The 15th edition of Schmiede summer camp in Austria was held from August 29 to September 7, 2018 around the theme “No Plan”—a cooperative prototyping festival mixing the arts, maker culture and digital media.
Rüdiger Wassibauer, correspondence
Since 2003, Schmiede is the world created by participants (a.k.a “Smiths”) in late September, on an island in the Austrian Alps. Once a year, around 300 people from about 20 countries—peers, artists, experts and students in their professions and spheres of interest—come together inside a former salt refinery in the city of Hallein. Over the course of ten days, they experiment, network and present, to an audience but first and foremost to peers, for feedback. The objective is to learn from each other, build trust and find collaborators for current or future projects. Schmiede does not teach. Schmiede provides inspiration and possibilities. Schmiede empowers this process by bringing together the essentials: space, people, infrastructure, food and freedom to explore. Schmiede is open to anyone interested.
Schmiede in 5:20 by Judith Holzer:
Schmiede has as much to do with the moment as it has to do with the process. Schmiede is a place where Smiths return. Each year, about 45% of Smiths are returnees. They stabilize the process and help. 95% of new Smiths were motivated to participate by former Smiths. All this creates a very compassionate and positive atmosphere and sense of belonging. The result is both highly productive and fun. The Schmiede process is as follows: arrival, settling in, networking and inspiration, work and presentation.
Multitude of labs
As Schmiede’s focus is on diversity and collaboration, we have initiated labs and interest groups with designated LabLeaders. Every returning Smith can host a lab. The most elaborate labs are institutional cooperations with universities, companies or nonprofit organizations.
We have gained many alumni during our 15 years of history, many of whom influence the current and coming years. In this context, most outstanding is Uros Veber, who was our contact for Kino Siska during our first Creative Europe project, which was awarded as a “Success Story” by Creative Europe. In 2017, he initiated the process for the Feral Lab proposal (Creative Europe Culture), which has evolved into the Feral Lab Network, a network of temporary dislocated hubs for research in art, technology and communities (of which Makery is also a member). At Schmiede, we expect new impulses and outstanding people to be injected into our already strong maker context.
Tinkering and the maker movement have been a part of Schmiede since 2010. Tinkerlab was launched in 2012 by Korinna Lindinger, Karla Spiluttini and Bartholomäus Traubeck. This cooperation with subnet.at quickly attracted attention and paved the way for the e-Textile Lab, initiated by Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi. Together they recently opened Koba, an eTextile Tailor shop in Berlin. And to round things off, Martin Murer and the Center for Human Computer Interaction launched the StudioDryLab, a destructive tinkering lab for interfaces and user experiences.
But Schmiede enables many different interests. For example, Bartholomäus Traubeck teamed up with Stephan Wiedner and Tammo Claasen to launch GinLab in 2016, and in 2018 he joined forces with Georg Scherlin to create NoseLab, a lab focused on smell, creation and use. All these initiatives have three things in common: interest, experiment, fun. Their real-world applications are for the world to decide.
In 2015, Tinkerlab, or more specifically Romedius Weiss, initiated our first Hebocon. This instant success among Smiths showed us the path to a fun format, in order to overcome general reservations about technology. In the last few years, we have presented this newfound format at Make Vienna, Ars Electronica, Make Munich and Make Ostwürttemberg. Parallel to this, we developed MiniSchmiede.at, in cooperation with dolab.at, a two-day workshop where children disassemble electronic trash and reassemble robots. Genderwise Schmiede is well balanced.
Building around and with children
AdhocLab was initiated by the Adhocrates Collective. Oriented toward street art and urban culture, participants build their world around and with their kids. In 2012, they built a concrete mini ramp shaped like an anvil. In 2018, they created the third iteration of an interactive multimedia pop-up children’s playground. The main idea is to both live and work together with their children—quite a challenging approach, which required them to be particularly flexible as designers.
AdhocLab at Schmiede 2018:
Inspiration comes from Smiths and their many SmithProject presentations, followed by dialogue-oriented talks. Akademie Hallein is about mentoring and best practices. In 2018, we held a round table with experts from all walks of life about the concept of planning. This year’s SubnetTALKs was dedicated to materials as both communicative and functional elements of art production. Sebastian Hackenschmidt talked about the history of materials in art and furniture. Florian Kuehnle picked up the ball and highlighted the process as modern material, the never-ending beta, and how this influences artistic creation.
The Schmiede opening takes place at Kunstraum Pro Arte, where we annually present artists from the SmithNetwork. In 2018, Johannes Löberbauer gave a broad overview of an artist’s life between traditional fine arts and digital arts.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Schmiede is so much more, and most Smiths will tell you different stories, but this is precisely what Schmiede is all about. Schmiede is about what the Smiths want. Schmiede is nothing but an empty space that is kissed alive by 300 people each year to become a pop-up reality and ecosystem for our ideas to play in. Yes, there are parties and it all ends with a workshow that normally features over 75 projects created for this unique night of digital fireworks, but the spirit of Schmiede emerges from the Smiths and their ideas. It is our naive hope that Schmiede will become a festival that decides for itself where we want to go and produces what we want to see. We are working on it.
Schmiede was awarded the Austrian Art Award in 2017.
Applications for Schmiede may be submitted online each year by May 31.
Schmiede is part of the Feral Lab network 2018-2020, a European network of summer camps. Makery will cover the activities of members (and others) through 2020, as well as host its own summer camp in France in 2019. Feral Lab members are: Projekt Atol (Slovenia), Schmiede Hallein (Austria), Helsingor Kommune (Denmark), Bioart Society (Finland), Radiona (Croatia) and Makery (France). Feral Lab is supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe program.