Iterations #5: Operating / Exploitation

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A collaborative work, with inputs by: Mia Melvaer, Maxime Stifinner, Zoumana Meïté, Norbert Math, Iris Torruella Segura, Yoan Robin, Rosa Llop, Geraldine Juarez, Martin Rumori, Louis Rodil Fernandes.

08/11 – 24/11/2019,
Bozar Lab

Tuesday -> Sunday : 10:00 -> 18:00
Opening / Vernissage 07/11 : 18:00

Iterations talks and performance:
07/11 : 14:00 – 18:00, Rotunda Bertouille

BOZAR, Centre for fine arts
Rue Ravensteinstraat 23
1000 Brussels

A computer operating system functions through interacting scripts which negotiate collaboration, instrumentalisation and interaction between connected elements. This exhibition uses the operating system as a metaphor to investigate the conditions for working together. It occupies the semantic space between the English and French terms for it: operating system and système d’exploitation. Operating / Exploitation is the outcome of a group residency in Bozar Lab. It takes place in the framework of Iterations, an investigation into the potential of artistic collaboration in a digital context.

Operating / Exploitation is about the technology of collaboration. Technology in this context is not to be interpreted as ‘high tech’, but refers to everything that can be said about the know-how, tools, skills and techniques that are connected to the act of working together. Operating / Exploitation experiments with collectively shared authorship. It does not follow the scheme of the individual author as an isolated genius, but is rooted in networked culture. The artists working together in Operating / Exploitation consider their collaboration within a larger framework: a common project between several art organisations, which in its turn is part of a European funding program. Their col-labor-ation addresses the relationships and hierarchies between partners and agencies involved. What is the status of this togetherness? Is that ‘labor’ a commonly desired objective or a necessary evil? Is the action aimed at a common goal?

The metaphor of the operating system extends to the way computers can operate between each other and in relation to other systems. To operate a system, of whatever type, is to integrate, use, deploy and exploit material and energy. This goes for businesses, politics or art institutes as well as for humans doing things together. Computer code and software tools are often presumed to do this in agnostic ways, as tools that can be deployed for many purposes. However, they are deeply entangled with social political complexities that are not innocent nor neutral. For example, software needs hardware, a computer, a server, which uses metals, plastics, electricity, bodies that bend over keyboards. Working conditions on assembly lines, the way that electricity is produced, and the violent realities bound to the mining of conflict-minerals such as coltan which is used in electronic devices, is also part of the system in operation. Each time we ‘power up’ our computers we activate these realities.

In June and October, Constant invited several artists to exchange and work together in a collective residency that was hosted by Bozar Lab. The artists shared their practices through experiments, talks, studio visits and common exercises, and further developed the theme of a preceding exhibition that was made by another group of artists in esc, medien kunst labor in Graz, Austria. ‘Collaboration Contamination’ was made by the group that called themselves ‘Common ground’, and consisted of a huge pile of fertile soil that was deposited in the gallery space of esc, from which several elements grew: plants, textile, sounds, interactive motion. The exhibition stated that no collaboration is possible without making time and space for mutual change and influencing.

An outcome from the Bozar Lab residency in June was the decision to work around the conditions of working together. A start was made with a listing of what can be expected from a collaboration. Conflict and friction were considered to be essential notions to work with and were moved to the center of attention. The October residency, which took place in the two weeks before the exhibition opening, elaborated on this notion and developed the installation that is shown here.

Operating / Exploitation develops new languages that arise from doing together, finding out, trying, failing, trying again. Anthropologist Anna Tsing reminds us that ‘Collaboration is only possible through dedication to knowing that, “you are going to be changed in the process.”. The artists engaging with the project have committed themselves to a process of change, of the work, themselves, and the world it inhabits. Working together artistically puts image into action. Collective imagin-ation is doing, acting out while imagining together. It is through working together and mutually influencing each other that we will imagine and give shape to the world of tomorrow that we will inhabit together. If we write that story together and we want to be part of that, then togetherness is the tool that we need to study, improve and distribute. We cannot afford to not find out about its technologies.

Iterations Talks and performance

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On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition Operating | Exploitation in Bozar Lab in Brussels, an afternoon with reflective inputs is organised.

