, Nokia, Open Business, Anti-Apathy and a journalism programme in Iraq. Other academic speakers came from the Slade and Central St Martins College of Art and Design.
Following on from the festival itself, Takeaway was invited to put on mini-Takeaway workshops in sound applications at the Kinetic Art Museum to coincide with their major survey of sound based art “SoundWaves”.
The Takeaway Festival 2008
In 2008, the Festival focused on RFID as a technology that had particular potential for artists. There was also a question session with the artists behind the Science Museum’s major acquisition the Listening Post on display in the main part of the museum. This was made possible by a live video link to Ben Rubin in New York and Mark Hansen in Los Angeles.
Perhaps the nature of the technology and its association with problems of data protection and challenges to personal freedom made RFID of particular interest to artists whose concern is individual expression and investigation.
Bruce Sterling had been arguing for a more widespread use of a means of embedding some kind of tag in products to try and reduce the environmental impact of our society’s obsession the latest gizmo and therefore needing to offload earlier models. With each new product on the market becoming quickly de rigeur in order to maintain credibility as a bone fide member of the geek aware, he highlighted the resulting mountain of discarded units that is an unfortunate by product of the constant need to keep pace.
Central to this idea was to agitate for change in international legislation so that all new products and their components should have their manufacturing history and recycling instructions as an RFID tag embedded in them as part of the manufacturing process. This would then reduce the cost and the complexity of recycling products that otherwise would end up in landfill sites with all the attendant environmental consequences.
Alongside this, the festival team was aware of Tom Igoe’s fascinating work at ITP, New York. His books and web resources he had given a lead in the kind of projects that used small-scale integrated circuits and this was having a dramatic effect on interface design. This awareness meant that we had been keeping an eye on the development of the Arduino board Tom had been working on with colleagues such as Massimo Banzi at IVREA in Milan.
Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino at Tinker.it had been marketing the Arduino in the UK and Tinker had been closely involved with the development of the RFID shield for the board. I’d been talking to Alex about this and following closely the kind of training course Tinker had been offering commercially for design firms such as Arup. Benjamin Tomlinson of ico design had also been in the loop because of the interface design that ico had been doing for Wellcome.
The result of this was that we arranged to offer free workshops on the RFID/Arduino at the 2008 Festival. This saw 30 artists and designers quickly filling all available space for a daylong course delivered by tinker.it and delivered by Alex Zivanovic and Nick Weldin. They were divided into 6 groups and the workshop was followed by a plenary session where the participants exhibited their work in the main meeting area.
The projects included one that allowed a sound to be recorded at the touch of a card and this was then played whenever the same card triggered the reader. Another project involved hiding the cards under clothes and using the reader to locate them and display images on a screen.
The Festival was impressed with what had been achieved in just one day and wanted to encourage the use of the technology further. It was felt that the best way to do this was to offer two commissions and for artists to submit proposals for projects that would utilise the technology.
I had also been encouraging undergraduate and graduate students at Thames Valley University to investigate RFID as part of their studies on hidden networks. Marianne Waite’s project Tele Pathic picked up on this hidden nature of the transfer of information. In her case the card reader triggered a patch in Cycling 74’s Max/Msp, which controlled a video sequence, projected downwards onto a tabletop. The darkened room, gothic graphic elements and silence intentionally created a somewhat mysterious atmosphere. Marianne had been drawn to projects such as Kousemaker’s iTEA that had used objects to trigger display of personal information gathered from the internet.
In discussion with the Arts Council, it was felt that this approach would help the festival to be the catalyst in new kinds of use for RFID. Following the 2008 festival, a selection panel was convened including an Arts Council officer, a creative director at ico and the project coordinator from the Science Museum. I chaired the meeting as a Director of the Festival and over lunch at the Chelsea Arts Club, we were able to come to fairly quick agreement on a ranking of the 20 or 30 submissions. These had come from all over the world including the US, the UK, Holland, Germany, Austria and Greece.
In the end the awards went to Alex Zivanovic for his Gesture Generating Robot and to Marcus Lyall for Pitch Control.
The RFID category attracted a number of really interesting proposals but Alex’s work stood out because of its aim to allow an audience to bring something with them to the piece in the form of their travel card resulting in a unique robotic gesture unique to their card. The piece took Alex’s concern with movement in robotic arms further and his continuing study of the work of Edward Ihnatowicz.
