Open source use in the arts

Last night I had the honour of presenting the award for Open Source Use in the Arts at the 2016 New Zealand Open Source Awards. The nominated projects were all so awesome I’m sharing them here. Go have a look, and participate in them, coz…they’re all Open Source – YEAH!!

Image: Adrian Kingston

Making Open Source Art isn’t simply about using Open Source tools and licenses in art projects, it means a change of mindset from All Rights Reserved to Some Rights Reserved.

The arts is one of those sectors that tends to be permission based, but letting go of romantic ideas of originality and exclusivity, can help art flourish, spread, and evolve into new forms.

Projects like the ones nominated are challenging these traditional ideas of ownership: expanding our understanding of where the true value of art lies, and showing us new and engaging Open Source ideas that contribute positively to global society.

This award recognises a New Zealand art project that has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of free and open source philosophy. And the finalists are:

Make Use typeface

Make Use typeface designed by Jo Bailey & Thomas Le Bas. CC-BY 4.0

The Make/Use Team, Massey University for Make/Use: User Modifiable Zero Waste Fashion

Despite its impact in the world, fashion is conventionally a very insular industry. Designs are not easily protected by law, so to stay profitable the industry rapidly makes garments stylistically obsolete. Little is shared, and few garments have any longevity. As a result, the fashion and textile industry is the second largest polluter on the planet. Garment manufacturing alone produces more than 164 million square metres of textile waste every day. Some of this is due to inefficient pattern design where 15% of fabric is wasted as offcuts. Make/Use seeks to combat this problem.

Make/Use is an open source system for making user-modifiable, zero waste garments.
Zero waste garments are what they sound like: where, through clever pattern design, 100% of the fabric required to make the garment is used in it’s production, so there’s no waste. The garments can also be modified or re-made into new garments requiring the same fabric area.

All of the components and tools for each of the Make/Use garments are available online under a Creative Commons Attribution license, including digital files suitable for customisation, print files for paper patterns or printing direct to textiles, template files suitable for printing or laser cutting, and even a specially designed Make/Use typeface.

Te Papa website screenshot website screenshot

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for the Website and Online Services Project

Te Papa, of course, holds a major collection of artworks, many of these by New Zealand artists. Due to their long-duration exhibition format, the majority of these works remain hidden from public view. As one way of trying to mitigate this issue, Te Papa devised a long-term Digital Online Strategy, which has less emphasis on physical exhibits and more focus on making Te Papa’s collections available online and accessible on multiple platforms.

This included a significant overhaul of the website, with a refresh of the information architecture – done primarily using Open Source tools, including AWS for the infrastructure and Drupal 7 as the application platform.

The team used a combination of user contributed and customised Drupal modules, contributing code improvements back to the existing modules. The project developed a search mechanism using ElasticSearch in order to interrogate and index a large number of internal and informal repositories within Te Papa, and in true Open Source style, this search mechanism is now being used by ElasticSearch for their content sites.

The resulting site signifies a genuine effort by New Zealand’s National Museum to make their collections accessible, while supporting Open Source software projects.

Public Patch

The Public Patch in action. Photo: Crystelle Vu

Julian Oliver for Public Patch

Public Patch is a simple modification to surveillance cameras in public space, that embeds Creative Commons copyright terms in all captured video. Quite literally, the patch is a small printed sign that sits in front of security cameras, so that any footage recorded by the camera includes the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike license.

The patch is a simple device that can be made in a few hours using under $10 of materials including a plastic paper clip, two rubber bands, printed overhead-projector paper and a strip of aluminium. This artwork suggests that all passive security footage of public space should be an open source resource, presenting the public with a concept they can apply to their own surroundings to test this assertion.

Remains of private residence, Denniston, January 2013

Remains of private residence, Denniston, January 2013. Photo: Caroline McQuarrie. CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Caroline McQuarrie for The No Town Project

Early settlers on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand battled the environment they found themselves in, building communities on a strip of land that was difficult to get to, and difficult to remain in. Unfortunately, as resources dwindled many of these communities faded away. The West Coast now is littered with town sites that are either deserted, or have substantially diminished communities. The No Town Project is an art project and photographic archive that records these towns, which are little known by many New Zealanders.