With : Melanie Sehgal, Giulia Deval, Nayari Castillo. Moderation : Shusha Niederberger

Melanie Sehgal : Techniques as Mode of Relating, Thinking with a
Transdisciplinary E
Melanie Sehgal is professor of Literary, Scientific and Media Studies at the European University of Viadrina, Frankfurt. Her talk explores the notion of practice as an ecology (Stengers) in interdisciplinary work, questioning how to practically do this thing that is ’relating’ following ’diffraction’ (Haraway, Barad) as a method used in the project TRANSFORMATION that she developed together with artist Alex Martinis Roe.

Giulia Deval : Phonotrasparence
Giulia Deval is active as artist and researcher in the field of sound and visual arts. Her performance Phonotrasparence uses field recordings, magnetic tape and a sound suit. It reflects on the body as a deposit and transmitter of sounds, an involuntary reservoir and intersection of trajectories determined by a rest or a walk. The work was born during Trasformatorio, the first phase of Iterations held in Sicily, and evolved over time. It started from the concept of “phonotransparency”, the ability of the acoustic fabric to absorb sound by transforming a good part of the acoustic energy that passes through the material into another type of energy, such as heat.

Nayari Castillo
Artist and researcher Nayari Castillo specialises in art in public space that engages with history, time and space. Following examples of artist collectives and collaborations, her presentation will investigate collaboration strategies and modalities of working together, and the common grounds, dialogues and processes they produce.

Shusha Niederberger
Shusha Niederberger is research associate for the SNF funded research project “Creating Commons” based at the IFCAR Institute for Contemporary Art Research, ZHDK. As lecturer on contemporary net culture she is connected to the F+F Schule für Kunst und Desing, Zürich. She works as eductaional program curator at HeK (House of electronic Arts Basel)

  • The afternoon is English spoken. Live translations to French and Dutch will be available.
  • The program starts at 14:00 and runs until 18:00.
  • Followed by the opening of the exhibition Operating / Exploitation
  • Doors open at 13:30, entrance by rue Baron Hortastraat 11, 1000 Brussels, next to Cinematek.
  • Please, reserve through Bozar website:

Collaboration guidelines

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The collaboration guidelines assembled by and for Constant set bouncy delimitations that curve, bend and resituate yet they need to offer protection when needed. In the next months, the window will be turned into a public drafting sheet for these guidelines. Michael Murtaugh developed a colourful LED display which runs through changes in the guidelines while they are being written and rewritten. Please add or remove lines, rules, scores, considerations, instructions, expectations, ideas and codes.

The installation was developed in the context of the European project Iterations, a research-estafette on the future of artistic collaboration in a digital context.

From 26 September 18:00 to 24 November 22:00
Vernissage: 26-09-2019 @ 18:00, Rue du Fort 5, 1060 Brussels

Image: Loren Britton. Won’t You Please Write? (Looking at You), 2017

open call Collective Conditions

Call for participants: Collective Conditions

Collective Conditions is a worksession which experiments with the generative potential of codes of conduct, complaints procedures, bug reports and copyleft licenses. We understand these socio-technical protocols as artistic and activist media and are curious about the role they can play in the (different) imagination of complex collectivities.

By ’complex collectivity’ we mean, for example, non-normative human constellations, or collectives where participants with radically different needs, backgrounds and agencies come together. ’Complex collectivity’ can be self-chosen, or be the result of structural forces such as laws, racism, technology, wars, austerity, queerphobia and ecological conditions.

We will work with different modes of ’writing’ that go beyond typing protocols on a keyboard. We invite you to experiment with codes, rhythms, frequencies, scripts, scores and non-verbal agreements that regulate, challenge, stumble and collide; that pose questions and problems. We articulate conditions using time, material, bodies, spaces, machines, habits, repetition and chance.

The worksession is inspired by trans*feminist collective practices, anti-harassment and allyship-work, non-violent communication, score-making, decolonial and intersectional activism, but also by ways of doing developed within Free Culture and Free, Libre and Open Source software. Collective Conditions focuses on a-polarizing methods, affirmative habits that can stretch and reorient frameworks, that represent new vocabulary, gestures and forms of expression:

  • Making room for support, sympathy, misunderstanding and difference in network protocols?
  • Codes of conduct for servers, collectives, networks, rooms, authors, data, software … that accommodate intra-collective alliances, or multi-species participants from different zones and eras?
  • Considering material circumstances in the formulation of collectivity?
  • Articulating togetherness but not avoiding problems and conflicts, or re-affirming existing boundaries and barriers?
  • Interpreting techno-social protocols as changing infrastructures?
  • Temporary, polyphonic, generative procedures?
  • … ?

