Report from the Tactical Media Event

Between the 12th - 18th November 2005, the first Tactical Media Event in Poland took place in Gdansk, and later Warsaw. The location was the independent media workshop in Gdansk, a space for active individuals from Gdansk and other Polish cities to create their own multimedia and silkscreen works.


Participants came from Gdansk, Warsaw and Wroclaw, and from further afield: Russia, Belarus, and the UK. Participants were invited through exisitng activist networks, and through personal contacts. Participants needed to be active in critically engaged multimedia: film makers, animators, web designers, indymedia, film screeners and distributors, VJ's and DJ's, people who have organised gatherings or projects... many of the participants covered several diciplines and activities, meaning there was a wealth of experience brought together. The gender balance was very much considered when contacting participants (in Gdansk it was equal: 8 men and 8 women, in Warsaw the proportion of women rose).


Apart from being inspired by the simple need for it to happen, the TME was inspired by 'The Next 5 Minutes' tactical media festival in Amsterdam in September 2003.
This festival described itself thus: 'Next 5 Minutes revolves around the notion of tactical media, the fusion of art, politics and media'. This crossover became the inspiration for the TME, but the TME had a certain difference: geography. It was organised in Poland, so it could be more accessible to those from central and eastern europe.
Another difference was in scale: the TME was nowhere near 'The Next 5 Minutes' in size or breadth of activities. It was a more modest project, with simple aims, but one which we hoped would feel personal very inclusive.


The TME had 3 principles, developed as a starting point for the project in its wiki pages:

1. To skillshare between individuals active in the field of tactical and independent media both locally and accross europe

2. To swap footage, films, and other materials with each other for wider distribution of exisitng work and resources

3. To create an environment where it is possible to network, plan new projects & tactical support, and long term exchange with new europe-wide connections

Based on this, organisation for the event was done throught the growing wiki pages, and remained transparent and accessible to all participants. These wiki pages are now a resource for participants to stay in touch and to build on the connections made during the TME.

What happened

A week was spent in the multimedia workshop in Gdansk. During that time, all the aims expressed above were realised, horizontally and openly.

Skillsharing took the form of there being an open 'calandar' on the wiki, where people could schedule workshops they wish to hold / recieve. Some workshops were also worked out simply between individuals: the group was a good size in that it was easy to know what was going on at any time.
The calendar page is here.
Workshops included how to use multimedia editing, graphic design and animation programmes, sharing open source software and showing each others websites. Beyond the computer interface, there were also film screenings in the gallery down the corridor from, hired for the week for the TME, and where participants watched each other films and discussed experiences with giving film screenings, swapping hints and suggestions for successfull screenings.

Swapping footage and materials happened via the internal network, as well as hand to hand. All computers and laptops were networked together, and hard discs accessible to all were set up, to which everyone could upload their work and materials, and download everyone elses. This was complimented by the whole archive being available on the network: gigabytes of films and resources from Polish actions and cultural archives for people to take away. Film screenings of each others materials were planned, and contacts made.

'Women and Media' gathering, 20th November, 2005

In addition to the TME activities in Gdansk, a one day gathering was held in Warsaw as part of the whole TME project which especially focused on womens roles in creating / being the subject of media. Participants included people who could not make it to Gdansk, including individuals involved in film making and televison in Warsaw, and an activist from Belarus.

Presentations included a web film maker, Ana Kronschnabl from Bristol UK, which lead to a very engaging discussion about the role and influence of the internet in creating and distributing independent films. Also Syreny TV, a two woman film making team from Warsaw who presented excerpts from their new film on the Polish right wing, followed by questions and discussion. And a very informative presentation from Belarussian activist Sasza, who outlined the limits of freedom of expression and censorship in her country.

To see the programme for the day, see the bottom of the calendar page here

Some participants had the opportunity to stay a little longer in Warsaw, when more meetings and socialising could happen eg: Ewa introduced Ell and Zoe to Christina, a woman film maker who has made several documentaries shown on Polish television about Chechnia.


The environment created during the TME was incredible. Participants bonded quickly, getting to know each other and each others situations quickly. The first day of the TME, a session was held where participants from each country made collective presentations about the political / media / social situation now in their country. This was especially interesting as the recent Polish elections which have brought in a right wing religious government, was really important to discuss and put alot of things in context. This set an environment of solidarity and cultural understanding that was very moving for all the participants.

In terms of networking, a big underlying theme of the TME was distribution, and progress was made in integrating each others works into distribution projects such as
see here.

In formal workshops and informally between participants, lessons were learned from each others wide experiences. For example the Russian participants were very interested to copy materials and hear feedback from UK participants who had been active during the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005, and gained insights in preparation for the upcoming G8 meetings in St Petersburg next year.


In planning the TME, the aim had been to create an environment similar to an Indymedia centre during a large protest: with interesting people from all over europe in the same place at the same time with a spirit of togetherness - but without the stress and pressure of having to cover a protest or deal with police repression. Simply: for active and interesting people in the field of multimedia accross europe, to be in the same place at the same time. This was most definaltey achieved by all.

Talking to the participants during and after the TME, they all expressed that they were extremely glad to have attended. Participants expressed how much they felt they had learned: not only technically but culturally and in terms of cross-european understanding and solidarity. That it had been usefull for their future work and that they felt they had made friends they would not have otherwise met.

An email list is being set up for all participants to keep network building, and a short film will be made of the gathering in the coming year, for distribution online amongst activist networks and community groups accross europe.