The project grew out of an exhibition that toured to multiple galleries across New Zealand. In order to both enable a wider audience to view the photographs, and to give other photographers an opportunity to contribute their own images to the site, Caroline McQuarrie created the No Town website using the Open Source application ‘Indexhibit’, and licensing images on the site under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives license.

Caroline’s project and photographs are extraordinary, and the value of this project has been recognised by the National Library of New Zealand who’ve selected it for ongoing web harvesting.

And the winner was: Make/Use. Congratulations to all the finalists!

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The Police Drive Holdens

I once found myself in conversation
with a drunk man in a bar
He’d figured out the pattern to humans
or so he said

Everyone is either
a Ford or a Holden
a Ford or Holden
Ford or Holden
Ford, Holden
Which are you?

What kind of personality type
drives a Ford?
I wondered
What kind drives a Holden?

Neither, I replied
I don’t have a car
But my parents drive a Toyota

What kind of person does that make me?

The police drive Holdens

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New Cultural Narratives for Submarine Internet Cables

“it behooves wired people to know a few things about wires – how they work, where they lie, who owns them, and what sorts of business deals and political machinations bring them into being.”

- Neal Stephenson, Mother Earth Mother Board, Wired Magazine, December 1996, Issue 4:12

“We cannot rely on narratives of connection and disruption alone to convey the significance of cables to governments, companies, or publics that have a stake in their development and operation.

“Creating new cultural narratives for undersea cables is critical to an informed public participation with the transnational Internet, especially in a privatized cable system where [...] public perception can affect the development of new networks. I outline two alternate forms—nodal narratives and transmission narratives—that extend beyond moments of establishment and disruption to portray cables as material infrastructures that must be operated and secured to channel flows of global information.”

- Nicole Starosielski, p68, The Undersea Network, Duke University Press, 2015

Did you arrive here via EyeContact? Try this link: (more below)

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith Fibre Tours logo

It behooves wired people to know a few things about wires
Project for the Auckland Art Fair, 2016
Poster, Hollywood vanity lighting
470 x 710 x 100mm
courtesy of the artist

Once upon a time, our nation found pride in its connectivity. New submarine communications cables were commemorated with postage stamps and public artwork. But over time knowledge of this has waned. And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth.

With The Southern Cross Cable: A Tour, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith uncovers places where you can picnic and build sand castles, mere metres from the Cable, where 98% of New Zealand’s international internet traffic glows, on the iconic Muriwai and Takapuna beaches.

Turn off your screens. This is not a film.

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Fibre Tours logo. Courtesy of the artist.

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Just sayin #Romanticism #GoTSeason5

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NZ Political Parties Arts Policies (2014 Election)

A list with links to all Arts Policies so far released by registered New Zealand political parties in the lead up to the 2014 election.

Listed in order of party registration date. We’ll attempt to update this as new policies emerge, but if you see something that isn’t here but should be please let us know.

Articles discussing arts policies:

Janet McAllister: Feral Fluffy gets ready to pounce (The Herald, 13 Sep 2014)

DRIVE: Arts Policy Debate (The Big Idea, 12 Sep 2014)

What will you do for the arts? – 2014 election debate (Massey University, 10 Sep 2014)

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Navigating the Tangled Web of Copyright: a case study of Te Ika-a-Akoranga for New Zealand creative practitioners

Critical Forum 7 Aug 2014Come along to Massey University College of Creative Arts next Thursday 7 August at 2pm to hear Bronwyn Holloway-Smith present on how her project Te Ika-a-Akoranga is intertwined with New Zealand Copyright Law issues.

