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Eric Kluitenberg is an independent theorist, writer, curator, and researcher on culture, media and technology based in Amsterdam. He was head of the media and technology program of De Balie, centre for culture and politics in Amsterdam (1999 - 2011), and is editor in chief of the Tactical Media Files, an on-line documentation resource for tactical media practices worldwide. He has lectured and taught extensively a.o. in art and design education and universities in The Netherlands, Europe and beyond.

Recent publications of his include Delusive Spaces (essays, Institute of Network Cultures, 2008), The Book of Imaginary Media (2006), and the theme-issues Im/Mobility (2011) and Hybrid Space (2006) of Open, Journal for Art and the Public Domain.


ElectroSmog: the quest for  'sustainable immobility', and the tele-presence conundrum.

The ElectroSmog festival [1] organised in March 2010, was both a practical and theoretical exploration of the idea of a 'sustainable immobility' - a response to global mobility out of control and the desire to use networked connections to counterbalance the exponential growth of global physical and motorised mobility. The festival was conducted entirely through remote connections, linking up to well over 20 locations distributed over 5 continents and a 20 hour time-zone spread.

Abiding the rule that no one was allowed to travel beyond their regional context while all events always had to be staged in at least two locations, we investigated if it was possible to stage a new kind of international public gathering without the usual travel and mobility patterns attached. The festival spurred a series of highly engaged debates and experimental projects, and remarkably few technical failures, but was unstoppably on track for a frontal collision with audience dynamics.

The outcomes of the festival raised serious questions about the importance of embodied encounter to galvanise public experience and exchange, and the limits of the tele-presence paradigm. [2] These outcomes discarded the somewhat naive idea that the public involvement facilitated by physical encounter could be easily replaced by electronically mediated connections (real-time or otherwise). It became clear to us that a much deeper understanding of the contradictions of new and emerging regimes of mobility and immobility is required to further the quest for a sustainable immobility.  The results of the festival also hold obvious and important implications for on-line learning and distance education.

The first result of the continued investigation of these shifting and emerging regimes of im/mobility is the recently launched theme-issue Im/Mobility of Open, Journal for Art and the Public Domain [3], which builds upon  the outcomes of the festival and has expanded the analysis considerably. This short talk will attempt to connect the findings of this on-going 'quest' to the concerns of the Mobility Shifts conference.


1 - ElectroSmog, International Festival for Sustainable Immobility -
    Documentation resources (including archived web casts):

2 - The text: Distance versus Desire, Clearing the Electrosmog provides a first breakdown and analysis of the outcomes of the festival:

3 - Im/Mobility - Exploring the Boundaries of Hybeprmobility, Open #21, Journal for Art and the Public Domain, Amsterdam, Spring 2011.

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