by Isabella Motta • for idança published on 18 June 2009
To shorten the distance between artists, promote the circulation of information and the exchange of professional experiences. With technological applications at hand, dance, performance (and arts in general) professionals are being able to use the verbs of first sentence more easily. Virtual platforms that bring down the borders between countries and cultures to join people with similar works who could never meet…
That´s exactly what everybodys toolbox and open-frames.net (OF)propose. Both platforms, created in Europe, work as virtual libraries or archives, where it is possible to get information posted by the artists themselves about their work. It is an independent and direct way to put creators in contact with each other.
Besides giving the artists the possibility to archive their work, everybody´s toolbox – created by Mette Ingvartsen and Alice Chauchat, with the support of the Danish Council – offers tools for ‘games’ and creation of content to encourage the exchange of experiences and impressions between the participants. In the Impersonation Game, for instance, an artist talks about his/her work, giving every detail of the creative process. Afterwards, the listener – who should be another artist – tells what he heard, as if it were his/her own creation. The goal is to give the author an outside look about a given work.
Another interesting tool available in the platform is the self interview, where the artist elaborates and answers questions about the creative process. Brazilian artist Neto Machado – who got to know Mette and everybodys toolbox during the 6 months 1 location/ex.e.r.ce 08 project – tested and approved the tool. “The self-interview is a very useful tool for me in different stages of creation. It can be an attempt to organize thoughts scattered in my mind and notes, it can be a record of something that is already clear and it can also be a way to instigate new possibilities that are still shapeless. Since I interview myself, I can conduct the questions in the direction that is most interesting at the time”, analyzes Neto, who used the platform to show the creative process of the project Infiltration. All 20 self-interviews that were published are available in PDF format.
For Neto, the non-plastered format of the platform, which allows the possibility to include the work’s debate methodology is the biggest asset of everybody’s toolbox. “This creates a very important sharing network. It´s, no doubt, one of the things that make this platform so important, especially because it attempts to share the process, not the product. Those who read it can use the tools to find other things, without having a pre-defined model this tool should generate”, he praises. “The platform brings, in its proposals, a policy that goes against the idea of the lonely genius or the brilliant idea. It´s an attempt to strengthen the idea that shared ideas strengthen each other, instead of weakening. When I share methodologies, I share something that someone can use in the exact same way I described, but it will certainly generate different possibilities”, he completes.
To promote the approximation of artists that may be developing similar projects is also the goal of open-frames. In this case, the idea is a little simpler than everybodys toolbox’s: a virtual platform – a kind of open archive – where dance and performance artists post their projects following a determined pattern. At open-frames there are no games or interaction tools, the main goal is archiving works.
“We seek inspiration in semi-anonymous systems like myspace, facebook, blogcom etc, looking for a specific online network for performance works. As a result, we have today an archive that emphasizes easiness to read the contents”, explains Heike Langsdorf, one of the creators of the platform.
In times of shrinking distances with the help of technology, many projects inspired in social networks are surfacing, like movimento.org, a partnership between idança and Red Sudamericana de Danza. In the case of OF, however, the aim is strictly professional exchange, there are no member profiles. Open-frames is a natural evolution from Frogs OS, a network of professional artists that worked between 2000 and 2008, based in Belgium and also headed by Langsdorf. Now, the 36 works produced by Frogs OS are available at open-frames. “The decision to create open-frames was a way to continue what was working in Frogs OS while taking advantage of the possibilities of virtual networks”, completes Langsdorf, who works in collaboration with Ula Sickle and Matthieu Collet.
The working of the network is simple: the artists only have to get in touch with the managers of OF at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will send an access login to post works. It is mandatory to publish a descriptive text (in English) of the content that will be online, besides a video, or at least 15 images. There is also the possibility to post PDF files, tour data and links to other websites. The search can be done by the title of the project, name of the artist or the nature of the work: architecture, dance, performance, installation, mew media, photography etc.
One of the projects found at OF is the performance Curator’s cut (foto 2), from 2007, posted by balletanz. The collective C&H share the stage with many extras, like a dog, a plant and mini rock concert. All in 25 minutes. “The ongoing input of works and communication between artists and users seems to be the way for open-frames to keep working according to its original intention: as an open archive”, analyses Langsdorf.
Read the complete interview idança did with Heike Langsdorf, via e-mail.
How did the Frogs OS project become open-frames?
Frogs OS consciously avoided being a structured, subsidized or sponsored unity. It was a temporary network of people and projects proposing an alternative mode of working and producing. The idea to initiate a network for creating and presenting related works, often very diverse in form but always showing a clearly experimental approach, was intended as a way to develop a certain visibility and credibility for experimental work. The decision to create open-frames was a way to continue the underlying aims of Frogs OS while taking advantage of the networking possibilities of the Internet.
How this idea of open-frames as an “open archive” was born? Was the implementation of the site easy? How did it work?
In its 7 years of working, Frogs OS produced numerous research projects and productions that were continuously documented on a blog but that were never published in a serious way. A logical continuation of Frogs OS seemed to be to create a library, offering the possibility to present and publish works. Recycling the outcomes of Frogs OS into an online archive should ideally give rise to an expanding (though limited) community of users. While developing and constructing the site, we took care not to create another exclusive online-forum, which despite its goodwill demands highly personal interaction and therefore mostly remains restricted to a small circle of people, more or less known to each other. On the contrary we took inspiration from semi-anonymous online systems like myspace, facebook, blogcom etc, aiming for an online network specific to performance-based work. Something not existing yet in the way we imagined it. As a result we find today an archive that emphasizes the content and readability of the content of works. open-frames not only presents finished works but is also interested in the communication of concepts, studies as well as research, showing concrete outcomes.
What do you think is better now with open-frames?
open-frames is not necessarily better than Frogs OS but is consequently more open, since it is less restricted to a physically bound community.
Doesn’t the fact that the public of open-frames is restricted to people involved with arts prevent the wider public to know about the works published there?
In comparison with other archives, upload/download-providers and search-engines, open-frames adopted a format that is rarely found on the Internet. The biggest quality of open-frames is its limitation to a specific cultural field, a limitation, which is hard to maintain without a classical curatorship. Open-frames achieves this by alternatively working in a very personal way: There is a constant dialogue between the administrators of the site and the users in order to guarantee that the rules for registering, posting and uploading are respected and to ensure the readability of the posted material.
Since January 1st, open-frames already has many participants. What are they saying about this new possibility of connection between artists?
The participants seem to – be the most interested in / check out – the possibility of joining a selection of works and people they themselves decide to be part of and by this become self-curators. After the first enthusiasm and surprise about the amount of interested people, right now what we see emerging is an interesting & problematic issue about quality vs quantity. Ongoing ‘work’ on the site and continued ‘communication’ between us the providers and the site’s users, seems to be the way for open-frames to continue to function as it was originally intended to function: as an open as well as active archive.
Images: #1: source: jozeluiz.blogspot.com #2: source: ecuadorciencia.org #3: Mapa del panorama musical obtenido por Last.fm – 2009, source: microsiervos.com #4: World Map of Social Network – December 2010, source: genbeta.com