“For Bassel”

“For Bassel” 
A tribute and memorial to Syrian-Palestianian open-source software engineer Bassel Khartabil
Broadcast August 25, 2017 (Recording here)
94.1 KPFA (Berkeley, California)
Niki Korth, Jon Leidecker

Bassel Khartabil was a Syrian-Palestinian open-source software engineer and dedicated Open Internet volunteer, who greatly increased access to knowledge and online tools in Syria and beyond. After being detained and imprisoned in 2012 by Syrian authorities, he and his case became focal points for global conversations regarding freedom of speech in an era when code is speech and individual voices can be amplified online in unprecedented ways. Following confirmation on August 1st 2017 that he had been secretly sentenced and executed in October 2015, we pay tribute with a mix of sounds and interviews from many sources, including the tributary himself, his writings from prison, conversations with friends and colleagues, and music inspired by his work.

This episode of Over the Edge is a tribute to Bassel and an homage to the complexities of freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of culture, and the right to live peacefully, in dignity and without fear of retribution for one’s beliefs, or the tools one builds to allow others to discuss and discern them.

Listen to a recording of the broadcast here.

Includes sampled conversations with Oussama Al-Rifai, Habib Hadad, Ryan Merkley, Danny O’Brien, Jon Phillips, Jack Rabah, Tina Salameh, and Jimmy Wales; readings by SJ Klein, Niki Korth, and Sam Sartor of Bassel’s writings from prison; and special appearance from “Self-Defense in International Law and Policy” by Javad Zarif. The conversations/interviews included here were conducted/recorded by Niki Korth from 2013 – 2016 and in August 2017. Most conducted in August 2017 took place at Wikimania 2017 in Montréal.

Links to the original pieces composed for Bassel by the Disquiet Junto can be found here.


Bassel, Saaremaa, Beads, N. Korth (2017 / CC BY 4.0)

Bassel and Karrim

Bassel and Karrim, Bilal Randeree (2011 / CC BY 2.0)

Creative Commons DIY Salon – I Can Do Anything Badly, 2015

DIY Salon – I Can Do Anything Badly

On Friday 13 February 2015, TBCS organized a Creative Commons DIY salon at Park Life Gallery. The salon featured local artists who celebrate inexperience, sharing culture, and self-taught expertise in projects ranging from publishing and printmaking, to web-based collaborative music communities, to building open source libraries and visualizations.

The salon also celebrated the San Francisco launch of I Can Do Anything Badly 2: Learning By Doing is a Shared Responsibility, a Creative Commons licensed artist’s book by Hoël Duret & The Big Conversation Space, designed by Frédéric Teschner, which features conversational interviews in English and French about DIY culture; from computer programming and independent publishing, to Wikipedia and furniture design. Read the book online here.


Featured speakers at the Salon:

Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996. It focuses on the intersection of sound, art, and technology. His book Selected Ambient Works Volume II, about the Aphex Twin album of that name, was published by Bloomsbury in 2014 as part of the 33 1/3 series. He has written for Nature, the website of The Atlantic, Boing Boing, Down Beat, and numerous other publications. His artwork has been exhibited in the San Jose Museum of Art; Gallery of Light DUCTAC, Dubai; Crewest Gallery, Los Angeles; and apex art gallery, Manhattan. He initiated and moderates the Disquiet Junto group, where since 2012 musicians respond on SoundCloud to weekly Oulipo-style restrictive compositional projects. Since 2012 he has taught a course he developed on the role of sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, where he lives.

Originally from Minneapolis, Carissa Potter lives and works in Oakland, California. Her prints and small-scale objects reflect her hopeless romanticism through their investigations into public and private intimacy. Speaking both humorously and poignantly to the human condition, Carissa’s work touches chords we all can relate to – exploring situations we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives and conveying messages we simply long to hear. Carissa Potter is a founding member of Colpa Press and founder of People I’ve Loved. Since 2010, she has been an artist in residence at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, where she teaches letter­press. She also serves as a mentor in Southern Exposure’s One-on-One Mentorship Program. Carissa received her MFA in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2010.

Mahmoud Hashemi is lead developer of the Python Infrastructure team at eBay/PayPal, where he focuses his development and instruction energies on service frameworks, API design, and system resiliency. Outside of work, he enjoys coding on his open-source projects, as well as creating and maintaining several Wikipedia-based projects, such as Listen To Wikipedia and The Weeklypedia.

Luca Nino Antonucci lives and works in San Francisco, California. He received his MFA from the San Fracisco Art Institute in 2010 and is a resident artist at Basement. He is editor and co-founder of Colpa Press, an independent publishing company specializing in art books. He has exhibited his own work widely in San Francisco, New York and Berlin.

I Can Do Anything Badly 2

I Can Do Anything Badly 2: Learning by doing is a shared responsibility

An editorial project by Hoël Duret, with The Big Conversation Space and Frédéric Teschner.

