F/LAT - Free/Libre Art & Technology

Platform for education and research in free/libre arts & technologies

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Motivations and context

In this beginning of 21th century, the art field is transforming, corresponding to the changes in society, in Belgium and elsewhere. One of the main forces of this transformation is the development of Information Technologies, that have profoundly modified the production mode as well as the means for transmission and exchange. These changes are only at their beginning…

We are seeing the emergence of a culture based on values of collaboration and information sharing, rather than competition or immediate profit. This culture that is still expanding, takes its roots in the digital networks. It is within free and libre software movement that this paradigm is born and it's now percolating in broader cultural, technological, social and economical fields, encouraging emancipation of culture and knowledge and clarifying the methods to guarantee its diffusion and durability. We now speak about free/libre culture in reference to the definition of free/libre software by Richard Stallman and the FSF, but now extended to other domains of culture and knowledge.

F/LAT is a space for education, development and distribution following these principles.

F/LAT is a meeting point, where students, artists and researchers from different disciplines can learn and develop tools and usages related to these new technologies, within the field of creative artistic workshops driven by this cultural, technological, social and economical paradigm.

F/LAT is a system of tools materializing these new “techno commons” in the field of artistic practices.

The goal is to create this space and the group of actors as

  • a space for research and experiments (F/LAT.dev)
  • an international school (F/LAT.edu)
  • a space for networking and activities (F/LAT.tmp)

by and for artists and with the intention of

  • gathering the means, nowaday scattered in individual and often orphaned experimentations, to create a critical mass more strong and durable.
  • encouraging the transmission of collective knowledge instead of techno isolation
  • blooming projects that are often kept as intention notes because of the lack of know-how
  • beyond pure technical or artistic fantasies
  • beyond the secrets of miracle makers and magicians
  • so digital art can be as accessible as drawing


It's a big work space with a bit of a twist.

The space must at the same time host:

  • many spaces for temporary experimentations
  • a space for meeting and networking
  • an open office
  • a system of servers connected to the Internet
  • a storage space
  • an access to the exterior (roof, garden, etc.) for antennas and other equipments

The experimental spaces will be used for:

  • research and teaching
  • research done by co-opted artists in residency all along the year

A semi-permanent installation in the space permits an idea to appear, evolve and transform within it's own time and space, to then later disappear by integrating the next research.

The place has no dedicated space for show and presentations, but must be seen as a modular architecture in a global aesthetic project. Each part of the space is supposed to be the theater of an aesthetic experiment. It's a big artistic workspace.


Free/libre software and hardware

To guarantee the perpetuity of the outcomes from the different activities, teachings and researches, all the techniques and projects must be based on methods and software that are free (as in free speech) and open, using open standards.

Use and study of proprietary (privative) software and materials are not totally excluded, as long as there is no replacement, that the use is limited (time and space wise), and that the finality is necessarily free and open.

“Students, this class is a place where we share our knowledge. If you bring software to class, you may not keep it for yourself. Rather, you must share copies with the rest of the class — including the program’s source code, in case someone else wants to learn. Therefore, bringing proprietary software to class is not permitted, unless it is for reverse engineering practice.” ( R.M.Stallman, in http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/09/why-free-software-is-more-important-now-than-ever-before/ )


The activities are defined in relation to their practical feasibility and transversal subjects, and not in relation to a discipline or classical category. There is no distinction between the interpretation of an improvised musical piece and the execution of a painting, except maybe in regards of the tools used and the questions of temporal and synchronism of the result. The same questions arise to everyone, in diverse order. This multiplicity of point of view is a richness we have to cultivate. F/LAT is a place where the boundaries between arts fade away, become porous and fertile (ex. between arts “for the stage” and art “in the workshop”) We have to acknowledge that in the digital world everything is data, and that we can conceive a graphic image from the dynamics of the choreography of a dancer, a sound piece from painting, elaborating a dance as a video game, etc…


