ElectroBlog: News about the ElectroSmog Festival

January 16, 2010

Designing for Immobility – Amsterdam & on-line, January 21, 20.30 CET

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Thursday January 21, 20.30 hrs (CET)

De Balie, Amsterdam

The world-wide mobility explosion is an enormous challenge for designers. How can we convince people that current forms of continuous mobility are no longer ecologically sustainable? Should mobility simply be made unaffordably expensive? Or can we design viable alternatives

As a prelude to the ElectroSmog festival De Balie in Amsterdam will present a showcase of design proposals, practical projects and design-ideas that should persuade us to start moving less.


Read the report by John Thackara over on the Doors of Peception Blog.


With on-line and on-site contributions by among others:

John Thackara, director of Doors of Perception, the international conference and knowledge network which sets new agendas for design, will highlight design projects that try to tackle the question of mobility reduction.

Costas Bissas, researcher at  Distance Lab, Forres (Scotland), will present the specific focus of his organisation on networking rural and remote area’s. The relevant question for the ElectroSmog festival  is whether we can live in a sustainable way in the green and still connect to the rest of the world, culturally and economically?

David van Gent is a managing consultant for IBM on Learning Strategy & Technology, Virtual Worlds, Serious Gaming & Web 2.0. He will talk about and demo the Virtual Offices project of IBM, using open SIM technology (similar to second life):
( See for instance this CNN item )

Eric Kluitenberg, head of the media department of De Balie and initiator of the ElectroSnog festival, will present the concept behind the festival. Besides exploring the critique of mobility theoretically, ElectroSmog will also address the issue practically. All international presentations in the festival will be realised by means of tele-connections between the different international locations.

Jeroen van Schaick, PHD researcher on ‘Time-space and urban design’ at the Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology provides feedback, comparing design proposals with actual finding from research on mobility patterns.


Please note: The presentation of the project “In the Air”, by the Medialab Prado, Madrid,  “a visualisation project which aims to make visible the microscopic and invisible agents of Madrid´s air (gases, particles, pollen, diseases, etc), to see how they perform, react and interact with the rest of the city.”, has been shifted to the festival in March.

Live & Interactive:

This program will be streamed  live on the internet – for details please refer to:

Chat with us and other viewers at De Balie online chatroom:

You can also watch this live event together with other avatars at the Meta.Live.Nu Roof-Theatre in the virtual world Second Life:

datum | Thursday 21 January, 20.30 hrs.
language | Engels
entrance | free



January 4, 2010

ElectroSmog General Announcement

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International Festival for Sustainable Immobility

Amsterdam / New York / Madrid / Helsinki / Riga / London / Banff  / New Zealand / Munich / & on-lIne
March 18 – 20, 2010

About the Festival:

ElectroSmog is a new festival that explores the concept ‘Sustainable Immobility’ in theory and practice. Sustainable Immobility is first of all a critique of the growing global crisis of mobility. Current forms of hyper-mobility of people and products in travel and transport are  ecologically increasingly unsustainable. The will to slow down, however, seems thoroughly absent. The economic crisis may have temporarily slowed matters down, long term projections still point towards exponential growth of worldwide mobility and exploding energy needs.  Alternatives for the current state of hyper-mobility  need to be designed urgently.

The exploration of Sustainable Immobility is a quest for a lifestyle less determined by speed and constant mobility. A lifestyle that celebrates stronger links to local cultures, while at the same time deepening our connections to others across any geographical divide by means of new communication technologies, instead of physical travel.

The ElectroSmog festival will engage one of the main promises information age: that communication technologies can replace the need for physical mobility and thereby contribute directly to ecological stability. Our increased tele-connections would lead to a more rewarding deep local lifestyle (homework in the electronic cottage) and to richer connected experiences with the rest of the world (the global village). While these promises have existed since the dawn of the information age, they were never fully realised. The  expanding mobility and energy crisis requires us, however, to re-examine these promises and find out how to turn them into viable life-style choices.

ElectroSmog will not take the underlying premises of the information age for granted. We want to ask questions such as:
Are increased electronic connections truly more energy efficient and ecologically sustainable?
Do they lead to new forms of  electromagnetic pollution (electrosmog)?
How can the revitalisation of the local be combined with a responsible global consciousness?
How can remote connections become a truly rewarding experience in and of themselves?

