By Marcos Garcia, Catherine Lenoble and Peter Westenberg.
This collaborative text, Laboratories of the in-between, was written for the Future of the Lab book, published by Baltan Laboratories in Eindhoven, 2010.
You can see here the draft version of this document.
The Future of the Lab, edited by Clare Butcher, Angela Plohman
Baltan Laboratories, English, 2010.
After the establishment of the MIT Media Lab in 1985 the concept of a "Lab", meant as a space for research and experimentation with technologies and media in general, has evolved profoundly. If in the beginning the lab was a privileged space to use unaffordable tools, increasing access to technology has resulted in a shift towards the sharing of skills and visions as the primary focus. In its initial mission to research a sustainable Lab of the future, Baltan Laboratories organized an international meeting of experts in 2009, gathering thirty-five participants from various media labs, including experienced organizations from all over Europe and beyond. This book is a valuable outcome and is not simply a collection of texts, or a big report of the discussions. It presents a few commissioned texts (including a history of Labs by Edward A. Shanken), details a number of innovative concepts explained by the respective labs and explores the output of an unconventional "mapping" session, where ideas and thoughts were graphically composed. In addition, it provides a few case studies, including the cooperative project LABtoLAB, a network among five Labs. The effort to establish a larger and working network of Labs would provide a terrific infrastructure and the combination of a geographically broad network with local roots and involvement can make a real difference for users, better embodying a Lab’s function as an "interface for knowledge and learning." "The Future of the Lab" is more than a predictive book; it can be used pragmatically as a sort of theoretical handbook, capable of inspiring the generation of Labs while informing about work already completed.