"Furtherfield.org believes that through creative and critical engagement with practices in art and technology people are inspired and enabled to become active co-creators of their cultures and societies. Furtherfield.org provides platforms for creating, viewing, discussing and learning about experimental practices at the intersections of art, technology and social change. HTTP Gallery in Haringey, North London is Furtherfield.org's dedicated space for physical events and residencies. VisitorsStudio is their online space for live audiovisual media remixing. From their offices at HTTP, Furtherfield.org initiate and provide infrastructure for commissions, events, exhibitions, internships, networking, participatory projects, peer exchange, publishing, research, residencies and workshops.
Learning, participation and exchange are central to Furtherfield.org's inclusive outreach work with young people. This work is developed through partnerships with visionary organisations and draws on the expertise of a diverse community of artists, musicians, technologists and educators.
2009-12 Furtherfield.org is taking media art ecologies as a focus for its artistic programme and organisational/infrastructural development. This three year programme aims to provide opportunities for art-making, critical debate, exchange and participation in emerging ecological media art practices, and the theoretical, political and social contexts they engage.
Project partners include: Access Space, The Basement, Creative Partnerships, Distributed South, Drake Music, London Games Fringe, MARCEL Networks, Haringey Youth Services, Peckham Space, Science Museum. Furtherfield.org receives regular funding from the Arts Council of England." (http://www.furtherfield.org/about.php)
"In recent years, the organisation has been running an informal programme around issues of digital culture, including its relationship with, and impact on, the environment. It was decided by Catlow and her team that this programme, including exhibitions and artistic work featuring imaginary engagements with issues of technology and the environment, should also take the form of an event.
Re-rooting Digital Culture is designed to bring a wide variety of artistic, technological and scientific thinkers and practitioners together in order to work through some of the more pressing environmental issues that face us as a society. If our acquisition and use of silicon-based technology is effectively based on a model derived from the Industrial Revolution, then there needs to be some deep and fundamental thinking and action in place to move society even slightly away from that: ergo, re-rooting.
The ideas of an environmental stewardship driven by consumers remain hard to deliver. The supposed savings that we were meant to be achieving through concepts such as the paperless office and commute-free working have been countered by the purchase of objects, such as LCD TVs, which require greater amounts of energy than their preceding technologies. Add in the detritus of old mobiles, chargers and the refill reams for laser printers, then in an environmental context, the "digital age" is less of a new phenomenon, and more of a rehash of what has been happening in the past 150 years. Catlow is adamant – as are many others - that the way in which we perceive, consume, and use technological and digital devices has to change in order for society to improve its ecological and environmental standing over the next 150 years and beyond.
A current project is Zero Dollar Laptop, recycling existing hardware with a ready-made deployment of free and Open Source software. It is also designed to facilitate a more creative, expressive relationship with the Internet from project participants. Catlow's view is that the project is based on an understanding that technology is at the vanguard of consumerism, as well as being at the more troublesome end of capitalism. The "upgrade culture" can leave discarded devices in cupboards and skips, rather than in the hands of people that can make genuine use from them. Although there are many successful re-use projects such as this, it is Zero Dollar Laptop that provides an additional challenge on the part of the recipient of the refreshed device, around self-perception in Internet use. The determination of schemes such as this to be successful, is evident. "When we first got started with Furtherfield, I was far more optimistic and Utopian than I am now. I don't think that the technology will help us to make the changes. There are far more intractable problems, and sometimes technology is part of the problem." (http://www.imperica.com/features/ruth-catlow-internet-interventions/)
What Influences Furtherfield?
"DADA, Situationism, punk, Occupy, hacktivism, networks, Peer 2 Peer Culture, feminism, D.I.Y, DIWO, Free Software Movement, independent music labels, independent thinkers, people we work with, artists, activism, grass roots culture, community…
This comprises technological and physical forms of hacking. It also includes aspects and actions of: agency-generation, skill, craft, disruption, self-education, social change, activism, aesthetics, re-contextualizing, claiming or reclaiming territories, independence, emancipation, relearning, rediscovering, play, joy, being imaginative, criticalness, challenging borders, breaking into and opening up closed systems, changing a context or situation, highlighting an issue, finding ways around problems, changing defaults, and restructuring things – Claiming social contexts & artistic legacies with others!" (http://www.furtherfield.org/features/articles/furtherfield-and-contemporary-art-culture-where-we-are-now)
For background information please download this PDF (205k)
- Do It With Others (DIWO): Contributary Media in the Furtherfield Neighbourhood
by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett
- Review of activities: http://www.furtherfield.org/features/articles/furtherfield-and-contemporary-art-culture-where-we-are-now