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Telestreet Conference

hamster5 | 23.03.2004 16:03 | Free Spaces | Indymedia | Social Struggles | Technology | Cambridge

[This is a preview of the Telestreet meeting Etera 2]
[Below this introduction I have posted a provisional program for the meeting]
Etera 2 meeting, March the 25th 2004 in Sennigallia, will be the second meeting of the Telestrade or Telestreet. A national movement of micro-tv stations (sometimes transmitting to no more than a few blocks) scattered across Italy. Telestreet operates between the legal and technological cracks of the Italian mediascape. Literally squatting the shadows or blank spots where the signals of terrestrial broadcasters cannot reach, leaving shadows on the spectrum which the Telestreet groups occupy.

Orfeo TV in Bologna is believed to have started the ball rolling when it began transmitting in 2002, just few blocks away from the legendary site of Radio Alice, and has since been described as her "bastard offspring". What began in Bologna with a few transmitters was soon "joined in a circulation of struggle through a network of websites; they are now connected through 'tactical television' to other Italian microbroadcasters like 'no-war tv', 'urban tv', and 'global tv'." In what Mark Cote describes "as an emerging network of infrapower".

The first gathering of Telestreets (Etera 1) took place in 2002 at the T.P.O. a squatter center in Bologna. In those days it consisted of just two or three stations but the first meeting succeeded in transforming a small network of interventions into a 'campaign' for media freedom which quickly became a catalyst for wider resistance. Today the Telestreet network includes more than a hundred nodes (the number fluctuates daily) across the whole of Italy.

The meeting of the Telestreets this March, (Etera 2) and is needed to address issues that have grown urgent as the network has expanded. To begin with there is the question of whether there is a need for a common strategy. This is partly a question of legal tactics but more fundamentally it is one of strategic identity, "the need to understand what kind of entity (legal association? spontaneous network?) should fight the campaign". Other questions relate to tactical relationships between old and new media. Although it is clear that Telestreet begins as television, the centrality of social and technical networks in its development makes it a far more interesting hybrid. As the telestreet manifesto declared "Television must be considered a new prosthesis and an extension of the net: but to avoid another media alternative "ghetto", the horizontally of the net must meet the "socializing" power of television."[MANIFESTO OF URBAN TELEVISIONS from Matteo Pasquinelli's nettime posting. Tactical Television in Italy]

In Berlusconi's media oligarchy the familiar triangulation of, media, party politics and financial corruption takes the crudest imaginable form. This fact alone makes classical forms of tactical media particularly urgent and effective. But Italy is only a special case in terms of the shamelessness visibility of the Berlusconi machine. This spectacle of shamelessness that acts as a powerful tranquilizer to rest of Europe (we might be bad but we can't possibly be as bad as that gangster!) However much the rest of Europe's mainstream politicians may profess to despise Berlusconi he nevertheless helps them maintain the pretence that we inhabit a fundamentally different political universe, where corruption is the exception rather than the rule. Nothing could be further from the truth: IT IS THE RULE.

It is a truism that in our society power is more likely to exercises itself through exclusion than exploitation. The skill of Telestreet has been to identify the weak points in one of the main institutions that govern the process of exclusion. Tactical media are practices based on the recognition that the most powerful institutions governing exclusion are never just social but socio-technical. Like previous tactical media interventions Telestreet has positioned itself critically (in both senses of the word) at the interface connecting the social to the technological.

An N5M/Telestreet connection has developed directly out of last year's festival when N5M editor Menno Grootveld decided to make an Amsterdam based version of Telestreet which he dubbed Proxyvision. Currently the cooperation functions through through contributions of Telestreet expertise to Proxyvision workshops. The traffic begins to go both ways this month when Cecilia Landman and I will participate in Etera2 taking the opportunity to update Telestreet on the way that their practices are being translated into different techno-cultural logics of Amsterdam. There really should be more cooperation between Northern and Southern European European tactitions. Proxyvisionbegan as an action to spread of the Telestreet virus to new climates. Currently it is operating a number of training workshops (not only in the Netherlands but most recently on the 18th of march in Zurich). Actual transmissions in Amsterdam begin on the 19th of may 2004 when small illegal transmitters will begin sending out micro-tv and challenge the notorious Amsterdam cable provider UPC along with the other forces that have disastrously undermined our previously vibrant culture of media freedom.

David Garcia. March 2004 [Many thanks to Agnes Trocchi of Candida TV Rome for her advice in compiling this introduction. Agnes has also written a excellent Telestreet profile in the most recent edition of Mute]