I finally attended my first Dorkbot event last night at Serial Space. I was very impressed. The presenters – Harriet Birks and John Tonkin – both showed us interesting work, but what I was really inspired by, was the way they broke down all their concepts, processes and technologies involved for the audience. Tonkin was particularly generous with his experiences, describing his installation to us, right down to the components used.
The Sydney Dorkbot is just one of many worldwide groups under the Dorkbot banner. The environment in Serial Space that we walked into fits the description found on the Dorkbot site perfectly:
Each dorkbot is different and is driven by the needs and interests of people in the local community. But generally, the main goals of dorkbot are: to create an informal, friendly environment in which people can talk about the work they’re doing and to foster discussion about that work; to help bring together people from different backgrounds who are interested in similar things; to give us all an opportunity to see the strange things our neighbors are doing with electricity. dorkbot isn’t really a forum for formal artist talks or lectures, but rather a chance for diverse people to have friendly conversations about interesting ideas.
The director of Sydney Dorkbot is Pia van Gelder and after spotting that we were new attendees, she made the effort to introduce herself and make us feel welcome. I don’t pretend that Dorkbot is for everyone, but being interested in this kind of DIY technology culture, I have found it generally disheartening that those responsible for creating the work can be so protective of the technologies which should be available to everyone. Dorkbot feels like it sits at the other end of the spectrum: a little utopian group of nerds, hackers and tinkerers, who want to help each other out where they can. I’ll definitely be back.