Collective Conditions is part of Iterations, a long-term artistic research into the future of collaborative practice in a digital context. Through a relay of residences and presentations, alternating groups of artists work on joint installations with copyleft source material and open source tools. A reflection on the conditions for collectivity is part of the artistic experiments that cross institutions and technological infrastructures. Iterations is subsidised by the European cultural program Creative Europe and developed in collaboration with Hangar (ES), esc medien kunst labor (AT) and (NL).

background material (ongoing)


Constant organises a worksession every six months. They function as temporary research labs, collective working environments where different types of expertise come into contact with each other. Worksessions are intensive otherwise-disciplined situations to which artists, software developers, theorists, activists and others contribute. During worksessions we develop ideas and prototypes that in the long-term lead to publications, projects and new proposals. Auto-documentation and generous exchange of ideas and knowledge is key. For this reason, we prefer to work with and on Free Software and distribute work under Open Content Licenses.


The worksession will take place in Brussels from 8 to 16 November 2019. Participation is free; Constant will reimburse travel costs, and provide accommodation and lunch.

For this session we have room for another 15 participants. We are looking for individuals and/or representatives of collectives, such as: ecological software programmers, copy-left lawyers, intra-performative choreographers, other-autonomous artists, queer network managers, experimental activists, federated composers. Constant chooses participants based on available travel budget and diversity of expertise and experiences.

To apply, send an example of an existing or imaginary socio-technical protocol that interests you and explain why. E-mail the example before 10 September 2019 to and we will let you know by 21 September latest.

Image: TransHackFeminist Agreement

esc-lab-V: 07/06/2019 until 23/08/2019

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Collaboration Contamination | Conformation II: NOI

NOI or Network of Iterations is a physical experiment, which attempts to give sense through an immersive installation to the entire process of ITERATIONS. Based on lines that crisscross and fill the space, the net evokes the relations within the scope of the project. This new conformation keeps some of the anterior elements (sensors, composition, soil) and expands over the process of Common Ground. Among the bands, artists’ voices are represented with unusual embroidered lines — each of them containing a thought around collaboration. The pillars are the point of inflection for the configuration. A maced tunnel invites the observers to interact with the sensors, to perceive and incorporate themselves to the composition, and to understand physically what information jungle means. This game of perception multiplies by adding shadows that mix with the real lines in a more intricate compound.

String Concatenation*: Christian Bader, Nayarí Castillo, Reni Hofmüller, Felicitas Pilz, Ilse Weber, Christopher Wruss

*In formal language theory and computer programming, string concatenation is the operation of joining character strings end-to-end.

esc-lab IV: 04/05/2019 to 26/05/2019

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ITERATIONS — Collaboration Contamination | Conformation I: Common Ground

During ten days of intensive exchange in the physical space of esc medien kunst labor and after a series of online meetings beforehand, the artists come together in a production residency. Different activities, activations, micro-performances, gatherings, recordings, discussions, pad writing sessions, among others, resonate with space. The esc medien kunst labor transforms into a spatial laboratory where ideas around Collaboration Contamination fill the room. As a result, a temporary installation comes to place: real dirt (soil) fills half of the room giving substrate to seeds and plants to grow — a metaphor to constant transformation. Under the bed of earth, sensors (movement and seismic) tell about the behavior of the visitor. The sounds and noises produced by the meandering are incorporated into a six channels sound composition that mixes the new information in an aleatory way with a database.  A moving coconut net filled with microphones and hanging over the center of the space incorporates sounds of its internal contortions to the composition. The atmospheric development is completed by 5 speakers singing a whispering choir.

Subverting the power relations and constructing a new conglomerate within an action, the individual names of the artists disappear, leaving behind just some vowels that formulate a new compound: Common Ground.

Artists: Nayarí Castillo, Antonia Manhartsberger, Norbert Math, Mia Melvaer, Constanza Mendoza, Ulla Rauter, Martin Rumori


Handover Vienna

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18-20.01.2019 Vienna.

Organised by esc-team in close cooperation with artist Nobert Math ( and in collaboration with

As part of the project ITERATIONS between each round of residencies a moment of reflection takes place. During this so called, Handover Meeting, artists from the most recent residency (@Hangar) come together with artists of the future residency (@esc) to exchange ideas and materials. In the form of an information package or artistic production kit, the new round of artists receive some material from the leaving artists.The artists of the upcoming residency in Graz are free to chose wether they will use the concepts and materials presented as inspiration or raw material for the subsequent collective production.

