The UK-based group Mongrel is a community oriented artist collective, which has worked with communities in Hull and London, UK; Adelaide, Australia; Cape Town, South Africa; Helsinki, Finland; and the Bijlmer in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Mongrel grew out of a series of powerful cultural and political exchanges at Artec in 1995 (The London Technology Centre) which was located in Islington London. Artec specialised in the arts, and training for the long term unemployed as well as taking on some commercial work).
Harwood was teaching a group of people on a one-year European Social Fund course at Artec skilling them up for a digital future. Harwood had just finished the installation version «Rehearsal of Memory» and needed help to create the CD-ROM version of the project. Students including Richard Pierre-Davis stayed on after the end of the course ended to help create the CD-ROM. «Rehearsal of Memory,» which went on to be very successful featuring at many festivals around the world.
During this time it became apparent that there was little critical attitude to the exclusive nature of the emerging technologies. Some of the black students were finding it hard to get a foothold in the industry while others students wanted to explore the technologies for their own social/experimental, artistic reasons.
Their appeared to be no space for this to happen within Artec or outside. Students discussed setting up a Mongrel organisation to explore their own ways of making things. Matthew Fuller and Graham Harwood were creating proposals for «Natural Selection.» Using the successes of previous projects, Harwood asked Richard Pierre-Davis and Matsuko Yokokoji to join him in a project looking at «National Heritage» this slowly cemented into Mongrel with Mervin Jarman, who was also on the course at Artec, joining sometime later.
- Matthew Fuller. The Mouths of the Thames. An interview with Mongrel and some of the people working with them. 1999. http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-9902/msg00077.html
- Geert Lovink. National Heritage and the Natural Selection Search Engine. Interview with Harwood and Matsuko of Mongrel (London). September 1998. http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-9810/msg00036.html
- Miloš Vojtěchovský. Mongrelská kultura a kulturní prestiž aneb ignorance a špinavost v digitálním ráji. 1998. http://www.divus.cz/umelec/cz/pages/umelec.php?id=250&roc=1998&cis=6+7 (Czech)