From October 23 to 29, an international seminar about technoshamanism and the concept of “Digital Land” or “free digital territories” was held in the autonomous ecological project Terra Terra near Reino, Benevento, Italy. The event was organized by Vincenzo Tozzi and announced on the Bricolabs Mailing List. The seminar was held in the form of a “Pajelança Quilombólica Digital”, as it’s called in Brazilian Portuguese, a “digital shamanism” brainstorming on the possibilities of using free digital territories to connect free real-world territories.
Vincenzo Tozzi is the founder of the Baobáxia project which is run by the Brazilian network Rede Mocambos, and the main point of departure was the future of Baobáxia – sustainability, development, paths for the future.
Arriving in Napoli, I had the pleasure of meeting Hellekin and Natacha Roussel from Brussels who had received the call through the Bricolabs list. Vince had arranged that we could stay in the Mensa Occupata, a community-run squat in central Napoli that was occupied in 2012 and is the home of a hackerspace, a communal kitchen and a martial arts gym, the “Palestra Populare Vincenzo Leone”, where I was pleased to see that my own favourite capoeira is among the activities.
The actual seminar took place in much more rural settings outside Reino, in the country known locally as “terra delle streghe” or “land of the witches”. With respect to our desire to work with free territories and the inherent project of recuperating and learning from ancestral traditions, the area is interesting in the sense that the land is currently inhabited by the last generation of farmers to cultivate the land with traditional methods supported by an oral tradition which har mostly been lost in the most recent decades. During the seminar, we had the opportunity to meet up with people from the local cooperative Lentamente, which is working to preserve and recuperate the traditional ways of growing crops and keeping animals without machines (hence the name “lentamente”, slowly) as well as trying to preserve as much as possible of the existing oral traditions.
During the seminar, we accommodated to the spirit of the territory and the settings by dividing the day into two parts: In the morning, we would go outside and work on the land until lunchtime, which would be around three o’clock.
After lunch, hopefully properly wake and inspired by the fresh air and the beauty of the countryside, we would start looking at the technical side of things, delve into the code, discuss protocols and standards and explore possible pathways to the future. After dinner, we would dedicate the evenings to more general discussions as well as to relaxing, often still covering important ground.
Among other things, during the days we built some stairs and raised beds on a hillside leading up to the main buildings and picked olives for about twenty liters of oil.
As for the technical side of the encounter, we discussed the structure of the code, the backend repositories and the offline synchronization process with newcomers to the project, reviewed various proposals for the technical future of the project and installed two new mucuas. In the process, we identified some bugs and fixed a couple of them.
An important aspect of the concept of “free digital territories” is that we are looking for and using new metaphors for software development. Middle-class or otherwise well-off people who are used to have the means to employ servants or hire e.g. a lawyer whenever they need one may find it easy to conceive of a computer as a “server” whose life is dedicated to serving its “clients”. For armies of office workers, having a computer pre-equipped with a “desktop” absolutely makes sense. But in the technoshamanism and quilombolic networks we’re not concerned with perpetuating the values and structures of capitalist society. We wish to provide software for free territories, and thus our metaphors are not based on the notion of clients and servers, but of digital land: A mucúa or node of the Baobáxia system is not a “server”, it’s digital land for the free networks to grow and share their culture.
Another important result was that the current offline synchronization and storage using git and git-annex can be generalized to other applications. Baobáxia currently uses a data format whose backend representation and synchronization is fixed by convention, but we could build other applications using the same protocol, a protocol for “eventually connected federated networks“. Other examples of applications that could use this technology for offline or eventually connected communications is wikis, blogs and calendars. One proposal is therefore to create an RFC for this communication, basically documenting and generalizing Baobáxia’s current protocol. The protocol, which at present includes the offline propagation of requests for material not present on a local node of the system, could also be generalized to allow arbitrary messages and commands, e.g. requesting the performance of a service known to be running in another community, to be stored offline and performed when the connection actually happens. This RFC (or RFCs) should be supplemented by proof-of-concept applications which should not be very difficult to write.
