Having lived in Arabia and working for Creative Sustainability programme in Aalto ARTS, my commute was often no longer than literally two minutes. This morning, the short walk was not enough as I was invited to work with Andrew as a micro-resident of Pixelache |ˈpɪks(ə)leɪk| for the week as they are working on a series of event on Food-Info-Activism for September 2013.
Pixelache is an organically developing, transdisciplinary platform for experimental art, design, research and activism in Helsinki, Finland. Organised by non-profit association Piknik Frequency Ry, it consists of an annual festival in Helsinki, as well as experimental art-science and technology productions, an educational programme called Pixelversity, residencies and other activities since 2002.
Pixelache Festival has its long history and has reputation as a professional event internationally, which has dynamically developed its content and contexts. It has been the largest electronic arts festival in Nordic region, and is part of an international network of festivals focused on open-source culture.
Having started mainly with electronic arts in its inception, Pixelache has evolved to include experimental interaction and electronics, renewable energy production/use, bioarts and art-science culture, grassroots organising and networks, politics and economics of media/technology, alternative economic cultures, VJ culture and audiovisual performances, media literacy and engaging environmental issues as its interest areas over the years. Taken together, it sounds like, at least to me, sustainability discourse through participatory art form and activism in digital era.
In the past years Pixelache and its staff have found themselves increasingly involved in food related discourse. Pixelache has initiated a network and organised a seminar on Herbologies/Foraging (2010), installed a Windowfarm in Kiasma art museum (2010), co-organised groWorld bazaar with FoAM (2011), Open Data Cooking workshop (2012), a Coop Camp focusing on food-related cooperation (2012).
What’s great about my micro-residency is that Pixelache does not have any specific agenda in working with me as this is not a production-driven one but a rather experimental and organisational one in order to explore what strategic design can bring to the table for activities of Pixelache. As for me, this week will be a very nice vacation from my doctoral study and Beyond Beef Finland panel discussion both of which I have been too close to for quite a while. However, my intention naturally will be somehow embedding my research and the panel discussion to the upcoming event in September if possible.
Besides the topical area Andrew and I will be working on this week, I have become very much interested in where Pixelache office is located – Suvilahti and its neighbouring area. We took a nice short walk to Restaurant Vanha Kalasatama where many of the construction workers come to have lunch. Right next to the restaurant is the coal-fired Hanasaari power plant that not only generates electricity but also provides district heating to even where I live. This power plant is still included in the development plan, but many speculate that the power plant will likely be gone in a few decades as the site around it is being developed to be one of more expensive residential areas. The food was affordable and fairly good, and the view was magnificent – no wonder there is strong drive to redevelop this area rather that giving back to the nature.
I have spent most of the day absorbing what Pixelache has been doing in the recent past and where it can go from here. Also, the burdensome question of “what extra strategic design can bring to Pixelache” remains untouched as I would like to broaden up the question a little more than what I have been doing myself as well. Please come back for my reflection on the micro-residency by the end of the week.