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LABtoLAB is an itinerant university project, launched by the Nantes network Crealab, which has developed a series of workshops over the past two years in various European "labs" to explore the relationship between “art / education / technology”. At a time where knowledge and the economy have merged together, the spaces in the digital creation landscape dedicated to the transfer of knowledge have come be a “neutral territory” we need to protect.
Crealab in 140 characters
In the beginning there was Crealab, a net¬work of associations and collectives in Nantes, born in 2007 (APO33 + PiNG + ECOS + La Fabrique du Libre + Lolab), each if which is involved in the field of art and technology, all with values and opera¬ting methods similar to those of the free¬ware movement. Together, in Crealab, we devote time to the transfer of digital creation knowledge and skills, and set up a travel¬ling, cooperative space for research and creation. A manifesto in under or close to 140 characters.
One of the first activities to come out of Crealab was in the form of the "OpenAtelier" (weekly exchange workshop). These Open-Ateliers are spaces dedicated to work, presentation (of a variety of projects and viewpoints), learning, and practice (testing, prototyping, design), based on open participation; the learners take it in turns to be participants and group leaders. It’s an activity that conducts research (into itself) and evolves in function of the “community of the curious” that gradually takes shape around it. But just who are “they”? The students-participants-group leaders are students, artists, multimedia software developers, workers from the culture industry, members of associations, craftsmen, citizens, web surfers, etc. With the knowledge and skills assembled in Crealab, its members take part in an increasing number of formal and informal teaching activities (from festival or art school work¬shops to university seminars or courses). These situations (peer-to-peer transfer, schools seeking multi-task teachers) are a sign of the rise of a new, intermediary educational arena; and this new arena is a direct answer to the way that internet and digital media have changed the way we produce and exchange knowledge.
From Crealab to LABtoLAB
This realization led to the idea of scrutinizing the educational arena, such as it was emerging within Crealab, via the creation of links with other initiatives. Europe turned out to be the natural scope in which to experiment with a temporary, nomadic university. As for project partners, just as naturally, from lab to lab, along the network, connections snapped into place almost from the start. So when, in January 2009, Crealab invited Madrid’s Prado, Budapest’s Kitchen, and Brussels’ Constant to Nantes, to work on further developing the project, we were immediately met with a number of knowing grins: Nantes has its OpenAteliers on Thursdays, and so does Madrid ("Medialab Thursdays”), Constant has them on Saturdays (the “Samedies”), while Kitchen also cooks it up to an informal sauce ("Open Days").
Popular cuisine, organic university
So just what’s stewing at this cycle of workshops? Well take the first stage, in Budapest, with four members of Crealab, Constant and Prado Medialab in the Kitchen. The participants examine and compare their realities – pointing out differences between the different labs, their skills and know-how, their operations
– both in theory (discussions) and in practice (displaying data, mutualization via a shared web site). Everything plays out organically, according to the motto "learning-by-making". Also on the programme are interactions with the net (live stream) and with the local scene (visits, discussions). New members make the journey, and the debate takes root in the local context, thus adding more pertinence to the question of the role of a lab in the city.
LABtoLAB is far from being a reflection of the diversity of labs that have sprung up in all four corners of Europe. It’s more of a pilot project. It seeks to open itself up to other experiments through a platform for exchange and discussion on the subject of “art / education / technology,” in a know¬ledge society that rhymes with innovation and poles of competitiveness. The subject, indeed, seems to be of considerable impor¬tance, given the different European events that have taken place over the past six months (Grow your own medialab, The Future of the Lab, Labs for a more innovative Europe, etc.) So perhaps, yes, maybe LABtoLAB is something like a “committee to render visible” unique practices.
CATHERINE LENOBLE (Ping - Crealab)
Constant < www.constantvzw.org > Crealab < www.crealab.info > Kitchen < www.kitchenbudapest.hu > LABtoLAB < www.labtolab.org > Medialab Prado < www.medialab-prado.es >
Published in the Digitalarti Mag #1.
Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.
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