Reassemble Lab: Natural Intelligence

10 — 13 March 2022 (physical)

Reassemble

Reassemble Part 3: Natural Intelligence

Towards Renewable and Regenerative Digital Infrastructures

Natural Intelligence, the third part of FIBER’s Reassemble Lab, will explore alternative internet infrastructures based on earthly dynamics, low-carbon solutions and ecological ethics. Join us this spring in Amsterdam (at i.a. A Lab)!

The immense possibilities of today’s internet services, data centres, artificial intelligence and rendered computer graphics have been made possible by a large supply of cheap energy sources: fossil fuels. The promises of yet another generation of AIs and metaverses are unthinkable without the endless extraction and flow of fossil energy. Many are already talking about ‘data warming’ as one of the strongly growing drivers of global warming.

From March 10 to 13, FIBER provides a four day meeting place for artists, designers, creative coders, technologists, researchers, energy experts and policy makers who are committed to, or interested in, working towards a fossil-free and fair internet.

As a participant you are invited to join hands-on workshops, prototyping sessions, talks and discussions. These are ranging from a workshop on decolonial design literacy, to using everyday technologies and developing low-carbon websites, to conceptual design sessions and hands-on technical workshops, such as working with a new solar server by Solar Protocol and prototyping new UX concepts. 

The lab will kick off with an (online) public programme exploring the theme of Natural Intelligence on Thursday evening, open to everyone. The aim of the programme is to bring together existing practices, skills and knowledge, and to form new alliances. We will ask questions like:

  • What role can design, creative coding and artistic research play to envision and prototype a fundamentally different way of adapting our technological demands to natural cycles?
  • What does it mean to learn from, adapt to, and work with natural intelligence, and how to imagine, articulate, practice and connect initiatives towards fossil-free futures?
  • How can we envision future energy, information and communication systems that are non-extractive in nature, following ecological realities and interacting with natural phenomena and cycles?
  • And how to start implementing these values in everyday practices?

We will address the theme of ‘natural intelligence’ collectively with among others Tega Brain, Alex Nathanson and Benedetta Piantella (Solar Protocol), Michelle Thorne (Branch Magazine and Mozilla Foundation) and Cristina Napoleone (TERRAIN Projects), Abdelrahman (Abdo) Hassan and Mick Jongeling.

TO OPEN CALL

Who can participate in Natural Intelligence?

The third iteration in the FIBER’s Reassemble Lab series provides a four day meeting place for artists, designers, creative coders, technologists, energy experts, policy makers and (academic) researchers who are committed to, or interested in, working towards a low-carbon, ethically fair and potentially regenerative internet. The lab offers a space to meet different makers and thinkers, gain skills and connect networks of knowledge.
Photo: Mark Ijzerman

Open Call [closed]

How can I join?

At this moment, you can show your interest in the programme through applying via our Open Call. Based on the submissions, we will invite participants to be a part of the lab. In the short term, we will also share more information about our conference programme and workshops, which will consist of parts curated by FIBER and partnerships. We will inform everyone as soon as possible with further information about the workshops, sessions and lectures.

Participant fees are as follows*:
€80 — Independent artists & researchers
€40 — Students
€150 — Corporate participants 

 

Planning

  • Launch Open Call — Thu 16/12/21
  • Application Deadline — Sun 07/01/22
  • Application Deadline Extended  — Sun 23/01/22
  • Selection Participants — Mon 31/01/22 (contact by email)
  • Reassemble Part 3: Natural Intelligence — 10 till 13 March

*The fee gives you access to all parts of the lab, all lectures, workshops and mentor feedback. We are aware that in this pandemic reality it is not possible for everyone to pay this amount. If you would like to participate, but are unable to pay the fee, please contact us so we can search for a solution together.

APPLY NOW

 

Lab outline

A four-day programme with workshops, lectures and talks

Programme outline

The question of ‘natural intelligence’ will be explored within four interdependent and sometimes overlapping research areas ‘Energy Literacy’, ‘Everyday Technologies, ‘Collective Infrastructures’ and ‘Fossil-Free Imaginaries’.

