How to Run an Art School on Open Source

Florian Cramer (Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy), Michael Murtaugh (Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy), Aymeric Mansoux (Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy)
Location: Portland 252
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Open Source plays an increasingly important role in arts and design through Web applications and open licenses. The Networked Media design programme of the Piet Zwart Institute has, for years, employed Open Source more radically for all course work, on servers and clients, with a focus on the command line, coding and FLOSS philosophy to foster rethinking of media instead of off-the-shelf design.

Our presentation will show the advantages and limitations of Open Source in a Master-level art school new media program. Free software for artistic work for us is not about, for example, the Gimp as a drop-in replacement for Photoshop. With its orientation towards programmability, tool chain combination and customization, FLOSS tools – often the small and geeky ones – allow artists and designers to design their own media instead of following a media and design concept pre-coded into a shrink-wrapped application. Database cinema, generative audio projects, participatory television, media-critical web applications, user-generated typography are among the works that originated in our program.

On top of that, open, distributed FLOSS development methodologies provide valuable alternatives to the traditional top-down work flows of professional designers. They may conversely provide some insight for Open Source software developers for the design of future collaborative, networked media authoring tools.

The Piet Zwart Institute published Lawrence Liang’s “Guide to Open Content Licenses” in 2004 and co-published the anthology “FLOSS+Art” in 2009. It is a partner of Libre Graphics Meeting 2010 and works within a larger network of FLOSS artists and designers that include Constant/OS Publishing (Brussels), GenderChangers (NL), MODDR/WORM (NL) and the GOTO10 collective.

Florian Cramer

Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy

Florian is the head of the Networked Media Master programme at the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Netherlands (an school for art and design). He also oversees the design research programme Communication in a Digital Age. His background is Comparative Literature (where he received a Ph.D. from Freie Universitaet Berlin in 2006), the arts and media studies. He is a GNU/Linux user and FLOSS activist since 1998.

Michael Murtaugh

Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy

Graduate of the Interactive Cinema Group of the MIT Media Lab, technical teacher in the Networked Media Master programme of the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, interaction designer for his own company

Aymeric Mansoux

Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy

Co-founder and member of the GOTO10 collective: His main artistic and research interests revolve around online communities, software as a medium and the influence of FLOSS in the development and understanding of digital art. His most recent projects and collaborations include 0xA, a file repository based music project with Chun Lee, the digital artificial life project Metabiosis with Marloes de Valk and the pure:dyne GNU/Linux live distribution for media artists. Aymeric is editor of the FLOSS+Art book (OpenMute 2008) as well as Folly’s Digital Artists Handbook launched in early 2008.

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