Eric Kluitenberg on Tue, 2 May 2000 00:58:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Announce: net.congestion - International Festival of StreamingMedia

dear nettimers,

Please find herewith the first general announcement of a new festival
"net.congestion", entirely devoted to the artistic and tactical use of
streaming media, which will be organised in Amsterdam in the beginning of

We are interested in proposals both for on-site contributions in
Amsterdam, as well as remote contributions via the net. 

kind regards,




		International Festival of Streaming Media

		Amsterdam, October 6 - 8, 2000


The Streaming Media Festival is the result of a collaboration of a broad
coalition of Dutch and international cultural organisations, artists and
media tacticians. The festival is devoted to new forms of broadcasting and
live programming that have emerged around the Internet ("streaming
media").  The festival presents and explores the use of streaming media as
an artistic and tactical medium, i.e. the points where artistically
challenging work and socially relevant content meet. The main venues will
be Paradiso, De Balie and De Melkweg, creating a unique festival
infrastructure around the Leidse Plein in the heart of Amsterdam. 

The festival will be a showcase of the most exciting and innovative
artistic and tactical streaming media projects from around the globe. The
program includes performances, concerts, club events, public presentations
and debates, the media-bank a public hands-on walk-in media space, walk-in
studio's that give the audience a chance to see the artists and
technicians at work and interact with the live programs as they are being
made, workshops and seminars. A large part of the festival will actually
happen in the media; on the Internet, in local and national radio
broadcasts, via cable television, satellite, and any other available
trans- national medium. 

Besides a public event and meeting place, the festival will also provide a
platform for a professional exchange of ideas and experiences. Various
artistic and tactical communities who work with new media, but who do not
regularly meet each other will be brought together. The aim of this
meeting point is to give new incentives to these communities, and to
create new lasting structures for co-operation and the development of
fresh ideas and improved technology in this field. The festival will
facilitate a cross-point where representatives of the cultural field and
the main-stream industry can meet to learn about each others ideas and
exchange mutual experiences. 


In the past few years there have been a number of interesting junctures
for thought and discussion about streaming media in a cultural and
artistic context. 'Horizontal radio' by Kunstradio Wien ('95) was probaly
one of the earliest cross-overs between radio and in the arts.
In 1998 Days (Berlin) created the first major forum of this
kind. From this landmark event a number of successful gatherings followed
including 'Sync or Stream'in Banff (Canada), Art Servers Unlimited
(London, 98), The Acoustic Space - 56 hours live at Open X (Ars
Electronica, Linz, 98), and Xchange Unlimited (Riga, 98). Those present at
these forums were largely from and communities such as
the Xchange community. They brought together ideas and experiences to
share with other practitioners. However, it has always been apparent that
at these events the necessary infrastructure to work in an ongoing
collaborative way was missing. It has also been true that these groups
have been unable to access resources that would raise the profile of their
practice within the public sphere. 


The Streaming Media Festival is aimed both at a larger audience of people
interested in the arts and media, experimental music, club culture and
related fields, as well as a professional audience who are already
engaged, or interested to become engaged, in this rapidly developing
medium. The organisers have set the following aims for the festival: 

- The festival provides a platform primarily for the use of streaming
media as an artistic and tactical medium. 

- The festival will focus strictly on streaming media, both audio and

- The festival brings image (video / film) and sound (radio & sound art) 
communities together, who now operate largely in separate domains. 

- In the tradition of the famous Amsterdam Next 5 Minutes conferences this
festival sets itself a particular aim at bringing together artistic form
and socially relevant content and practices around streaming media. 

- An interlocked series of public events will structure the program, that
will happen simultaneously in the physical locations in Amsterdam
(Paradiso, Balie, Melkweg), on the Internet, in local and national media,
as well as through a series of remote events that connect live & on-line
to the festival in Amsterdam. 

- The field of documentary film making is an area where streaming media is
already playing a (minor) role, which is expected to expand rapidly in the
coming years. The media-arts and tactical media communities, and the
documentary film makers do not usually meet. This festival attempts to
create a lively exchange between these communities. 

- The boundary between media-culture and club culture and alternative
music culture is of particular importance. They provide not only an area
of vibrant activity around streaming media, but also introduce a notion of
social space at the intersection of physical space (the clubs) and the
media space (the net). 

- Aside from those already involved in net casting, the festival should
also stimulate the awareness among traditional video and media artists of
the implications of digital video and streaming media. 

- The festival should also act as a cross-point between the various
artistic and tactical communities and initiatives and the main-stream
developments in the new media industry and those groups and individuals
who define their future development. 


