media, a term heard more and more these days, was apparently
coined in 1993 at the first Next 5 Minutes Festival in Amsterdam,
Holland—a semi-yearly festival conjoining art, activism, media
experimentation and critical theory. The nexus of these discourses
is tactical media. The nexus of tactical media in upstate
New York is seemingly Troy.
Back in March, a group from the arts community in Troy—many
associated with the integrated-arts program at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute—traveled to Chicago to attend the second
annual Version Festival, a media-arts happening that also
doubled as part of the fourth Next 5 Minutes Festival. In
an attempt to decentralize the event, Next 5 Minutes, usually
held in Amsterdam, is setting up tactical media labs around
the world. Version Festival was a tactical media lab.
It was a train-ride discussion between some of the Version
Fest attendees during their trip back home that gave birth
to a tactical-media lab of sorts right here in our own backyard:
Pavilion: Skillshare, Forum, Picnic, the bulk of which takes
place in Troy’s Riverfront Park on Saturday (May 4).
Nathan Martin, Tara Mateik, Andrew Lynn, Annemarie Lanesey
and Tyler Jacobsen have been hard at work ever since that
conversation, making plans and scrounging whatever they can
get their hands on to create an event that better fits their
idea of what a “tactical-media lab” should be—all without
any money. “Right now we’re at $140 total, including our permit
to rent the park,” says Martin.
The five were reacting to their experience at the Chicago
festival, which in addition to having a lot of funding for
a tactical-media event, was not at all conducive to discussion.
People rushed from presentation to presentation, without having
a space to sit down and talk about what they saw and what
ideas came out of their experience. According to Martin, it
was more about showing than sharing in Chicago.
focus should be on discussion,” says Martin, “one of the things
that gets lost at media-arts events.” So fostering discussion
is one of the main tenets of Pavilion, and the organizers
kept organizing to a minimum in an attempt to do so—the less
organizing, the more chance for organic interactions. So,
while there is a schedule of events, the times are flexible.
“Anyone that wants to adjust the schedule can add themselves
in,” says Martin, hoping that the overlap will generate new
The fact that Pavilion will take place in the open environs
of Riverfront Park, free of charge, is important to the organizers.
They desire anyone with even the tiniest inkling that this
event may be of any interest to attend. According to Martin,
he hopes that there will be so many strange happenings in
that area on that day that someone may just want to come and
lot of people don’t feel comfortable or don’t feel like they
should, or could, lead a discussion about what they do,” says
Martin. “I mean a lot of people do really interesting, weird,
quirky things that they should talk about, but they don’t
think they’re important. It’s tough to convince people to
get outside that bubble.”
And while outside the bubble at Pavilion, one should take
the opportunity to explore new and different ideas presented
by already scheduled groups. Such as the Anatomy of a Surveillance
Camera workshop (presently scheduled for 1 PM) by Troy-based
Institute for Applied Autonomy; or Flashpoint, a workshop
about how to turn disposable cameras into mini projectors
(1:30 PM), with Carbon Defense League, also Troy-based. The
IAA will also lead a discussion, Our Robots, Our Selves, presenting
“documentation of their past research in the intersections
of activism, robotics and recreational paranoia.” And the
CDL, along with Conglomco.org, will discuss the Re-Code v.
Wal-Mart scuffle (written about in an April 24 Newsfront).
While a few of the groups attending, including Buffalo-based
Critical Art Ensemble and New York City group Paper Tiger,
will make a journey for Pavilion, the majority are from the
area. “It’s almost entirely regionally specific,” says Martin.
“Which was our goal, too. To try to get people to realize
what they have access to in this area—all the stuff that actually
is going on—and to get to meet new people.”
Some of the other groups attending include Ironweed Collective,
Center for Land Use Interpretation, Women Against War, Department
of Experimental Services, Troy Bike Rescue and Food Not Bombs
Pavilion: Skillshare, Forum, Picnic kicks off on Friday (May
2) with a show at the new Troy arts space 51 3rd St. (see
Noteworthy for information). Saturday (May 3) will see a lion’s
share of the events, at Troy’s Riverfront Park. Along with
the expanding list of workshops and discussions, the event
features a tent with ongoing video works, open-mike areas
and tables set up for the exchange of goods or information.
There will also be roaming artists, such as the Jen Mesch
Dance Conspiracy and Cromagnetron, who will provide caricatures
to those willing. You can even get in a game of foursquare
or air hockey if it suits your fancy.
The iEAR Arts MFA Graduate show at RPI is slated for Sunday’s
(May 4) event. It takes place at 4 PM at West Hall. Go to
www.tacticalmedialab.com for information about signing up
for participation, schedules and the like.