This blog post is a quick summary of my personal impressions, and I think there are many more stories to be told about the threads we tried to connect those days in Benevento. All in all, the encounter was fruitful and I was happy to meet new people and use these days to concentrate of the future of Baobáxia and related projects for free digital territories.
“The venue was really beautiful and well-equipped, its staff was helpful
and people in the audience were friendly and interested. Everything went
completely smoothly and according to plan, and the final ritual was
wonderful with its combination of Arab flute, drumming, noise and visual
performance. All in all a wonderful event.” (Carsten Agger)
“I think it was really instructive and incredibly cool to be with people who have so much knowledge and passion about the subjects they are dealing with. Communication seems to be the focal point, and there was a great willingness to let people express their minds.” (Sebastian Tranekær)
“The meeting was very diverse, the afternoon with speeches and discussion of some topics linked to the network of technoshamanism, such as self-organization, decolonization of thought, then we discussed technology and future cyborg and at the end we talked about noise and feminism. Ritual open with the participation of other people and was very curious to see the engagement, – it was a rite of rock!! ” (Raisa Inocêncio)”
It was so nice to see Aarhus again, this dome of vision is really special place, thank you to all of you!! We did just one day of meeting and we could not listen everybody, but I am sure it is just the beginning!!! I agree with Raisa, it was a rite of rock-noise. (Fabiane M. Borges)
Amalia Fonfara: (Greenland 1985) Artist and shamanic practitioner based in Trondheim. Since 2010, Amalia Fonfara has lived in Norway. She holds a bachelor of fine art (2013) and an international master of fine art (2015), from Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Fonfara has studied different esoteric practices, including spiritism, shamanism and contemplative healing practices. She is currently doing a one year study prg. at Scandinavian Center of Shamanic Studies in Sweden. In her artistic practice the perception of reality, imagination and spirituality are closely connected and intertwined. Will present the Invisible Drum project at this event. www.amaliafonfara.com
Ariane Stolfi: Architect, composer, programmer and musician, transits between languages. Doctorate candidate on Sonology (ECA-USP), researching interactive interfaces on web technologies, has made installations and performances such “Hexagrama essa é pra tocar” and “Cromocinética”. Joined festivals such Submidialogias, #DisExperimental, Virada Cultural and Dissonantes, mantains finetanks.com experimental netlabel and collabotates with Sonora feminist collective.
Carsten Agger: Software developer, activist and writer, active in social movements for free software and civil rights and against racism and colonial wars, for twenty years. Trained as a theoretical physicist he works as a free software developer, contributes to the Baobáxia project and co-organized the LibreOffice Conference 2015. He wrote a book about the Qur’an and is currently studying Norse religion and language for a comparative project. Served two years on the board of the hackerspace Open Space Aarhus and co-organized the II International Festival of Technoshamanism and technoshamanism events in Aarhus and Berlin. www.modspil.dk
Fabiane M. Borges holds a Post PhD in Visual Arts and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica in São Paolo (Brazil) and works as a psychologist, artist and essayist; organizes events relative to art and technology and social movements; authored two books, Domínios do Demasiado (Hucitec/2010) and Breviário de Pornografia Esquizotrans (ExLibres 2010); coordinated two books with the media, art and technology network Submidialogia (Ideias Perigozas, 2010, and Peixe Morto, 2011). She is one of the organizers of the I and II International Festival of Technoshamanism – http://technoshamanism.wordpress.com/en Blog: https://catahistorias.wordpress.com/ – e-mail: ca t a d o re s@gm a il. c om
Raisa Inocêncio: Brazilian, born in 1989. She studied philosophy at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Visual Arts at Parque Lage School. Now studying at Toulouse University (France) in Erasmus Mundus Masters Europhilosophie. Research on the aesthetic-political practices of post-porn movement through performing actions and references such as artists Anne Sprinkle, Diana Torres, the collective Coyote, Ju Dorneles among others.
Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen:Graduated from the University of Copenhagen with an MA in History of Religions and Anthropology, which included two fieldwork periods in Brazil and two in Uganda. He has self-published a book on the role of traditional songs in Capoeira, and has collaborated on documentary film work on the role of religion in Ghana (2002). He worked for two years in humanitarian work removing land-mines in Angola and the Nuba Mountains in Sudan, and he has worked and published on anti-trafficking. He is currently finishing a PhD on ritual technologies in Afro-Brazilian religion.
Sebastian Tranekær Hansen: Born 1983, grew up in Greenland and has lived in Denmark since 1995. Autodidact musician, producer and DJ with a great interest in dance music and dance. Sebastian has been organizing and executing celebrations in Aarhus’ underground scene for some years, mostly in the genres of techno and drum’n’bass. Has primarily worked with people. Human development and communication are very central to his work with music and art.
Samuel Capps is a British artist whose work, among them the recent show ‘Relics from the De-Crypt’, work around themes similar to technoshamanism. He also runs the gallery Gossamer Fog in London. www.samuelcapps.com
Winnie Soon: Winnie Soon is an artist-researcher who resides in Hong Kong and Denmark.Her work approach spans the fields of artistic practice and software studies, examining the materiality of computational processes that underwrite our experiences and realities in digital culture. Winnie’s workhas been presented at festivals, conferences and museums throughout the Asia Pacific, Europe and America, including but not limited to Transmediale2015/2017, ISEA2015/2016, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Si Shang Art Museum, Pulse Art + Technology Festival, Hong Kong Microwave International Media Arts Festival, FutureEverything Art Exhibition. Currently, she is assistant professor at the Department of Digital Design and Information Studies in Aarhus University. More info: www.siusoon.net
On August 12, 2017 from 14:00 to 22:00 there will be a technoshamanism meeting in Dome of Visions, Aarhus, Denmark.
The purpose of the meeting is to unite people who are interested in the combination of DIY technologies such as free software and permaculture with ancestral, ancestorfuturist and technoshamanistic practices. We are calling all the cyborgs, witches, heretics, technoshamans, programmers, hackers, artists, alchemists, thinkers and everyone who might be curious to join us and explore the possiblities of combining ancestorfuturism, perspectivism, new and old indigenism in the middle of the climate changes of the anthropocene.
If you feel attracted by the combination of these terms, techno + shamanism and ancestrality + futurism and if you’re worried about the destruction of the Earth and the hegemony of capital and neoliberal ontologies, this event is for you. In view of Aarhus’ slogan as European Cultural Capital of 2017, the theme of this event could be: Rethink ancestrality and technology!
We welcome all proposals for rituals, musical and artistic performances, talks, discussions and technological workshops. Please send your proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The proposal needs to be short (250 words) with your web site (if any) and a short bio.
The verbal talks will be structured as roundtable discussions with several participants which are recorded and simultaneously live streamed as Internet radio.
TECHNOSHAMANISM – What is it?
Ancestrality and ancestrofuturism
Experiences from the II International Festival and other events
Immigration and new ontologies arriving in Europe
Self-organizing with free software and DIY technology
PERFORMANCE AND RITUAL
A collaborative DIY ritual to end the event – bring costumes, proposals, visual effects, ideas and musical instruments.
We welcome proposals for all kinds of performance, rituals and narratives along the lines of this open call – all proposals to be sent to email@example.com.
When we have received your proposals, we will organize them and publish a detailed program around August 1, for the discussions and workshops as well as for the rituals.
If you don’t live in Aarhus and need accomodation, that can be arranged (for free). Bring your sleeping bag!
WHO ARE WE?
This encounter is organized by Carsten Agger, Beatriz Ricci, Fabiane M. Borges and Ouafa Rian.
TECHNOSHAMANISM – THE NETWORK
Tecnoshamanism is an international network for people interested in living out their ideas in everyday life while focusing on open science, open technology, free and DIY cosmological visions and feel the necessity of maintaining a strong connection to the Earth as a living, ecological organism.