He produced an interim visualization of the robot which the Festival displayed on its stand at the Kinetica Art Fair at the end of February 2009 installed at the massive P3 gallery opposite Madame Tussaud’s in central London.
This was a working simulation with the movements created by programming in Processing. The RFID reader was placed on the desk and the serial number from the travel card each made the robot carry out a unique movement.
The stand also displayed a preview of the network badger project by Jim Wood, Myah Chun and Nuno Lourinho. This emphasised a social dynamic of RFID and the idea of comparison. Each travel card generated its own unique character on a badge – with individual hairstyles and facial characteristics. These lead to lively humorous exchanges as to how these related to one’s actual character and appearance
It was a real bonus for the Takeaway Team to be involved in the commissioning the proposal process, prototyping, design iteration and final production. The iteration and the paring process that are essential to any truly artistic endeavour are a part of the artist’s practice. This is particularly true of artists working with technology. The idea as the artist first apprehends it may as yet remain practically untested. The elements required for full realization may be complex and require a certain set of circumstances to make the necessary resources available.
A set of discussions may be needed to secure the required access and the artist may need to negotiate for the right hardware to be made available to them. Such resources are more likely to be forthcoming if the exhibition venue is confirmed in advance. Cooperation is bound to be fairly dependent on contributing partners being able to put a quantifiable value on the likely public impact and response that will attend a display of the complete work.
It was a privilege as the commissioning process went on to see artists holding on to the kernel of their ideas, ensuring that they did not become tarnished as a result of the arduous and painstaking sequence of stages required in order to reach a final resolution. Each artist was able to maintain their integrity of the original conception, guarding its essential character and steering the production process through a whole host of tightly twisting turns.
The technology always required a dialogue with others perhaps more familiar with a specialised piece of hardware or software. At no time did the artists lose creative control even when involved in these essential exchanges required to specify, design, construct and deliver their final works.
The Festival was delighted to be able to commission Marcus Lyall's Pitch Control and is very pleased that it is now to be shown from March 6th -April 21st at Watermans in West London. This endorses the rigorous process the selection committee followed when short listing and deciding on the artists to receive part of the funds made available for this by the Arts Council of England.
I had been able to disseminate what we had learned at the festival at the RFIDEurope conference at Churchill College, Cambridge in September 2009. This conference brought together representatives from the global RFID industry that were speaking about their use of the technology in many different kinds of application. Of particular interest was the current move towards the miniaturization of battery power because of energy harvesting enabling active RFID units to be located in more mobile independent situations.
Neil Mendoza also exhibited his Sum of its pArts. This allowed each visitor to contribute via a multi touch screen to a constructed of drawings made by all the others. Entry was gained using an oyster card.
The commissioning programme helped the Festival to assist artists to propose a project, progress it through to early stage production. Advice was given on different creative possibilities and assistance given at the final stages just before the exhibition. The Festival has begun to fulfil a collaborative, curatorial role, liaising with the public venue and its staff in order to explain the intentions of contributing artists and to maximise the public impact of the exhibition as a whole. This is done by prioritising the creative intentions of each artist by seeking to avoid making choices that may be expedient but might compromise the integrity of each piece.
The works commissioned and exhibited explored either RFID or the whole idea of what a musical instrument might be. Unfortunately we had no projects submitted that used RFID to create a musical instrument!
In some ways this decision to stipulate the media/technology to be used runs against a key festival aim that sees technology as an unrestricted space into which artists can enter as and when it suits whatever piece of work they are engaged with. Artists did overcome any potential creative strait jackets imposed by these conditions and were able to propose work that did not seem to be limited but was rather enhanced by such particular conditions and specifications.
The Takeaway Festival 2009
The 2009 festival was accompanied for the first time by a printed catalogue. The aim of this was to create a document that could be used to keep the Festival in the public eye through the year and also encourage debate and new thinking with the commissioning of two essays by Dr Matthew Fuller and Andy Huntington dealing with some of the background connected with the two categories in the call for submissions.
The festival exhibition featured the work commissioned in 2008 and also included artists who had submitted for the programme. These artists came from Los Angeles, Berlin and Rotterdam as well as the UK. The festival received support from HAWK in Hildesheim and from the Mondriann Foundation in Amsterdam.
