Workshop Barcelona 2008 Presentation Constant

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What is Constant

Constant is a non-profit association, based and active in Brussels since 1997 in the fields of feminism, copyright alternatives and working through networks.

Constant develops radio, electronic music and database projects, by means of migrating from cultural work to work places and back again.

What is Active Archive

Active Archives a digital ecosystem A decentralized system connecting on- and off line practices of publishing, broadcasting, archiving, promotion, catalogueing, research and (cultural) production.

An Active Archive is a digital ecosystem, composed of interlinked Internet sites which connect practices of library, media library, paper publications (such as magazines, books, catalogues), productions of audio-visual objects, events, workshops, discursive productions, etc.

Active Archives is meant to facilitate cross connections between practices which can take place on line or in dispersed geographical places, and which can be at various stages of visibility (because rights have not been cleared yet, a project is in preparation, or for reasons of privacy, restricted access is required)


Archive: Multiple networked relations between various objects of various formats with various objectives.

Multi otlet.jpg

or maybe just a link: [1]

Active: invitation to a re-reading, re-use and transmission of knowledge and practice

"Bare recognition is satisfied when a proper tag or label is attached. "proper" signifying one that serves a purpose outside the act of recognition -- as a salesman identifies wares by a sample. It involves no stir of the organism, no inner commotion. (...) The junction of the new and old is not a mere composition of forces, but is a re-creation in which the present impulsion gets form and solidity while the old, the "stored", material is literally revived, given new life and soul through having to meet a new situation." John Dewey in: Art as Experience (1932)

By active we mean that it invites to re-read, to transmit knowledge and practices, in a flow, rhythm following the contemporary artistic and cultural practices. This means, the system needs to take into account different formats (textual, visual, sound, physical) and various supports (film, photographs, texts, sounds, objects, performances etc). It is able to support complex moments of diffusion (publications, simultaneous exhibitions, which can happen in non-contiguous or geographically distant spaces).

The kind of distribution this project fosters, can only be developed in an environment - here a center of artistic practices, elsewhere a museum, or elsewhere smaller organizations, and further isolated artists or working in collectives, etc - where a decentralized form of publishing and organization is desired, and where there is a need to inscribe oneself into a network of local and international partners, aiming to exchange and share experiments, practices, information, knowledge.

Decentralized: Collaborative management of information means sharing knowledge about how data is processed, rendering institutional decisions more transparent.

"The spread or enforcement of categories and standards involves negotiation or force. Whatever appears as universal or indeed standard, is the result of negotiations, organizational processes, and conflict. How do these negotiations take place? Who determines the final outcome in preparing a formal classification?" Jeffrey Bowker, Susan Leigh Star. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (1999)

By decentralized, we mean a management of publications in a collaborative mode, an open approach which is at the same time precise about who has access to what and what for. A system of publication which provokes discussion on the information management in the institution or in the organization. A collaborative management which implies a shared knowledge of the data-processing tools, a will to learn these same tools. The collaborative technique of the software suggested here invites to rethink - but cannot solve in the place of the institution - the management, decisionmaking processes, communication and transparency of the information flowing through the institution.

We also refer to the sharing of information and productions between various partners. This sharing demands technical protocols of exchange, like licenses and forms of publishing, designed specifically for exchange (for example: common selection of keywords).

As a result, the exchange will not only be based on private trust, but instead on long term relationships. The softwares and technical principles facilitate this exchange, but will not solve the collaboration agreements between institutions, between artists.

Archiving starts now!

How the Active Archive project is developed

  • A series of Workshops, meetings: Brussels (Vj10), San Sebastian (Arteleku) ... and Barcelona.
  • A continuous investigation of digital archiving tools
  • A series of software experiments


We are no islands

Information circulates back and forth. When you give material away, you might receive it transformed. Content is enriched by allowing unexpected connections, different contexts.

Peer to peer, syndicated, ...

Specific for cultural institutions

Cultural organisations need a tool conceived for them, not a derivative.

  • An archiving tool for multi-media: bringing objects from different sources together
  • A system that is collaboration-ready: amongst institutions and audience(s)
  • Following the workflow of cultural production (Archiving starts now!)

A modular system

  • User-centered: this software is used rather than consumed.
  • Using existing softwares: existing software can be integrated; costs are lower as a result.
  • Time: once core software is ready, the system can be put to use right away.
  • Social: connect to different groups with specific expertise and make them collaborate on the project on a per task basis.
  • Shared development: partners can take on those modules they need most or can afford.

Many cultural organisations took advantage of weblogs, content managementsystems and other dynamic publishing tools that became available over the last five years. The creation of web pages, and display of up-to-date information has become easier and easier. The kind of websites that are usually produced with these tools, mirror information brochures, paper anouncements and text-publishing. For the most part, these sites are conceived as "We" give information to "You".

Free Software

Using and inspired by existing F/LOSS: Wiki, SVN etc.

Four Freedoms:

  • 1.The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
  • 2.The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • 3.The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • 4.The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Legal clarity

With an open content licence:

  • Authors can offer their public free access, derivative use, or the right to redistribute their work.
  • What use can be made of a work and under which conditions is clarified and defined
  • Authorization is given automatically for the kinds of uses the licence stipulates

The documents put on the platform (texts, sounds or images) will be placed at the disposal of users according to various criteria in various spaces according to the will of the authors and the rights which they will have granted the future users and or spectators or readers.

Certain documents will be visible only within the framework of an institute's intranet or on the spot in the library of the institutions or organizations itself. Other documents will be far more accessible: some of them being in the public domain and other released under open licences which grant various degree of freedom to the users.

These freedoms and these constraints of rights of access will have to be taken into account and clearly communicated in the systems of distributions and support various means of diffusion of works and the texts.

An open licence: - offer more right to the user (public) than the traditional use of the author's right. For example, the author can grant the free access to a work, can grant the right to redistribute it, to create derivative works. - clarify and defines the use which can be made of a work and under which conditions. For example, the author can grant the free redistribution of his work, but only in a non-commercial use. Authorization is given automatically for the uses which it stipulates. It is not necessary any more to ask the permission the author since its work is accompanied by an open licence.


The Mutopia Project offers sheet music editions of classical music for free download. These are based on editions in the public domain, and include works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Handel, Mozart, and many others.

The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.

To encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks.

PAD.MA - short for Public Access Digital Media Archive - is an online archive of densely text-annotated video material, primarily footage and not finished films. The entire collection is searchable and viewable online, and is free to download for non- commercial use.

The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. Freesound focusses only on sound, not songs. est une sorte de magasin acoustique où tout est gratuit. En laissant ses pièces sonores en téléchargement libre (voir plus bas) et en forgeant une antenne pour la création radiophonique belge à un niveau international, répond à la déliquescence du service public par la constitution d'un ouvrage d'intérêt public.

Image search on

Experimental modules

Negotiated Taxonomies

Time (Collage code) and history

Video wiki


When artistic objects are separated from both conditions of origin and operation in existence, a wall is built around them that renders almost opaque their general significance, with which esthetic theory deals. Art is remitted to a separate realm, where it is cut off from that association with the materials and aims of every other form of human effort, undergoing, and achievement. A primary task is thus imposed upon one who undertakes to write upon the philosophy of fine arts. John Dewey (1932)


What links here

Personal tools