Pixelache Micro-Residencies

Catherine Lenoble, Meta-Resident

Residence Diary from 19-26 february 2012, hosted by Pixelache Helsinki


Sunday - arrival under the snow...

Welcomed by Nathalie and hosted at her lovely place.

Offering her "local gifts" : red wine from Saumur (my father's birthplace), Bière du Bouffay - the beer that makes the pride of Nantes, and a poetry review including book-s & audio recordings, published by a collective I'm part of, Ce Qui Secret.


Monday 20th February

Co-Developping the residency, session 1 with Nathalie + lunch @ Cable Factory

First exchanges with Nathalie, what's up since our last meeting in june 2011 at LABtoLAB@nantes & Mal au Pixel Paris ?

We simply started from present times, actual situations. Both have observed reconfigurations of organization and orientation in our respective structure, due to movements (some people left, some new people joined) as well as changes at a local and national level in terms of fundings system, policy making, new alliances on territories.

In few words...

In Helsinki : new dynamics have appeared : the World Design Capital (WDC) has favored the gathering of alternative initiatives under Alternative Design Capital (ADC) among others a local network of fablab-like projects ; the Open Knowledge Foudation based in London and composed of 'local chapters' and groups work abroad will be descending in Helsinki for a week-long celebration - Open Knowledge Festival - bringing for the first time Open Government Data Camp and Open Knowledge Conference to the same place ; or Tuunaamo project initiated by Dodo to set up a permanent place within the future City Library to offer facilities and equipement to tune, recycle, repair materials and gather users from different ages, areas, backgrounds and motivations. So, from what I heard and what I read, Helsinki city seems indeed to be in the midst of a "urban Finnish renaissance" that for sure reconfigures networks, relations, partnerships and opens new perspectives for the actors, included Pixelache.

In Nantes, new alliances are at stake as well, as a new centre within the centre has emerged, based on an 'integrated development project', all in one a political, urban, cultural and economical project : l'île de Nantes (Island of Nantes). As a global phenomena, l'île de Nantes is the ideal place where to attract and cluster creative of all board in a dedicated area : "The Creative District" (all in one : universities+art+entreprise+++) and its big year event "2012 Voyage à Nantes". Of course, the Creative District should host sooner or later a FabLab. And this was not at all written even a year ago, as nobody knew what a FabLab was/is. It seems now in the mouth of every local decision-maker.

That's not so surprising to find Nantes & Helsinki/Tampere, partners of a european project, actually initiated by Nantes Metropole, together with other big eu cities (Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelone and Berlin) untitled ECIA : « The European Creative Industries Alliance ». With a 1,6 millions euros budget, this new network intends to explore the possibilities offered by the digital economy and the development of an innovative economy, and by doing so, to reveal creative industries as a major sector of the Europe2020 strategy's growth.

Well, this would explain later on, reguarding my week agenda, why I wanted to meet Juha (who initiated ADC and organized recently Fab Lab City Helsinki meeting) and some actors from the scene : Aalto FabLab and Dodo, to understand their position in this new "political game play". (And so we also spent time this first morning to check out my agenda, my transport pass, my temporary finnish phone card, to be completely autonomous to move aroud during the week).

After this exchange on local contexts, we started to discuss precisely about Pixelache's new situation from september 2011 and actions planned throughout this year, observing also how it affected the 2012 budget. Less money invested on "event" (from Pixelache yearly international festival to a new format, a 2-days camp, more « regional », inviting neighbors'countries) and more distributed money for yearly educationnal program (Pixelversity) and community art project (Suomenlina Money Lab). And 1% part of this yearly budget, to activate this new micro-residency program. What Nathalie has called initially 'learner-in-residence' program.

Finaly from the first day, the first session, this name was in a certain way problematic, offering only one aspect of potentiel exchanges. This program intends to favor peer-learning exchanges, mean that both part involved – Pixelache team & the resident – will take advtange of this stay : times to discuss about statements, to exchange about views and matters, to listen to each other's current projects and offer advice and support, to draw future collaboratives and worklines from this thoughts. That's how we came quickly to the point that the name should be changed for micro-residency program as it was more about working on micro-aspects of the residency concept itself, and according to the guest and refered topic tackled in each residency, a new denomination could be proposed each time. We agreed to name it a meta-residence.

Visits & meetings in the afternoon

After this first morning brainstorm, I moved from the Cable Factory (former Nokia factory) to another factory, Media one, where is located the emerging Aalto Fablab. From one point to another , I enjoyed a big slice of town by tram. Media Factory is a big complex including : university, Arabia museum, shops etc. I stopped for a while in the shop, don't know why this time (I've already visited Helsinki 2 times before), I got interested and paid attention to finnish design more than ever. Particularly kitchen furnitures. Maybe I love the simplicity of the form and patterns. Maybe all this media attention on WDC had reason of me...

In Media Factory, I was welcomed by Anu Maattaa and Massimo. Menichelli They introduced me to the place still in construction, exchange about their orientation and future offer reguarding their location within Aalto University, their organization and upcoming agenda (opening in september, hosting part of Okfestival program). Andrew Paterson from Pixelache joined us and slowly the discussion slipped to the local context, what about the other Hack/Make/Fab labs initiative in town ? We've been talking a lot a about pop-up initiatives, one in particular, a great finnish initiative called Restaurant Day, which knows a big success through social networks.

In another place, another time, Andrew introduced me to the Pixelversity yearly program, how it has favored a ground to support initiatives proposed by Pixelache members, like Antti and its Trash Lab. It was great to hear that these educationnal activities open up new horizons, new partnerships and territories. This was quite clear that we had a lot to share reguarding our recent experiences, convinced that somehow these non formal practices allow to invent new cultural production models.


Tuesday 21st February

Co-Developping the residency, session 2 with Nathalie + lunch @ Cable Factory

We based this second session on the issues raised the day before : if the residency could change of name and subject, the referent within Pixelache team could change as well. This would also means that Nathalie would stay anyway a contact person for each resident as the program's coordinator. This leaded us to detail all what we've been doing before the residency to document the process for the next referent & resident : Nathalie sent me some documents in advance about Pixelache to get to know the organization and have access to its archive. This would form the KIT pixelache basics (portfolio) in which you could find other documents according to the resident's interest (in my case, Nathalie shared with me a text about Pixelversity written by Andrew recently and links about mapping issues they currently work on). We agreed that this residency KIT should be augmented after each residency with documents brought or produced. We had also to think about transmission forms : how to share with others informal exchanges ? How to leave a trace, deliver ideas and thoughts, without a pressure of production? How to keep continuity, dialogue, and contents sharing, between the residents ?

We started to figure out some terms, i.e : the last day of the residency should be dedicated to reporting and the resident would report on 2 different platforms :

-a booki has been opened to be used as a common diary, each resident will be invited to write a new chapter, to report her/his agenda of the week

-on pixelache blog, resident will be free to choose his/her own mode of sharing/abstracting thoughts (text, audio file, video).

A photo album will be open as well on Pixelache Flickr. And this material would contribute to augment the KIT. For this residency, I would add to initials material prepared by Nathalie, the following elements :

-a text and series of maps about L2L project

-maps of Grundtvig schemes

-texts and maps shared by Minna



Coming back to this referent's notion, this would also raised the question of reciprocity. If possible - but no obligation in that sense - a « residency back » would be considered. It means that if the resident is a member of an organization that offers facilities to host for a week one member of Pixelache, this exchange could be discussed as well during the residence, to identify a person within Pixelache team/network, a topic, and to consider the economical aspect (as for now, Pixelache has funds as an « hosting organisation » not a sending one). In this first case, the proposal stays open. It has to be discussed with PiNG members to figure out topic, period, room at disposal etc (the financial aspect could be solved if one Pixelache member would apply for a Visit&Exchange grundtvig scheme).


Public presentation

I visited an exhibition at Cable Factory presenting works from roma artists, mainly drawings and texts overwritten on finnish maps, and then prepared my own maps in the perspective of the public presentation.

Not many people but great exchanges while exploring the L2L maps, detailing the un/visible process of this meta-project. We followed the discussion with the screening of L2L documentary film around a glass of wine.


Wednesday 22nd February

Present/Future resident exchanges

A skype meeting was with Melinda, the next resident, at Nathalie's place. We had already a lot to share with her, starting by synthetizing our exchanges and first bricks we have fixed.

Melinda's residence will be again the possibility to test immersive format as she will come during Camp Pixelache and as the topic has already emerged around food. Reguarding the backrgound and interest of Melinda in that field matched with a workshop during Camp Pixelache about Cooking and Open Data, was easy to connect the two. But this would be the occasion to consider the notion of food related to hospitality within cultural organizations as a general workline for Melinda. Finally, as Melinda is also leaving Kibu (!), she would like to propose a discussion to raise issues about cycle of life within cultural organizations during her stay. What coins perfectly with our realities.

Visits and meetings

In the afternoon, I had a coffe at Juha's place. Juha explained me the way he currently interacts with new actors through his job at OK foundation and activities around ADC that he initiated. But I have to say that it has lightly derivated on our own evaluation after we left our respective positions... Matters of digital identity/presence... Seems that now Juha he's a more « local person » active on FB. Still I didn't take the FB option hm...

And I had the last coffe of the day with Taika Ilola from Dodo. She introduced me to Dodo organization, philosophy, project and future agenda. Their Tuunamoo project, mentioned above, sounds really great, again we had a lot to share, comparing experiences and trying to find dodo's peers in France.

Thursday 23rd February

Visits and meetings

Meeting Minna Henriksson, finnish artist, in her studio downtown. Minna has a nice approach of mapping artistic scenes, including gossips. It was a great encounter, starting with gifts, offering each other our books (Mapping Cultural Scenes / Mapping Medialabs in Europe), and it was easy to connect ideas and experiences. What we shared most was a sense of critic towards eu cooperation project and funding system. Hope it will still allow us to express ourselves and do the project that we want to do (Minna got problems to get fundraised by certain institution after publishing her maps...).

Practical session

Working on new maps – Grundtvig schemes. Sharing a maximum of tips with Andrew and Nathalie to figure out an economy for Pixelache an related activities and projects (Pixelache network, Pixleversity etc).


Friday 24th February

Reporting Day ! & sauna !


Saturday - Reporting, touring, shopping and concert.

Sunday - departure





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