Through conversations with artists, designers, publishers, lawyers, a sociologist, a programmer, and a filmmaker, this book aims to put in common the strategies, methodologies, motivations, and experiences of a wide range of young creators in order to document the spirit of DIY in the digital age.

In so doing, we aim also to put the conversations and methodologies of open source and free culture in dialogue with contemporary art and design practice.

Printed version released in June 2014 in Paris, and February 2015 in San Francisco. The San Francisco launch took place at the Creative Commons DIY Salon.

Printed in Montreuil, France on risograph: 200 copies. Available on request.

ICDAB II is also an online publication available HERE

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Robot Demos – A Script for Two Actors

Robot Demos – A Script for Two Actors

We are betrayed by technology. The media is trying to conceal our fundamental and structural inability to communicate. The story of Robot Demos deals with a robot, a plot, a psychoanalyst, a scientist, a double-agent, a librarian, philosophy, chess, an art manifesto, a young revolutionary, prophesied profits, real-dolls, a joke, and what robots might have to say about democracy.

Robot Demos – A Script for Two Actors was printed in an edition of 50 posters screen-printed by artist Quentin Lannes in December 2013, on a proposition by Lannes at the occasion of the event Ouverture d’atelier, artiste invité Quentin Lannes, Chez Julie Fortier, Studio Prouff, Rennes, France, 12 December 2013.

The poster/booklet is available to print at home here.


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The Big Conversation Paper

Pouvez-vous ne pas m’oublier
 ? THE BIG CONVERSATION PAPER #1 est le premier numéro d’un journal indépendant, à parution irrégulière, publié par The Big Conversation Space et auto-financé. Il est bilingue, chacune ne parlant pas complètement la langue de l’autre. Il propose des textes, au sein d’un espace discursif, des traces de conversations passées; mais il est aussi une tentative de diffuser, d’engager, de reprendre la conversation. Au sein d’un espace artistique saturé, nous tentons de résister contre le sentiment d’illégitimité dans la prise de parole. Nous n’en savons pas beaucoup plus que vous, et nous n’avons pas quelque chose de particulier à dire. Nous pensons que la conversation n’est possible que dans l’espace qui est laissé à l’autre. Nous pensons que l’œuvre peut exister au sein de cet espace.

De quoi voulez-vous parler ?

Can you not forget me
? THE BIG CONVERSATION PAPER # 1 is the first, and thus far only, issue of an independent newspaper with an irregular publication schedule, created and self-funded by The Big Conversation Space. The paper is bilingual,  since its editors are each unable to speak the language of the other completely. It offers texts and a discursive space laden with traces of past conversations, but it is also an attempt to distribute, initiate, and resume the conversation. In an artistic climate that is closed to free and tangible discourse, we aim to resist against the sense of illegitimacy in speaking. We do not know any more than you, and we do not have anything special to say. We believe that the conversation is only possible in the space that is left to another. We believe that the work can exist within this space.

What do you want talk about?

Printed in an edition of 20 in 2011 in Angers, France. The printed version of The Big Conversation Paper #1 is no longer available to give, but you can download the PDF version here.


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24 Questions Concerning Manifestoes

24 Questions Concerning Manifestoes

Self published in 2011, print-on-demand, available as a soft cover publication at here or a free PDF here.

This book was written at the occasion of the exhibition MANIFESTOES, curated by Melanie Kress at Concrete Utopia Project Space in Brooklyn, New York in 2011.


In 24 Questions Concerning Manifestoes, TBCS creates a discursive manifesto about/against manifestoes through discussing a range of questions on the topic, including:

Could a Manifesto exist without words? What do we want from a Manifesto? To change the world? Proclaim the self? Glory? Feedback? Do we need to define what we want and what we claim in order to be a group? Do we even need to want and claim anything? Could a non-dogmatic Manifesto possibly emerge in the quasimilitary social structure of a starship crew? Could space travelers/space travel be the antidote to the restless, revolutionary-focused (and thereby unfocused) energy of our generation?



The Green Book


The Green Book of The Big Conversation Space, 2012

50 copies printed in Nancy, FR, August 2012 (funded by CAC Synagogue de Delme)

self-edited and available at print-on-demand here or download the entire volume here (large file)

The Green Book of the Big Conversation Space is a hybrid of non-fiction and science-fiction, composed of transcribed interviews and imaginary conversations with artists, parents, and clones. As a French-English text, its structure and form emphasize the role of interpretation in translation and transcription and embrace the impossibility of flawless transmission.

Le Livre Vert de TBCS (The Green Book of The Big Conversation Space) est un hybride de document réel et de fiction voir science-fiction, composé de retranscriptions d’interviews et de conversations imaginaires avec des artistes, des parents, et des clones. En tant que texte franco-anglais, sa structure et sa forme mettent en évidence le rôle de l’interprétation propre aux actes de traduction et transcription, et embrasse l’impossibilité d’une transmission sans failles.

With/Avec :
A Constructed WorldJean-Baptiste FarkasTony Labat, anonymous parents, Daniel YovinoLaura Hyunhee Kim.

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