Technology alone is never the answer. We are looking for both technological and non-technological solutions to the central question of the festival: How can a sustainably immobile way of life be achieved?

Bringing together a broad coalition:

The ElectroSmog festival brings together a broad coalition of designers, environmentalists, urban and spatial planners, technologists, artists, theorists, and engaged and concerned citizens, to explore and ‘design’ sustainable immobility.

ElectroSmog is a truly international festival, with everything you might expect: international debates and discussions, performances, art projects, exhibits, site specific projects, screenings, design competitions, and more.  ElectroSmog stakes its claim for a radical break with the current systems of hyper-mobility not simply by discussing the issue, but by actually implementing it.

No Travel Allowed!
Connecting the local off-line with the international on-line.

The very concept of an international festival and its traditional conventions has been rethought and redesigned from the ground up. This has lead us to a few basic ground rules that will apply for all festival events:
– No presenter will travel beyond their local or regional boundaries to participate in this event.
– All festival events will always take place in at least two locations connected in real-time.
– A crucial dimension of the festival will be its on-line presence, where audiences from basically anywhere with an internet connection can follow events on-line, join in discussions and debates, visit virtual theatres in metaverses such as second life, and contribute to the program.

A network of accomplished cultural and new media centres, labs, theatres and other public venues work together to create the local ‘hubs’ that will inter-connect on-line for the festival.

Beyond the broadband enclaves:

ElectroSmog acknowledges from the start that bandwidth is not equally distributed across and within societies. Therefore remote connection to lower bandwidth spaces, do-it-yourself telematics, and information technologies for the majority world will be one the central concerns the festival will address.

Themes explored during the festival include:
– Global Views on the Crisis of Mobility
– The Promise of Ubiquity: Being everywhere at once, while staying home
– Designing for Immobility
– The Changing Path of Food to our Kitchen Table: Food and Global Mobility
– Do-It-Yourself Telematics: Technologies for everybody else
– Aesthetics of Distributed Space
– ElectroSmog is Good for You!
– Tyrannies of the Real-Time
– Going Slow: Private Agency Towards a Sustainable Immobility

The preliminary festival program will be published on February 1st.
Updates on festival preparations and news will be published at the festival news-blog and website at:

International Design Competition:

ElectroSmog has initiated its own design competition for the festival  for young designers, artists, students, and professionals to come up with design scenario’s, life-style proposals, prototypes or demo-designs for sustainable immobility.

The competition invites proposals, scenario studies, demos, prototypes or other innovative ideas to in response to the question: How can we design sustainable immobility?

The winner will be awarded eternal fame and a fully equipped residency, generously hosted by the Banff New Media Institute, to execute her or his ideas.
For details please refer here.

Technology Transfer and Content Follow-up:

ElectroSmog will make extensive use of existing and open source technologies that will be integrated in a re-useable web environment, developed in collaboration with the Cool Mediators Foundation and De Balie in Amsterdam.
The technical processes will be documented in a post-festival documentation workshop organised with the innovative Floss Manuals organisation, resulting in a freely downloadable manual and a print on demand publication available from the Floss Manuals website.
The outcomes of the discussions, debates and theoretical seminars will lead to an international follow-up publication, currently under negotiation and planned for the Fall of 2010.

ElectroSmog Partner Organisations:

De Balie, Centre for Culture and Politics, Amsterdam
ADA – Aotearoa Digital Arts Network, New Zealand.
Eyebeam – Art + Technology Center, New York.
Banff New Media Institute, Banff.
Medialab Prado, Madrid.
RIXC – Centre for New Media Culture, Riga.
Chelsea College of Art and Design, London.
m-cult- centre for new media culture, Helsinki.
Hivos – Humanist Institute for development Cooperation, The Netherlands.
Floss Manuals – Free Manuals for Free Software, (international network).
Engage! Tactical Media, Utrecht.
Cool Mediators Foundation, Amsterdam.
Department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam

Further enquiries can be directed at: info@electrosmogfestival.net

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