Community Memory Workshop at ArtEZ


Doge Community Memory

La Société Anonyme has been invited to give a workshop at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts next week, the 21-22-23 of January. The workshop is at the cross road of the collective’s latest interest in using the Raspberry Pi as a standalone Unix like timesharing time travel machine, and the new “sandbox” MA and BA course at the Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy.

Here is the blurb:

Community Memory
A workshop by La Société Anonyme


Community Memory is a three days workshop that aims at exploring the notion of individualism and collectivism through the culture of free and open source UNIX-like software and computer hardware from the viewpoint of a small device: the Raspberry Pi. During this session, students will be exposed to historical and technical elements of computing that are nowadays buried under an app centric culture grown in the names of user-friendliness, transparency and deceptive allegories such as the cloud.

New technologies, like smart phones and web services, promise cutting edge technologies and software as a means to empower users with a seemingly endless progression of new digital possibilities. In fact, many of these new services are striking for the many constraints they
place (where can this be played, how many “friends” can connect, who decides a remix means and if it can be “shared”). Many of the platforms are themselves built on decades old technologies & software. Community Memory aims at opening up the digital black boxes, revealing the hidden historical and technological layers of software and hardware, as well as their modes of production, with the aim of empowering the workshop participants through literacy of reading these systems.

In the workshop we will give a crash course on the modern history of computing. We will give a brief overview covering the early days of computers from ENIAC to Von Neumann architectures, and how the later combined with rising telecommunication technology have paved the way towards the embedding of politics of knowledge right into integrated circuits and software. Most importantly we will examine how the concept of time sharing in modern operating systems, that is the possibility for several users to run different programs at the same time on one single machine, relates to capitalism, hierarchy, control and the development of logistics, yet at the same time provide a software playground waiting to be radically appropriated and subverted, as best exemplified by the 1970s project Community Memory that we will look at.

Practically speaking, and next to the more theoretical elements of the workshop, we will be using the Raspberry Pi as a mainframe computer which computing resources will be shared among all the workshop participants. With this setup we will explore command line tools, how to combine and write together different small C programs to make sound and generally explore what it means to be … a user. Next to that we will examine and role play different modes of production found in free and open source software development. Finally we will work on a small reenactment of the project Community Memory, where the Raspberry Pi will be used to provide a standalone, off-the-Internet, wireless imageboard and discussion platform that we will put somewhere in town, literally exploring the idea of paratextual architectures and urban darknets.

No previous knowledge of programming or Unix like operating systems is required. However not being afraid to use your fancy laptop as dumb terminal and navigating through several layers of venerable command line software via text based interface is very much needed!

Workshop is for ArtEZ students, you can try to sneak in depending on available places left. Contact Thomas Buxó t-dot-buxo-at-artez-dot-nl for more information.