F/LAT is a space of research, learning and sharing. There is no institutionalised hierarchy, nor grade. Only functions assumed by individuals (hoppefully adequate to the task). Tutors and animators are there to help advancing the group and people that come to F/LAT to learn together, to mobilise and make interactions with the people that have the adequate knowledge to share with the projects. Are encouraged : experimentation by try and error, collaboration and retroaction as mode of interactions. The goal of this teaching is to go forward on the personnal prospective by constructing the collective know-how. So we work on open projects, sometimes collectives, and some long term. Do-It-Yourself / Do-It-With-Other

F/LAT articulates around 3 interconnected axes :


(research and development in art and techniques )

A program of research in residency, for periods of 6 months to 1 year, articulated within the scope of the interdisciplinary program. Development of transversal tools, usable in multiple artistic contexts, and development of the usages of these tools that will shape themselves in a loop-back process. Crossing techniques and technology, artistic experimentations based on generic tools to subvert and transform them. Collaborations with other groups of technicians (ex. university labs, hackerspace, fablabs, artis collectives, etc… )

This space is here to offer a place where ideas only evoked by the technical research can become real artistic experiments, impossible to develop in a context of a real production scenario. To have the preliminary researches permit ideas to fix themselves on the adequate tools.

More on this field


(scholarship / tutoring)

A group of students (or considered as such) is taken in charge part time and guided during a period of one year through their own projects. Each tutor is following personally 2 to 3 students, meetings are organized between the students regularly, and with other professionals on punctual basis. This scholarship is not actually substituting to a classical cursus, but can be part of it (with an agreement from the main school of the student)

The practical program for each student:

  • 1 meeting / week with their tutor, during one afternoon and with 2 or 3 students of the interest.
  • 2 + meeting / month with all the students, an interdisciplinary meeting to share the advancements of the projects.
  • 1 + meeting / month with a researcher of the F/LAT.dev


(sharing and free learning)

Program of activities based on the model of the open workshop. Regular non constraining activities of sharing, helping the porosity of the space. Events like master-classes, lectures, hackatons, code-sprint, etc.

Examples :

  • patching circles
  • blender user group
  • ellentriek - openhardware - circuitbending
  • loop - aperos code-lab
  • mini-metahub
  • Pd-L2ork impro
  • Open Source Publishing meetings
  • Open-scene impros
  • Relearn

These workshops, apart from bringing new knowledges, permit the crossing of people and usages, bringing the discussion on techniques and modes of (co-)creation. A very diverse public would attend these activities, and the quality of the meetings for the participants is the goal. The particularity of the usage and diffusion of free/libre software and culture is a seeding process of emancipation and autonomisation for the whole public that will be in contact with F/LAT.


Brussels, Belgium (F/LAT.bxl)

With the objective to be a hub for international exchanges all along the year, the location of the space in Brussels is a must, being a hub of transport and meetings facilities as the capital of Europe, at the crossing of car and rail routes, with the national and south airport at hand. The cost and easiness of transport is a key to get the very diverse public concerned by the project.

It will be important to entertain exchanges with other centers of creation and development in Belgium and abroad, with cultural institutions dedicated to the discovery of digital arts and other arts as well. Workshops and activities will be organized in these places to open the possibilities of crossover.

Integration into an international network of teaching of Free/Libre culture and techniques ( [80c]list ) Architecturally, F/LAT would well integer into a large urban re-foundry, and would be part of a global rethinking of the city, the sharing of the space, the re-localization of manufacturing and it's impact on the urban public space usage. F/LAT is part of the global movement of the open source hardware, fablabs and personal factories (“usinettes”) through that it question the fluxes of goods and knowledge, thus the usage of the city.

