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Inspiration Day puts the odd in the Oddstream


NIJMEGEN, The Netherlands - The Oddstream Festival is about multimedia and communication. At least, that's the short version. Once you zoom in, you start seeing music bands rushing onto the festival site. Many bands. Like 100. You also see multimedia exhibits left and right. Containers with video presentations in them. Installations like the 360 degree lab, the interactive robot or the Memefest 2011 exhibit. Now, you also get something that sounds like cream, but which isn't exactly cream. It's called the Inspiration Day.

The Inspiration Day looks like a big circus tent with about 75 people stuffed in it. Successively, international speakers come to the fore and spurt inspiration in the form of speech, images, videos and a lot of graphic design. The whole thing's taking place in an old factory building. I sat next to a big coffee brewer all day and took a few notes for the rest of you.

First off the bat was Australia's Jason Grant, a graphic designer and theorist at studio Inkahoots (http://inkahoots.com.au). His most blunt statement? "Design can be a vital language of interdependence". In a very well-rounded monologue, the experienced speaker underlined local projects that his studio worked on - ranging from print projects to interactive installations, all of which include evocative and strong visuals. He talked about an SMS-based project in which short texts where integrated into the urban landscape with neon light typography. Many of his projects visually excavate notions and concepts, play on them, twist them, analyse and present them with new aesthetic.

Berlin-based graphic designer Sandy Kaltenborn of studio Image-Shift (http://image-shift.net) started things off by stuffing the Oddstream festival program into his 'meat mincer'. He let the gloves off over the choice of colours (the binary black and white), what he describes as stereotypical and masculinist photography, as well as the number-heavy cover. That's how Sandy is: he's your go-to-guy for making sure that the mainstream culture gets its fix of criticism all day, every day. Sandy likes saying that he works on "visual communication and other misunderstandings," along with his studio colleague Pierre Maite. His design also draws on text most of the time, but not only and I highly recommend you check it out. There is some hard-core activist art in there.

Then, believe it or not, Alain Bieber - the man behind Arte Creative (http://creative.arte.tv) and Rebelart (http://rebelart.net) - convened everyone to a 'brainwalk'. If you're wondering what that's like, think about a New Later Day Christian Methodist Mass - people walking in line, listening to a fired-up Alain talking about low cost artistic interventions in the public space, Pecha Kucha style. The main point Alain was making here is that "little absurd events can have strong impact". Guess what? I totally agree. The whole thing was presented on a backdrop of multimedia slides percolating from the title of the prez: 'Art and agenda: towards a new artistic and political discourse'. Alain's intervention energized the masses and concluded on a quote of Albert Camus: "Art and revolt will only die with the last human". Think about that! ;-)

Next up at the Inspiration Day was Paul Hartmann of Memefest Brazil (http://brasil.memefest.org). The graphic designer and visual thinker from the metropolis Sao Paolo presented some of the projects from back home. He selected works of art which were winners in past Memefest annual friendly communication competitions. Among them, Poro (poro.redezero.org/english/poro.html), a collective-run group of urban interventionists and ephemeral actionists from Belo Horizonte, Brasil.

Tony Credland from London took us from Brazil back to Europe. His historial account of street art actions - from the Mail Art project in the Berlin of 1989 to the Carnival Against Capitalism of 1999 London - ventured into the underground scenes of alternative media, spoof newspapers and art flyers that make up the Reclaim the Street movement. His international tour of civil disobedience also made a detour by Québec City - where the anti-FTAA protests took place in April 2001. There, carnavalesque masks were designed and distributed. Tony - who's still today active in Indymedia London (http://indymedia.org) articulated the indymedia network and its aims, especially when covering street protests.

The last speaker of the day was Shoaib Nabi of the College of Art, Architecture and Design, University of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates). He took the audience on a ride through the photo and printed works that his students have designed. If many of these works are overtly political, many also express subjective identities in a fast changing Arab world. Shoaib's statement of the day? "Knowledge should not be conformed to a system". Take that!

All in all, the Inspiration Day was a success, as much in terms of the good turnout as in terms of the quality of presentations. One little nuance to that - the very evident gender imbalance in the line-up of presentators. "This can hardly be representative of radical communication," a courageous Memefest participant insisted. Everyone grabed their bag and went packing after that.


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11 years, 6 months ago

The remark regarding gender imbalance is interesting for many reasons. Inspiration day was curated by Memefest. All speakers are long therm collaborators. All have a rich history of social engagement on various levels. All have developed their practice to a high level of sophistication. Id be very happy to curate a number of wemen for this, but for some reason at this level of long term intensive engagement on Memefest, this is still more of a male affair. Which of course is regrettable.

It would be good to hear who are the wemen who are engaged in to socially responsive/radical communication? Can anyone help with some names? I would be thankful for any info on that.

As for a younger generation: there is many active wemen in our network. The majority of our workshop participants are wemen...

11 years, 6 months ago

I will be happy to help if I can. Almost all EcoLab collaborators are women, a fact that might say something about the types of work that women are more interested in doing - or that we organically created a network that attracted women! Anyhow I have just blogged on this topic here: http://www.memefest.org/en/profile/jodyb/blogs/2011/6/the-issue-of-the--male-conference-panel/

11 years, 6 months ago

Yikes. Misspelt our own name, its EcoLabs.


Open blog is a collective blog agregator.  Posts that can be read and viewed here have been originally posted by members of the Memefest community.

While members of the community  are able to check blog posts from the circle of their comrades within the on-line profile, this is the place where you are able to check on everything that has been bloged by anyone on this platform. The toppics and styles are diverse as this community consists of people from very different cultural, social backgrounds and also very different fields of expertice. Together- and through time- we hope – this gives us a good picture of radical communication culture.