In recent years, we have had meetings in Spain, England, Denmark, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Germany, and Switzerland. In November 2016, we had the II International Festival of Tecnoxamanism in the indigenous Pataxó village of Pará in Bahia, Brazil. The purpoose of this meeting is to discuss technoshamanism as outlined above and to strengthen and grow this network, hopefully reaching out to new partners in Denmark and beyond. The network is based in Brazil but draws inspiration from all over the world.
You can find more information on technoshamanism in these articles:
Plataforma permanente (com nome provisório) para colaboracao com os Guarani Mbya do Pico do Jaraguá Sao Paulo – http://jurua.provisorio.ws/
Áudio da rádio debate com Thiago Pimentel (Cryptorave), Lívia ascava (Ônibus Hacker), Gianni Puzzo (Anthares Multimeios), Pedro Parrachia (desenvolvedor da plataforma colaborativa) e Ara Mirin (aldeia Tekoa Pyau) com mediacao de rafael Frazao (Terra Ronca).
Vídeo Pílula sobre o encontro – abrindo com o grupo de rap Oz Guarani, rádio debate, Macumba Hacker (Guilherme Pinkalsky), Ziyou (Jovem Palerosi), Parada (Rogério Borovik), Trany(y) Plantx (performance com sue Nhamandu, Guima San, Marci Marci), Vídeo Mapping (Rafael frazao) e Lab Luz (Paulinho Fluxus)
Vídeo – Trecho da Intervencao Guarani Mbya no Pátio do Colégio (Centro de Sao Paulo):
Dessa vez a ideia é colocar na roda os interesses mútuos, e afirmar o pacto de colaboração, que pode vir a se desdobrar em encontros virtuais e presenciais para troca de conhecimentos com a Aldeia!!
PARA A RÁDIO DEBATE:
Sue Nhamandu (Pornoklastia) – Thiago Pimentel (Cryptorave), Lívia Ascava (Ônibus Hacker), Gianni Puzzo (Anthares Multimeios), Pedro Parrachia (desenvolvedor da plataforma colaborativa) e Ara Mirin (Aldeia Tekoa Pyau) com a mediação de Rafael Frazão (Terra Ronca).
Depois da conversa vai ter apresentações da galera firmeza que sempre está junto com a gente nessas redes de arte/afeto/vida !!! performances, apresentações, shows e dj!!
PROGRAMAÇÃO PÓS RÁDIO DEBATE:
* OZ GUARANI (Rap Guarani )
* Macumba Hacker (Guilherme Pinkalsky)
* Ziyou – (Jovem Palerosi)
* Parada – (Rogério Borovik)
* Tranz(y) Plantx – Performance – Sue Nhamandu, Guima San, Marci Marci
* Vídeo Mapping (Rafael Frazão)
* Lab Luz (Paulinho Fluxus)
10$ foratemers justo
20$ foratemers abundante
5$ foratemers tô na pindaiba mas quero colaborar
Sua colaboração vai ajudar no transporte dos Guarani, da Aldeia até aqui!!
By Carsten Agger – photos by Carsten Agger and Rafael Frazão
On November 9 2016, I and my son Johannes left Denmark for Brazil in order to co-organize and attend the II International Festival of Technoshamanism. You can read more about the background for this festival at the technoshamanism site as well as in previous posts on this blog.
Each participant in the festival was expected to propose an activity, and as one of the organizers I was no exception. The II International Festival of Technoshamanism took place in the Pataxó village Pará in the extreme south of the Brazilian state of Bahia, and my proposal was to install a working node (mucúa) of the Baobáxia system in the village. The purpose of this node is to act as an archive of the indigenous cultural production, a way yo protect and salvage the indigenous culture in electronic form for decades to come, and a way for the Pataxó to do so with complete ownership over the infrastructure as well as the content – independently of corporate and proprietary content-sharing sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
Who are the Pataxó?
Well, I’ve written about them before, after I participated in the first technoshamanism festival in 2014. The Pataxó are an indigenous people (what we sometimes call “Indians”, indeed they sometimes call themselves that) who live near the sea in the extreme south of the Brazilian state of Bahia. The Aldeia Pará (Pará Village) is located in what the Pataxó call their origin or Aldeia Mãe, the area from which they were all expelled in the massacre of 1951. It is situated far from everything in the middle of an indigenous reserve comprising some 8500 hectares and is home to some 69 families. The neighboring village of Barra Velha is located 5 km from Pará and has a population of about 400 families.
The Pataxó are an intelligent and open-minded people, and though they have not had much exposure to computers, they are very conscious of the potential of modern technology in the struggle for their culture and their land, which has been a constant factor in Pataxó life for several decades – not least given that many of their villages are threatened by expulsion. In October 2016, the village of Aratikum some 100 kilometers north of Pará was actually razed to the ground by the police in the service of local land owners.
The Pataxó’s motivation for hosting the event was to be able to exchange knowledge – to learn something from all us urban hackers and activists with our experience in free software and art and social movements, and to teach us something in the bargain. Each participant would propose an activity – a workshop, an art installation, a ritual, a performance, a talk – and would be free to participate in the other proposed activities. Among the activities proposed by the Pataxó were the festival’s opening and closing rituals, a healing tent, traditional Pataxó cooking, traditional body paint, fishing and hunting methods, the cultivation of manioc and manufacturing of manioc flour, musical sessions and the jogos indigenas, the indigenous sports games which took the form of a competition between Indians and non-Indians.
As I said, my proposal was to install a node of Baobáxia and – just as, or even more, important – give workshops in how to use and maintain the system (running on a dedicated Debian GNU/Linux server) themselves so it could be useful also after we left.
Technoshamanism, ancestrality and the Destructor
But if the Pataxó’s motivation for hosting the event was to make friends and allies and gain new knowledge, then what was our motivation for organizing it? And by “we” I mean a large group of people in the technoshamanism network, mainly but (obviously enough) not exclusively Brazilian: Fabi Borges, Jonatan Sola, Sue Nhamandu, Rafael Frazão, Fernando Gregório, Luiza Só, Rodrigo Krul and too many more to mention, apart from the many participants who arrived at the festival with similar motives and gave many outstanding contributions?
One thing is the connection of technoshamanism with reconnection – reconnecting with the Earth, reconnecting with the ancestral worldviews of the thousands of generations of people who lived close to the Earth in a mainly oral culture. The Pataxó live in a reserve where they can live well off the earth, they have a strong connection to their ancestral way of life as well as, quite literally, to their ancestors and other ancestral spirits, who often show up at their rituals. As such, the Pataxó have 500 years of experience in dealing with European colonizers and the usurping civilization, and they have developed an immense skill in navigating this kind of pressure without losing neither their independence nor their traditional culture.
As opposed to that, the norm in our cities is that of disintegration, not least of community spirit and ancestral culture. Traditional songs and tales which might have been handed down in subtly changing ways for hundreds or thousands of years are replaced with comic books and cinema, which are replaced with endless children’s TV shows, which as we grow up are replaced with “breaking news”, X Factor and a host of even more diluted and inane TV shows. Culture ceases to be something we do ourselves and do together, neighborhoods cease to be communities and the cultural divide even splits up the families, so that we end up as disjoint individuals in a sea of strangers who can only struggle to recreate something vaguely resembling a genuine community. Sometimes, of course, as in the case of many successful free software projects, genuinely succeeding.
In his recent novel “Jerusalem“, the writer and comic book author Alan Moore metaphorically describes this phenomenon, which he has experienced first hand in his home town of Northampton, as “the Destructor”. The Destructor was a garbage incinerator which for decades was actually and physically located in the poorest neighborhood in Northampton, reducing people’s life expectancy with at least ten years, its location a daily reminder to the inhabitants of the Boroughs of how little the rest of the city cared about them.