After the Internet survived the Y2K prophecies almost flawlessly, the
stage now seems set for the transformation of the net into a main-stream
medium.  In less than 10 years after opening up to private users, the
character of the Internet once again is changing dramatically. Part of
this transformation are the continuously enhanced graphic capabilities of
the World Wide Web, but even more so the new forms of micro-, narrow- and
broad- casting via the Internet that have emerged in recent years. The
generic name for these new types of live media programming via digital
networks is called Streaming Media. Similar to discussion groups and
mailing lists before, these new types of live programming via the net
could be set up relatively easily by independent groups of net.
enthusiasts, or even by individual experimenters. 

These new open distribution channels, typically spurred frantic activity
in arts and music communities around the planet, leading to novel media
formats as and, or web-tv. This early artistic
activity was quickly followed by a tremendous interest of tactical media
initiatives, who work in a more decidedly social and political context. 
Finally also the club culture scene, media-artists, and even documentary
film makers began to experiment with the new streaming media. 

This early phase of experimentation now seems to come to a close, making
way for a new stage in the development of the Internet; the fusion of old
and new media, most notably of Television and the Internet. With
television becoming digital from recording and production to distribution,
and the Internet being enhanced with capabilities for delivering live
programming, it became more or less inevitable that the two would come
together.. The striking announcement of the mega-merger of Internet access
provider America On-Line and media conglomerate Time Warner on January
10th of this year, no more than illustrates this process. This and other
so called "deals of the century" represent the marriage of 20th century
broadcast media brands to 21st century delivery systems. Behind these
developments lie the technologies of streaming media. With this new
transformation towards a main-stream medium, also main-stream interests
enter the net. 

Dilemma's and opportunities

On the one hand countless new opportunities emerge for distributing live
content via digital networks. The main-stream breakthrough certifies
continued technical development and interest for the new medium. The
danger of marginalisation of the early innovators, however, is equally
real. The Streaming Media Festival offers a platform where these artistic
and tactical initiatives can reposition themselves, present and share
their excellent work, and meet and exchange with the people who shape the
future development of streaming media, both in the main-stream as well as
at the edge. 

Right now, streaming media is at an interesting crossroads. The tools,
which are being utilised by streaming media producers in the cultural and
commercial fields are almost the same. The main differentiating factor
between these two groups is the content, and the way the content is
presented. This is a new phenomenon. 

This is the perfect moment for streaming activists to gather. The moment
to confront the fact that although these developments represent great
creative promise they also threaten to destroy everything that gave the
net a natural bias towards principles of participation, collaboration and
distributed authorship. The internet as a space for new forms of freedom,
a zone in which radical cultural forms could emerge from new social
processes could be overwhelmed by the production and consumption of
spectacle. The emancipatory potential of the internet is in danger of
being snuffed out by being transformed into a classical broadcast medium,
neatly dividing producers and consumers. 

Only two years ago cultural and artistic groups such as Xchange
experimented with the medium and were well in advance of industry (at this
time there were not many commercial streaming media enterprises apart form
those creating player and encoding tools). Developments such as the Radio
Internationale Stadt's content database "Orang", Heath Buntings World
Service, Interface Pirate Radio, and 'self.e x t r a c t i n' by r
a d i o q u a l i a were exciting technical and conceptual innovations of
the technology. 

Recently, however, we have experienced a very sudden change - mp3 is now
the most widely searched term in search engines, replacing 'sex' for the
first time in the modern public history of the Internet. This curious fact
heralds a new era of public interest in streaming media. Additionally,
there has been an increase in sophistication of streaming media
technology, and bandwidth accessibility is growing fast. These
circumstances have yielded an unprecedented growth of commercial streaming
media enterprises and their propriety innovations. 

Unfortunately the cultural and artistic communities have not continued
their initial rapid development, and we are quickly seeing these important
initiators and innovators, who were once leaders in this field, being left
behind by main-stream developments in the media-industry. As actors in
this field and organisers of this festival we feel that this is not a
necessary course of development. We rather see a an increased urgency, and
a wider window of opportunity for artistic and critical exploration than
ever before. The festival wishes to create an innovative platform for



For this festival the events happening in the media space are equally
important as the events taking place in the real physical space in
Amsterdam. The online aspect of the festival will be both a reflection of
the activities in real space and an event in itself.  The web site
accompanying the festival will be an 'event', with a large collection of
streaming tools for the public to experiment with, documentation of the
content collected for the festival, the content itself, and information
about streaming media. 

Streamed Events

All the public discussions will be streamed live for free access over the
internet. In addition we intend to have online participation by invited
remote guests. These contributors will present their work or thoughts to
the panel discussion by way of live streamed video and audio, direct to
the presentation rooms. 

Hybrid Broadcast Events

The festival would like to follow the model for hybrid broadcasting as
established by DDS' Virtual Media Lab. Within a small but open environment
we wish to melt different streaming and broadcasting media, to form hybrid
outputs online, on air, and via satellite. The public is welcome to occupy
this space while this occurs, and of course there will be plenty of
opportunity for participation by the online public. 

