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‘Playground of ideas’: 10 days of creative cooperation, with people from all disciplines and from all around world.

Schmiede is an artist residency that takes place once a year in the old Hallein Salt Mine in Salzburg, Austria. It brings together an eclectic mix of artist from a range of disciplines including: performance, game design, computer programming, machine building, animation, coding, video, interactive installation, music and everything else in-between. The spirit of Schmiede is based upon collective thinking and is designed to bring individuals together who might not otherwise collaborate. In what was a beautiful, quirky, and awe-inspiring venue, the Salt Mine provided the perfect setting for creativity to thrive.

One of the most exciting aspects of this particular residency was its focus on cooperation, openness, and collective thinking - there was something magical about the way the event was facilitated. Artists (also known as Smiths) found themselves setting up in different parts of the building - either working next to someone across the rows of tables in ‘Wood’, which were crammed full of amazing technical bits and pieces, or being immersed in one of the quirky rooms on the lower ground (there was literally a sand pit, where this year the robot wars ‘Hebecon’ took place).

Where ever you ended up it was almost impossible not be inspired, to network, to collaborate or to exchange ideas.

As the days progressed, noise and paint flew, as did the energy generated from a plethora of computers, generators, and bodies working hard on their ideas. On some days, impromptu demonstrations would pop-up, or a performance/performer would appear (the sound and movement collective directed by Mark Coniglio was a definite highlight). Needless to say, the whole of the Salt Mine was a hive of activity.

The 10 days culminated in a final Werkschau, where the circa 150 artists got to share and perform their work to both their fellow Smiths, as well as to the good people of Hallein. The Salt Mine became awash with strange and wonderful sights, which had been gently, but masterfully facilitated by the residency organisers. The generosity of spirit and the way each and every participant engaged in this residency is something to take note of. Thank you Schmiede – you were utterly enlightening!

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