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Interview with Adnan Hadzi, Deptford.TV, by Hanna Harris December 27, 2011

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As part of the Finnish Institute‘s new publications series, Hanna Harris edited a book about urban/community TV. It is largely based on experiences emerging from an exchange and mini seminar/workshop Harris organised with Tenantspin at FACT/Liverpool and m2hz in Helsinki. The book will be published in early 2012. Harris interviewed Adnan Hadzi for this edition:

Adnan is finalising a practice-based PhD entitled ‘FLOSSTV – Free, Libra, Open Source Software (FLOSS) within participatory ‘TV hacking’ Media and Arts Practices’ at Goldsmiths College, London. His research focuses on the influence of digitalisation and the new forms of media and arts production, as well as the author’s rights in relation to collective authorship. The practical outcome of his research is Deptford.TV, an online database drawing on and documenting the current process of urban change in Deptford, South East London. Adnan is also part of the artist group !Mediengruppe Bitnik. The group’s artistic practice focuses on media systems, mediatized realities and live media feeds which they manipulate and reproduce to give the viewer a novel and refined understanding of their mechanisms. Adnan and his collaborators ask:

How can broadcasting systems be reconfigured into participative media?
How can media systems be used to provide access to closed circuits?

Here we talk to Adnan about communities, power and experimenting with TV.

1. What do you understand by community media? How and by whom is it produced?

I like to refer to the Critical Art Ensemble’s notion of “electronic civil disobedience” (1996). Community is a discriminatory term, a label, used for minority communities; it is too loaded. This leaves out the power you can assert with media. I don’t see the power in community. There is a political dilemma with “community media”: it becomes about power vs. community media, about empowering vs. taking the power away. That’s why I prefer to use the term “participatory media”, although, recently, this term has become loaded too, espcially with the recent discussions around ‘social networks’. You can allow mainstream media to be there too.

2. You have been hacking contemporary TV cultures with Deptford.TV. What kind of media and TV is being created with Deptford.TV?

Deptford TV is research into media and communication. It is practice-based experimentation, not a community media project. It’s about getting lost into collectives. Deptford TV started in 2005 with the notion of urban change. The community media angle was strong in the beginning. We started with a group of MA documentary students at Goldsmiths and began documenting urban change. We did this by creating and developing database filmmaking. Soon, there was a shift to art practice and participatory media through methods such as video sniffing. Deptford.TV serves as an open and collaborative platform for artists and filmmakers to store, share and re-edit the documentation of the urban change of South East London. Deptford TV is hosted by Deckspace – which is like a hack space with subscription fees for members. Deckspace has an open wireless network, hosts servers and experiments with network activities. As it is very difficult to host these activities within the institutional context of universities, one often needs to step out in order to undertake this research. The open and collaborative aspect of the project is of particular importance as it manifests in two ways: a) audiences can become producers by submitting their own footage and b) audiences interact with each other through the database. Deptford TV makes use of licenses such as the Free Art License, the Creative Commons SA-BY license, and the GNU General Public license to allow and enhance this politics of sharing. Deptford.TV is accessible publically but you need to come to the workshops to be allowed into the database and to get to play around with the database and clips. Deptford TV is research into arts production that engages with those who are interested. It aims to develop methods to enable this. The process is similar to the development of free and open source software. It is about thinking around collectives and collaboration. Up until now the focus has been on postproduction methods. There is potential to focus on distribution: immediate file sharing and live TV. Recently we produced Ali Kebab Live on Air. We experimented by broadcasting live CCTV footage from a local kebab shop. The same material, shown in Linz at the 2011 Linux Wochen Linz, was also shown on monitors 200 metres away from the shop in a gallery.

3. Why is what you refer to as participatory media needed?

It’s about reclaiming TV. It’s about decentralising TV in order to offer the next generation of media a less centralised notion of politics. The Internet is becoming more centralised. If TV becomes less centralised, one could argue that, it will be more difficult for those parties interested in centralising the Internet to do so. First, there is the political aim. Reclaiming TV is about the redistribution of wealth. I’m a big fan of sharing wealth – for me, knowledge production signifies wealth. We should have a big redistribution system going on. The digital networks are good starting point for this. In the light of the digital divide, TV can mean access for all. Second, there is a cultural aim. I talk about post-mortem. We are locking culture away. Where is the benefit for society, for future generations? For us being able to philosophise about life and what is important? Marshall McLuhan predicted this, and it hardly materialised, but maybe the time for bottom up TV is now, the time for reclaiming your TV. Nevertheless when looking into McLuhan one should not forget Raymond Williams’ criticism of McLuhan’s techno-deterministic approach to media systems.