In the long term : Architecture thought on the basis of open source, is already a reality implemented in multiple productions. How art would take that reality into it's daily life ? ex. http://wikihouse.cc - - rethinking the Commons : ZIR- Josaphat : an urban zone has to take off the ground from scratch : how do we invent a new city based on the commons (general and comunity based) and integrate an art and technology school into it ? ( plateforme Biens Communs Bruxelles - project Commons-Josaphat) (see http://iaac.net … )

In the short term : Constant/Variable is a fertile place and activities still happens there with good results, until summer 2014. This is a creative and pedagogic experimentation that F/LAT has for project to extend in the future.

mid term (2014-1015) probably integrating a space with a “precarious bail”. Still to find…

the place should have min 250m2 with big open space (a plateau is optimum).


F/LAT est un organisme complexe et n'est pas conçu comme un système monolithique. C'est donc une ombrelle pour de multiples individus et groupes d'individus qui s'organisent autour d'un lieu pour partager et avancer plus vite ensemble.

3 niveaux d'implication : membres associés personnes qui font tourner le projet, travaillent et contribuent à son fonctionnement quotidien et à long terme les relations contractuelles et juridiques imposées par la loi aux collaborateurs de F/LAT créent ce statut particulier chez un membre actif. membres actifs participent aux activités et à la vie du lieu de manière régulière. (ou se déclarant comme tel) membres sympatisants personne supportant le lieu d'une manière ou d'une autre, par un sourire, une bonne parole, un tweet ou un bitcoin, faisant une visite ou un don en euro. une personne morale peut avoir ce statut p.ex. dans le cas de subside ou mecenat.

La particularité de l'organisation est sa transparence : les comptes sont accessibles en temps réels pour les associés (dolibarr ?) et l'ensemble des décisions et discussions importantes devront apparaitre en ligne, accessible à tout membre actif, en lecture et écriture. (wiki et mailing liste) L'organisation des ateliers, recherches et tutorats seront soutenus par des entrées budgétaires différentes et des partenaires différents.

[ cas nouvelle organisation indépendante - objectif démocratique (à voir dans statuts) ]

Bien qu'intégrant des parties du programme d'associations et groupes tiers, F/LAT reste une association de personnes, et les personnes morales n'ont pas droit de vote. Une association est donc membre de F/LAT en ayant des membres communs, des intérets communs, des moyens en commun.

L'organisation dois se refléter dans des outils en ligne : pad, wiki, mailing listes, qui sont transparents pour les membres et le public (jusqu'à un certain point - les document “internes” étants réservés aux membres)

Public concerné

Les activités sont ouvertes : à priori l'accès aux activités est libre pour peu de s'être annoncé. Certaines activités sont annoncées comme destinées à certains types de public, elles restent ouvertes à tous, sur le principe de l'université libre. Néanmoins certaines fonctions et interactions avec les membres associés nécessiteront une forme d'inscription à un programme et suivi, et nécessitera le règlement de formalités et/ou payements à la structure F/LAT (notamment le tutorat). Ces informations sont reprises avec les descriptifs détaillés des activités.

Le public concerné est donc partie tant d'un secteur culturel en ébulition et en changement, jeunes artistes intégrant la culture du web ou plus ancien se recyclant, qu'un public concerné par l'économie collaborative qui valorise la créativité et le travail en collaboration. La structure ouverte est particulièrement adaptée à accueillir des publics fragilisés économiquement, en phase de reinsertion économique ou sociale. (rem : les artistes sont de fait un public “fragilisé économiquement”. ) La pédagogie axée sur la créativité offre un outil des plus efficace pour aider ceux en recherche de nouvelles voies d'avenir à dégager des pistes. L'agrégation de différent types de publics permet aux débutants de rencontrer des professionnels sur le même terrain, de confronter et d'échanger des compétences parfois très diverses entre les champs artistiques et technologiques, ce qui profite à tous.

References & inspirations

schools et institutions


hakerspaces : see the internetz

Friends :

system of laboratories


system of artist-run organisation

codelab.fr & friends

  • Ping
  • Labomedia
  • Tetalab
  • tmp/lab
  • mains-d'oeuvre


more.txt · Last modified: 2014/04/16 14:52 by olm-e
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