Still / Open Forum

Notes from my opening statement as Chair of the ANAT Still / Open Forum held at Digital Harbour, Docklands, 5 September 2007.

A caller to Radio National the other morning was dismayed at the lack of humanity displayed in the security measures employed in Sydney at this time for that spectacle known as APEC… they compared it to the Olympic games where security was extremely high, but wasn’t in your face. It was discreet, as the caller pointed out, protecting the humanity of the event…

I don’t know if one could frame security within the context of humanity, but it is no doubt clear to me, as I am sure it is to many of you, that we are dangerously close to losing our precious dreams and that essential of all human qualities, hope, in the media we so voraciously consume… But the consumed, as we know, are bighting back, as they have done since it was possible to share stories from one person to the next.

To sustain open, frank, collaborative and independent debate in our societies we need open, frank, honest, clear and an independent media… Just as the South Korean Unions were encouraging their members to purchase computers and modems in the mid-90s, a means to support an independent media in the face of a homogenised global voice, so to have artists in collaboration with technologists explored communication tools for free expression and independent discourse from the printing press to the telex, from the fax to shortwave radio, from community broadcasting to the internet where all communications tools are shaping and reshaping the way we consume and produce information…

How do we ensure the means by which we may use these tools to are protected, are not legislated against, are not owned by a minority of stakeholders? We are honored to have with us this evening four practitioners of independent media practice who, through their own projects and organisations, work towards the protection of these rights, to ensure we may dream and hope for a world where difference is not abused, but celebrated.

Our guests, and Facilitators of the Still / Open lab are publisher and media artist Alessandro Ludovico (Italy) editor in chief of the online and print publication Neural; free software hacker and new media activist Andy Nicholson (Australia) who is part of the Engage Media collective; interdisciplinary artist and researcher Beatriz da Costa (USA), and Elliott Bledsoe from the Australian Creative Commons Clinic.

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