Libre Graphics Research Unit

The Libre Graphics Research Unit is a traveling lab where new ideas for creative tools are developed. Its diverse activities range from the practical to the theoretical via writing, research meetings, experimental prototyping, conferences and workshops. The Research Unit is an initiative of four European media-labs actively engaged in Free/Libre and Open Source Software and Free Culture. This cross-disciplinary project involves artists, designers and programmers and is developed in dialogue with the Libre Graphics community.

What future practices can we imagine, and which tools can make them happen?



Call for presentations: Libre Graphics Meeting

The Libre Graphics Meeting will take place 29 April – 2 May 2015 in Toronto, Canada. The event welcomes your contribution and is looking for in-depth presentations on Libre Graphics technologies, (...)
Exhibition · 2013

Books with an attitude

From 22 May until 31 May, The Libre Graphics Research Unit presents Books with an attitude, an exhibition of printed books made with Libre digital tools. This exhibition includes Libre bookdesign (...)
Meeting Days · 2013

Libre Graphics Research Unit in Porto

From 22 to 23 May the Libre Graphics Research Unit gathers in Porto and this meeting concludes the two year project. Hosted by associate partner Manufactura Independente in Maus Habito we will (...)
Meeting Days · 2013

LGM2013: Future Tools

The yearly Libre Graphics Meeting (LGM) gathers users and developers of Free, Libre and Open Source software for creative work. LGM is a self-organised event, put together by designers, artists, (...)
Workshop · 2013

Collision 1: Badness and Conflict

If we consider typographic and cartographic objects as “spatial arrangement of texts and other graphical elements”, than their design is essentially the work of organising collisions. In a (...)

Call for presentations: Libre Graphics Meeting

The Libre Graphics Meeting will take place 10-13 April in Madrid. The event welcomes your contribution and is looking for in-depth presentations on Libre Graphics technologies, showcases of (...)
Open Call · 2012

Open Call: Tools for a Read-Write world

Medialab-Prado and The Libre Graphics Research Unit are seeking for projects to be collaboratively developed during a two-weeks workshop to be held in Madrid, 15-27 April, 2013. We are interested (...)
Presentation · 2012

Code Tasting / Graphical Shell prototype (GSp)

At this autumn Code Tasting, we’ll try out Graphical Shell, a prototype developed by Pierre Marchand in the context of the Libre Graphics Research Unit. His proposal links the ’tick’ of a program (...)
Workshop · 2012

Libre Graphics Magazine workshop

During their residency in Variable, Ana Carvalho, Ginger Coons & Ricardo Lafuente, the editors of Libre Graphics Magazine, invite you to take part in the making of the upcoming issue. From (...)
Residency · Open Call · 2012

Open Call: Piksels and Lines Orchestra

In the context of the Libre Graphics Research Unit, Piksel is offering a collaborative research residency for one artist and one developer, to jointly explore the interoperability and expansion (...)


2014-06-17 14:20:10

making tools that punch holes into walls

Interesting discussion on whether or not cultural organisations should 'oblige' artists to work with free licenses (thread starts with

"In the end, free culture has been an essential step and great opportunity to sync all sorts of individuals, groups and communities who would probably not have connected with each others, and maybe the recruiting loop needs now to transit towards something else more effective, maybe for instance in the area of copyright reform while at the same time keep on making tools that punches holes into walls and not just prettify them."

2013-07-15 23:52:44





Bruce Mau's Incomplete manifesto for growth was originally published in 1998. It was recently revisited by students from ERG, Brussels.

2013-04-02 16:05:13

Future Tools Diary

... I switch to diary mode this month to record some of the events that are about to happen in Madrid: LGM2013 (10-13 April) and Interactivos?'13 (15-27 April)

In Brussels for a few more days, I keep all on-line channels open so I feel in touch with Madrid and can respond to last minute questions from other remote Libre Graphics Community members that are about to pack their suitcases.

It is impressive to experience the full Medialab Prado team at work, making the meeting happen. After a long period of insecurity, Medialab finally moved back to their own building and LGM2013: Future Tools will be the first large scale public event taking place in this new location. The excitement is tangible even from here and I am sure that the international Libre Graphics community flying into Madrid next week will be energized by it.

