DEAF07 – Interact or Die!
April 10th–29th 2007

Interact or Die! (DEAF07's Theme)

In a world dominated by an omnipresence of media and telecommunications we are expected to act in and with the networks these systems create. Interactivity in this context becomes an intrinsic part of our societal, political and economic ideals creating new forms of cultural and social structures. Our positions as participating citizens, creative consumers or critical activists force us into the role of being co-author or determinant element of the landscape of (media)realities we live in, in this sense interactivity is mostly promoted to fullfill social, cultural and political ideals. But direct interaction with such systems and networks often leads to unexpected and unforeseen results inspiring diversity and variation instead of fullfilling one single social and political ideal at will.

Interaction is a characteristic of every living being. Interaction is the formation of connections and networks, and the bringing about of organisation, structure and memory through interplay within them. Interaction changes bodies and objects giving rise to variation. Interaction is not a morphing of excisting structures but adding information to them, and therefore the formation of thoughts and structures.
To better understand interaction within and between networks, and the social, cultural and artistic forms it generates, we must analyze the principles according to which it works. In biological networks, structures arise spontaneously through self-organization on the basis of interactions which affect each other. Technological networks, by contrast, are formal and stringently controlled and permit hardly any self-organization or spontaneity. Social and cultural interaction, however, does not fit into this binary division: it is hybrid and continually yields surprising outcomes, even though strict control functions are at play at the same time. Flexibility and temporariness are therefore key terms when we talk about interaction in fields such as art, culture, architecture and other domains.

DEAF07 is about sloppy, messy interaction: interaction whose outcome is malleable and not definitive. Yet such forms last a surprisingly long time; they are robust because they are able to continually reorganize and adapt. Rigid blueprints, that mostly understand interaction within a cause and effect process, offer no solutions to today’s big social and ecological problems, such as global warming, immigration, multiculturalism, cultural dynamics and the effects of globalization. In these processes, interaction is unfolding messily, and in much more elusive ways than we ever suspected. DEAF07 thus will address the questions of how organization and structure arise through this kind of interaction, and how they become effective. These questions are being considered from artistic, architectural, social, political and cognitive perspectives.

DEAF07 will show us the results of this for art, culture and science, in theory and in practice. Projects vary from the tactical use of media and networks by artists and activists to subthemes such as cultural dynamics. Topics include the design of networks and interaction in and between them; the relationship between power, control and self-organization in technological systems and in social networks; and the demand for diversity and variation in a globalization process whose hallmark is standardization.