Haskell is the director of MAP.
Since the mid 80's, she has been working in media art and her collaborative
practice involves critical engagement in the politics of technology. Her
projects such as: Tech_nicks,
Tech_2 provided temporary meeting
and working spaces for those working on small-scale independent media
and technology projects, such as creating access resources using recycled
computers and free software, developing wireless networks, exploring renewable
energy systems and building cheap to run, self-managed communication infrastructures.
Lisa, what is MAP? And why did you decide to create it?
Lisa Haskell: MAP is a micro-organisation for managing projects. I created
it as I felt that some of the support stuctures that artists look to institutions
to provide could be supplied from something much thinner and more open.
I also wanted to collaborate with insitutions, in alliances with artists,
from a position of strength. Especially in new media practice, i felt
that institutions often had unrealistic expectaions of artists and weren't
able to facilitate work appropriately. Most projects seemed to end in
frustration. MAP has been set up to handle stuff like finances, tax, insurance
and logistics, and can do so either in partnership with institutions or
independently. I try to operate with an ethos of shared ownership and
transparancy; in many ways MAP has become experient in these things.
CT: Lisa, describe
your practice. Tell me especially about your work in communities
LH: I have been working as an organiser/project manager and fundraiser.
My work bridges between arts practice, independent media production, social
campaigns and some work with communities; though communities is hard to
define - many artists and activists define themselves as working in communities
for instance, but they're usually talking about something quite specific
My work with communities comes through collaboration. All the work i do
is collaborative and so finds its way into all kinds of places and networks,
taking me with it, which is always challenging, interesting and usually
a big pleasure.
CT: You recently
went back to school to study computer science. How will this affect your
LH: In the last few years I have been inspired by the work of many techies
who are working in the networked environment to really investigate and
push the boundaries of open information and sharing. I also started myself
to use self-publishing and simple tools like wikis to help my projects
and I believe they have had a real impact. I became very interested in
software design and the idea of being able to build tools and provide
services for the kinds of cultural, community and volunteer groups that
i have been involved in. I also felt that I lacked some specialism and
skill base for myself. I hope that my new skills will help me to work
to a greater degree of detail and depth in these areas. I can see there
are gains and losses in this. I would like to maintain an ability to communicate
at a very human level with all kinds of people about the possibilities
and function of technology, but i fear becoming mired in the detail, complexity,
and burden of problem-solving, and becoming a bad communicator because
of that. Developing a knowlege and practice in the more technical sides
of computing does entail a huge committment of time, continual learning
and investigation. That means much less time for people, for quite a few
years at least.
A very concrete thing I have taken from my computer science course is
a renewed committment to working with women of all ages to get feeling
interested and competent with computing. Its still a huge issue i think
that can only be addressed by women's initiatives, and which can contribute
so much to computing and communication as a whole.