Medialab Prado’s Interactivos?’16 program celebrates a decade of nomadic activities in Madrid—offering an abundant mix of workshops, seminars, demos and an exhibition, where DIY and open source become art.
Madrid, special report
Ten years have passed since the pioneering formula created in 2006 Interactivos? by Medialab Prado in Madrid. Already awarded by a prize Ars Electronica in 2010 for its “capacity to offer a unique context for collectively creating interactive installations”, Interactivos? first came up with the concept during two workshops in 2005: “Making Things Move” (led by Zachary Lieberman) and “Arduino: Open Hardware Tools” (by David Cuartielles).
How can we develop exhibition-ready projects in just two weeks? How can we transcend the conventional workshop model, where a group of teachers teach and a group of students learn? Medialab Prado invented the Interactivos? model, where the participants of a workshop are themselves the group of experts sharing their knowledge.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, Urs Gaudens (Gaudilabs), lecture at Interactivos?’16, May 31, 2016:
The desire to share horizontally led Interactivos? to design a hybrid series of “stations”—a mix of tech demos, theoretical seminars and places for exchange. Selected projects are developed, prototyped and exhibited on site, as a way of making the creative process totally open to the public. For the 2016 season, eight projects were prototyped during a workshop from May 31 to June 12. Three others will be developed during a residency this summer.
In 10 years, Interactivos? has seen a generation of makers go by. The class of 2016 has no shortage of ideas. We find again Byron Rich and Mary Maggic’s Open Source Estrogen, which we covered here. “Our objective is to collect water in Madrid and measure the presence of xenoestrogens in the samples,” Mary explains. “We would also like to meet transsexual communities that consume estrogens.”
Conveniencely Yours by Indonesian artist Andreas Siagian from Lifepatch focuses on $1 convenience stores. Siagian was interested in these cheaply made objects for their hacking potential. Sound toys can be used for circuit bending, cosmetics are perfect for biohacking, mirrors become the raw material for a synthesizer, mosquito-repellent skin lotions become glue, skin-soothing oils clean plastic or erase permanent ink…
Mirror hack, “Conveniencely Yours”, Interactivos?’16:
Spanish artist Oscar Ardaiz’s Balloonizer also plays with a common consumer item: balloons. The project aims to build complex structures from balloons, using a gun that inflates the balloons continuously and glues them together, and to develop a software that converts any 3D object into a grid of balloon-pixels.
Stations and summer exhibition
For the workshops’ complementary “stations” at Interactivos?’16, the Rare Endophytes Collectors Club (RECC) from the Center for Genomic Gastronomy invites visitors to lead a DIY bio experiment collecting and isolating endophytes, fungi that live inside plants. RECC is a chance to debate the issues of discovery, naming and patents in scientific research (endophytes are at the core of new applications in agriculture and pharmaceutical research).
Also on the program is building a photobioreactor from spirulina, the nutritious green algae, repairing a vintage Reprap Darwin 3D printer built at Interactivos? 2009 (or how to learn from the first open source models of 3D printing).
The question mark in Interactivos? refers to “the pseudo-interactivity that in reality only results from a choice from among a few limited options”. True interactivity is expressed through collective creation based on the tools of open software and open hardware, according to the director of Medialab Prado, Marcos Garcia, reaffirming his DITO-DIWO (Do It Together, Do It With Others) approach.
Before coming back (soon) to this question in an interview with Marc Dusseiller, this year’s mentor alongside digital artist Chris Sugrue, we recommend reviewing the seminar on June 9 around “creative communities in open software and open hardware”, with Hans-Christoph Steiner (Pure Data and The Guardian Project), David Cuartielles (Arduino), Chris Sugrue and Marc Dusseiller (Hackteria).
“Creative communities in open software and open hardware: practices and challenges”, seminar, Interactivos?’16 (in Spanish and English):
More Interactivos?’16 projects on Medialab Prado’s YouTube channel