An Introduction

In an era of globalisation, I like such a name: "The Souillac Charter". This manifesto was drafted over an extended period of time, involving a fairly large group of people disseminated around the planet (I should say around the network). However, this name reflects the fact that the Charter was drafted during a short retreat (a few days) in a very precise - and tiny - location on the globe.

Who knows Souillac? The local and regional population of course does, as well as this group of irreducible fighters who have anchored their reflection in an almost abandoned abbey in a really forgotten village of Perigord. In a way, the Souillac Group shows the need for a right balance between a global network, a global vision, and a local identity. We need such a strong anchor, which can serve as a point of reference in the new communication space. Souillac will remain in my mind the point of origin to which I will often refer to navigate safely in a network with almost no limits and a changing and unpredictable topology.

I am probably the last infocommunication industry representative advocating for the right to hesitate. I do promote with the same conviction improved interactivity in networked services and applications, and non real-time usage of this enhanced feature. Souillac was based on this type of interactivity: we could meet and mark a pause in a shared communication space, as Don Foresta likes them, and think, discuss, exchange our views quietly, at the kind of pace that I perceive as being "natural" and that I favour.

Why a dialogue between the infocommunication industry and the art world? Because scientists have created a new reality that they can't grasp anymore. And they know that artists excel at using new tools in unexpected ways and at exploring new directions. The infocommunication industry has developed communication patterns that have altered our organisational space, as well as our relation to time. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said once that he hated travelling by plane, because the soul and the body couldn't travel at the same speed. Our industry has indirectly created the netlag. It has modified the original space-time curve and generated a new type of chaos, that even the most advanced researchers (like Ralph H. Abraham) haven't analysed yet.

Ends of century have always provided good opportunities to stop, look back and prepare for the future. We were very lucky because we stopped in Souillac. We sat down. We discussed. The result is the Art-Industry Charter, the Souillac Charter. If you are familiar with the ISOC, consider this text as an RFC. Your comments, as one says, are most welcome.

Fernando Lagrana
Geneva, 11/97

The Playing Field (introduction by Don Foresta)

The Souillac Charter for Art and Industry

Uploaded 22 December 1997.


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