  • During the lab, you are invited to follow one or more of these tracks, participate in various workshops, gain new practical skills and knowledge, and develop individual and collective projects.
  • There are both conceptual design sessions and hands-on technical workshops, such as working with a new solar server and prototyping new UX concepts.
  • Next to the workshops and sessions, there will be enough time for improvised meetings, and to meet and exchange with other lab participants, mentors, speakers and workshop leaders.
  • One of the outcomes of the lab will be a digital publication that brings together visual mappings, writing and first design prototypes.
  • On top of these lectures and workshops, a public conference programme will be added during the evenings. As a lab participant you can freely attend the public programmes as well.
  • The aim of the whole programme is, on the one hand, to learn new skills and, on the other hand, to bring together existing practices, knowledge and networks to possibly form new alliances.

The lab is developed in partnership with A Lab and MozFest. Others to be confirmed.

Research Scopes & Programme

Everyday Technologies
how to practice?

Everyday Technologies looks at how to start today with accessible personal interventions and design solutions to the ongoing environmental emergency. In this area, we share and work with artistic/design practices and interventions, current tools and available technologies. We explore tangible outcomes. For example: How to build a low-carbon website or start a zero inbox?

During ‘Natural Intelligence’, Cristina Napoleone will give a lecture in the ‘Everyday Technologies’ track. Artist and researcher Cristina Napoleone has a background in geography with a focus on ecological ethics, more-than-humanism, and climate communication. In January 2020, she founded TERRAIN Projects, an initiative that creates playful physical and digital spaces to remind humans that they are embedded in a more-than-human world.

More artists and speakers connected to this track will be announced soon.

Energy Literacy
how to articulate?

This research area will look at how to include a new energy awareness in design practice. We will discuss and create an intersectional mapping of the various concepts and communities, and their strategies and views on how network infrastructures’ impact could be lowered. How to work from, and collaborate with, natural cycles, ecological ethics and decolonial computing?

Next to co-developing the programme and mentoring, Abdo Hassan will also present an anti-harm workshop, promoting decolonial design literacy, as well as interrogating the notions of Natural intelligence in a public lecture. His workshop is part of the ‘Energy Literacy’ research lense.

More artists and speakers connected to this track will be announced soon.

Fossil-Free Imaginaries
how to imagine?

Which ways of futuring will help us to steer to a desirable, fossil-free future? What place does the Internet have in this? This track will use speculative design and worldbuilding to imagine an alternative society based on natural cycles and renewable energy. What would a non-extractive economy and regenerative Internet look like?

As part of the ‘Fossil-Free Imaginaries’ track, Michelle Thorne will give a talk on Solarpunk Provocations for a Fossil-Free Internet. As a Sustainable Internet Lead at the Mozilla Foundation and senior advisor to the Green Web Foundation, Michelle directs research initiatives in Mozilla’s Sustainability Program and a PhD program on Open Design of Trust Things (OpenDoTT) with Northumbria University. She also publishes Branch, an online magazine written by and for people who dream about a sustainable internet.

More artists and speakers connected to this track will be announced soon.

Collective Infrastructures
how to connect? 

Radical changes need a collective spirit. How to foster collective infrastructures and organize communities towards an internet based on ecological ethics, how to find new modes of collaboration and build bridges between existing practices, and how to connect design and critical thinking with policy making on multiple scales?

Co-programme developer and mentor Mick Jongeling will present an introduction to the infrastructure of the Internet and the ideology that supports it. Mick is a researcher with a main focus on understanding and materializing the environmental impact of digital culture design, by questioning design and communication practices within the discourse of design.

More artists and speakers connected to this track will be announced soon.

Workshops — Solar Protocol

A web platform hosted across a network of solar-powered servers

One of the core-partnerships within the lab is the collaboration with the ‘Solar Protocol’ project of artist-creative coders and designers Tega Brain, Alex Nathanson and Benedetta Piantella. Solar Protocol is a web platform hosted across a network of solar-powered servers set up in different locations around the world. Under the motto ‘Towards a Natural Intelligence’, the team is working on an international platform of solar energy distribution to prototype and design a potential new generation of internet services. 

The Solar Protocol network reconfigures internet protocols using a kind of natural rather than artificial intelligence. The network routes internet traffic according to the logic of the sun, where page requests are sent to whichever server is enjoying the most sunlight at the time. They are working with people and institutes around the world who have built and installed servers that host this site alongside their own web content. 

The Solar Protocol team will host two workshops: one is a design-oriented workshop on energy literacy in design (no coding skills required), the second one is a technical workshop and possibility to work with a solar protocol server in Amsterdam.

Location: A Lab

We are excited to announce we will be collaborating again with our neighbours from A Lab, where the Natural Intelligence four-day lab programme will take place. As this third part of our multi-year Reassemble project aims to investigate the role of design and art in a low-carbon internet, A Lab will be a beautifully symbolic location for our lab.

