RedeLabs: Laboratórios Experimentais em Rede

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The research tries to articulate experiences within the so-called brazilian digital culture context in the last decade and the background of experimental labs in the borders of technology, culture and society elsewhere in the world. The trend towards a society totally captured by cybernetic governance is indicated as a huge threat to any attempt to create novelty. I then propose the image of labs as spaces intentionally left blank as a way to go forward, skipping usual traps found in policies for 'creative' sectors.

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This dissertation reports on discoveries, hypotheses and conclusions of research on a kind of collaborative production that connects arts, science, activism, innovation, design, among other areas. It focuses on the appearing, in recent years, of the so-called experimental labs – network articulated spaces in which such a production comes into being. Under that perspective are approached denominations such as media labs, hackerspaces, Fablabs, among others. The research analyses some of these models against the background of techno-utopian imaginary, which asserts information technologies as tools to fight against burocracy and allienation of society. With the goal of questioning the usual association of experimental labs in general to the development of cybernetics and particularly to the history of MIT Media Lab in the USA, the research explores other narrative threads for the multiple fields that influence the formation of labs. Attention is paid to the dialogue between, on one side, the contemporary context of labs in different parts of the world, and on the other the contribution of the idea of a particularly brazilian digital culture – which over the last decade offered the possibility of building a discourse that draws closer free (open) software, cultural diversity and public policies for social inclusion. Two particular axes of the brazilian digital culture are discussed: the compensatory, which seeks to correct historical distortions by including populations in the so-called information age; and the exploratory, that seeks to criticize and influence future paths of the articulation of technology and society. The dissertation reports as well on field research undertaken in Finland, where were experimented the preparation of an international festival on arts and technology, visits to different spaces situated on the field of experimental labs, and personal contact with members of groups and collectives that work on the border of culture and technology. Such experiences contributed to the understanding of important elements of experimental labs, especially the aspect of non-conformation to the expectations of a society increasingly ruled by the transformation of every cultural expression into economic value. This understanding is deepened by the end of the dissertation on the image of the experimental lab as a blank space that, as well as working as an interface between digital networks and the particular dynamics of the places in which they are located, are also situated as instances of resistance and reinvention before the cybernetical informational capitalism.