The first public meeting for OFFLOAD was held on the 9th Nov, 2006 at the Watershed Media Centre, Bristol. During the course of the development of OFFLOAD, we will be updating you regularly with bits of information on how we are progressing with the plans. As part of this, we’ll be hosting regular meetings (bi or tri) monthly. At each meeting, updates about the festival plans, ideas and so forth will be discussed. An invited speaker (e.g., artists, academic, scientists) will also be invited to provide stimulus material for discussion. The aim of these invited talks is to create a space, through which participants involved in planning the festival can critically engage with the core issues.
The first OFFLOAD meeting attended by twenty-one people drawn from the arts, media and ecology sectors. They included members of the Polar Produce team (Kathy Hinde, Maarten De Laat) as well as Gill Haworth, Clare Reddington (Watershed), Dan Efergan (Submerge), B Aga (iDat, freelancer), Deborah Harrison (freelance arts co-ordinator), Antony Lyons (artist/scientist), Jim O’Shaughnessy (Green Arts Network, Sy Taffel (Bristol Drama Dept), Tanya Steinhauser (programmer ICIA, Bath), Chris (University of West of England), Mark Botwick (sound artist and engineer), Dan Dixon (University of West of England), Pete Ferne (Wireless Bristol), James Kennard (artist), Alex Bradley (artist), Charlie Poulin (artist), David Sinpel (electrician), James Atkins (carpenter and artist), Alma Clavin (researcher and guest speaker).
Alma Calvin (town planner and Phd researcher, Oxford Brookes University) our invited guest speaker, provided an overview on the meanings and complexities behind terms such as ecology, nature and sustainability. This included a discussion on the ideas around social and deep ecology, with a brief overview of feminist, marxist and socialists understandings of these terms. Ideas that struck a cord personally, was the notion of ‘nature as a model for design’ and the underlying connection between ecology and sustainability being about concepts of interrelatedness and social networks. This complements the current thinking behind pervasive and location based computing and the thinking, which lead to the Internet. For me these perspectives are interrelated within cybernetic and systems theory. Recent conversations with Sy Taffel, who is currently conducting his PhD in this area, at Bristol University (Drama Dept, under Jon Dovey) is helping to make this link (and others such as Bateson and Guattari). I find it has a synergy with understandings from a psychological perspective, especially the stuff by Gibson of the ecology of perception and human-computer-interaction, via Norman and his design concepts.
I also provided a general introduction to the event and the kinds of work the event was at attaching, briefly discussing work by artists such as Heath Bunting, Kate Rich, Amy Balkin and Futurefarmers.
Key questions that arose during the meeting included: