So what is Lowtech?
Lowtech Ltd is a unique company which exists where technology, creativity and learning meet. Unlike many commercial entities its prime object isn't to make money - rather, it's an attempt to find a new, more positive way to engage with the ever changing and potentially divisive world of information communication technology. Lowtech is a leading advocate of universal access to low or no-cost information technology - and we have the strategy to make that possible!
What Does Lowtech Want?
We'd like you to:
- Come and take part at Access Space
- Recycle your computers with Lowtech
- Learn more about free & open-source software
- Visit Redundant Technology Initiative's extraordinary exhibitions
- Grow Your Own Media Lab & become part of the Lowtech network
How did this come about?
Lowtech was set up by arts group Redundant Technology Initiative in 1997. Based in Sheffield, in the UK, RTI were artists who wanted to get involved with information technology, but didn't have the resources to buy computers. So instead they went about getting their hands on trash computers, finding new ways to be creative with old technology, then exhibiting the results.
The process that they set up was a virtuous circle: each exhibition or arts event that they held raised people's awareness of the issue of technology disposal, so they were prompted to give the group even more computers. More computers led to more exhibitions, and so on. In a few months RTI had more computers than they knew what to do with, so they set up Access Space, a unique creative media lab, to which anyone can come and learn, create and communicate online.
Lowtech's methodology remains consistent. We work with zero-cost technology rescued from the trash, and free, open-source software that costs absolutely nothing. In this regard Lowtech Ltd has become a pioneer - Access Space is the first public access internet laboratory to be run entirely with free software. Free technology is something which everyone can get involved with.
RTI continues to exhibit trash technology art around the UK and across Europe, and Lowtech campaigns to advocate low cost access to information technology. We're still hungry for obsolete machines and run an ongoing campaign that asks businesses and individuals to donate computers that they no longer use.
- Last year over 1 million PCs were dumped by British businesses. Most of this equipment ended up in landfill.
- Lateral thinking and a creative approach are ideal ways to unlock the potential of redundant technology. In this way we can investigate playfully and be creative with what the machines can do, rather than being frustrated by what they can't.
- We're excited by the empowering potential to create and communicate that
computers give to individuals - everyone should have a chance to get involved.
- There's been a lot of media attention given to art that makes use of
the newest, most expensive computers. But a lot of these creations seem less
like artworks than sales demonstrations for the latest technology.
- Learning can be hard work, but creativity is fun! By focussing on creative outcomes
many people who wouldn't go to a computer class are enthusiastic to take part.
Through its Access Space Lowtech have demonstrated that any group can build their own online lab for no capital cost, using the technology that's being discarded in their local neighbourhood combined with free, open-source software. It's a strategy that's highly sustainable, extremely green, spreads empowering information technology skills, and best of all, is creative and a lot of fun!
That's why our new project is called "Grow Your Own Media Lab!" It does exactly what it says - helps groups across the UK and further abroad to set up their own creative, community-based technology reuse projects, forming a grassroots network of ICT learning and techno-culture centres.