Day One: Arrival

Klangraum Fröbelgasse, the studio of composer Elise Schimana, serves a environment for the first activities of the Handover. The artists introduce themselves and discuss on different topics around practical and theoretical approaches to ITERATIONS, focusing mainly on collaborative practice, cooperation, collective production, etc.

Day Two: Performance / Iterations Bingo

Artists Antonia Manhartsberger, Contanza Mendoza, Giulia Deval, Azahara Ubera, Iris Torruella, Julia Gorostidi, Rosa Llop present their performance Iterations Bingo, previously shown in Hangar on the 14th of November of 2018 in the framework of Paratext #31 and as final result of the Iterations Residency in Barcelona.

Day Three: Workshop and Reflection

The artists of the former Hangar Residency prepared a workshop destined to the upcoming artists and some of the staff involved in ITERATIONS.

During the session several concepts around collectives and collectivity were discussed; in the form of a game different ideas and points of view were presented.

Iterations #3: Hangar

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Iterations #3 took place in Hangar from the 31st of October to the 15th of November 2018.

The participating artists where:

Antonia Manhartsberger‘s practice focuses on the spatialisation of sound as well as the examination of social and political questions referring to space and contemporary technologies.

Connie Mendoza‘s work develops connections between their own vital rhythm (geographical, sentimental and political) and the concept of time, moving through different disciplines.

Giulia DeVal works in the field of vocal research and performing arts into the DIY scene. She is interested in lo-fi sounds and analog devices with the idea of sound sabotage.

Azahara Ubera is an independent researcher, dancer and choreographer inhabiting liminal spaces where dance, sound, pedagogy and activism meet. Her approach to body is from a transfeminist and posthumanistic perspective.

Iris Torruella Segura is a mixed media artist working in education mostly focusing on technology and its impact on subjectivities, starting from a political and social view.

Julia Gorostidi examines the role of subjectivity in the construction and representation of the Self and explores Identity as a product of social structures and relations through videos, performances and installations.

Rosa Llop questions the constructs that pre-define the role of designers in a post-digital society focusing on contemporaneity, on the automation of creative processes and the politics of representation.

Mafe Moscoso‘s work as a researcher and teacher focuses on the exploration of languages focusing on colonialism, scientific method and magic, and trans-migrations.


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26.09.2019 Graz, Austria. 12:00-18:00.

Deepening on the Iterations ideas this third gathering with the austrian artists selected for the residency in esc kunst labor, revolved around communication tools and ways to structure the space during the residency in 2019.

Fundamental point was to establish a suitable exchange digital communication system between the artists. The artists firstly gathered in an amicable circle to visit the exhibition “Distant Skies: Pressure Waves” a collaboration between Kathy Hinde and Daniel Skøglund, the installations, the space characteristics and the museographic elements (windows, fake walls, columns, pedestals, technical reel, curtains etc)  used for the exhibition fired up  the conversation around possibilities and the impossibilities of the space — difficult and versatile, the spatial conditions of esc animate the conversation towards possible constructions. The space is analysed inside-out, previous artistic proposals and space solutions were discussed.

As a methodological move, organised and continuously implemented during all esc_labs, is the moment around the table, eating together generates an open realm for discussion. The group talked about artificial intelligence, ecology and the different ongoing projects.

Understanding the city, the surroundings, the context of the esc kunst labor became an important part of the conversation, the group peregrinated to a second location (, where the laboratory continued. We visited the facilities, with special focus on the apartment that could be used as living quarters for one of the artists during the residency, the apartment has 24H access to the facilities.

A common ground is reached and the group opted for a common cloud, a wiki and eventually a git, the conversation evolved around common programming possibilities and the different languages across the table (PureData, Supercollider etc), the necessity to use open source became imperative. The entire Iterations group appears online introducing themselves to the artists. The day finished by adjusting the plans for the future.


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Opening: Thursday 20/09 @ 18:00

What future for digital collective artistic work? How to stimulate sustainable art practices that consciously engage with network technology, collectivity, communality and difference?

Iterations is an artistic relay which traverses different countries. Artists work together in residencies on open source work that is first shown, and then passed on to be processed by another group of artists. Free software, open content licenses, distributed collaboration and shared authorship are starting points for the participants.

Iterations were initiated by Hangar (Barcelona), esc (Graz), Dyne (Amsterdam) and Constant.

This episode of Constant_V offers an introduction to the project, its principles and its methods. In the vitrine you can also find materials from the first residence that took place in Sicily last May.

Constant_V is a series of small exhibitions with a view on Free, Libre and Open Source culture.

This installation is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.