Talk at Paraflows 2012 Symposium Open. Dissect. Rebuild.

Stefanie Wuschitz

“Since 2009 Miss Baltazar`s Laboratory (MBL) tries to generate an environment in which women and trans can share their tech skills. Recently we have started our own space in Vienna based on the format hackerspace and equipped with workshops to produce interactive art. MBL is focusing on specifically feminist approaches towards technology.”

“It seems as if there was hardly an artform in which the connection between tool, workspace and agent is closer related as within interactive art. The application or code generated to create a piece becomes an essential part of the art work. There is a continous demand for knowledge, technology and access in order to be able to realise a concept. Therefore many artists in this field turn to tools that run under the GNU license or other FLOSS distributing systems.”

“Here the only thing that can stop the artist from getting access to a software is her decision to make it her own or not. Mostly this decision is taken based on her self-concept: Can I learn it? Is there someone like me who does it? Self-empowerment becomes the main requirement for access to Open Source technology. Miss Baltazar`s Laboratory wants to create a space that makes the decision easier, by giving support, offering a safe and nurturing athmosphere, by generating new self-concepts in discussions, lectures, reading groups, friendships and most of all hands-on workshops. This implicates new forms of social interaction and collective living. How can we provide child-care during workshops? How do we deal with different expectations towards our aims? How about individual concerns about authorship, competitive thinking, artistic careeres? Tools, space and participants inform each other and this development is consciously supported by MBL`s concept and structure. People are encouraged to take risks, collaborate, support the DIY spirit, start their own way to build things. This way we hope that people socialised as women can get out of isolationing positions generated by invisible censorship, precarity, self-employment or motherhood and embrace the access open souce technology can provide.”