Melanie Gadringer
Urban Hacking as a Strategy of City (Re)Structuring

The lecture will give a review of the historical developments and artistic strategies of URBAN HACKING. Via the figure of the hacker, and the concepts and spaces of influence connected with that figure, a plausible connection to questions of structuring cities and restructuring urban spaces will be established. By drawing on selected examples, different positions will be presented, traditions identified, and current tendencies circumscribed.

Guerrilla Gardening – Art, political protest or mainstream-compatible watered down wannabe subculture?

There is a wide spread use of the term Guerrilla Gardening, describing phenomena that  differ from each other as much as secret cannabis plantings in the mountains differ from publicly grown flowers in tree pits. There isn’t one single official definition (yet?). The expression seems to get instrumentalized for varying purposes, ranging from expressing political views over trying to raise public attention for community beautification projects all the way to commercial advertisement. Looking at different definitions the discussion about public
space comes up – who owns it, who has a right in participation in its design, who has duties of taking care of it. From here another question arises: Does the latter discussion automatically imply that all Guerrilla Gardening is political or is it possible to do Guerrilla Gardening without making a political statement of any kind? Can one do it solely for beautification, social reasons, artistic expression and separate these from the political context and societal critique? In which way do the political and social surroundings influence the work of guerrilla gardeners? How does the process of doing Guerrilla Gardening influence the gardener? Who uses the term and for what purposes? We will look at some examples of Guerrilla Gardening from different parts of the world.

Johannes Grenzfurthner
The Medium is the Mess-Up: Guerrilla Communication

The terms guerrilla communication (and communication guerrilla) refer to unconventional forms of communication and/or intervention in more conventional processes of communication. Communication guerilla is a specific style of political action drawing from a watchful view of the paradoxes and absurdities of power, turning these into the starting point for political interventions by playing with representations and identities, with alienation and over-identification. The starting point for the panel and its reflections on communication guerrilla is a rather trivial insight: information and political education are completely useless if nobody wants to listen. Guerrilla communication doesn't focus on arguments and facts like most leaflets, brochures, slogans or banners. In its own way, it inhabits a militant political position, it is direct action in the space of social communication. But it doesn't aim to destroy the codes of power and signs of control. It prefers to counteract the omnipotent prattling of power by distorting and disfiguring the meanings. Communication guerrillas do not intend to occupy, interrupt or destroy the dominant channels of communication, they focus on detourning and subverting the messages transported. But what's new about all this? Nothing. But standing on the shoulders of earlier avantgardes, communication guerilla doesn't claim the invention of a new politics or the foundation of a new movement. It is merely continuing an incessant exploration of the jungle of communication processes, of the intertwined and muddled paths of senders, codes and recipients. The aim is a practical, material critique of the very structures of communication as a basis of power and rule.

Tina Lorenz
Sex and the City: Urbanization and the “Public Woman” in 19th century New York City

The end of the 19th century saw unprecedented amounts of people arriving in New York City and consequently large-scaled efforts to control and accommodate the masses. “City Beautiful” movements, tenement design, and public hygiene campaigns tried to shape and apply order to the impossible living conditions that urbanization caused in the city. One of the groups that suffered most from the frantic efforts of city officials and authorities to control or
otherwise oppress what defied order was the class of “public women” or sex workers: while their services were highly in demand, their existence and the circumstances of their work was deemed unfitting for a growing metropolis and therefore in need of regulation and control – making the business of sex work in the urban places of the city both risky and safe at the same time. As sex workers have been defined “public women” in the past, I find it fitting to examine their role in the public spaces of the city, and how their work undermined endeavors of control and domestication of something that was never quite in the grasp of authorities to command.

Meme Factory

Often referred to as a "meme factory," 4chan is known for creating and spreading viral content on the Web. In this talk we'll look at the factors that contribute to 4chan's success as a breeding ground for memes.

