Virtual Autonomous Zones

This project provides an interface for community groups and individuals to imagine their own D.I.Y. and D.I.T. (“Do It Together”) online community meeting places for a time in which IRL meeting is not possible due to pandemic and/or surveillance and security concerns. Based on the metaphor of Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones, the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces to evade formal structures of control, participants will create their own networked community spaces that take physical meeting spaces such as the squat, loft, community space, or campsite as inspirations. 

Meeting spaces are interlinked rooms inhabited by participants’ avatars who can move between rooms and chat using simple chat-bubble-like text and graphics. These rooms are meeting spaces and groups can customize them however they like--using photographs of their IRL meeting place, hand-drawn illustration, 8-bit graphics, cyberpunk, abstract etc. Groups will design a range of avatar choices for participants to choose from when joining the meeting space. Participants can interact with objects in each room such as manifestos, online games, texts, PDFs, websites.

These meeting spaces do not retain any personal data and operate outside of centralized forms of online commerce, surveillance and capitalism. Furthermore we hope that the freedom and flexibility with which these spaces can be designed online will facilitate a broad and imaginative re-thinking about how to meet IRL and use physical shared/communal space when or if that becomes possible again.

The interface for creating these meeting spaces will be built in p5.js, a Javascript library designed to be accessible to artists and designers. Community groups will be able to deploy the project on their own web servers or using services like Glitch. The project is built on a fork of LIKELIKE, an online implementation of the D.I.Y. artspace LIKELIKE in Pittsburgh, USA.