The NOW:THEN method aims to establish a basis for coordination of experience with practical artistic research and to share innovative ideas, technical skills and ressources. This is achieved by articulating needs and demands for new standards and tools through the development of actual experimental work in socalled “Test rooms” or “Media Labs”.The principle is simple. To gain some actual practical experience it is important to produce artistic prototypes with the technology that is available NOW. These artistic prototypes are not meant for an audience or for a commercial market – they are research prototypes helping to articulate what you want to achieve in the final production THEN.In the NOW:THEN method it is therefore of outmost importance that the different projects participating in PRAMnet aim to establish functional setups from the beginning of the project based on the technology that is available NOW. An important part of the networking process and experience sharing is therefore concerned with an explicit discourse aobut specifications of mutual standards and protocols for new media technology.
The actual setups will in many cases have be to be low cost, functional, robust and easy accessible to maintain a continuous work flow spanning over a longer production period to ensure that a large group of users can gain experience from them.
THEN there will be a large body of artistic prototypes, which are manifestations of the specifications to the final platform. In normal creative production these prototypes are rarely seen by others than the participants in the actual production and the experience with the new media technology is not shared. The NOW:THEN method introduces a “knowledge sharing” principle from academic research in creative production and is a way to breake the unnessesary boundaries created by competition and artistic secretiveness.
The NOW:THEN method is based on mutual trust and cooperation and entails responsibility from the participants to keep both the technical and artistic development process up.
If a specific application is not finished at a certain point, the developer is obliged to provide a dummy that simulates its functionality, in order not to interrupt the work process of the other test-rooms. E.g. a complex media database or a state machines for controlling digital media expressions could be replaced by a simple dynamic model selecting from a list of simple choices.
What is important is that the module can be implemented at a very early stage by other test-room that wants to use it.
One way of facilitation the communication is to integrate methods from HCI (Human Computer Interaction) end experimental systems developers such as mock-ups, participatory design methods, video-documentation of work processes, design scenarios, documentation techniques etc.