WILDERNESS LAB: SUSTAINABLE TECHNOTURGING
Dear LED, As a media artist I am constantly working with technology, from the humble video camera to custom hardware and software systems for performance and installation. In general, digital technologies are the fastest growing and most capitalised sector of our ‘global economy’. They are also the hottest bed of intellectual secrecy, legal protectionism and contractual colonialism ever: witness the recent $4.5 billion (US) patent buyouts by Apple et al in a recent spate of ‘patent trolling’ and wildly out of control suing and counter-suing in the tech industries (see “When Patents Attack” ).
Given this context, ‘sustainable’ is, for me, about ‘free’ technology — and to paraphrase the General Public User License — when we speak of free…we are referring to freedom, not price. Sustainable is therefore about the free flow of information and ideas about technology. It is about not having to re-invent the wheel every time; though if reinventing the wheel is what you want to do, then it is about having access to all the plans and prototypes of all the wheels that have gone before. Sustainable is about sharing research findings, publishing blogs about esoteric coding problems, putting up pictures of your failed Arduino project and contributing to communities endeavoring to do all of the above. Sustainable is freely telling people how you got that video effect, processed that sound in Ableton, patched that Max patch and coded that c/c++ Kinect driver. Sustainable is boring people at parties by freely telling them more than they need to know about how their computer works.
Firstly, I frequently bore people at parties by telling them more than they need to know about how their computers work. Secondly, I have learnt nearly everything I know about technology from blogs and forums on the interweb — people ‘freely’ sharing their knowledge — and consequently try as much as possible to share my knowledge in those communities, as well as with friends and colleagues. In particular I now make almost all my (computer-based) artworks with openFrameworks, a collection of open source code for media artists. By contributing to their forums, and increasingly making the code for my artworks available online (http://github.com/