These interviews are part of an exclusive series Paper.li is doing with the CulturaDigital.Br festival in Rio. Paper.li is CulturaDigital.Br’s media partner.

Coming up with a schedule for a three-day festival of digital culture was not easy — and it is only thanks to a team of professional curators that it’s happening! When an open call went out for submissions to CulturaDigital.Br in Rio, a total of 358 projects were put forward. The range of digital culture was enormous: video art, street art, low-budget films, educational projects, mapping, citizen media initiatives, monitoring personal data, and much more. Each of them was carefully evaluated by the team of 11 curators. Finally, projects were chosen to fit into four categories — Network Meet-Ups, Experimental Labs, Experience Sharing and Visualities.

It was also the job of the curators to discuss possible keynote speakers and eventually invite world-renowned names such as Paulo Coelho, Yochai Benkler, Michel Bauwens, Philippe Aigrain and Hugues Sweeney (some of whom have been interviewed on the Paper.li community blog).

Four of the team of 11 curators chose one project each to share with the Paper.li community.

Cicero da Silva

How did you become involved?

In 2009 I met a group of people, including Rodrigo Savazoni (CulturaDigital.Br’s Director), who were taking a new approach to digital culture in Brazil. Part of this was creating a social network of innovative people which grew to 6’000, all discussing what should be done about new forms of distribution of music, film, cinema, books, and culture in general, and then proposing ideas to the public administration.

Tell us about one of the projects

One that I like is the Alerta Móvil de Contra-Vigilancia from the Mexican-born digital artist Leonardo Aranda. The project is basically a tour of the surveillance system in a lot of cities (you can add your own city map). It proposes a new approach to our ‘surveillance society’: that what is necessary now is to deconstruct the idea of being watched 24/7. The project makes a kind of anti-argument against people who think technology is the big evil. It shows us that it is not technology that endangers us through control or power, but ourselves… our desire to be watched by someone, to control the future, which is impossible. We always try to find something to blame.

How does it interact with other projects and the rest of the festival?

Contra-Vigilancia highlights the present moment, when our rights and freedoms are on the edge. Every day the American Senate and Congress, and legislators around the world, are trying to destroy the best communication system developed in history: the Internet (I mean the concept, not the engineering system). This project relates to these times — are we going to win the battle and keep the internet neutral? Or are we going to destroy it as we know it and turn it into a new mass media empire — sell its domains to the big corporations who want to go back a century?

What inspires you about the festival?

It’s a place where you can see what is going on in the world, where you can be in touch with contemporary issues related to technology, private information, society, psychology, communication, engineering etc… You can see how happy the new generations are with sharing, collaborating, and exchanging ideas about themselves, the world, and the digital environment.

Follow Cicero on Twitter: @softwarestudies

Felipe Fonseca

How did you become involved?

I’ve been working with digital culture projects — related to people critically appropriating information technology — since 2002.

Tell us about one of the projects

We invited Kasia Molga, a member of Protei, which recently won the third prize in the VIDA Art and Artificial Life competition.

How does it interact with other projects and the rest of the festival?

Protei designs autonomous ships for environmental threats such as oil spills and the like. Not only will Protei be presented, but Kasia will join our Experimental Lab in order to explore the possibility of adapting it to the Brazilian context (in which, unfortunately, there was a big oil spill very recently).

What inspires you about the festival?

In this edition we are trying to make a leap — not only trying to cope with the innovation developed in richer countries, but finding ways in which typically Brazilian creativity can add to them.

Follow Felipe on Twitter: @efeefe

Gabriela Agustini

How did you become involved?

I’ve been part of the festival’s organization since its first edition in 2009, when it was a forum. I’m also part of the House of Digital Culture, a cultural cluster in São Paulo, that started the same year. Before that, I graduated in journalism and worked in mass media companies. At the festival, besides being one of the curators, I’m in charge of the executive management.

Tell us about one of the projects

I’d like to highlight the Hacker Bus Project which is on its first trip to the festival. It’s an initiative of the Transparência Hacker group, involved in public transparency projects and new ways of establishing and relating to public power.

Besides being open data activists, members of this community have an important role to play in questioning forms of political representation and in fostering citizens’ appropriation of new technologies. Basically, they define themselves as ‘activists for the right to do what they intend to’, and carry out innovative ideas like the bus, funded collectively using the crowdsourcing platform Catarse. At the festival, the bus will act as a lab and will then travel throughout the country.

What inspires you about the festival?

Above all, it’s a space to get to know people. There are presentations and speeches, but foremost are the opportunities to have dialogues and exchanges. Today we can see many projects and actions that were born at previous editions. I’m sure the same will happen this year: people will discover their peers, complementary projects, and ideas that inspire their own. That’s what keeps things moving all year long. I usually say that CulturaDigital.Br is not an event, it is a moment when things that are constantly happening take on a physical presence.

Follow Gabriela on Twitter: @gabiagustini

Ivana Bentes

How did you become involved?

The rise of the internet has completely changed my practice field – communication and cultural production. I really became involved in an organic fashion in 2009, when we implemented the Pontão de Cultura Digital in the College of Communication at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (in partnership with the Ministry of Culture). We planned to use the public universities’ equipment and infrastructure to rethink ways of sharing knowledge, experiences, and collaborative technologies among the cultural hotspots in Rio, involving collective groups and the university.

We started to think about informal education, free culture, the free software philosophy and other things. And part of my academic research became involved with intense activism and defending public policies.

Another reason for coming into the arena of debates and experiments around digital culture was that we were living a special political moment, brought about by the innovative actions of Gilberto Gil as Minister of Culture. These related to new ways of producing, resisting, and creating after the appearance of social media – the copyright and property crisis, new licensing models like Creative Commons, copyleft, and the free culture movement.

Tell us about one of the projects

I’d like to highlight the Insurgent Cartography Lab, which uses georeferenced mapping to define an alternative global governance for our cities. They actually map the operations of big corporations and public authorities as they remove people living in favelas, suburbs and other spaces around the city in order to “prepare” Rio for big expected events like the World Cup and the Olympics.

This project involves local and external activists, researchers, artists, and social movements, aiming to produce a global cartography network and to critically map urban territory. I’m pretty fond of this cross-initiative –- a moment in which digital culture meets a new urbanism, the idea of non-specialists.

How does it interact with other projects and the rest of the festival?

It was included because it highlights an important trend in digital culture. It works with data visualization and ‘power and resistance mapping’, showing concern for both politics and aesthetics. I see big potential in these tools.

What inspires you about the festival?

It’s a highly stimulating environment, a sort of open-air experimental lab. It provides an intense exchange of experiences and knowledge within a very short period, but what’s exchanged is echoed and spread in the long-term.

It motivates people to desire and create alternative scenarios, and puts networks in touch with each other, going from a hyperlocal perspective to a global view — a playful space for social imagination with a huge potential.

Follow Ivana on Twitter: @ivanabentes

The festival is taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ending on December 4th. You can view the full schedule here.

Photos: main photo Contra-Vigilancia logo; oil spill: marinephotobank (Flickr); hacker bus: bfernandes (Flickr); favelas: Chico.Ferreira (Flickr). Curators’ photos Festival CulturaDigital.Br.

Liz Wilson
Liz Wilson writes copy in the Marketing Communications team at Orange Switzerland and used to edit this blog. She likes talking about content, copywriting and social media on her personal blog.

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