Urban Hacking. Cultural Jamming Strategies in the Risky Spaces of Modernity.

11.09 – 13.09. 2009,
every day, 14:00 -19:00 Uhr
RaumD, qdk, quartier 21, MQ, Museumsplatz 1,1070 Vienna

Livestream: http://www.ustream.com/channel/raumd

The urban space is a battle field, symbols are appropriated, new structures created. Net culture replaces traditional counter culture and re-focuses its attention to a space of living that is changing at a fast pace: the city. By new means and venturing down new paths, enduring question are recast, the central question being how cultural resistance is possible and can be lived in times of rising market pressure and conservative cultural policies; a question of enduring importance indeed. Here, at this precarious point in time, this years’ Paraflows intervenes. We ask questions, we give answers, we take our responsibility seriously.

Building on the success of its predecessor in 2008, this years’ Paraflows adopts the motto ‘Urban Hacking’, i.e., it attempts to constructively-critically examine the cultural practices of desire, resignification, and subversive appropriation. The urban space and the cultural technique of ‘hacking’ function as pillars for the investigation of historical as well as contemporary strategies of such culturally founded resistance. The topic of Urban Hacking, while appearing vague at first, shall be elucidated by breaking it down into three panels. The examples analyzed in connection therewith will not only reflect the status quo of what exists, but also contribute to a discussion about the options that remain open, i.e., about the possibilities and limitations of that discourse; in addition, the attendants of the symposium will be invited to participate. Experts of the respective fields will give lectures on their areas of specialization in the according panels and thereby render the positive as well as negative sides of the connection between different approaches and concepts evident.

The three-day program of the symposium, which will be accompanied by movie screenings and theatre performances, corresponds to the thematic priorities Urban, Hacking, and Risk. The panel Urban will discuss, from the perspectives of space theory and media geography, the conditions placed upon and the requirements demanded from the city as venue; e.g., the contributors will deliberate not only about the shift from place to space and its grounds in semiotics but also on space-bound questions of adapting phenomena and artefacts crossing media boundaries. The historical development of Guerilla Art or the possibilities of art in the public space will be central to this discussion. The next day will be dedicated to the multi-facetted notion of hacking. Hence the second panel will investigate the origin, structures, and evolutionary elements of that theme. Commencing from questions regarding technique and technology, advanced concepts and theories that are based on hacking and have been seminal for debates on the options of cultural resistance will be examined; e.g., Programme Code Poetry or the use of re-coding strategies in the fine arts.

The third and final day will circle around the aspects of risk and ‘putting-oneself-on-the-line’. Urban space and the discourse of the modern are conditioned by and condition each other, giving rise to approaches inspired by art and informed by philosophy to refuse, to transgress boundaries, and to ignite discussions about that of which we are told that we ought to accept it. The conditions of historical and contemporary tactics of the transgressive will be investigated with reference to those aspects. Besides avant-garde tactics, questions pertaining to gender and the options of a discourse on pornography, a discussion which has great public import, will form an integral part of the symposium’s offerings.

A concluding discussion will clarify and summarize the conference’s intermediate results, offer the audience another possibility to participate and function as a further copula between the exhibitions and the workshops of Paraflows.