Miss Despoinas is a salon for critical making, experimental research, radical aesthetics, media design, production and exchange underlined by modes of maker culture. Described as a 'technological coven disguised as an art project’ (WARP Magazine 2013), it cultivates artists who want to open up both standard devices and the situations in which they are encountered. Miss Despoinas hosts digital literacy circles, and stretches networks for the production and dissemination of experiential events, in public and private spaces - garages, galleries, online, in publications, on radio and anywhere else that suits their purpose. Against the current of disposable technology and estranged digital devices, critical making brings together individuals working at the intersection of critical thinking and hands-on practice.
Projects events and discussions range from the political implications of critical making to feminist reflections on the place of technology in culture and society. Miss Despoinas taps into the principle of ‘knowledge sharing’ passionately emphasised by the Free Software Foundation. The Free Software Foundation campaigns for computer users’ freedom to cooperate and control their own computing conduct. The dilemma is not that it is proprietary software (closed to the source) being used to program the computer (some proprietary applications are open source and cost money) it is rather an ethical issue. When the source code is both copyrighted and closed a problematic situation arises; the user may be unable to modify the software to his or her idiosycratic needs or acknowledge the source. So when an artist works with software there creativity is *limited - stunted - paralysed* if they are unable to extend the medium beyond a particular limit.
Home-brewed in Hobart in 2008 by Nancy Mauro-Flude, Miss Despoinas was formed as a research salon, a curatorial premise, a autonomous web server to host projects, a mail list for discussion and a hackspace aimed at removing the strict barriers between software users and developers to enable the ‘uninitiated’ artist into using free software. Based in Hobart the salon is joined by satellite practitioners: artists, programmers, critical engineers, writers, designers, dancers, comrades, curators and thinkers from around the globe for events, skills sharing and prototyping; to make, to exchange skills, stories, strategies and constructively critique - to keep moving with the manifold of time.