4. What are the future platforms and practices of participatory media?

Open wireless networks might have a future. Operating on ‘many to many’ principles, they are more powerful than having a community TV station. We should focus more on use and on small entities that can network each other. Currently however, the community aspect cannot go further because it is not allowed; we are still under a centrally controlled service system. Under the British Digital Economy Act, open networks can potentially become heavily censored. We are witnessing a similar moment everywhere in Europe.

5. What actions should be taken now?

For Deptford TV, it has become more and more a reflection about culture. The open wireless network needs to be defended. If we are banned from intellectual properties of the past, future generations will not have our culture. This is also why I am interested in database filmmaking. We need to move back to thinking about distribution. Using the model of Deptford TV, I could imagine to set up something like Stratford TV based on a wireless network around Stratford and Hackney in East London and have the tenants “ranting” about the Olympics. Wouldn’t that be cool!

Deptford.TV @ PIKSEL11, 19th November 2011 December 27, 2011

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“The 9th edition of the Piksel Festival took place on November 17th-20th 2011 in Bergen, Norway. The festival was subtitled this year as “re:public” for rethinking and redefining public space, both as a concrete physical space, and in a larger social and political context. As previously, through the nine-year history of the festival, Piksel is firmly grounded on free/libre and open source.” (Tuomo Tammenpää)

Deptford.TV was invited to PIKSEL11 to hold a FLOSSTV workshop. Our main tool for this workshop were video receivers that could intercept the data collected by small CCTV video cameras (often placed covertly in shops, offices and other public/private spaces). The workshop introduced participants to Surveillance and CCTV filmmaking where material and images from the Deptford.TV archive were edited to submissions from the Deptford.TV database. Footage taken from Deptford.TV was filmed during a previous TV hacking workshop where participants equipped with CCTV surveillance signal receivers were lead through the city by incoming surveillance camera signals.

Free Culture Forum 2011 December 27, 2011

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From 27th to 30th October 2011 the third edition of the Free Culture Forum took place in Barcelona. Version 2.01 of the Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge was released n line with the declaration of the UN Committe on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: General Comment Nº17 (2005), the introduction of the charter states:

We are in the midst of a revolution in the way that knowledge and culture are created, accessed and transformed. Citizens, artists and consumers are no longer powerless and isolated in the face of the content production and distribution industries: now individuals across many different spheres collaborate, participate and decide in a direct and democratic way.

Digital technology has bridged the gap, allowing ideas and knowledge to flow. It has done away with many of the geographic and technological barriers to sharing. It has provided new educational tools and stimulated new possibilities for social, economic and political organisation. This revolution is comparable to the far-reaching changes brought about by the invention of the printing press.

In spite of these transformations, the entertainment industry, most communications service providers, governments and international bodies still base the sources of their profits and power on controlling content, tools and distribution channels, and on managing scarcity. This leads to restrictions on citizens’ rights to education, access to information, culture, science and technology, freedom of expression, the inviolability of communications and privacy, and the freedom to share. In deciding copyright policy, the general interest shall take priority over the specific private interests.

Today’s institutions, industries, structures and conventions will not survive into the future unless they adapt to the changes that result from digital era. Some, however, will alter and refine their methods in response to the new realities. And we need to take account of this.

Political and Economic Implications of Free Culture

Free culture (“free” as in “freedom”, not as “for free”) opens up the possibility of new models for citizen engagement in the provision of public goods and services, based on a ‘commons’ approach. ‘Governance of the commons’ refers to negotiated rules and boundaries for managing the collective production and stewardship of, and access to, shared resources. Governance of the commons honours participation, inclusion, transparency, equal access, and long-term sustainability. We recognise the commons as a distinctive and desirable form of governance that is not necessarily linked to the state or other conventional political institutions, and demonstrates that civil society today is a potent force.

We recognize that this social economy is an important source of value, alongside the private market. The new commons, revitalised through digital technology (among other factors), enlarges the sphere of what constitutes “the economy”. Governments currently give considerable support to the private market economy; we urge them to extend to the commons the same comprehensive support that they give to the private market. A level playing field is all that the commons needs in order to prosper.

