“One of the reasons we value sound as a perceptual and phenomenological event is that it allows for the creation of new types of sensory engagement with space. Creative processes of sounding allow us to design different types of sound worlds; places which can become autonomous zones. Lefebvre, in his seminal text The Production of Space, alludes to the concept of autonomous zones or imagined spaces; places which are imagined and created by community.
The idea of how we create and respond to autonomous zones is the subject of this year’s ISSTA festival as it comes to Northern Ireland for the first time, fostering a range of artistic, technological and academic interventions in Derry/Londonderry entitled Temporary Autonomous Zones 2016. A Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), as defined by the poet and anarchist cultural theorist Hakim Bey, is more than just a distinct space; it is a space in control of itself, in that it does not recognise outside authority.
Bey suggests that a festival or event has the potential to act as a moment of intense uprising and creative disruption, which allows for the creation of a TAZ, a guerrilla moment of positive revolutionary acts and art. In our present period of geopolitical and economic uncertainty, mass movements of people across territories are coinciding with the beginnings of exclusionary zones in Europe. It is in this context that this year’s ISSTA festival seeks to create a series of Temporary Autonomous Zones–new unmapped and self-determining sonic, conceptual and social spaces–which assert, for a time, their independence from existing structures through discussions of creative and technological practices and research, and through the artistic works themselves.
We look forward to inviting artists, scholars, technologists and other practitioners to Derry/Londonderry to investigate and play with some of these questions. From the historic autonomous zones of the 17th–century walled city of Londonderry to the autonomous commune of Free Derry (1969–72) to the highs, lows and contradictions of becoming the first UK City of Culture and even to its contested name and identity, we hope that Derry/Londonderry will offer a stimulating context for sharing participants’ work and ideas.”