Holloway-Smith’s presentation will be followed by a discussion with an illustrious panel:
Prof. Susy Frankel – School of Law, Victoria University of Wellington and Chair of the NZ Copyright Tribunal
Sophie Jerram – Curator, Letting Space
Megan Tamati-Quennell – Curator Modern & Contemporary Māori and Indigenous Art, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Event details:
Navigating the Tangled Web of Copyright: a case study of Te Ika-a-Akoranga for New Zealand creative practitioners
2-4pm, 7 August 2014
The Pit, Te Ara Hihiko
Maps & Transport info

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19th Biennale of Sydney: 2014

Some very selected images of the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

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Fun With Lego

I’m making a thing for a show at Dunedin Public Art Gallery: a shipping crate that converts into a display table. Here’s the first maquette. Good lord, Lego is great for figuring out engineering problems.

Fun with Lego 1, Shipping Crate Display Case Fun with Lego 2, Shipping Crate Display Case

Fun with Lego 3, Shipping Crate Display Case Fun with Lego 4, Shipping Crate Display Case

Fun with Lego 5, Shipping Crate Display Case Fun with Lego 6, Shipping Crate Display Case

Fun with Lego 7, Shipping Crate Display Case

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3D Printing In Action

Last week I gave an artist talk at City Gallery Wellington on Whisper Down The Lane. As part of it I showed a video of the latest object being printed: After Rohan Wealleans’ He With Glands Of Wasp, and now I’ve put it up on the interwebs so those of you who couldn’t be there can check it out:

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Whisper Down The Lane (Exhibition Text)

City Gallery Wellington has published the exhibition text for Whisper Down The Lane – a project currently being developed as part of the exhibition The Obstinate Object: Contemporary New Zealand Sculpture. Aaron Lister has produced a fantastic piece of writing about the work (if I say so myself), however it’s only available as a PDF download. For the sake of searchability and accessibility I’m making an executive decision (please forgive me CGW) and publishing it here for your reading pleasure:

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith

Whispers down the lane, 2012, mixed media

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith uses the occasion of this exhibition to challenge the boundaries of sculpture, especially its willingness to step into the new expanded field offered by digital cultures and communities. Her project functions as a model for new ways of digitally making and disseminating sculpture, while attempting to bring those sculptures more firmly rooted in the physical world along with her. With echoes of the Pied Piper, Holloway-Smith calls to some of the other artists in this exhibition, negotiating to make digital replicas of their work. The project is ongoing, with the cast of replicas growing through the three-month cycle of the exhibition.

The small, intricate replicas on display work on purely sculptural terms, beguiling with their material qualities and provoking questions around process, about how they are made. First, digital files are created in a CAD programme based on measurements and  photographs or drawings of the sculptures. Different fabrication technologies are then employed in the making of these objects. The first method takes a file and prints it three-dimensionally using a RepRap printer, which builds the object up by laying down successive layers of PLA plastic. A second approach uses a high-power laser to cut a pattern for a multi-layered object, which is  then assembled by hand. Holloway-Smith’s two processes are a digital echo of that old sculptural battle between carving and modelling.

Yet for all their wonder and beauty, these objects are really just surrogates for their digital existence as freely downloadable files that can be saved, altered and built on by users through a Creative Commons licence. This process offers sculpture a radical new way of entering the public realm, but in doing so challenges many core values of the medium, especially around the primacy of physical encounter, a heavy investment in the original, and a strong adherence to traditional models of ownership. Control is taken away from the artist, the collector and the gallery, and placed in the hands of the user. Gallery restrictions on even taking photographs of artwork, based on protecting the copyright of the artist and preserving the role of the gallery as the authentic site to experience art, start to look archaic and self serving. Holloway-Smith’s project is more interested in issues around the democratisation and control of culture than with the making of the objects for display.

The project delights in the difficulties that sculpture poses for these new technologies. Some sculptures in the exhibition resist the process of replication through their scale, complex materiality or the tension between multiple parts. The title of this project nods to Holloway-Smith’s interest in mistranslation, with what gets lost or altered through the process of replication and the intervening hand of the artist. New technologies may offer perfect tools for replication, but those mysteries and vagaries of cultural transmission and exchange will or must endure.
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