There were free workshops on iPhone Apps, Video for the Web, Arduino and zines. The opening evening included a performance by Bulb Collective of Raw Metal, a live re-mix of sounds originated from audience participation and contributions. The festival exhibition ran for almost two weeks so that the work included could enjoy the maximum amount of exposure. The impact of the web on education was a key theme and a lively discussion followed contributions including Paula Roush from South Bank University.
The Takeaway Festival is a forum for International exchange, where ideas are in flux, where artists can meet technologists. There is an exciting atmosphere where ideas are colliding. There are unformed proposals and there are suggestions that are provisional. At the Takeaway Festival, it’s OK to be in two minds because there is space to explore. There’s a mind space that is open for new contributions. Shared authorship is valued and there is a sense that you can hold lightly to the ownership of knowledge. There is free access to technologies and approaches that are normally the domain of specialists. There is a belief that a different sort of market model is possible where ideas are in the public domain at an early stage. It is not necessary to hold back until the point of resolution. There is a vulnerability that allows access to the initial stages of uncertainty when a proposal is barely formed.
This may sound rather idealistic but it is grounded in the Festival’s commitment to quality and ambition among its friends and contributors. The recent developments in the openframeworks (OF) community provide ample evidence of the potency of these ideas. There is an important caveat to the open nature of the approaches I have been describing. The Festival’s longer-term support for the nurture and development of exhibits that will stand the test of public scrutiny and exhibition is absolutely key if people are going to see the benefits of the approaches here.
Many of the intentions of Takeaway are shared by other groups such as dorkbot, the Maker Faire, TINT Arts, hackspace, Cybersalon, openframeworks, processing, NODE.London and others. There is crossover between these groups and overriding desire to see the potential of technology as a catalyst for dramatic change in working practices and as a means of reflecting on changes that are just around the corner.
Clearly, the Festival recognizes that there is no substitute for specialist knowledge and that the time and effort needed to progress complex research outcomes cannot be reproduced by an event lasting just a few days each year.
But it is the overarching philosophy of Takeaway that has continued to retain its public support and profile. Here are some of the things that the Festival offers:
When you visit the Festival, you can meet up with like minded people keen to push at the boundaries of existing practice, you can pick up a new skill in a free workshop or enter into new research and practice by listening to a presentation. You can then leave this and enjoy a performance by an experimental musician before moving on to see the exhibition. Here you will see the work of artists working at the interface between technology and the realization of an inventive personal vision. There are only a few events that offer the same type of breadth as an experience. We do hope that many of you will be making your own first visits to the Festivals of the future.
The Festival is usually an annual event, yes. But it is also a growing community of enthusiasts who want to keep in touch throughout the year and keep contributing to the debates about technology as practitioners, theorists and educators. It is as these ideas are aired, tested and held up to further scrutiny and debate that progress is made that has a positive influence on the standard and reach of what has been achieved so far.
Long live the silent revolution!
Director, the Takeaway Festival of DIY Media
The Festival is very grateful for the support and interest it has been shown by the Science Museum. This support has come in the provision of an exciting central London venue at the Dana Centre. Along with this, the Museum has provided help with marketing and PR, with infrastructure and an excellent team of technical personnel working on event management and production. The Museum has also allocated time to the Festival by assigning a Project developer on staff in the period immediately before, during and for some time after wards.
To put on free workshops, commission work and fill a programme of talks and performances costs money and the Festival has been supported in this by the Arts Council of England through the Grants for the Arts programme. Three successful bids to this programme have ensured that the festival team has been able to build on their experience and keep moving forward with new ideas and approaches.
The Festival has also been supported by Higher Education institutions. Initially this was Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication but for the past three years has been Thames Valley University, London. This link with education has been crucial in providing an academic context that has benefited students, staff and others on the fringes of formal education. Open source models of learning are challenging the way our Universities conduct their business and there were cogent contributions from higher education staff in 2009 reflecting on the way technology is changing the learning environment.
Giving to the Takeaway Festival
If you would like to support the Takeaway Festival, you can do this via our website at www.takeawayfestival.com or by contacting Richard Colson at email@example.com
Also visit the website to access extensive archive material of the Festivals since 2006.
The festival is grateful for the support and interest it has received from many organizations including Apple Europe, Adele Rootstein Mannequins, Infinite Power Solutions, Hawk Hildesheim, the Mondriann Foundation, the Arts Council of England, University of Los Angeles, California, and the Science Museum.