There is a tendency in our society to favor a professional working force with specific properties: flexible, swift to respond to changes, willing to be informed / reformed and re-trained if so desired. The traditional vision on working life positions the process of learning before the professional carreer, and this birth, school, work, death logic still applies to most working situations. But increasingly the relationship between learning and work has started to blur and has become less linear. Workers are now often required to regularly update their skills, to stay informed, to keep in touch with their field and to listen to what is going on in remote corners of their profession. Digital tools and the integration of technology in our daily life offer new perspectives in terms of knowledge production and distribution. The marriage between the free market and the Internet seems to tick all boxes of a society looking for technological answers to its socio-economical problems. Clearly new ways of learning, less formal, and maybe uncertificated, are on every organizations’ mind. ’Knowledge exchange’ is a valuable tool to increase an organizations’ viability. LABtoLAB is rooted in this context. As workers in a quite specific branch of the media art field, we feel there is a need for new spaces, other types of institutions and informal initiatives that are open for the participation of anyone. Spaces (and by ’spaces’ we don’t mean only four walls and a roof) that take advantage of the hybridisation of specialism, that dare to tick outside the box and that are willing to create a critical approach to the culture of technological work.
LABtoLAB is cooperation based. It is in these informal spaces where we locate our research, where we try to expand the notion of the contemporary ’media lab’. A testing ground where we investigate, explore, discuss, describe and enhance its values. LABtoLAB exploits ’in-between spaces’. Unlike clearly paired opposites such as amateur-professional, beginner-expert, art-science, success-failure, fields of operations such as experiment, improvisation, playing, collaboration, tinkering are open to be re-appropriated for multiple purposes. They continuously re-position themselves in the in-between and serve as a sand box, a testing ground, a drawing board for the improvement of media related skills and professions.
A media lab is a tool in the middle, a mediator, a space that can be openly approached, that can serve as a breeding ground, an incubator of thought and experiment. The lab positioned in the ’in-between’ has a bridging function, it functions as a connector space. By situating our workspace ’in between’, we explicitly attribute mediating values to our practice. Furthermore, LABtoLAB partners share an interest in free/libre open source software tools. Some partner organizations work exclusively with F/LOSS tools out of ideological reasons, some have a more liberal approach and mix proprietary and F/LOSS software in their work. We acknowledge the huge potential of F/LOSS software for artistic and educational purposes and engage in its production and use. The most important aspect of F/LOSS and the Internet is its cultural significance. How it has affected other spheres of culture and society.
In a way, LABtoLAB participants could be seen as a ’community of curiosity’. A community that involves members of organizations that are curious to learn from each others practice. Also within our groups there are different expertises to learn from, since many people connected to LABtoLAB are at the same time teacher, student, DIY amateur and specialist. We are artists, cultural operators, project managers, educational programmers, workshop leaders, researchers, trainers, computer scientists, administrators, mediators, and as such we can learn from our mutual perspectives. LABtoLAB is a demo that prototypes a network between laboratories-organizations looking for challenging fields of exchange through art, education and technologies.
→ Click here to know more about the LABtoLAB project history.
LABtoLAB project is supported by the Grundtvig's Life Long Learning Program