The output of these hybrid broadcasts will also be displayed throughout
the festival venues, both visually and audibly. 

Remote Participation

The festival is organised in close co-operation with a large and very
international community of artists, media producers and activists
scattered across the planet. It is obvious that it will not be possible
for all these people and groups to visit the festival in person. The very
nature of the festival, however, turns this liability into an opportunity.
T he net offers manifold possibilities for remote participation in live
events, for re-mixing, co-creation, and mediated presentations. These
remote contributions on-line will therefore add an important decentralised
dimension to the festival. 


A unique festival infrastructure in the heart of Amsterdam will create the
backbone of the streaming media festival. The famous concert and club
spaces Paradiso and Melkweg, and De Balie - centre for culture and
politics, all located within two minutes walking distance from each other,
will be the main venues for the festival. These venues will host a diverse
series of public events and presentations. 

Concerts, performances and club-events

The cross-over terrain between new music, dance and club culture, and
media culture is investigated through a series of club events, live
concerts and performances. Live programming via the Internet is becoming
highly popular in club and concert-spaces. The performance and club events
will bring together high profiled performers from the contemporary music
and club scene, as well as young innovative musicians, sound and
performance artists who produce challenging work in this new field. 

Walk in Studio

A walk in studio for broadcast and streamed representation of the real
space events will be created for the festival. The public is welcome to
walk through this space and observe the artists and technicians at work. 
The aim of this studio is to reduce and demystify the live content
production process and offer the public the opportunity to see and
understand this process. This studio will be located in an open public
space in one of the three festival venues. 

The Media Bank

The media bank offers the visitors a chance at a first hand experience of
streaming media in various formats. A centralised collection of PCs is
connected to a central server, for the public to select and experience
streamed audio and video material. The content collected will include
artists works and also some demonstrative material comparing different
streaming technologies and the quality they produce at high and low stream
rates, ranging from the average home situation to professional broadband


Besides the concerts, performances, walk-in spaces and club events the
festival will contain a series of public debates and presentations
intended to provide a wider culturally literate audience with an insight
and background information about the recent developments in streaming
media.  Which new forms of broadcasting via the Internet are emerging?
What kind of artistic work is being done? How can streaming media be used
in a social and political context? What new forms of information
dissemination emerge?  These public presentations will include: 

Artist Presentations

Leading individual artists and artist collectives around the globe will be
invited to present and comment their work, but this program will also
feature works of young artists and promising new initiatives. 

Panels and discussions

Some of the preliminary topics that have been suggested for the public
panel discussions include:
- How we consume media?
- Web Documentaries
- Tactical Streams
- The Narrative
- Medium vs the message
- Who needs an audience?
- Mainstream Content
- Free Speech
- The Industry


The workshops and seminars are primarily intended for practitioners and
hence will require a base level of understanding of streaming media. As
one of the important aims of the festival is to provide an opportunity for
streaming media organisations and individuals to develop their practice,
we wish to offer moderate and advanced courses. The workshops will be
moderated by invited international experts, who will also have the
opportunity to propose additional themes for these workshops themselves. 

Preliminary topics suggested for the workshops and seminars include:
- 	Streaming Media: The basics
- 	Legal Constraints
- 	Video and Audio Codec Performance
-	Players
- 	Customised Players
-	The Power of the database
-	Technical Workshops (software  /  hardware  / standards)


De Balie
DFM rtv Int.
HKU - Faculty for Media & Technology, MFA/PHD Program
Kunst En Televisie Stichting (K.E.T.S.)
r a d i o q u a l i a
Radio 100
De Waag


Initial Concept:
Adam Hyde


Adam Hyde   <adam>
Eric Kluitenberg  <>
Honor Harger
David Garcia


Lucas Evers (co-ordination)
Justin Kniest (Paradiso)
Kees Brienen (Paradiso)
Boris van Vorstenbosch (Melkweg)


De Balie
c/o Lucas Evers / net.congestion
Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10
1017 RR Amsterdam

Tel. +31.20.553 51 51
Fax. +31.20.553 51 55



Rachel Baker (.uk)
Steven Bradly (.us)
Andrew Bullen (.nl)
Heath Bunting (.uk)
Ted Byfield (.com)
Martin Conrads (.de)
Micz Flor (.de)
Menno Grootveld (.nl)
Heidi Grundmann (.at)
Manse Jacobi (.com)
Zina Kaye (.au)
Susan Kennard (.ca)
Tetsuo Kogawa (.jp)
Geert Lovink (.nl)
Manu Luksch (.at)
MauzZ (.nl)
Drazen Pantic (.net)
Gordan Paunovic (.yu)
Jesse Reynolds (.au)
Mike Riemel (.de)
Pit Shultz (.de)
Rasa Smite (.lv)
Marleen Stikker (.nl)
Toek (.nl)

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