And yet the Boroughs was actually the oldest neighborhood in Northampton and home to a bafflingly rich, orally transmitted ancestral working class culture which was, after World War I and under the impression of the Russian revolution, deliberately crushed by city planning. According to Alan Moore, the policies which have disempowered modern Europeans by stripping us of our communities were deliberately inflicted. Moore describes the destructive effect on the communities with these words:
He saw a hundred old men and old women moved from the condemned homes where they’d raised their families, dumped in distant districts with nobody that they knew and failing to survive the transplant. By the dozen they keeled over on the well-lit stairs of their new houses; in the unfamiliar indoor toilets; onto their unprecedented fitted carpets; on the pillows of magnolia-painted bedrooms that they failed to wake to. Countless funerals fell into the Mayorhold’s fires, and furtive teenage love-affairs, and friendships between relocated children sent to different schools. Infants began to understand that they would probably now never marry the classmate they had been expecting to. All the connecting tissue, the affectations and associations, became cinders. (p. 731)
The Northampton neighborhood known as the Boroughs descended into complete misery and insecurity, containing the points of trade that “supplied the customers who drew the girls, who brought the pimps, who dealt the drugs, which bred the guns that shot the kids who lived in the house that crack built” (p. 691). But there’s a point in that – that kind of misery is very common in urbanized Brazil as well as in Europe, and a contact with people who still retain an orally transmitted culture and whose communities were never fragmented by the Destructor could teach us something about reconnecting, with the Earth and its spirits, with our natural spirituality and with true community.
The Festival area
As we arrived in Pará about November 14, our first job was to establish a good contact with the Pataxó, organize food for the event and start rigging the computers and other technical equipment.
As everybody else, we were camping in what was at first quite precarious conditions due to the heavy rainfall before the festival started.
Luckily, the Pataxó were very helpful and we managed to secure everything against the rain before the start of the festival on November 22.
Before our arrival, the Pataxó had built a completely new house for cultural production, in which they had placed four stationary computers they had received from the reservation’s Fisherman’s Association which originally got them from a government program. These four computers were quite old and had Windows installed. Our first task was to replace that with GNU/Linux.
At first, our attempts at setting up the computers were haunted by technical difficulties. First of all, we were unable to get them to boot from USB drives, which meant we had to buy burnable CDs or DVDs. When we got them, we realized they could not really boot from the DVDs either due to our images being 64 bit, and these trusty old computers were actually 32 bit. We couldn’t use the Internet for troubleshooting since there was no Internet yet – it was supposed to arrive during the week before the festival, but the roads were closed because of the rain.
In the end, Pablo Vieira from the Assentamento Terravista near Ilhéus (with the microphone in the picture above) arrived, and as it turned out, he knows these computers very well; they can boot from USB if a rather obscure BIOS setting is enabled. In his pocket was a bootable USB with the most recent 32 bit Linux Mint, and everyone was happy and the computers were well prepared for the arrival of the Internet later that week.
I was not alone in the task of installing Baobáxia and giving workshops about it – Vincenzo Tozzi from the Mocambos network, Sicilian and founder of the Baobáxia project, joined the festival as well. Vince is a programmer and computer scientist and wrote a major part of the Baobáxia system himself, but he is really a philosopher of networks with important insights in the potential of free software and offline digital communications, and his presence was an invaluable contribution to the festival.
Our two workshops in Baobáxia were a huge success, and especially the younger generation of the Pataxó showed a great interest in working with this technology. The Baobáxia node we installed is still active in the village and is still not connected to the Internet, but you can see the contents in its present degree of synchronization here.
What else was in the festival?
A lot of things.
Some very beautiful rituals:
And video workshops, radio workshops, capoeira, samba in the church in honor of Saint Benedito, seed exchange, agroforestry, construction of dry composting toilets, radio production, discussions about the pros and cons of ecoturism, and much, much more. I might do a followup post on that, in the meantime let it be said that the festival was a unique experience and I’m very happy to be one of the people who made it happen.