The current financial crisis has highlighted the severe limits of some of the existing models. On the other hand, the philosophy of Free Culture, a legacy of the Free/Libre Software movement, is empirical proof that a new kind of ethics and a new way of doing business are possible. It has already created a new, workable form of production based on crafts or trades, in which the author-producer does not lose control of the production process and can be free of the need for production and distribution intermediaries. This form of production is based on collaborative entrepreneurial initiatives, on exchange according to each person’s abilities and opportunities, on the democratisation of knowledge, education and the means of production and on a fair distribution of earnings according to the work carried out.

We declare our concern for the well-being of artists, researchers, authors and other creative producers. Projects and initiatives based on free culture principles use a variety of approaches to achieve sustainability. Some of these forms are well established, others are still experimental. The combination of these different options is increasingly viable for both independent creators and industry. There must be clear rules that promote public, sharable knowledge, protecting it from any form of exclusive appropriation by individuals or companies and thus preventing the possibility of restrictive monopolies or oligopolies emerging from this appropriation.

The digital era holds the historic promise of strengthening justice and being rewarding for everybody.

The charter can be found here.

Un Contain? December 27, 2011

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This image was taken by William Uricchio during the ISEA conference. On Sunday the 18th of September 2011 we wanted to visit the main exhibition event of the ISEA conference at Taksim square. Due to a demonstration of Turkish Intellectuals for the ‘Freedom of Journalists’ a heavy police presence ironically completely contained the ‘un contain’ exhibition.

Deptford.TV @ Open Video Conference, NYC 9/11/11 December 27, 2011

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Photo by Sara Hana for the transcript of Slavoj Žižek’s speech at Occupy Wall Street.

Just before the NYC Occupy Wall Street movement started the Open Video Conference opened in lower Manhattan, on September 11th 2011. Adnan Hadzi joined the Open Video Editing Platform editing workshop. Lightworks received a lot of buzz regarding their announcement to release the code as open source, see statement from their website: “In response to feedback from our extensive User base, we have undertaken a huge amount of work to enhance the Codecs and cross-platform support for the Mac OSX and Linux versions of Lightworks. We have been working on these updates for several months and had originally hoped to release the new version on the 29th November. However, we are not yet fully satisfied with the stability of this version with its many new features and therefore we have made the difficult decision to delay its release to our customers. Obviously we are very keen to get the new version out, but we will only do this once we are confident that it meets the high standards demanded by our user community. Therefore, we are holding back on announcing a new date for the full release, but please be assured that we will do so as soon as possible and that we will keep all users fully informed”.

Notes from the Video Editing Platform workshop:

Open Video Editors
Lifecyle of open source editors:
A good reason to not start a new video editor.
What are the dependency for pitivi
Topics for discussion:
* collaborative  video editing
* open video standards
* open document format for video production
* hardware acceleration
* Scripted interactions
* Web interfaces and interchange formats.
Shared format
* Open documented format adoption ( a very successful )
* What about FinalCutPro XML
* FinalCutPro X makes it even harder to exchange formats.
* Pitivi XML format is ~pretty human~ readable.
* Walking through a sample Pitivi xml file
Pitivi overview:
* Gstreamer based (widely supported)
* Gstreamer does not have an intermediate format.
* Disadvantage of intermediate format not all formats are seekable and work well in video editors.
* showing clip editing.
* effects do not yet have key framing.
* New “Gstreamer Editing Services” core coming in with improved performance
** (helps address the intermediate codec issues)
Color space issues (camera codecs locked up)
* gstreamer full support for 4:4:4 color space representation.
* auto color correction undone by video editors like final cut.
* Final cut pro has filters for camaras to normalize video content.
* without intermediate format hard to do this in realtime.
Final Cut XML
Piviti XML
to bring forward to OVA as project – ernest [at] openvideoalliance.org – if there is a possibility to create a consortium for open video editor standards (see open document standart) – but also check what happens lightworks
set up a mailinglist for FLOSS video editors
set up a FLOSS video editors page @ open video alliance [issues page], or within one of the following pages?:

Libre Video Lab opening in Brussels, 14th October 2011 December 27, 2011

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The Libre Video Lab opened in Brussels, hosted by Constant, a Brussels organisation for media art. Peter Westenberg blogged about the opening film screenings on the OS Video blog:

Open Source Video ?

On 22 september, we showed some films in our freshly opened Libre Video Lab, which is part of Constant Variable, Constant’s new lab building dedicated to F/LOSS art, on Rue Gallait 80 in Schaarbeek, Brussels.