Thomas Northoff
WordGraffiti: Textures of nonofficial messages in the public space

WordGraffiti as artifacts of communicative practice (i.e. the practice of writing) are signs and signifying systems that can actually be found on every writable surface within the public space. There, the choice of placement is hardly arbitrary. If one regards them as mediators between subjects, a significant question regarding these objectivations is whether it is rather the producing subjects themselves and not graffiti as such which are more relevant as an object of research. The insights gained through the interpretation of the graffiti they create bring to light the contexts and processes, which at times are anchored deeply within the innerness of individuals, groups and, at last, entire culturally shaped societies.

Kerstin Ohler
cODE wRITING. Über das (künstliche) Schreiben.

Literary writing is usually assumed to be motivated by some kind of artistic motivation (just which kind in particular being contingent on the case in question). From a more sober view, all the author does is to create an appropriate sequence of signs drawn from a certain inventory, and the readers attempt to decode the message conveyed to them, consisting of multiple layers, according to its intention. The attempt to write, optimize, or boycott software is highly similar to the process of literary writing. Hacking as art cannot be understood merely as a statement limited to a parallel universe defined by subculture. For literary criticism, this connection becomes most evident in software art, as described, e.g., by Florian Cramer. But what if one, as scholar of the humanities, immerses oneself ever deeper into technical details and compares the writing process of software developers, programers, and coders to that of book authors? Which similarities can be found? Is there some kind of interaction? Having said that, it will not be the aim of the lecture to given an exact definition of the areas just mentioned, but rather to open up new perspectives for scholars of the humanities, allowing them to have a look on technology – however frowned upon or however scared that look might be. Literary criticism’s multidisciplinary methodology shall be ever extended by new fields that go beyond intra- or intermedial comparisons. Only thereby new questions and new approaches can be developed and the ways in which the object of research can be analyzed extended.

Bonni Rambatan
Spandrel Evolution: Emergent Spaces of Resistance in the 21st Century

A history of urban hacking is really a history of the reappropriation of emergent spaces. Beginning with a brief theoretical introduction on the concept of spandrels (i ek) and the multitude (Hardt and Negri), this talk will attempt to examine the evolution of spaces of resistance with technology, and will end with several considerations of the opportunities and challenges that offer themselves to these spaces. To put it simply, then, this talk is an attempt to illuminate the question, "How do we act in 21st-century space?"

Bohdan Shumylovych
Lenin as major urban hacker in Lviv

The talk is about the absence of URBAN HACKING in Lviv, a city with rich urban history. The apex of public space performances in the 20th century was the erecting and demolishing of the Lenin monument in front of the opera house. Despite being perceived as negative, this monument has created a new urban space where people want to interact and socialize. Even though this particular square became social in its practice - it does not attract artistic activism. Why?

Thomas Thurner
Retired postmaster general Josef Sindelka: „What’s dangerous about airwaves is that they might be used for sending messages“ – or: how the Austrian underground broke the broadcasting monopoly.

Radio Pioneer Thomas Thurner’s presentation will disclose how and against which odds medial free spaces were created; struggling not only with public administration, politics, the establishment, police, media power, and secret police, but also with the problems that arise from their goal-oriented proceedings in the context of civil society’s heterogeneity.

Charlie Todd
Causing a Scene with Improv Everywhere

Based in New York, Improv Everywhere has executed over 85 missions of chaos and joy in public places around the world.  The group has been wildly successful online, receiving over 70 million views on YouTube alone.  They have been profiled by The New York Times, This American Life (on the radio and on television), The Today Show, 20/20, ABC World News Tonight, and Rolling Stone, to name a few.  Improv Everywhere founder will discuss the group's work, screening videos, and telling the behind-the-scenes story of how it all came to be.

Annett Zinsmeister
urban hacking – an artist strategy

The mind-set of a hacker is not confined to the software-hacker culture, in which the now common use of this notion originates. An artist may apply the strategy of hacking to more and other things than software. Hacking as exercise refers to constructions in general, and to architecture in particular, especially when we talk about URBAN HACKING. The talk exemplifies how an artist may disassemble and reassemble urban structures or codes in a different manner; how architectural elements may constitute virtual space and how virtual space-elements may transform real places.