The research scope of ‘Natural Intelligence’ derives from the problems around our current internet services predominantly running on fossil fuels, with dire climatic consequences. A Lab’s building carries an important history in fossil fuels, as it used to be Shell’s Groot Laboratorium (Grand Lab). The area on the River IJ’s north bank used to be completely Shell-owned, with ultimately over 40 buildings at Shell’s disposal. Today, only a few properties remain, including the Poortgebouw, where our office is located, and the A’DAM Toren.   

A Lab hosts a multidisciplinary mix of creatives, technologists, social entrepreneurs and labs in the building

Team

  • Diana Petcov
    Production Support & Researcher
    Abdo Hassan
    Mentor & Programme Developer
    Mick Jongeling
    Mentor & Programme Developer
    Zoë Horsten
    Producer
    Katía Truijen
    Programme Lead
    Laurèn ter Horst
    Marketing & Communication
    Jarl Schulp
    Artistic Lead & Curator Reassemble

Education: Research Opportunities

During this lab, we offer researchers – master and PHD students – the opportunity to do temporary research and to translate it into an article or interview together with our team. This will become part of the knowledge and resources dossier we are building around this lab. In addition, the lab offers a unique opportunity to put your studies into practice and expand your network. Please get in touch with: zoe@fiber-space.nlPhoto: Pieter Kers

What is Reassemble?

FIBER Festival’s Lab for Art Technology and Ecology

Do you strive to bring awareness to multi-layered and interdependent ecologies? Do you want to perceive reality through sensorial experiences and explore more-than-human futures? Are you curious to share knowledge between makers and thinkers and work with technology in interdisciplinary ways? If so, we invite you to gather and reassemble.

Reassemble is FIBER Festival’s new multi-year lab programme that will connect the festival editions. The lab strives to contribute to our understanding of great planetary challenges by supporting artistic makers and inquisitive thinkers in prototyping new (collaborative) works and ways of knowing. This takes place in partnership with research institutions and other cultural organisations.

The lab offers multi-day programmes consisting of workshops, collaborative working sessions, field trips, discussions and public programmes. Various topics and developments are explored in thematic blocks – called ‘Parts’ – and a wide variety of tool(kits) and methods are exchanged.

In 2021, the first two Parts took place, leading up to and coinciding with FIBER 2021. In June/July of the past year we took a closer look at speculative art and worldbuilding in ‘Weaving With Worlds’ and in October we focussed on ways to uncover ecological change through sound in ‘Sound Ecologies’.

Reassemble believes in the civic agency of a new generation of audiovisual artists, designers, coders, performers and researchers who are materialising and speculating about mutual interactions between humans, and regenerative relationships between ourselves and our environment.

Reassemble is supported by Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and Stimuleringsfonds. Design by Mary Universe (Mary Ponomareva).

Inclusivity

Critical Tool Analysis

Parallel to the ‘making’, Sound Ecologies critically reflects on the historical and sociopolitical contexts in which digital tools are created and the contemporary (digital) cultures they are part of. The ways in which technological developments shape a multitude of different futures can be liberating for some and dehumanizing for others.  They are forces of extraction, exclusion and division, while they simultaneously offer the possibility to give form and imagination to new, necessary realities.

Who develops the tools and platforms we use? What is the cultural impact and political/commercial origin of simulation technologies and machine learning? In what ways do the current forms of these technologies relate to ecological and social problems? Do they help with creating solutions? Do they add fuel to the fire? What possibilities are there for artistic practices to adapt their use, or even reassemble them to accommodate representation and inclusion? A network of researchers will investigate the lab methods, techniques and principles and disseminate them through our platform.

Diversity, Inclusion and Equity

In addition to understanding our entanglement with a multispecies reality, the lab will  strive to bring together a rich prism of perspectives – including feminist, queer,  non-binary, trans and voices of color – to share resources, time and space with many different imaginations of our near-future societies. We warmly welcome participants from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds and people from LGBTQIA+ communities.

Despite some of the technical aspects of the lab, the focus will be on unlocking and  accessing a wide variety of (non-coding) skills. This will be done through  interdisciplinary collaboration and conceptual approaches to topics. Therefore, the lab will also be a valuable environment for newcomers to narrative, sonification and visualization techniques.

Partners

Reassemble is made possible with the generous support of the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts and Creative Industry Fund NL.