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REFF - RomaEuropa FakeFactory

Romaeuropa FakeFactory is an act of artistic and technological hacking, a platform for global discussion and a performance that, beginning in 2009, has dealt with the themes of active, critical and creative innovation, confronting the management of cultural and technological policies related to these areas. The story begins with the opening of the Romaeuropa WebFactory, a digital art competition launched in 2008 by the Romaeuropa Foundation (Fondazione Romaeuropa) and Telecom Italia. Oppressive copyright conditions, such as the unilateral transfer of the rights to the works submitted and a ban on the use of techniques like mashup, cutup, remix but conversely giving the Romaeuropa Foundation and Telecom Italia the right to remix the works, inspired the creation of a Fake capable of becoming a point for multi-disciplinary analysis of the possibilities offered by freely available knowledge, contents and resources: a chance to reverse the logic of the competition and bring to light the contradictions, limits and implications of such a typical, reactionary cultural policy.

“Remix the world! Reinvent Reality!” is one of the principal themes that has inspired the REFF, from an act of détournement and cybersquatting – that brought to life the creation of a remix skills competition determining in 2009 a reversal of the Romaeuropa Foundation and Telecom Italia’s policy on the management of intellectual property rights – to the presentation of REFF’s instances and methodologies to the Cultural Commission of the Italian Senate (Commissione Cultura del Senato della Repubblica Italiana), up to the current production of the REFF book, as a global effort to create a working business model that implements the concepts and demands expressed by the RomaEuropa FakeFactory. Supporters of the REFF are found all over the world: over 80 partners among universities, artists, academies, associations, hackers, researchers, designers, journalists, politicians, magazines, networks, activitst, art critics, architects, musicians and entrepreneurs together with all the people who share a belief that art, design and new technologies can unite towards a critical, yet positive vision of a world that can create new opportunities and new ways of being, collaborating and communicating.


Project details

Author(s):Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico have imagined and started the whole action/performance. REFF is a constantly mutating networked performance. an enormous number of people have been involved in many ways and at different times /levels of engagement



no budget

How does project benefit the client (if there is a client)?
REFF have no client

How does project benefit the people you are speaking to with your communication?
REFF, RomaEuropa FakeFactory was born as a performative action whose aim was to reinvent reality. To reinvent what is "given" as real, what power, authorities, institutions give you saying: "this is it! this is the way it is! take it! this is reality!". Due to the economic crisis and the resulting need for private sponsorship, an important italian cultural institution, the Fondazione RomaEuropa, in 2008 became the cultural wing of one of Italy's most active operators in the war on society through digital cultures: Telecom Italia, Italy's largest telco operator. This war is a war of codes, enacted through the creation of language, of imaginaries and by enacting all the forms of "crowdsourced strategies" that we have come to know as being the main toolbox for contemporary authority. Create participative initiatives with only three things in mind: have people working for free; build the cultures and imaginaries supporting fake opportunities; create massive initiatives that you (the operator) control.

How does project benefit the wider society?
Transformation REFF is a real-life, materialized scenario of how it is possible to "reinvent reality" through critical practices, tactical media usage, fake, hacking and other peculiar practices and methodologies. After REFF the "original" competition was forced to change their approach to intellectual property and to cultural policy management. Access REFF created access. Communication and presence in the public discourse allowed REFF to be empowered and to enforce some conditions, allowing us to break some rules and given practices, which often are a tool for authority. For example we were able to create a real opportunity for a really young researcher, Germana Berlantini, who, at only 21 years of age, can now say that she wrote a book together with Bruce Sterling, breaking all the barriers that usually are present in these kinds of things (fame, academics, authority...). Knowledge sharing REFF's communication is truly oriented to knowledge sharing. Accessible technologies become artworks, methodologies become narratives, the possibility to participate becomes an open performative space. We produced and shared skills, methodologies, techniques, software platforms, economies.

How did/does this project benefit author (authors/makers of the project)?
The "fake" competition was a success, more than the "original" one. 80+ partners all over the world, massive media coverage, hundreds of participating artists, successful viral communication campaigns. And, irony, official recognition for the "fake", where the "original" didn't receive any: REFF was officially hosted and recognized by the Cultural Commission of the Italian Senate and it became an official event of the European Community's Year of Culture. The year after, victory was collected: the next edition of the Fondazione's competition was identical to our fake. REFF, a fake, squatted, institution defined a "new real".

Tell us something about your view on communication. What is your / your organisation's / initiative's (visual) communication philosophy?
REFF use fake, remix, reinvention, recontextualization, plagiarism and reenactment as tools for the systematic reinvention of reality. Defining what is real is an act of power. Being able to reinvent reality is an act of freedom. REFF promotes the dissemination and reappropriation of all technologies, theories and practices that can be used to freely and autonomously reinvent reality.

What about the process of creating this work? Please describe it.
The first step was a public reaction: as group of artists/activists we used a series of famous blogs to ask for explanations, receiving only formal meaningless answers. So we decided to act, in a way that was productive and significant. We created a FAKE. In a couple of days the RomaEuropaFAKEFactory was born, promoting a competition that was specular to Fondazione's WebFactory, with sections based on the original ones, but detourned and focused on the arts of "remix", from Duchamp to Andy Warhol to William Burroughs... All the communication was based on unconventional tactics (guerrilla, viral...). We quickly cybersquatted domains (buying the domain www.romaeuropa.org ), accounts, social networks, blogs. We started diffusing news to lawyers interested in intellectual property, to online communities and mailing lists. We activated journalists, radios and TVs. We joined forces with university professors, getting students interested in both the detourned competition and on the issues it was speaking about. "Rejected from Romeuropa WebFactory" was a viral campaign in which W. Burroughs, A. Warhol, O. Welles become testimonials of the fake competition: watch the videos here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdTBEFtrW2s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfm-ATAsPug http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d71OFEtS4I In less than a month, over than 80 partners joined in, with a base of users growing by the thousands and communicating through emails, social networks and other media. There was a true sense of "righteousness" that was clear to anyone joining in. We decided to move things forward, and proposed a transformation: REFF was to become a continuous process, a digital ecosystem in which to create, produce, research. Between 2009 and 2010, this process turns into a publication, "REFF. The reinvention of reality through critical practices of remix, mash-up, re-contextualization, reenactment, a book in augmented reality edited in Italy by FakePress and DeriveApprodi. Over 30 contributions ranging from critical articles to interviews; a catalog of 30 works exploring the themes of remix in an extended way; the special mentions of the 2009-2010 contest; a new experience of reading integrating the digital and paper dimensions trough the use of Augmented Reality and tagging. But also an open source tool for creating ubiquitous, cross-media publications, by FakePress. With the foreword by Bruce Sterling, the book include: * a book (made of paper and integrating QRCodes and Fiducial Markers to access digital data and experience Augmented Reality contents directly from the book) * a website (optimized for both desktop and mobile browsers) * a mobile application (developed for iPhone, iPad, it will allow you to experience the augmented reality contents, to use the location-based information present in the book and to access the mobile interactive experiences) Here a trailer of the book in italian http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG7bJ1XXS-I&feature=player_embedded Here Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic playing with the book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyoOlobkqhU&feature=related REFF is a book beyond the e-book. Reflecting about a design and communication strategy, the next english version of the book will be an object of design, a pill-box to sells and distributes augmented reality drugs or drugs that allow people to augment their own reality

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