OFFLOAD: Systems for Survival


OFFLOAD: Systems for Survival is a network and systems art event focusing on themes of nature, sustainability and ecology. The event brought together international and national artists and practitioners interested in creating work that used new and existing media to critically comment on social and ecological systems.

OFFLOAD took place in Bristol in 2007 with additional events and offshoots happening in 2008.


According to Gregory Bateson (anthropologist and cyberneticist) the basic unit of survival is the ‘flexible organism-in-its-environment’ (Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972, p. 457). Drawing on Bateson’s work, the focus for OFFLOAD is on ‘Systems for Survival’. OFFLOAD will focus on work, which visualises, reflects, comments on and/or extends the systems or networks we live and operate within. Emphasis will be placed on interactive, event and durational based work, which evolves or emerges over time and requires audience participation.

OFFLOAD will focus on the following themes:

In 2012 the Olympic games will be held for the third time in the UK. This event is in part providing a focus and space for rethinking our relationship with our health and wellbeing. Linking sport and fitness with the Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest provides a sub-theme concerned with concepts of adaptability and flexibility.
How do our technically mediated forms of work, play and living extend, constrain or support our ways of being? What are the values and inherent meanings behind notions of health, wealth and play? What do we consider to be the balance between them?

Our second sub-theme refers to ideas around globalisation, transfer and the economies of goods, knowledge, objects, planets, animals and people. Within this strand we are focusing on trade agreements that are currently in place around carbon emissions and climate change. This strand connects to the first sub-theme by extending the concept of survival to focus on exchange and how our methods of exchange and adaptability in this area help us to survive. Emphasis will be on work which bridges virtual, online and real worlds. In particular we are interested in work which addresses whether virtual traffic simply replicates existing problems or provides alternative solutions and examines systems, infrastructures and/or architectures for exchange and transfer and the implications such networks have for our lives.

Full programme details

OFFLOAD: Systems for Survival

Artists, Practitoners, Speakers

Duncan Speakman, Polar Produce, Knowle West Media Centre, Umbrella Spokes, Juha Huuskonen, Aleski Neuvonen, Kat Anderson, Jane Porter, John Thackara, Angela Piccini, Matt Davis, Interferenze, Heath Bunting, Brigit Binder, André Gonçalves , Science Communication Unit (UWE), Minimaforms, Joby Burgess, Avon Wildlife Trust, Active Ingredient, Dr. Adrian Woolard, Kate Rich, Amy Feneck, James Dalby, Futurefarmers, Will Plowman, Mark Dixon, Hilary Jeffery, Amy Balkin, Richard Wright, EXYZT, Simon Harlow, James Kennard & Tuomo Tammenpää/span>

Supported by

Armada House, Avon Wildlife Trust, British Music Information Centre, Create, Cut the Carbon March, Media Art Bath, The Finnish Institute in London, Think or Swim at Knowle West Media Centre, Artspace/Lifespace, BVAC, Cirque Bijou, Cube Microplex Cinema, Honey Dew, Participate, Spike Island, The Science Communication Unit, UWE and Watershed, Bristol