A new old building: La Serreria Belga (The Belgian Sewmill)

For me, the upcoming events are above all an occasion to connect the Libre Graphics Community as-we-knew it with Spanish speaking developers, Open Design enthusiasts, local DIY people and the growing network around the Libre Graphics Research Unit. We purposely chose the slogan Future Tools because it is about time to take this yearly meeting serious as a rare occasion for research and development specific to Free Software in the creative field. For this to happen, we need to bring the conversations between software programmers, users, designers and tinkerers to another level.

A few years ago we tried something along these lines when Constant hosted the meeting in Brussels. Soon we found that beyond bringing people physically together, it was not easy to sustain a dialogue between diverse members of the Libre Graphics community. Three years later Libre Graphics has certainly gained momentum in art schools, design collectives and cultural organisations. There are also many new Libre tools being developed (and used!) in the context of creative coding and web technologies but I don't think we solved that community problem yet. The involvement of core developer teams this year seems minimal and I'm not sure how to interpret their absence.

One interesting example of the growing presence of Libre Graphics in cultural organisations is Medialab Prado itself. Pioneering maker-communities, 3D printing, data journalism, The Commons Lab and many other Free Culture initiatives, Medialab used the incentive of the Libre Graphics Research Unit to experiment with Libre tools on their own communication material.

In the summer of 2012 they invited Manufactura Independente to work with local designers on the collective design of Serreria Sobria and Serreria Extravagante, a Libre font-family based on historical lettering that can still be found on the outside walls of the Belgian Sewmill. It not only resulted in a beautiful typeface, but spread interest and expertise amongst people interested in Libre typography in Madrid.

Serreria Sobria is available from the Open Font library

A few months later, Myriam Cea began to work on The Libre Graphics Workstation, a mobile 'center' for learning about Libre Graphics. With artschool Arte Diez she developed exciting activities such as Me pica el kerning (I hack my kerning) and formed Colectivo Gráfica Liebre, a group of designers that exercises their new found knowledge on designing conference bags, badges and complicated typographical objects such as the printed programme for the Libre Graphics meeting. In the mean time OSP finished a new brochure announcing all upcoming activities at La Serreria and since last week, Medialab has a new logo too. It is of course using the Serreria font:

The Libre Graphics Workstation is now part of the "lab of labs"-structure at Medialab Prado and will continue to generate and host activities around Libre Graphics. I am also convinced this is not the last time we heard from the Gráfica Liebre collective!

Colectivo Gráfica Liebre ... Free hares?

2013-02-11 12:29:24

Read-Write Libre Graphics

2012-12-21 18:54:12

How to communicate libre graphics?

Brainstorm by participants in the workshop Estación Nómada de Diseño (Libre Graphics Workstation) at Central de Diseño /DIMAD

Image: Myriam Cea

2012-12-14 12:18:42

Interoperable play

Forward compatible toys: The Free Universal Construction Kit

2012-11-23 10:43:27

Tools for a read-write world II

A-synchronous collaboration on what could be an image for Interactivos?'13: Tools for a Read-Write World1

IMG_20121122_172826 IMG_20121122_172811 IMG_20121122_172800 IMG_20121122_165810 IMG_20121122_165800 IMG_20121122_165751 IMG_20121122_165742 IMG_20121122_165434 IMG_20121122_165409 IMG_20121122_165357 IMG_20121122_165337 readwrite

And sketches are being plotted by Manufactura Independente!

  1. Featuring Pierre Huyghebaert, FS, Manufactura Independente, Dia, Inkscape and Roland

2012-11-21 13:38:37


Contribution to 'Perspective: Artist - The position of individual artists in the performing arts in Flanders' (VTi Institute for the Performing Arts, Brussels)

"None of the work that we discuss here is actually hidden, but its dullness and technicality make it prone to blend into the background and it's only with some effort it can be rendered tangible. We think it is essential to pay attention to data practices in order to understand the value and validity of data, especially when we focus on what it can tell us about the roles of individuals in the field.

We would like you to read this contribution as a collection of annotated snapshots, a glimpse of how the VTi-database (like many databases) is the product of long term institutional work but also of micro decisions informed by intuition, technical artifacts and common sense."

All sources can be found at: