[Media Architecture] 1+1=3. John Hopkins
This is the third AcousticSpace report on selected actions and flows in the neoscenes occupation (nso)  network. Since the last report  in the Net.Audio issue two years ago, nso has spun off two major networking projects and is constantly involved in a heavy creation-filtering-redirection of network energies on a sustained multi-channel and daily basis. This article will briefly look at these two projects, "expand"  and "<di>fusion" , and it will comment on the matrix of practice that the projects grew from.
One of the biggest obstacles to finishing this article is trying to carve out a piece of time away from network and face-to-face communication just to write it! This fundamental dilemma lies at the core of neoscenes—why take time away from attentive one-to-one distributed action for anything related to re-production, re-creation, or re-presentation? For a network to remain healthy and thriving, it demands a flow of energies from node to node. There's no time to spare. neoscenes prefers person-to-person as the core tactical expression of networking—neoscenes avoids centrally organized media and PR-related activities whenever possible. AcousticSpace is a fine exception because of close linkage between paper artefact and the lively network-of-praxis that generates it.
So it goes.
By nature, networks are human-scaled and exist in human-scaled time. They develop at the speed of life. neoscenes was never a fast solution caught in the cross-fire hype of media-convergence-mania; and it definitely didn't burst in the dot.com vacuum. neoscenes is dot.net . The slow evolution of the neoscenes network is a vehicle for learning, creating, and sharing that does not seek stasis, spectacle, or speed.
neoscenes occupation, as an activated subset of neoscenes, is an international network-building project. nso was initiated in 1998 to facilitate basic situations or happenings that celebrate natural networking tendencies -- creative happenings that generate trust and confidence in personal and idiosyncratic world-views. A key driving concept in the nso implementation is the desire to foster open situations where there are no socially pre-determined or pre-tentious outcomes: where any stream of creative expression is accepted. Deep in these dynamic and unstable situations, these autonomous zones, is where the party begins.
After involvement in the relative insanity of the cafe9.net Euro-project , a centrally mandated cultural manifestation in late 2000 which threw close to one million Euro into a hierarchical pseudo-network, neoscenes was exhausted and disappointed with large-scale top-down "managed" cultural projects. While the genuine networkers who were involved in cafe9.net are still now in productive collaboration, the waste of (time, money, energy, and thought) that occurred as a result of cultural patrimony was a plundering black hole.
neoscenes dove back into more productive venues as an autonomous teaching agent  moving around Northern European universities, academies, and independent media initiatives. Using one particular teaching situation as a base --- a year-long seminar/workshop "networking and creativity" taught at the Media Lab of the University of Art and Design Helsinki—neoscenes gathered a hard-core group of students who had an interest in open learning, human networks, and creative action. Built on and energized by a solid armature of open dialogue, the seminar was driven by a distributed Socratic teaching strategy. The group decided to make a definitive network expression called ‘expand’ in the form of an on/off-line chill party physically grounded at a downtown Helsinki venue, the Meteori Cafe in the wired Lasipalatsi in late May 2001. With minimal lead-time and a budget of zero, lead networker and nso veteran, Mari Keski-Korsu activated a massive local network crew of techno-fans and performers who together created an energized evening of live-streamed audio, video, and performance. expand linked a dozen remote locations including Kiel, Hamburg, Stockholm, Edmonton, Baltimore, Trondheim, and elsewhere, represented by live stream feeds, chat channels, and parallel remix parties. It was everything that cafe9.net should have been and it was clear proof that networks aren't bought: rather, they are grown by activated people who are able to share their life energies openly.
Part of the warm success of expand stemmed from the seminar group participating in a week of activities in Riga earlier in April 2001 around the [NICE] seminar on New Media Cultural Management and the New Media Workshop at the Baltic Sea Region Identity Conference. Things are always electric and in-spiring when networkers come together. The reflections, resonances, and reverberations of that experience spilled over into evolving life-practices of many. And, as hard evidence that a true network doesn't follow the artificial lifecycle of cultural-industry sector spectacle, expand still operates as a functioning (human) network based in Helsinki.
One year after expand, the fourth major neoscenes occupation project, ‘<di>fusion’ took place, this time located half-way around the globe in Boulder, Colorado, where Mark Amerika  persuaded neoscenes to join the network-savvy Techne  research initiative at the University of Colorado Department of Fine Arts. The University never knew quite what was going on when a hardcore group of advanced digital art students undertook a 24-hour live/on-line streaming media party that occupied a large and wired student lounge in the Engineering Building on campus. The Engineering students certainly had never seen anything like it! As with expand, it was an exercise in setting up a temporary autonomous on-line/live space where the participants had the possibility to do whatever they wanted. It kicked off with a live yoga session (after all, we were there continuously from 0900 April 25 to 0900 April 26!), and continued with a wide variety of remix streams from Berlin, London, Helsinki, Kiel, Riga, Melbourne, and elsewhere, along with live music, food, comedy, poetry, network gaming, dj/vj action, IRC and iVisit channels, and a full-time outgoing audio/video mix Real SureStream for remote ambience-sampling.
Several issues dominate the facilitation of projects like expand and <di>fusion, including the relationship of the local network with surrounding social hierarchies, the prevailing world-view of the participants, and the question of how exactly to facilitate autonomy and spontaneity.
The exercise of facilitating such happenings within sometimes onerous hierarchical social settings depends on whether the dominating effects of that surrounding meta-structure can be at least partially rolled back from the collective and individual psyche of participants. As neoscenes has framed it elsewhere:
"teaching is an action, an action that embodies art as a way-of-doing: a life praxis. in a matrix of social structures it formalizes the path of movement of energies between two people, the teacher and the student. at the same moment of this formalization, equal energies must reverse the implied hierarchy of this polarization and exchange the roles of the participants: the forces applied by the social matrix are re-configured or simply discarded. the two collect the sum total of their knowing, rooted in their sensual awarenesses, and bring it to the forefront of relation. the harmonic flow, the oscillation, thus initiated must hold as its frequency the organic synchronicity of the two individuals and the existence of formal structure must dissipate into a Presence of genuine Dialogue. "
Often, neoscenes takes on something of a viral relationship with hierarchical institutional structures, and to some degree this is a functional model. This is in contrast to a position of opposition that often generates static polarity and extremism: autonomous happenings should avoid framed opposition to an existing hierarchy or institution. A far more energizing alternative is for them to generate, through the open-ness of their autonomy, a new pathway and praxis. Generally, neoscenes encourages engagement of the hierarchy at the granular level of f-2-f, human-to-human, where the highest potential for affective evolution is activated. That form of engagement consequently taps into energy flows that were formerly limited to center-out deployment, an effect that ultimately em-powers the individual at the same time as de-powering top-down social structures.
A deep understanding of networking and the contemporary matrix of situated cultural activism requires a fundamental re-framing of world-view that expresses itself in a living praxis and is not simply academic rhetoric. This is the greatest challenge that neoscenes faces when facilitating projects. Over the years of teaching a creative understanding of networks, neoscenes knows that a conventional world-view—one grounded in rigid mechanistic or materialist/consumerist Western thinking—does not tap into or even partially explain the various phenomena of human presence and activity in this era. Somewhere in the space of organic flows of ‘chi’ energy, quantum physics, Taoism, and electro-magnetic fields, there are model elements that are far more applicable, but there isn’t room here for that long dialogue.
neoscenes finds that the only way to develop a robust and relevant alternative world-view is through a long-term praxis of conscious broad-spectrum exchanges of diverse human energy. neoscenes labels this exchange Dialogue, though it is NOT particularly a language-based activity, it is more a fundamental movement and sharing of life energies across all interpersonal conduits—social, physical, psychical, and cultural, among others not linguistically defined. Within this distributed dynamic of Dialogue, a necessary critique of the inadequacy of contemporary models for social be-ing surfaces immediately. By sustaining conditions for distributed exchange, a deeper step follows, one that actually throws out the old ideas, old models, and consciously avoids the construction of new ones. This operation is because models are models, and never are the real thing—they are never the living actions of sensual be-ing, they are never the daily practice—they are re-ductions, re-productions of life. It is in this space of sustained exchangement, the facing of the Other with open self, that true autonomy is rises up.
In premature conclusion, to Lightly remix an old-time Amerikan iconoclast, Ralph Emerson, "Our age is simulation. It builds on the protocols of the fathers. It modifies codes, programs, and interfaces. Generations before beheld the Other face to face; we, through their surveillance monitors. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the network? Why should we not have a stream and dialogue of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the remix of theirs? As we are carried for a time in this sensual presence, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the energy they supply, to action, why should we search among the overwritten drives of the past or put the living generation into a simulation of its simulations? The sun shines today also. There are new nodes, new humans, new thoughts. Let us demand our own networks and paths and protocols."
BTW, forget artifactual outcomes anyway. When the network is powered down, and packet-transfer suspended, the assessment of the "success" of one of these network-based projects is made qualitatively by the energy that is left over, the surplus of life-energy that the participants are left with. It is true—in a situation where there is open exchange, dialogues between each node, everyone ends up with a surplus of energy and inspiration—that is the definition of creativity, a third movement of energy arising from two open flows.
Here are some supplemental points to consider, while approaching the un-model-able Void:
· a network is a multiplex locus and matrix for creative action.
· a network is a set of pathways for the transmission of creative energies.
· a network is an expression of the human condition.
· a network is community.
· a network is an anthropomorphic presence.
· a network has place, it is a site with scalable characteristics for distribution and concentration, dispersion and collection, it is in a constant flux of change.
· energies moving within a network undergo complex transformative/translational mappings from node to node: resistance, control, and fear distort these nodal relationships.
· historical contexts replete with socio-political cruelties, economic genocides, patriarchic homophobias, and other step-filters of the human state are simultaneously variable and constant presences within energized network mappings.
· a protocol is a sustained code system capable of carrying meaning and of being understood by all nodal points within a network: network requires embodied protocol.
· mediation may be defined as the range of means by which energies are packaged and moved between the Self and the Other.
· energy equals (gravity related to quantity) multiplied by the (speed of Light consummated within itself).
· humans are capable of an infinite variety of expressions of energies that flow through their bodies.
· a primary process in life is to attain the proper orientation and embed in a dynamic matrix of energies flowing through the body from the Infinite to the Infinite.
· understanding energy systems and energy flux requires sensual awakening and awareness: a revealing vision.
· any process that is able to incorporate in a systematic or apprehensible way the energies that flow from the human body is a technology.
· new technology is as old as language.
· language is a meta-tool, it is a meta-technology: a systematized meta-medium that cannot mediate the creative energies of the human being.
· we are born alone and we die alone but exist primarily in a presence filled with critical momentary collisions with Others, pay attention to each one.
· monologue, a unilateral expression of internal energies, is one means to transfer energy from Self to Other across temporal spans. what about the return of energy: listening, in time?
· one bridge across a networked space is called communication.
· dialogue, as a general term for the packaged dipolar movement of energy between Self and Other, is, by nature, a powerful means for transferring energy across space, given the focus and concentration of the two participants.
· every crossing-of-paths/sharing-of-energies with an Other should be treated with the greatest possible seriousness of purpose and Lightness of humor.
· a flow of dialogue is a field of activated energies mapped over a living network. it is a generator and source for creative flows.
· by measuring the energy at two nodes in a life continuum and finding the difference in energies between the two nodes one can determine the potential energy of the situation.
· creativity may be defined as the directed, attentive, and expressive movement of energy through the body—with one tangential result being the external manifestation of a form that exists in time and/or space. it is not discontinuous. and it is bound to equal cyclic conditions of loss, destruction, decay and dissipation.
· creativity is flux, movement, and energy unbound to location in space and time. codifying or describing this movement only causes the perceptual substitution of creativity by a re-presentation of it.
· genesis is the expression of the raw creative, pro-creative, re-creative, and active potential of life
John Hopkins, Boulder, Colorado, USA, November 2002
John Hopkins is temporarily located in Boulder, Colorado, engaged in teaching at the University of Colorado, Department of Fine Arts in the Techne creative research initiative.
For information about the neoscenes occupation project, the listserv, or if you are just interested in participating, you can email him at email@example.com