Log: Public Library. Rethinking the Infrastructures of Knowledge Production

Public Library. Stuttgart.EXHIBITION / LABORATORY / ‘SCANDROMAT’
October 30 – November 23, 2014
Württembergsicher Kunstverein / Querungen

With: Aaaaarg.org, Documenta:done, Giving What You Don’t HaveHerman’s Library, K_O_K, Library Genesis, Monoskop, One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age, Postcapital Archive, PraxisPrinting Out the Internet, Textz.com, UbuWeb.

CONFERENCE
October 30 – November 2, 2014
Württembergischer Kunstverein and Akademie Schloss Solitude

With: Daniel García Andújar, Dušan Barok, Vuk Ćosić, Hans D. Christ, Sean Dockray, Iris Dressler, GeoCities Research Institute, Jan Gerber, Herbordt / Mohren, Henrik Hillenbrand / Oliver Kraft / Björn Kühn / Anna Romanenko, Olia Lialina, Sebastian Lütgert, Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak, Irit Rogoff, Dubravka Sekulić, Simon Sheikh, Femke Snelting, Cornelia Sollfrank, Felix Stalder, Jean-Baptiste Joly, Sophie-Charlotte Thieroff and others.

A conference about today’s conditions of knowledge production: from the neoliberal politics of education and the monopolization of “intellectual property” to alternative critical and anarchistic ways of sharing and “borrowing” knowledge.

INTRODUCTION:

From October 30 till November 23, 2014, the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart and Akademie Schloss Solitude are carrying out the project Public Library. Rethinking the Infrastructures of Knowledge Production. It consists of an exhibition – which acts in the same time as an open laboratory and a “scandromat” – at the Kunstverein’s platform Querungen (Traversals) as well as a conference that will be held from October 30 to November 2, 2014 at the Kunstverein and Akademie Schloss Solitude.

The project reflects and discusses today’s conditions of knowledge production: from the neoliberal politics of education and the monopolization of “intellectual property” to alternative critical and anarchistic ways of sharing and “borrowing” knowledge.

It is initiated by the free software advocate, cultural explorer, and social instigator Nenad Romic aka Marcell Mars, who was a fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in 2013. One point of departure is his ongoing Public Library-project that envisions a constantly growing, decentralized network of digital libraries based on the open source library application Calibre and the plug-in “Let’s Share Books.” The latter was designed by Mars to connect and share Calibre libraries via the Internet.

SUBJECTS / QUESTIONS OF THE CONFERECNE

The four-days-conference comprises lectures, presentations, workshops and panels with international artists, curators, net activists and theoreticians. It sheds light on the social, economic, and political implications of the existing, changing, and / or disappearing infrastructures of education and knowledge: that is, of libraries, schools, the academic world et cetera. Especially in the “Western world,” these infrastructures are still taken for granted, though we can observe how these infrastructures are increasingly subjugated by the imperatives of austerity suggesting that there is no other solution than privatization.

Oscillating between the “legal” and “illegal”
Open, independent, and (digitally) networked structures of sharing books, films, music, art, knowledge, et cetera, have been established—always oscillating between the “legal” and “illegal”—at least since the mid-1990s. In the meantime, models of “legal commons” and “common properties” that wish to regulate and legalize ways of sharing things had not only been implemented as “alternative agreements” but also controversially discussed, as they still rely on the capitalist logics of property. The conference basically explores those projects and networks for sharing knowledge, which neither accept the increasingly strict regulations of the (increasingly privatized) official infrastructures and systems of education nor the new monopoles of knowledge (Google, Amazon, etc.).

Curating the archive / library
Of interest here are, besides open digital libraries, also artistic ways of dealing with the structures of the archive and of archiving. Furthermore the necessity and criteria of curating open-access-libraries and -collections such as UbuWeb, Monoskop, Aaaaarg.org, Archive.org or Library Genesis will be discussed.

Constructions of a universal knowledge
Another aspect of the conference concerns critical reflection of the grand narratives and projections of “universal knowledge,” “universal libraries,” and other “world projects.” Reaching from the public library conception of the seventeeth century to projects such as the “Mundaneum”—a Belgian utopia from the early twentieth century, which conceived a city that would bring together all knowledge of the world in one flexible classification system—to Google.

Regulations, classifications, hierarchies
Furthermore, the conference aims to discuss the regulations, classifications, hierarchies, and protocols inherent to the infrastructures of education and knowledge production: from the mechanisms and effects of indexing systems or academic curriculums to dualistic relationships such as teacher-scholar, amateur-expert, “server-client” . . . On the opposite side, alternative models such as The Public School will be presented.

„The Public School is a school with no curriculum. It is not accredited, it does not give out degrees, and it has no affiliation with the public school system. It is a framework that supports autodidactic activities, operating under the assumption that everything is in everything. (http://thepublicschool.org)

State responsibility
Besides developing open, decentralized, independent, and/or anarchistic infrastructures, we feel it is at the same time important to insist on the state/public’s responsibility of financing and maintaining access to education, knowledge, and art “for everybody” on a large scale. How could we, from this perspective, imagine future relationships between state-managed macro and self-managed micro structures of education and knowledge?

Something is always missing
At the same time, those “big machineries” of knowledge, discourse, and attention need to be constantly called into question by those structures that arise because there is a lack, because something is missing, and that give voice and visibility to the neglected and unexpected. For, above all, it is not only about the question of access to knowledge, but about how to create, articulate, and bring into play other, hidden, and/or suppressed knowledge.