We showed some video’s that were in their own way give meaning to the ‘open’ in ‘open source’ video. The shorts Interdit de filmer; Une Mer; Headwar and Pov Mec; by Sarah Pleak, aka Sarah Tohn are made using free softwares such as Kino and Cinelerra and open source codecs and are available under a free license (from: http://www.c3p0o.org/larsselavy/).

Other video’s addressed issues concerning public space, border crossing, notions of identity and freedom, common spaces and collective ownership.

Le Pied by Fred Chemama; and Frontière by Jerome Giller are both released under a Creative Commons license. They were suggested for the evening by 68septante, the super sympa Brussels based organisor of cultural events and publisher of dvd’s that wants to stimulate creative production and exchange between artists and a broad public.

By clapping your hands (up to 25 claps per seconds) you could slow forward the single shot film Barca High Speed by Peter Westenberg, which was projected behind the door of the main room. The film is a portrait of a walk through Barcelona shot as a series of photographs on B/W super 8.

Stéfan Piat showed documentation of his interactive installation Fort Saint-Nicolas and a GPS video collage, reconstucting a walk along the canal de Charleroi in Brussels, using gps data that was captured along the video.

After enjoying some beautiful clips of the work of Stadtmusik , and a quick look at an example from the wonderful slit scan blog, Michael Murtaugh showed some results from MotionCamera, videos made with “motion” & ffmpeg, commandline tools, including Cat Motion #2.

And finally Simon Yuill was present to show his film Given to the People a film telling the story of the Pollok Free State, a Free State initiated by the actions of local resident Colin Macleod, who began a tree top protest against the building of the M77 motorway through Pollok Park, one of Europe’s largest inner city public commons, in the early 1990s. Yuill joined the original VHS footage that was shot at the time with additional interviews that contextualise the actions in an atmospheric account of the events.

For all the video’s goes: yes they can be found on line, but usually some higher resolution exists with the makers. Send a mail if you would like to show something and you think we can help.

Pictures can be found in the Constant Gallery. & Further infos can be found on the wiki.

TV hacking @ Chaos Computer Camp, Berlin December 27, 2011

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Photo by Rasda.

During the Chaos Computer Camp, August 2011, Deptford.TV joined the Dyne village & C-base village for some TV hacking. “The Chaos Communication Camp is an international, five-day open-air event for hackers and associated life-forms. It provides a relaxed atmosphere for free exchange of technical, social, and political ideas” (CCC 2011). Dyne also presented their latest release of the operating system Dyne:Bolic, DistroWatch blog post:

“Denis ‘Jaromil‘ Rojo has announced that a new public beta of dyne:bolic 3.0, a live, multimedia-oriented distribution, is now ready for testing. The biggest change in the new version is the fact that it is no longer built from scratch, but based on Ubuntu (version 9.10) instead. “The time has finally come to look together at what is going to be the dyne:III development cycle for the dyne:bolic operating system, so please, if you have some experience of GNU/Linux desktop systems and some hardware to try it on, take time to look around and comment on these ISO files up for download from some of our kind mirrors. This new major version features a core based on pure:dyne carrot & coriander, cleaned up to be 100% free (no proprietary software, binary blobs, but still there might be something to clean up. One of the technical spotlights under the hood is that we now run on the Linux kernel version 3.” Read the rest of the informal release announcement for more information and download links. Get the live DVD image from here: dynebolic-3.0-beta4.iso (1,661MB).”

Deptford.TV @ Protocol #1 December 27, 2011

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During the Create Festival the Helvetic Centre organised an event entitled Protocol #1, where Adnan Hadzi presented Deptford.TV’s ‘souveillance’ series.

PROTOCOL aims to explore some shifts of the visual regime through a series of exhibitions and talks dedicated to photography. Each event will show the work of emerging talents from the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Following a recurrent procedure, the goal is to offer a laboratory that facilitates exchanges between different fields and audiences. For this PROTOCOL #1 session we chose to work around the notion of Participant Observation; the works of Yann Gross and Bronwen Parker-Rhodes trace the nexus between photographic aesthetics and ethnographic investigation.

Talk series: “Sousveillance”
Guest speaker: Adnan Hadzi (Deptford.tv)
Saturday 16 July, 8pm

Adnan Hadzi’s talk will focus on the nature of CCTV images through the notion of sousveillance, that is to say the recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity. By making visible CCTV images which normally remain hidden, sousveillance is a “surveillance from above” that provide documents to create subjectives narratives of the city. PROTOCOL #1 takes place within CREATE, a unique cultural festival that’s all about taking part.

Create Issue 01 & Issue 02