amber’14: “Decentralization”

This year, amber’14 Art and Technology Festival is organised in a fairly unusual way. What you’ll be witnessing will be a “no call”, “no budget”, “no center” festival which will feature autonomous projects minimising the need for central organisation. Under the topic of Merkezsizleşme / Decentralisation, amber’14 hosts a sum of self-organised and self-financed microeconomic projects allowing amberPlatform to take a step back from its central organisational position.

The concept of „Merkezsizleşme / Decentralisation“ as studied by various disciplines and discussed within different contexts also sets the ground for a number of methodologies expected to provide potential solutions for crises encountered in many different grounds today.
> In the context of political organisation, central and hierarchical state structures of multi-ethnical origin that evolve towards federal organisations based on subsidiarity, forming integrated state systems as well as the transformation of the concept of nation into a symbolic-imaginary alliance (the society);
> In the context of urban planning and urbanisation, “decentral concentration” as an axial development methodology previsioning the systematical integration of the periphery ( various problems based on infrastructure or rooted in ethnical, economical, or social origins) to the center with the expectation of development;
> In Informatics, “decentral networks” the communication and networking of computers based on a multi layered nodal system replacing the model of hierarchical data flow and allowing for a faster and control-free online traffic that withstands central intervention;
> In automatisation technologies, “decentral periphery” the realisation of complicated tasks by distribution to a number of external electronic calculators in order to form a coordinated structure.
> ”Decentral energy production”, the establishment of small-scale plants and other alternative production networks fairly close to end-consumers, so that infrastructure and distribution problems are resolved. System theories of philosopher and mathematician Edmund Husserl that provoked discussion and inspired many media artists, current debate centered around post-anarchist theories, recent efforts to formulate alternative micro-economies of production and exchange around DIY strategies outside the system and apart from the center, urban population trying to live on the fringe of the central/authoritarian system are just a few of the many examples within this framework.

Today, it is widely accepted that the control over the distribution channels of information is spread to a wider ground and a broader audience. Thanks to telecommunication technologies, we are now the active users of information networks that provide operational possibilities through decentral channels. Whereas in the past it was only about data distributed by state-oriented or power-controlled media, today’s communication systems, on one hand enable NGOs, individuals, or other organisations reach a wider public, and on the other help us voluntarily provide traceable information to the power center. Grand scale media corporations rely on the profit that they make by selling our profiles and private data collected through user services that they provide for free. All the commercials that pop-up on our screens and all the spam that we receive are tailored according to our personal profile and the target audience that we are placed in. Now the consumption market knows about us in fairly direct ways. The data that we generate can be sold, used to distinguish and target individuals that fall outside the realm of the dominant ideology, or to organise and consolidate supporter groups with more efficiency. While demanding participatory democracy and speaking of the democratisation of communication, we are not able to escape the Orwellian prophecy of 1984, in which individuals scrutinised under the gaze of “Big Brother”, keep feeding “Big Data” by the very content that they create.

In the context of amber’14, amberPlatform formulates the following questions and takes a step back to leave the stage to creative projects and contemplative minds: Is the current system (social, economical, ecological) based on central authority able to foster political decisions that support our lives, creative capacity and production? How should we formulate our organisational vision regarding the future? If we presume that a no-center, no-focus system without the sanction of power is possible, how can this structure be transformed into an all embracing, functioning social mechanism. What kind of a communication network and through which channels, should the components of this system formulate? Is art eligible or powerful enough to be able ask such questions? What kind of cultural and artistic models can be proposed within this context? Can the public sphere transform into a peaceful “piazza” in the absence of power-centered control mechanisms?

What kind of a social structure needs to be designed in order to host decentralised complementary units/structures standing in solidarity with each other? How can a communication platform formed around this? How can elements of cultural, ethnic, sexual, social or traditional diversity come together and constitute a non-hegemonic living space together? What role does innovation, technical and technological progress play in conceiving the system and life in general? How can a social system envisioning peace and multivocality be designed with regards to culture, arts and technology?

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