Streaming With Infrafem is a moment of exchange of communal strategies, infrastructural knowledge, and design choices starting by redefining the notion of 'streaming'.
Through the making of Varia's Narrowcast, Varia got in touch with a network of groups and collectives that are building their own digital infrastructure or are interested in exploring alternative ways of doing things together online. The platforms and online spaces started to feed cultural and social processes throughout the pandemic in 2021. Varia took part of this cultural development by hosting online tools as part of the collective infrastructure of the group, but also by sharing knowledge and playful methods.
Various related projects happened in and around Varia, such as the Narrowcast interface for online streaming, the radio for Homebrew Server Club, the Wireless Imagination session for Read & Repair where we explored live Etherpad textual streaming, or the Temporary Riparian Zone where audio and textual streaming was brought together for the session. We were left with questions and ideas around streaming that we wanted to share with other local collectives who are also exploring these topics.
On the 22nd of April we had one day-long research and exchange meeting with cultural organisations that run and maintain their own digital infrastructure as part of their cultural programmes in The Netherlands.
Past common moments
In order to open up the discussion on the various approaches to hosting your own digital infrastructure for streaming events, we started the conversation trying to find a common understanding of the concept of streaming itself. At first avoiding technical details but sharing ideas of how a moment of streaming is perceived and experienced. How do you experience the concepts of time and simultaneity in relation to streaming? With these two concepts we attempted to remove the focus from a technological solution and move to a body experiencing a streaming event and the technology involved.
THREADS OF THE EVENT
Coming together our discussions on time and simultaneity lead us to perceptions of collaboration, learning/engaging, accessibility and liveness. In more detail:
collaboration: by streaming together with other streamers we 'meet' in a common infrastructure where we share simultaneous moments of joy and struggles. We collaborate as hosters but also our computers collaborate/come together as multiple clients are connected to a server. The listeners can become collaborators and hosters by providing them with access to the streaming server and other infrastructural tools like Etherpad or chat rooms.
learning/engaging: looking inside the guts of streaming;our presences engaging with the technology, the material, the equipment, the hardware, inside the code, internet radio, terrestrial radio, textual streaming, transferred data, the internet, the wires, the latencies, the bandwidth, the ether, the waves, the listener.1 Dive deeper in understanding the implications of privacy through technology, the streaming technology, the technology on a material level.
- accessibility: having different layers of access; live moments of streaming can be experienced through multiple and different ways of streaming (sound, image, text, chat, etc) that are accessible to different listeners and hosters according to their machines and desires. Providing space also for accessing the technical knowledge, going deeper together. Using low-tech ways to stream to each other saves bandwidth and power consumption.
- liveness: Streaming is a moment of being together present in a social online/offline space. Dinners during radio streams and live events bring a sense of occasion and create an intimate space. When thinking of liveness within the groups there was a desire to consinder the concept of accessibility.
We see these concepts as a way to address feminist sensibilities when streaming through digital infrastructures. Terms and approaches that we would like to think further. We believe that considering the means of communication as a means of production and questioning who is making them and under which conditions is important. Through these meetings we aim to reach out to audiences who may not have a technical practice but who are concerned with the topic discussed as they also inhabit and use similar forms of networked broadcasting technologies every day.
In the future a second meeting will take place online with initiatives outside of The Netherlands in different contexts. Narrowcast will host this event.
We find it urgent to create spaces for encountering other peers and articulating practices that do not erase difference, but support each other through points of contact.
In order from streaming body to receiving body. ↩